Making space for art
“Art space.” Arts DEVOté loves that expression. Art + space = super-happy-goodness. You know, that whole equation. Artists love space, and they spend their lives in search of more. In Chico, artists are desperate for it, but these days, unless they’ve got a rich auntie, there is no more affordable space.
This past week, Artspace, a Minneapolis-based developer of affordable live/work housing for artists, visited Chico to share its story of building spaces for artists all over the country. A.D. was there for an intimate late-afternoon presentation (but he didn’t make the evening’s larger public forum at Chico Women’s Club—which was attended by 40 or so artists) with a few local artists, arts presenters, city arts folks, the mayor and hosts New Urban Builders and Friends of the Arts. Artspace is basically … well, totally rad. They go into cities, raise money, buy cool old buildings, change ’em into cool multi-unit living spaces/art studios/communal galleries/performance venues, and, utilizing low-income housing programs, provide struggling artists with affordable places to live, create, network and socialize.
This promising concept is in the just-talkin’-about-it stage, but the big idea would potentially involve working in conjunction with New Urban Builders, building warehouse-ish common areas and simple, solid, adaptable utilitarian live/work units as part of their Meriam Park development. Preliminary figures put income-qualifying levels at $21,840 a year for a family of one ($24,960 for two), with rent on one-bedroom units going for $585 a month.
The prospect is beyond exciting for Chico. In fact, this project, or something like it, has to happen for Chico to remain a legitimate arts community. Anyone with any brain at all knows that keeping young artists from leaving is step No. 1 to building an arts scene that’s worth a damn. Without ’em, Chico dies.
If this sounds at all interesting to you, e-mail Friends of the Arts’ Debra Lucero at email@example.com to get on the mailing list, and visit the sites for Artspace (www.artspaceusa.org) and New Urban Builders’ Meriam Park project (www.newurbanbuilders.com/meriampark).
Art tour guru
A.D. invites y’all to give a shout out to former Chico potter/painter John Staple, who is bringing a little bit of Chico to his new home of Taos, N.M. (News flash: former active local artist leaves Chico for more lucrative scene?) In a recent editorial in The Taos News, Staple laid out a plan to bring together the greater Taos art scene under the umbrella of an open studios tour, much like the one he helped spearhead here a couple decades ago. Big ups, John!
Lourdes Road Trip
A.D. is getting this to you a little late (opening reception was a couple weeks ago), but Diann Hokanson’s oil-on-linen depiction of “The Crucifixion” behind the altar inside Our Lady of Lourdes church in Colusa isn’t going anywhere. Hokanson’s 15-by-8-foot creation, and her 14 paintings representing the Stations of the Cross, are part of the restoration going on at the 126-year-old Catholic church. Call or visit the Web site for information on church hours: (530) 458-4170 or ourladyoflourdes-colusa.org.
• Public Art Policy Committee: Meets Thursdays, Jan. 24 and 31, 5 p.m., Chico City Council building, 421 Main St.
• Art in Public Places: Meets Tues., Feb. 5, 3:30 p.m., Chico City Council building, 421 Main St.