Chico Art 101

A student’s guide to local art

Making the scene at RayRay Gallery.

Making the scene at RayRay Gallery.

Photo By kyle delmar

free advice: Make a mark. Don’t let others have all the fun. Be an active participant in the community. Sing at an open mic. Sell jewelry at a farmers’ market. Organize a protest. Be a street mime. Self-publish your poems in a chapbook and sell it in the local book store.
free advice: Carpe diem. Enjoy your “seize the day” moment and blossom into whatever kind of young adult you think you might want to be. Don’t worry about what your parents think of your poncho or nose piercing during your first Christmas break back home, or if your brother teases you about your sorority sweatshirt. It doesn’t matter who you were before or where you came from; college is a chance to paint your canvas however you want it to look.

A student’s guide to local art

Chico is an arts town. Among the galleries, community theaters, poetry readings and on the overstuffed calendar of offerings at Chico State, there is more art happening in Chico than one can possibly take in. For an especially busy schedule of local art happenings, tune into the Artoberfest celebration during the entire month of October and, of course, pick up the CN&R each week to get the full scoop year-round.

Visual art

There are about 20 art exhibits in Chico right now. And most of the galleries, shops and cafés displaying those works will be switching out those next month. New art by both local and touring artists is constantly going up.

Chico State & Butte College

3rd Floor Gallery: Student works, upstairs in the BMU. www.aschico/com/3rdfloorgallery.

B-SO Space: Student works shown between the stairs and the office in Ayres Hall.

Butte College Art Gallery (in the Arts Building): Solo and group shows of various media by students and regional artists.

Humanities Center Gallery: Renowned local and touring artists in Trinity 100 and hallway.

The Turner: Collection of prints by Janet Turner and other world-class artists in the first floor of Meriam Library.

University Art Gallery: Works by students and renowned regional and national artists. Taylor 111.

SOPO (South of Post Office)

1078 Gallery, 820 Broadway: Home to Chico’s most eclectic, cutting-edge local and visiting art, music and theater.

All Fired Up Ceramic Art Center & Gallery, 830 Broadway: A workspace/ gallery for local ceramic artists.

RayRay Gallery, 530 Broadway: Energetic collective of local arts tricksters putting on fun and exciting exhibits of multiple disciplines and media.

More downtown

Art, Etc. (122 W. Third St.), Chico Paper Co. (345 Broadway) and The Vagabond Rose Gallery & Framing (236 Main St.) are three art stores around the corner from one another that offer framing services in addition to showing and selling local and regional art.

James Snidle Fine Arts (254 E. Fourth St.): A fine-art gallery and appraiser that features colorful rotating exhibits of regional and national artists.

Cafés: Coffee shops are sometimes home to some of the best local art (and the tastiest opening receptions): Most are downtown—Has Beans Café, Naked Lounge, Tin Roof Bakery & Cafe, Upper Crust Bakery—with a couple notables existing a few ticks off the central grid: Café Flo (365 E. Sixth St.) and Empire Coffee (434 Orange St., in the traincar).

Discovering art at Chico Paper Co.

Photo By Jason Cassidy

Off the beaten path

The Art House, 325 Nord Ave.: Artist couple Dave and Jana Lawton’s sculpture garden and art studios.

Avenue 9 Gallery, 180 E. Ninth Ave.: Bustling gallery/shop showcasing works by its own arts guild as well as local and regional artists.

Chico Art Center, 450 Orange St.: A Chico arts resource, providing art instruction, rotating exhibitions, and most impressively, the annual Open Studios Art Tour.

Sally Dimas Art Gallery, 493 East Ave., #1: Shop/gallery featuring local and regional works in multiple media.

<i>Dying City</i> at the Blue Room Theatre.

Photo By matt siracusa


Our local theater cup runeth over, with four active community theaters in Chico (and one each in Paradise and Oroville), busy theater departments at both the university and community college, plus a wide-range of youth-theater programs and the annual Chico Summer Theatre Festival put on by the Ensemble Theatre of Chico.

Community Theaters

Blue Room Theatre, 139 W. First St.: Fun, irreverent and passionate company putting on adventurous original, contemporary and selected classic plays. Look for special campy, grotesque and/or raunchy late-night productions.

Chico Cabaret, 2201 Pillsbury Road (Almond Orchard Center): Sometimes saucy, sometimes campy, and almost always musical, the Cabaret is a fun reason to leave downtown for an evening.

Chico Theater Co., 166-F Eaton Road: Broadway’s greatest musical hits.

Rogue Theatre, 820 Broadway (inside 1078 Gallery): Seasoned local company putting on challenging modern and classic works. &

Birdcage Theatre, 1740 Bird St.: Oroville’s intimate community theater.

Theatre on the Ridge: The longest-running community theater is up in Paradise.

Theater schools

Butte College Theater: Showing one major production each semester in the beautiful new black-box theater on the main campus.

Chico State Theater: The hub of Chico’s theater scene, presenting three or four quality selections each semester—from avant-garde to classics to the annual spring musical.

Poetry Slam founder Marc Smith visited the Chico Poetry Slam in 2011.

Photo By J&uuml;rg stoker

Spoken word

1078 Gallery, 820 Broadway: Fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction readings by local and visiting authors.

Barnes & Noble, 2031 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway: Occassional author readings/signings.

Chico Poetry Slam: Twice-monthly slams with featured readings by nationally touring poets. Visit for specific dates/venues.

Lyon Books, 121 W. Fifth St.: Regular author readings/signings, local-author release parties and other literary events.

The Writers Voice: Chico State’s literary arts reading series. Visit department of English website for details: