Collective consciousness

The Crux changes leadership but continues to pursue a shared vision of bringing Chico art to the world

CHANGING OF THE GUARD<br>The names may change, but the spirit of The Crux remains. From left: Max Infeld, Ty Gorton, Christine “Sea Monster” Fulton, Dave “Dragonboy” Sutherland and Weston Thomson.

The names may change, but the spirit of The Crux remains. From left: Max Infeld, Ty Gorton, Christine “Sea Monster” Fulton, Dave “Dragonboy” Sutherland and Weston Thomson.

Photo By C. Owsley Rain

Crux Artist Collective

1421 Park Ave.
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 566-0176

What is art? Who is an artist? What is an art patron?

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time considering such questions. Art is decorative stuff that hangs on the walls or sits on the shelf. Artists are reclusive weirdos who spend their time smearing paint on canvas, manipulating molten glass or carving figures out of stone or wood. Art patrons are chardonnay-sipping cheese-eaters who hand out money to people they would normally not associate with for things they don’t understand while masking their incomprehension behind conversations filled with terms like juxtaposition, subconscious, creative process, negative space and gestalt.

Based on a recent visit, the members of the Crux Artist Collective would disagree with most of the above preconceptions. For three years the collective has been providing communal space for local artists to create, exhibit and perform their art. It is now in the process of passing the directorship of the group from its founders, Christine “Sea Monster” Fulton, Weston Thomson and Dave “Dragonboy” Sutherland, to new directors Ty Gorton, Max Infeld, Sean Cummins and Shyla Black.

“Crux allowed Dave and I to do a lot of performance art, and we constructed [the collective] as a project that could be passed along,” said Fulton, a vivacious young woman with a ready smile and bawdy sense of humor. “And now as an artist I want to devote more time to art and less time to administration.”

Now the art curator for Lost On Main’s gallery space, Fulton emphasized that despite the change of leadership the collective plans to keep the core concepts of producing performances, providing studio space, hosting exhibitions and encouraging community involvement.

Regarding upcoming changes in the operation, Infeld, a 25-year-old BFA student of printmaking at Chico State, said that as of May 1 the Crux will have about 20 studio members producing art in the collective.

“First we are going to separate the artist and the gallery,” Infeld said. “The art made at the Crux will be shown at other locations in Chico and across the country, not at the Crux. Our goal is to assist artists through promotion and marketing while not making Crux a ‘self-serving’ art gallery. We want to bring the art of Chico to the rest of the world.”

Gorton, writer and co-creator of the comic book series Runes of Ragnan added that, “Our intention is to increase the community’s awareness and involvement with art. That, when all is said and done, is really what fuels the tremendous energy it takes to keep a venue like the Crux on the map.”

One of the ways the Crux plans to expand its dot on the map is by interacting with and promoting artists from beyond Chico. The Crux will host The Ninja’s in the House: The Collaborative Art of Cohen Morano. True to its title, the exhibit will feature art by the 6-year-old son of local artist and hip-hop performer Aye Jay! Morano. Cohen has teamed up with a legion of internationally recognized designers and artists, including montage artist Winston Smith and graffiti collective The London Police to create the art for the exhibition.

Because the Crux is a true collective and not a publicly funded nonprofit, it shares the expense of leasing and maintaining its gallery and studios, and pools the income derived from art sales and donations. Through working together toward a common goal, the Crux provides incentive for individual success that allows for experimentation.

“Artwork in its various forms will always be our lifeblood, followed closely by performance art, experimental concepts and interactive experiences,” Gorton said. “Often, these elements will be combined into multilayered shows, and music will be woven into just about every event in one way or another, even if it is not the main focus of the show.”