Do we value artists?

Chico Museum should have done better by Mabrie Ormes

Ms. Schildhauer is a local artist, teacher, art therapist, creativity coach and parent.

For the past several months, the Chico Museum has had the opportunity and privilege of showing a monumental project by one of our most beloved, prolific local artists, Mabrie Ormes.

Mabrie has created “Chico Faces,” an exhibit of original, painted portraits of at least 200 of Chico’s colorful citizens. This project reflects a terrific amount of work from Mabrie. It has provided so much enjoyment and enrichment to so many people.

Just viewing the Chico Faces project is a great experience. The wall of paintings encourages viewers to play a game that could be called “See Who You Know.” Each time I have visited the project, I find people playfully trying to identify the faces.

As one of the people whose faces Mabrie painted, I can also speak to the great experience I had watching her create a haunting likeness of me in such a short time. I loved just hanging out with her and watching her dip the brushes into her thick, succulent paint.

Thus imagine my surprise/disappointment/disdain when I received the pathetic invitation for Mabrie’s closing reception at the Chico Museum on Sunday, Dec. 20.

The card hardly even mentioned the artist. Her name was in small print at the bottom of the cheap card. Driving by the museum, I noticed what I should have noticed earlier: There are no signs, no banners, no flags … nothing proclaiming the monumental project that this local, hardworking artist has achieved.

What’s up with this? Doesn’t Mabrie Ormes deserve a slight bit of public acknowledgment for her creative endeavors? Shouldn’t the Chico Museum value an exhibition by a great local artist as much as an exhibition about local agriculture or anything else?

As a local artist myself, I am lucky to be doing what I enjoy and to have as much support and encouragement as I do. But once in a while I wonder whether people understand just how much value artists add to the cultural flavor of our community and to the overall quality of life here in Chico.