Muse for a new year

The Chico Art Center’s annual Members’ Show awakens the creative forces within

HEAD SHOP <br>Sadie Card’s “Maddie” is one piece of the show at Chico Art Center’s annual members’ exhibition.

Sadie Card’s “Maddie” is one piece of the show at Chico Art Center’s annual members’ exhibition.

Photo By Tom Angel

The secret to achieving your New Year’s creative resolve crouches behind the Great Northern Empire Builder.

This green- and orange-striped Pullman railroad coach, soon to be a cafà/lounge/gift shop, partially conceals the Chico Art Center and its annual members’ show. Within the center you will be challenged to accept the dreadful fact that you have no excuses for putting off that drawing, painting or weaving that lends tangible expression to your creative soul in 2004.

If you want for inspiration, or for a new medium to experiment with, take your black-leather sketchbook and a few blank pages and come prepared to take notes.

As you begin this self-guided tour, you will note of course the requisite female nudes. But turn to “Female” by Pat Voughtt on the wall opposite the nudes, and you will find instead a series of naked eggs awaiting fertilization by a meandering sperm cell.

Skip over now to other species. “Bonnie,” a red-eyed wolf (or menacing pet?) on a hot-orange background, bristles within his chunky-edged outlines. In a suspense-filled untitled piece by Norm Dillinger, a girl strolls in her pointillist world beneath a large tree and a yet unnoticed, and equally large, gorilla.

Now, walk to the rear of the space, where Debbie Chamberlin has created a school of three-dimensional salmon using acrylic and sand. Familiarly titled “On the Rocks,” these rocks are refreshingly uncommon: turquoise-blue with organic black squiggles, resembling transparent roe.

For the scrapbookers among us: Marvey Meueller’s “Journal, My Trip to France” is a sketchbook filled not with photographs but warm, nostalgical watercolors. The colors—the omission of some details and the capturing of others—liberate the memories of a moment in time much more intensely than the crop-and-paste of an average Kodak.

Pulling away from the walls, you will pivot to face Sadie Card’s “Maddie,” her papier-mâchàd head bound in a sweet kerchief and mouth held slightly open in a breathy smile. And the tactile stimulation continues, from teapots lumbering forward on angled stumps to a glass vase sprouting shiny black feathers. Digital photographs meld with more traditional mediums; cold glass nestles in warm clay. Inspiration awaits.

About one-third of the 300-400 artists that claim membership with the Chico Art Center have a piece on display, reports Debra Simpson, CAC office manager. Of the two member shows a year, the current show does not rely on an overarching theme, which results in a wonderful variety of styles, methods, mediums and attitudes.

Members of the art center include people employed in some other line of work who create art as a hobby, Simpson explained. Some have their own studios, and a few others actively teach courses at the center. From the basics of working with clay to focusing on art as therapy, the Chico Art Center intends to serve the creative public as it truly is—a "work in progress."