New kid on the block
South of the post-office area gets another gallery
Chico, CA 95928
There’s an art revival going on in SOPO.
It’s part of a general revival happening in the south-of-the-post-office neighborhood that includes the recent additions of stylish furnishings store Nantucket Home and Tin Roof Bakery & Café.
New gallery The Artistry is the latest to join a growing number of art showcases and studios—attracted in part by low rents for spacious venues with ample parking—that are setting up shop in SOPO, specifically on the block of Broadway between Eighth and Ninth streets.
The history-rich block is part of an area formerly known as the Junction, named so in the early 1860s because it served as a business hub at the Chico end of a stagecoach line to Susanville.
The Artistry opened in early September in the front third of All Fired Up, the popular ceramics studio run by local ceramicist and public artist Janice Hofmann. The new venue takes over the former gallery portion of the ceramic studio, previously overseen by local artist Tanya Mead Mullen.
The Artistry will be run, in conjunction with Hofmann, by 32-year-old local printmaker and acrylic painter Celina Paul (whose paintings currently grace the walls of Tin Roof) and 27-year-old Darah Votaw—an art lover with a bachelor’s degree in art history from Chico State. In addition to All Fired Up, The Artistry joins established neighbor 1078 Gallery, and recent around-the-corner newcomers PFC Lighting (fused- and slumped-glass artist Robert O’Neal’s showroom/studio) and Earthen Iron Metal Art—popular local metal artist David Richer’s period-restored studio that formerly housed the historic Andersen’s blacksmith shop.
Paul said that she and Votaw plan to focus on “building collaborations within the city and community … to facilitate a new approach to how artists are marketed and to help develop leadership in those artists we believe in.”
One of their goals is to build stronger relationships between the art-viewing public and the artists themselves by having artist demos at every opening, as was the case when innovative sculptor Delbert Rupp “threw” his signature large pots in The Artistry’s window during the gallery’s first (Oct. 3) opening, during Artoberfest.
“It was like the Macy’s Christmas windows,” offered an excited Hofmann, seated with Paul and Votaw around a table in her clay studio. “All lit up—a live window display!”
“We think it’s important to let the public interact with our artists as much as possible,” Votaw added. “If they see the process, they will develop an increased appreciation for what goes into [making art].”
Paul also said that The Artistry plans to “create more events throughout the year.”
“I think we want to make it so it’s not just in October that we have great art [in Chico],” said Hofmann.
All three are excited about The Artistry’s upcoming group show, titled Subtle Harmonies II, opening Saturday (Nov. 7).
A fairly long list of both established and newer local artists will be showing their work, including respected painter Ellen Beauregard—whose beautiful new “cold-metal” technique that she developed with a physicist is soon to be patented—and newcomer Jeff May, whose ceramic talents were “discovered” recently when he took a class from Hofmann (“He has a strong masculine feel to his ceramics,” offered Paul).
Both Paul and Votaw were effusive about the work of Bree Schmidt, an up-and-coming collagist who creates “very abstract,” colorful, sculptural pieces from “thousands and thousands” of little, square pieces of paper.
An official grand opening is planned for February, after Paul and Votaw expand the space somewhat and make a few renovations. This will also be after the 2010 Snow Goose Festival (Jan. 28-31) ends, during which the The Artistry will be one of two locations (the other being Avenue 9 Gallery) hosting the festival’s Uptown-Downtown wildlife art exhibit.
Also, look for some compelling visiting artists early next year.
“Some previous Chico artists are coming back to show with The Artistry next year—but we’ll leave it a little mystery,” said Paul.