Whence this passion?

New MONCA show focuses on what moves people to collect art

Idie Adams and Alan Carrier are among the art collectors who have contributed works to <i>Future MONCA</i>. They like humorous art, as suggested by this piece, “You keep riding your pony over my brain,” by Sacramento artist John Berger.

Idie Adams and Alan Carrier are among the art collectors who have contributed works to Future MONCA. They like humorous art, as suggested by this piece, “You keep riding your pony over my brain,” by Sacramento artist John Berger.

Photo by robert speer

Future MONCA: Growing a Northern California Collection runs through Nov. 29 at the 1078 Gallery. Opening reception: Thursday, Nov. 13, 5-7 p.m.
1078 Gallery
820 Broadway

Alan Carrier and Idie Adams live in a beautifully restored Prairie-style house surrounded by palm, orange and olive trees in Capay, northwest of Chico. Both are artists: She’s a ceramicist and retired former head of the Fine Arts Department at Butte College; he’s a sculptor and photographer and teaches film at the college. They are also avid collectors of art.

Indeed, their house is like a museum. It’s chockablock with hundreds of paintings and sculptures, not to mention Adams’ collections of ceramic salt-and-pepper shakers and hand-woven purses. Every available section of wall space is filled with artwork, even those in the basement stairway.

I know the house well; my wife and I count the couple among our closest friends. I’ve spent sufficient time looking at their collection to know it has certain thematic elements. They like humorous and satirical pieces, for example, quirky stuff by quirky artists not unlike themselves.

But what leads them to collect art, and so much of it? Whence this passion?

That’s a question one or both of them will attempt to answer on Thursday, Nov. 13, during a panel discussion beginning at 6 p.m. to be held as part of the opening reception (5-7 p.m.) for a new exhibit at the 1078 Gallery in Chico.

The show is titled Future MONCA: Growing a Northern California Collection. Curated by Reed Applegate, whose donation of several hundred works to the Museum of Northern California Art forms the bedrock of its permanent collection, the show is designed to showcase the kinds of artwork that may be added to the museum’s collection in the future, as donations or bequeathals.

They don’t yet belong to the museum, and most may not end up there. But some will, explained MONCA’s president, Pat Macias. She and her husband, Richard, plan to donate works from their extensive collection. As she explained it, they don’t have children, so there’s nobody to inherit their artwork, and they probably will bequeath it to the museum.

The Maciases’ collection is one of the six from which Applegate selected this show, choosing five or six works from each. The other collectors, besides Adams and Carrier, are Dorna Andersen, Gwen Curatilo, David and Shari Hopper and Applegate himself. Several of them will be participating on the panel discussion of the joys of collecting art.

The exhibit follows on MONCA’s ambitious series of art-and-technology-themed events held in October. One was a showing of a new video documentary featuring interviews with Chico “legacy artists” Ann Pierce, Sal Casa, Claudia Steel and, in the case of the late Richard Hornaday, his widow, Jenifer Hornaday. Another was a bus tour of local techno-centric facilities such as Idea Fabrication Labs and Design by Humans that use technology (computerized saws, 3-D printers, etc.) to create art.

Pat Macias notes that Future MONCA, like the art-and-technology events, is based on a concept—the nature of collecting. “That’s what a museum does,” she explains. “It puts on concept shows.”

The Future MONCA exhibit came about when members of the 1078 Gallery informed Macias that they had nothing booked for the month of November. Macias, who is always looking for new ways to generate interest in the museum, came up with the idea of doing a collectors-themed pop-up exhibit.

One of her goals in having so many exhibits and other events before the museum is actually open at a permanent location—the Veterans Memorial Hall on The Esplanade—is to show people that an art museum is much more than its permanent collection, that it can and will sponsor a wide range of activities appealing to an even wider range of people.

Another goal, of course, is to raise money for the renovation of the Veterans Hall. Macias is happy to report that thus far MONCA has raised $100,000, which is one-fifth of the projected cost of the retrofitting. The goal is to open the museum sometime next spring.