Art, legacy and love

Last week, we lost two longtime Sacramento creators, mixed-media artist Nathan Cordero to complications following a seizure, and Steve Mitchell, a veteran drummer, after a long bout with a brain tumor.

And last month, it felt like we almost lost Jerry Perry, the beloved show booker/organizer who survived a stroke and is in recovery.

Cordero was a regional favorite in high art spaces, having participated in a charity exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, enrolled into the competitive Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Santa Cruz, and become one of the first residents at Verge Center for the Arts when it moved locations downtown eight years ago.

But after talking with Liv Moe, Cordero’s friend and Verge’s founding director, it became clear that just as important as how the man put forgotten materials to use—paint chips, arrowheads and cigarette butts, for example—was how he made folks around him feel.

“One of the things that was really striking to me was just how many people’s lives Nate touched,” Moe said, “how many people are distraught for losing him.”

The same could be said for those mourning Mitchell. On social media, Mitchell is inseparable from his drumset and smiling company. In the late ’70s, he played in a popular Dallas clubbing band called Uncle Rainbow, and when he moved to Sac, gigged regularly. Aside from being a sweet guy, he “never missed beat,” wrote former bandmate Adrian Bourgeois.

The legacies of these three far extend the work they’ve accomplished. Artists impact more than a city’s aesthetic, and sometimes tragedy provides the evidence.