ARTmatters logo

last updated: December 20, 2015

 home page | about NCAC | artist registry | call for artists | join - donate | contact NCAC |
North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center

Seeking Executive Director
for small rural arts and culture organization

Rural arts and culture organization seeks
dynamic Executive Director with fundraising skills.
Applications due June 21, duties start second week in July 2006.
Job description and applications available upon request.

  • Job location is San Juan Ridge, Nevada City, CA.
  • Compensation: $1,250.00/month starting salary.
  • This is a part-time job.
  • This is at a non-profit organization.

The Arts Council of Placer County
invites applications for the position of
35 hours per week. Salary range $32-40K, plus benefits.
Work location: Roseville, California
APPLY BY June 19, 2006 TO:
Executive Director, Arts Council of Placer County,

The OVERALL MISSION of this position is to:
Promote arts and culture organizations, various arts activities and artists in the City of Roseville; network with the various arts groups and provide technical assistance to enhance the promotion of arts in the City of Roseville.

The Duties include activities such as:
Facilitate meetings to the City of Roseville Cultural Arts Committee in coordination with the City of Roseville Parks & Recreation liaison; conduct two community workshops per year to identify community arts needs and interests; develop an arts affinity group out of which possibly an arts coalition group can form; work with various arts organizations, Roseville Chamber of Commerce, businesses, schools, and galleries to identify new and to promote existing arts activities, programs services and events; coordinate with City staff on promotion of city programs and events which encourage and further cultural arts in Roseville; participate in Economic Development and Downtown Revitalization meetings and interface with City staff regarding art in downtown and old town areas; encourage application of creative economy principles; promote arts, culture and humanities activities and events to citizens of the City of Roseville and Placer County; share and promote information of various City, County, State and Federal grant programs, which support cultural arts, and their availability for the arts organizations and individuals in Roseville.
University undergraduate level degree
or relevant and comparable work experience.
Five years in arts administration and/or
marketing and experience in the promotion of community involvement.Nonprofit or government sector experience required.
Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
Familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite, essential.
Work station will be in Roseville with frequent contacts and meetings with Arts Council staff in Auburn.
Reports to Executive Director, Arts Council of Placer County.

California Heritage Corridor Act
Heritage Corridors help travelers connect the dots of history and culture, providing appealing reasons to discover them.
Many other states have recognized the contribution of their people through the use of heritage corridors. Legislation (Assembly Bill 2625) now being considered by the State of California would allow California to do so, as well. Authoring the legislation is Assembly Member Fran Pavley (D - Woodland Hills). As a former history teacher, Assembly Member Pavley appreciates the importance of commemorating our heritage.
Heritage Corridors consolidate historic and cultural locations by their common thread, thereby motivating travelers to visit what fascinates them about California's past and its people. This approach is fundamentally different than the designation of individual sites as historically significant, in that it weaves places together by their common interests, expands identification to culturally significant locations and thereby encourages discovery of people, places and creations. Heritage Corridors will not be limited to historic places, events, trails or roads, as California's heritage includes its cultures, industries, resources, arts, products, literature, philosophies, and achievements, among other concepts.
More about this new approach is described at:
submitted by Penelope Curtis

Forging a Creative Community
for the New Creative Economy

Feb 17, 2006
By John Eger

Creating a twenty-first-century city is not so much a question of technology as it is of jobs, dollars and quality of life. A community's plan to reinvent itself for the new, knowledge-based economy and society therefore requires educating all its citizens about this new global revolution in the nature of work. To succeed, cities must prepare their citizens to take ownership of their communities and educate the next generation of leaders and workers to meet the new global challenges of what is now being termed the "Creative Economy."

Having the most wired and wireless infrastructures are undoubtedly important. San Diego even commissioned a City of the Future Committee in 1993 to make plans to build the first fiber-optic-wired city in the United States in the belief that just as cities of the past were built along waterways, railroads, and interstate highways, the cities of the future will be built along "information highways" -- wired and wireless information pathways connecting every home, office, school, and hospital and, through the World Wide Web, millions of other individuals and institutions around the world.

But at the heart of such efforts must be a recognition of the vital roles that art and technology play in enhancing economic development and, ultimately, defining a "creative community" -- a community that exploits the vital linkages among art, technology and commerce. A community with a sense of place. A community that nurtures, attracts and holds the most creative and innovation workers.

In recent years, people habitually have referred to the domain in which Internet-based communications occur as "cyberspace," an abstract communications space that exists both everywhere and nowhere. But until flesh-and-blood humans can be digitized into electronic pulses in the same way that computer scientists transform images and data, the denizens of cyberspace will have to continue living in some sort of real physical space -- a home, a neighborhood and a community.

The state of California in 1996 launched its statewide Smart Communities program, recognizing that electronic networks like these will play an increasingly important role in the economic competitiveness of its municipalities. The underlying premise of the California initiative is that smart communities are not, at their core, exercises in the deployment and use of technology, but rather active tools in the promotion of economic development, job growth, and higher living standards overall. In other words, technological propagation in smart communities is not an end in itself, but rather a means to a larger end with clear and compelling benefits for communities.

We have learned a great deal about the challenges that cities face in a new global "information economy," an economy based on something other than the production of goods and services or agriculture. Although these basic industries continue, the new economy relies on the production, use, and transfer of information and knowledge.

In fact, one distinct possibility is that cities of the future will not be cities in the usual sense, but rather powerful regional economies. Kenichi Ohmae, author of The Borderless World (1999), suggests we are witnessing the resurgence of the age-old concept of the city-state or, as he prefers, the "region-state." The new region-state has the power and authority to take ownership of its own future and establish a governing process reflecting a new model of government for the digital age.

Civic engagement and new civic "collaboratories" (collaborative projects and endeavors) will also be needed to help reinvent our great cities to reclaim the sense of place and civic pride this once possessed, as well as to ensure that no one is left behind. In The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict into Cooperation (1999), Daniel Yankelovich argues that there is a "struggle between two one-sided visions of our future: the vision of the free market and the vision of the civil society." Citizens need to create the "social capital," that distinguishes their communities, and in the process close the gap between the electorate and those they elect, as Robert D. Putnam put it in his seminal work Bowling Alone (2000).

Cities of the future no doubt will be "creative communities" in the sense that they recognize art and technology as vital, not only to a region's livability, but also to the preparedness of its workforce. Future cities will understand that a basic understanding of the role of technology as a tool of transformation, and that art-infused education is critical to producing the next generation of leaders and workers for the knowledge economy. Today, the demand for creativity has outpaced the ability of most nations to produce enough workers simply to meet their needs.

Worrying about the lack of qualified workers in this day and age may sound odd. With the globalization of media and markets in full bloom, America, for example, is beginning to see the outlines of yet another out-migration of jobs, unleashing new concerns about rising unemployment. Many economists are alarmed that the latest round of losses -- unlike the earlier shift of manufacturing jobs to Taiwan and less-developed East Asian countries -- will have a dramatic impact on America's wealth and well-being.

Twenty years ago, it was fashionable to blame foreign competition and cheap labor markets abroad for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, but the pain of the loss was softened by the emergence of a new services industry. Now that the service sector has also widely automated itself, banking, insurance, and telecommunications firms are eliminating layers of management and infrastructure.

The traditional corporate pyramid is disappearing replaced by highly skilled professional work teams. State-of-the art software and telecommunications technologies now enable any kind of enterprise to maximize efficiency and productivity by employing foreign workers wherever they are located, making the service-sector jobs even more precious. Forrester Research Inc., a market-research firm, estimates some 3.3 million service jobs will move out of the United States over the next 10-15 years. Others put that number at 15 million, and say the results will be devastating for the U.S. economy.

While CEOs, economists and politicians are telling us that these are short-term adjustments, it is clear that the pervasive spread of the Internet, digitization, and the availability of white-collar skills abroad mean potentially huge cost savings for global corporations. Consequently, this shift of high-tech service jobs will be a permanent feature of economic life in the 21st century -- but this does not necessarily mean the news is all bad for workers in the United States and other developed countries.

Some economists believe that globalization and digitization will improve the profits and efficiency of American corporations and set the stage for the next big growth-generating breakthrough. But what will that be?

A number of think tanks, including Japan's Nomura Research Institute, argue that the elements are in place for the advance of the Creative Age, a period in which free, democratic nations thrive and prosper because of their tolerance for dissent, respect for individual enterprise, freedom of expression, and recognition that innovation, not mass production of low-value goods and services, is the driving force for the new economy.

The new economy's demand for creativity has manifested itself in the emergence and growth of what author Richard Florida has termed the Creative Class. Although Florida defines this demographic group very broadly, he does a convincing job of underscoring the facts of life and work in the new knowledge economy. As he points out, "every aspect and every manifestation of creativity -- cultural, technological and economic -- is inextricably linked."

By tracking certain migration patterns and trends, Richard Florida did a huge service for those struggling to redefine their communities for the new knowledge economy. However, many questions remain. Can the community, through public art or cultural offerings, enhance the creativity of its citizens? And if the new economy so desperately demands the creative worker and leader, what should schools and universities do to prepare the next generation of creative people?

I first realized that we were doing something fundamentally wrong in K-12 education when I was asked in 1996 to chair California's then-governor Pete Wilson's Commission on Information Technology. About the same time, the governor had a subcommittee on education technology, which I also chaired. Participating in that effort were such luminaries as one of the founders of the personal computer industry, Alan Kay; Larry Ellison, founder and chairman of Oracle Corporation; Joanne Kosburg, former president of Californians for the Arts and a secretary of state and consumer affairs under Wilson; and Jeff Berg, Chairman and CEO of International Creative Management Inc.

Early on in our deliberations Larry Ellison suggested our goal should be "to put a personal computer in the backpack of every K-12 student by the year 2001." It was a big, startling idea and captured everyone's attention regarding the enormity of our task. California in 1996 was about fiftieth among the 50 states in computers per pupil.

But Alan Kay shouted across the room, "Would you give five pencils to a school, Larry?" The computer, Alan argued, was nothing more than a pencil. What about the paper? he asked, and more importantly, what about the ideas that must come when we ask the student to put pencil to paper? Our challenge, he said, was to better understand how students learn, what they needed to learn to survive and succeed in today's knowledge economy, and what our teachers in private and public learning institutions were doing about it.

Later that year I was asked to meet with a senior vice president of the Los Angeles-based Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, who were asking Governor Wilson to "declare a state of emergency" to help Hollywood find digital artists. Silicon Valley, we learned, also wanted the governor to lobby Washington for more foreign visas for the same reason. There were people aplenty who were computer literate, they claimed, but could not draw. In the new economy, they argued, artistic talents are vital to all industries dependent upon the marriage of computers and telecommunications.

Sadly, we discovered that art and music had been cut out of most California schools over 20 years ago in our zeal to be number one in the world in math and science. At the time this decision was made the United States was about eleventh in the world according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Now, the United States ranks about 24th in the world while Singapore, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are in the top 10 in part because they have found a way to underscore the linkages between music and math, art and science.

Until recently, there has been only limited evidence of the connection between education and in appreciation of the arts and success in the postindustrial age of information. But now it is becoming increasingly apparent that arts initiatives will be the hallmarks of the most-successful schools and universities and, in turn, the most-successful and vibrant twenty-first-century cities and regions. One key to this vision is that we must acknowledge the current out-migration of high-tech jobs as a challenge to the status quo. As former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina told a panel of governors a short time ago, "Keep your tax incentives and highway interchanges; we will go where the highly skilled people are."

Those communities placing a premium on cultural, ethnic, and artistic diversity, reinventing their knowledge factories for the creative age, and building the new information infrastructures for our age, will likely burst with creativity and entrepreneurial fervor. These are the ingredients so essential to developing and attracting the bright and creative people to generate new patents and inventions, innovative world-class products and services, and the finance and marketing plans to support them. Nothing less will ensure a city's economic, social, and political viability in the twenty-first century.

John M. Eger, Van Deerlin Professor of Communications at San Diego State University, was chair of Governor Wilson's first Commission on Information Technology. He is editor of The Smart Communities Guidebook, released by The State of California (1997), and the recent author of The Creative Community published by SDSU. This article was excerpted and adapted from the March / April issue of The Futurist, published by The World Futurist Society.

Copyright © 2005, e.Republic, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
eRepublic, Inc.

John M. Eger
Van Deerlin Chair of Communication and Public Policy
Executive Director, International Center for Communications
San Diego State University

Artist feels mural design misunderstood

February 11, 2006

At times, John Pugh said it felt like Nevada County residents were coming at him armed with pitchforks.

"Right now it is a much higher mountain to climb," he said in a phone interview Thursday, sounding rather beleaguered just two weeks after his proposed mural design for the Del Oro Theatre was published on The Union's front page.

Pugh has been internationally recognized for his "trompe l'oeil" style and his sketch for the Grass Valley landmark features a three-dimensional mine shaft etched into the building.

He had been looking forward to this mural project, in part because he plans to soon move to Truckee, where he is building a new home.

Since the publication, however, dozens have responded on The Union's Web site and in letters on its editorial pages. And while some have been encouraging, many others were either confused or just downright nasty.

"If not anything, it has created a definite buzz," Pugh said.

Based on many of the comments he's read, however, Pugh said it doesn't seem people understand what the design is about in the first place. Newspaper print can be a tough medium on which to reproduce a design and Pugh said it came across as too dark, which caused many details to be hidden.

"The concept is not being communicated," he said. "I have a really good concept here and people haven't seen it."

In his 25 years as a mural artist, Pugh said he has never received the kind of backlash from a project like the one he's received from western Nevada County residents. And while the online response has been a bit frightening, Pugh said most of the personal e-mails he has received have been encouraging.

"On a personal note, the response has been magnificent," he said. Six local artists have stepped forward to help with the project and Pugh plans on hiring one person to help, using others as volunteers who are interested in learning the unique "trompe l'oeil" style.

He's also received several suggestions for changes that should be made to the submitted design. He said some have been very helpful, while others "seem belligerent and misinformed" - particularly those who blast him for straying from the gold mining theme that was so central to the previous mural, "The Heart of the Gold Industry."

Howard Levine, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association, said he also wants people to remember that the final sketch must still go through a public review process - which will be similar to a construction project - and must be approved by a majority vote of the City Council.

Another misconception has been who will actually be paying for the art. Some have chastised the city for spending so much on public art, but the $60,000 project is actually being funded entirely by donations.

Fundraising efforts will be underway "once we have a sketch for the mural ... that we would have voted for," Levine said. Until then, "we are in a holding pattern."

At least two fundraisers are currently planned. The theater's owners, Mike and Barbara Getz, raised more than $6,000 during the March 2005 showing of "Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." Another $4,000 has been also been raised by individual donations, Levine said.


Artist John Pugh describes his plans for the Del Oro Theatre mural:

"In the area surrounding the upper shaft where the miners are being lowered, side drifts will be depicted. These will show viewers more of the full mining process and the miners past ventures to find gold. The story continues as we drop further and rediscover another mother lode - the great natural beauty of the area. Symbolized by beautiful glass cascades, the ageless Yuba River is presented here in a different context, giving it a fresh perspective.

"Community members whom remain 'miners for a heart of gold' will also strike pay dirt as the old heart icon is brought back to life and placed in a major artery of this project's mine theme. This mural approach is historically flavored and its portrayal is not dark and dismal. In creating an adventurous and pioneering tone it celebrates the history, the community, and the beauty of the area with a gold miner's charm."


Meters for Murals to help raise money for project

Visitors to downtown Grass Valley shops will soon be able to show support for the Del Oro Theatre mural project by dropping a few spare coins or bills in special old-fashioned parking meters.

It is "meters for murals," just one of several fundraising efforts that will take place to raise money for the $60,000 project.

Three meters have been commissioned to local artists who will then transform them into works of public art. They will then be on display on a rotating basis in shops around downtown. The three meters will be on display as soon as all are finished, said Howard Levine of the Grass Valley Downtown Association.

Longtime local resident and metal sculpture, Rock Meade of Mind Over Metal, has already designed the first meter.

"It is challenging when somebody gives you a parking meter and says, 'make something out of that,'" he said. "There were so many possibilities, but I had to make it simple."

Meade has had work on display at Gallery II on East Main Street and has lived in Grass Valley for 22 years.

Meade said he was honored to be a part of the fundraising effort for the new mural project, which will be designed by San Jose artist John Pugh.

"Meters for murals" is being organized by the Grass Valley Downtown Association.


Businessmen to hold fundraiser

Grass Valley businessmen Doug Becker, James Poland, and Hank DiPillo team up three to four times a year to host holiday fundraisers for various organizations. For the St. Patrick's Day celebration, the Del Oro Theatre mural project has been chosen. The event is open to the public.

What: Del Oro Theatre Mural Fundraiser

When: 5:30 p.m. March 16

Where: Farmer's Insurance and Financial Services, 107 W. Main St.

For more information: Contact fundraiser host and Grass Valley Downtown Association Board Chairman Doug Becker. Poland is a Grass Valley attorney, DiPillo works with Paul Law Realty/GMAC Real Estate.


Mural, mural on the wall

Artist chosen to paint picture on Del Oro Theatre

January 26, 2006

John Pugh is a master of deception and illusion.

He creates larger-than-life murals with realistic, three-dimensional designs that make rivers, animals and people appear as if they are literally jumping off the walls on which they're painted.

It's an artistic technique that is at least five centuries old called "trompe l'oeil," which translates into "trick the eye," and soon, residents of western Nevada County will become quite familiar with the style.

Pugh has been named the artist to design and paint the mural on the Del Oro Theatre, Grass Valley's famed historical landmark that has been a barren beige since its last design was painted over during summer 2004 as part of a building rehabilitation.

"It's been difficult to choose from all these incredible artists out there, but I think we have done a good job in selecting John," said Teresa Poston, a member of the city's historical commission.

"You can see just from a technical standpoint, he is a pretty amazing artist," Poston said. "We are thrilled to have him desiring to do this project."

Poston, along with four other members of the mural project committee, sifted through more than a dozen applicants before they chose Pugh for the $60,000 project.

Each applicant was required to submit a proposal that included details of anticipated cost, design and time frame, she said. And while Pugh's proposal might still undergo some revisions to make it most reflective of the Grass Valley area and its citizens, Poston said they are very happy with the concept. The other members of the committee included Planning Commissioner Eleanor Kenitzer, Councilwoman Patti Ingram, Downtown Association Executive Director Howard Levine and theater owners Barbara and Mike Getz.

The design must also receive final approval from the City Council.

Pugh's sketch is typical of his unique trompe l'oeil style, which he has been perfecting into an internationally recognized trademark since his first attempt in 1980.

"Since then I've been one of the fortunate artists to have found a niche," Pugh said in a recent interview. "I really like using this illusionary (technique) because people like being tricked, and they tend to bond with the piece more than they (otherwise) maybe would."

He also said he has found that this technique tends to appeal to a wide variety of people, not just artists.

"I have found that this is a great language for public art," he said. "Even if they don't get into the concept, they like the illusion."

said he has tried to incorporate three main themes into the piece, which he feels are symbolic of Grass Valley - its history; natural beauty; and friendly, charming atmosphere. He has also worked hard to commemorate the previous mural, "The Heart of the Gold Industry" - painted by sign maker Ron Ewerth in 1976 - by incorporating the design into his own. The submitted sketch shows the image rested at the base of the building, but Pugh said he plans to move it higher for the final design.

He said he is fully aware of how emotional the prior image was for many area residents.

"I realize this is kind of their baby; this is part of their quality of life and their identity, and I have no intention of placing a foreign identity image (on the wall)," he said. "I really want to do the best I can to create a sense of place."

Pugh has worked all over the world on a variety of structures, but he said he particularly enjoys working in a small community "because I like the connection with the people; it is in the small communities that I have realized I am painting something that is very important to them, rather than just another piece on the wall."

He also plans to employ at least one local artist and use volunteers from the community.

Pugh now lives in San Jose but is soon moving to Truckee, he said. He said this mural is very important to him, as it will be his first in his new home.

No start date for the project has been scheduled, but Poston said a fund-raising effort will be officially launched as soon as the final design model is determined.



San Francisco Chronicle
January 6, 2006

Open Forum

Renaissance in arts funding needed
by Alma Robinson

Recently, I served on a grant panel at the National Endowment for the Arts. From this perspective at the federal level, it was stunning to see the effect of California's poor state funding for the arts. Organizations struggling with budget deficits, revolving-door staff turnovers and volunteers in leadership positions that were formerly paid are hardly the most competitive applicants in a process emphasizing national excellence. We need to address this critical issue in 2006 as a priority for our state.

Since 2003, when the state's general-fund allocation for the California Arts Council was reduced to $1.1 million, we lost most of the funding for arts education, artists' residencies and fellowships, the arts touring program and grants for the state's diverse arts organizations -- from the mini to the major. Many arts presenters, community arts programs, local arts councils and arts-service organizations are on life support.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed education budget includes $100 million for art and music in the classrooms. This is a laudable step in the right direction, but it doesn't address the critical need to restore the state's arts infrastructure. The miserly million allocated to the California Arts Council was required to match a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funds from the arts license-plate program and other sources make up a total agency budget of $3.2 million. At its peak in 2001, the Arts Council had a budget of $32 million.

California has gone from a national model to a marginal player. A Pennsylvania arts leader commented that the California Arts Council had developed many programs that were adapted around the country. No longer. We now rank lowest among states, according to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, giving just three cents per person to the arts -- less per capita than Mississippi, the District of Columbia and even Guam.

Take the arts touring roster -- a little understood piece of infrastructure outside of arts circles. To get on the roster, a performing-arts organization had to demonstrate excellence in a juried process. This roster became a "gold standard" catalog consulted by presenters around the state, regionally and even nationally. Being on the touring roster provided credibility with private foundations and university presenters, leading to greater organizational stability and future bookings as well as matching grants from the state. In December, the roster, which had been maintained online for the past two years to save money, was eliminated altogether. There were no funds to conduct the selection process.

Individual artists, such as San Francisco's former poet laureate devorah major, received her first grants and public recognition from the California Arts Council. She has since been honored with numerous fellowships and awards and has been recognized internationally. Without initial support from the state, she would not have been able to craft a successful career as a professional writer. How is the next generation of artists going to get started?

State grants for local arts agencies often provided the critically needed money for basic art programs in rural counties. In 2003, California funded local arts agencies in 53 counties. These funds leveraged other grants for arts in schools and communities. Now five of these county agencies have closed their doors; another 15 rely on volunteers or part-time staff, according to Al Maitland, the CEO of the California Assembly of Local Arts Agencies. The San Francisco Arts Commission used these funds to produce economic-impact studies and to generate new initiatives, such as the Arts Education Funders Collaborative and ArtHouse. In addition to losing an arts education officer because of the downsizing of the California Arts Council, Richard Newirth, director of the San Francisco Arts Commission, laments the loss of networking and professional development opportunities that benefited all the local agencies in the statewide network.

The $100 million for art and music in the governor's education budget is an investment that will help kids stay in school and prevent delinquency, provide paths to lifelong learning and creativity and inspire critical thinking. But the arts are needed beyond schools: They also boost our state's economy by making our communities attractive for tourism and corporate relocation.

If New York allocates $2.20 per person, or $42 million, in state funding to the arts, can't California come up with at least $1 per capita, or $35 million, to restore our competitive position and maintain our reputation as innovators across the disciplines? Peter Hero, president of the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, believes that corporate and philanthropic leaders who are concerned about the future of California can be inspired to develop a matching pool of funds to supplement the state's general-fund contribution. A shared fund, such as the $12 million endowment established to help stabilize a consortium of South Bay organizations, could be a model for statewide participation and support.

We need the arts as much as we need the infrastructure being discussed in Sacramento: the state's roads, highways, bridges and levees. We also need the infrastructure of the arts, which bridge our differences through celebrations and dialogue and help build communities. We need the bricks and mortar of imagination, creativity and cultural exchange.

Alma Robinson, executive director of California Lawyers for the Arts, was appointed by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to the city's Task Force on the Arts.

Mural a swirl of flows, images

Art outside Diego's Restaurant brings a touch of Chile
By Trina Kleist

December 26, 2005

In Grass Valley, there is a building with a 75-foot-long cinderblock wall just east of the freeway behind Hennessy School.

It used to be plain.

Now, zipping past on the freeway, a motorist could glance over and see an owl flapping its wings before a full moon. Pulling up along Colfax Avenue, the motorist could make out a Mexican market and mountains towering over a metal bridge spanning the rocky banks of the Yuba River.

Walking alongside, toward the school field for soccer practice, for instance, a person could see more: a brown bear prowling a local forest blooming with lupine and dogwood, brown-skinned harvesters plucking grapes, the world to which all the images belong.

It is the first public mural painted in the neighborhood, commissioned by the owners of the building, planned by a local art professor, painted by local art students, watch by local families and enjoyed daily by passersby.

Between each of the mural's scenes, a kind of swirl flows and furls, as if to suggest the pages of time. Time is the unseen dimension of this mural, through which its creators have learned about themselves, what they are capable of doing and how their work, like a pebble in the pond, already is sending ripples out to those who see it.


When the snowboarding career of Grass Valley native June Atkinson took her to Chile, she thought she would stay three months. She ended up staying two years and marrying a Chilean.

By the time the couple returned to California, June Henriquez had learned the beauty of Latin culture and its warm, embracing ways. She had seen the grand scale of public art in Latin America: the Colonial architecture, the public squares, the 20th-century murals blending social and political themes.

"Our county is small but it's growing. I think the arts are a really important part of life in our county," Henriquez said. "We live in an amazing place. The eye feeds on it."

Her grandmother had an empty building on East Colfax Street. Henriquez saw an opportunity. She and her mother, Diane Robison, opened Diego's Restaurant, named after the Henriquez' 7-year-old son, serving South American and American food.

The building had a long, blank wall facing Hennessy School. Just thinking about it made her shudder with excitement.

"I've got to do something with this wall!" Henriquez said.


Gary Graham grew up in San Francisco, where the Mexican mural greats had painted social realism masterpieces in the early 20th century: Diego Rivera, David Siquieros and Jose Clemente Orozco.

American and French muralists came through the city again during the Depression under Works Progress Administration grants, then again with the artistic upheavals of the 1970s, then in another wave in the 1980s.

Amid those influences, Graham earned a masters degree in mural art from San Francisco State University. He learned to work with clients even as he taught them tools for expressing themselves.

After painting commissioned pieces for decades in San Francisco and Oakland, Graham arrived in Grass Valley to teach art at Sierra College.

In Nevada County, Graham found, the area's natural beauty seems to have dampened the impulse to create public art.

Standing in front of the mural, Graham looked across a parking lot to other buildings, seeing blank canvasses where someone else might see nothing. They illustrated what he was trying to say about the role of public art in a community learning to design itself.

"When you look at a blank wall, you get a blank response," Graham said, then he turned around. "When you look at our mural, you get inspired. You get lots of different stories."


Art, Graham said, is the bridge between the brains and the hands.

Stephanie Blackwell is a mom who went back to school. She didn't know she could draw, but discovered she enjoyed art classes at Sierra College.

Blackwell's mother, a classical artist, convinced her to take Graham's mural art class with her in the fall. The ages among their classmates ranged from her mother, Sue Brown, at 68, to a 15-year-old Nevada Union High School boy.

They learned to make the cartoon that sketches the ideas of the mural; to sift through the patrons' requests and their own impulses and the physical limitations of the site; to refine and change those ideas; and the perseverance of 13 weekends to make the ideas real, finishing earlier this month. They learned to work together, to listen, to give and to take, Blackwell said.

"It's wonderful how you can take 15 people with totally different ages and personalities and backgrounds and artistic abilities and add them together to have a reasonable product and an enjoyable experience," Blackwell said.


While the students were working, neighborhood kids would come by to watch. Hennessy School teachers arranged walking trips during the week to mark the progress. Some have been inspired to paint murals in their classrooms.

The guys from AmeriGas started stopping by, and eventually took up brushes as well.

Diane Barlow, called the Owl Lady for her work on the flying bird, recalled the soccer parents who called out encouragement as the colors built up and the images filled in from Saturday to Saturday.

Sometimes, Blackwell saw children standing in front of the mural, pointing and talking as it took them from the Mexican-influenced southern part of the state to the snowy mountains of the north.

"The kids from the school have taken ownership of the mural," Barlow said.

As the pages of time turn, those children will grow up with the mural. Like the Heart of the Gold County graphic formerly on the back of the Del Oro theater, Graham said, it will become a part of people's lives.

That, he said, is what public art does.

Miner miracle: Artist offers to restore statue

Craftsman pledges to restore life-sized statue at Nevada Union

The Union Newspaper
November 5, 2005
by David Mirhadi

It appears that Nevada Union High School's oft-neglected miner will get a facelift after all.

Solomon Bassoff, an artist whose works have included the restoration of a South Auburn Street apartment complex, has agreed to restore the miner's magic, all at no cost to the Nevada Joint Union High School District.

"I was rather touched by the story, and I thought something like this should be restored," said Bassoff, who specializes in cement structures and artwork at Faducci, his North San Juan-based business.


Bassoff read how the miner's hands had been chopped off at least twice, and how the cement around his hat had been chipped away. The life-sized structure is also riddled with graffiti.

Bassoff said he would work to weld new steel into the miner's hands, making the goldpan he holds nearly impossible to remove. He said he'd also like to recast some of the concrete statue and layer it with additives to protect against freezing and thawing. The hat, parts of which have been chipped away to reveal a chickenwire foundation, would be restructured and stabilized to prevent chipping. The entire statue, Bassoff said, will be coated with a sheer topping to prevent cracks and repel graffiti.

"We're going to try to make this as bomb-proof as possible," Bassoff joked.

Bassoff said it would take several days and little capital to refurbish the 27-year-old structure, and he plans to start as soon as the school will let him.

"Most of the work is in the skill, in sculpting the form," he said.

Meek's Lumber has also offered to donate materials for the work.

Nevada Union assistant principal Bruce Kinseth was more than happy to oblige Basshoff on Friday.

"I really do think this is going to work out. I'm fully expecting this to get underway," he said. "(The miner) is at the point where if it doesn't get care soon, it could be destroyed."

Kinseth's own home burned in the 1988 49er Fire and was restored with the help of strangers, so he's not surprised that locals would step up to help fix the icon now.

Principal Marty Mathiesen, who's never seen the miner without graffiti or his eyes gouged out, said he too looks forward to a new and improved miner.

"I think it's neat that it means enough to people that they care about their community."

For Bassoff, it's a chance to give a familiar face a long-overdue makeover.

"This is something that everybody enjoys. It's part of our environment."


Americans for the Arts logo
Arts Action Alert header

November 4, 2005

Dear Friends,

I continue to be touched by the generosity of spirit that so many of our colleagues and partners in the arts have demonstrated since hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast and Texas. Now as arts leaders report new damage in Florida from Hurricane Wilma, we are again faced with colleagues in need.

With your generous support, Americans for the Arts has already provided 30 arts organizations in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas with funds through our recently established Americans for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund. We've been sending the money out as quickly as possible, but more requests for funds are arriving every day.

The relief funds go directly to local arts agencies to assist with their own recovery or to help them provide needed support to local nonprofit arts groups and individual artists in affected areas. Here's what two recipients are saying about how they are using their gift to support arts-related relief efforts in their communities:

"Thank you so very much for the generous check you sent to our Arts & Healthcare Initiative. We are in the shelters almost every day working with so many who are displaced. Wonderful things are happening and we appreciate your generosity and caring in this time of need." - Judy Ginsburgh, Arts Council of Central Louisiana

"Please accept our heartfelt thanks for your gift to help fund SRAC's outreach programming to residents living in shelters as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Your gift to SRAC's Shelter Arts Programs will help tremendously in formulating and implementing outreach services to evacuees." - Pam Atchison, Shreveport Regional Arts Council

Recovery will take a long time and the need for funding is still great. We hope you will consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Americans for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund. As a reminder, 100 percent of the contributions to the Emergency Relief Fund will go directly to support local arts agencies and other cultural relief efforts in designated disaster areas.

Americans for the Arts remains committed to assisting those local cultural organizations and individuals in need. We will continue to keep you informed about circumstances in the affected regions and additional ways you can help. If you have any questions regarding our efforts, please contact Mara Walker, chief planning officer, at (202) 371-2830.

Again, we want to thank you for your concern and ask that you continue to give generously to support our colleagues in need.

Bob Lynch
President and CEO
Americans For The Arts

blue footer

Nevada County Arts Council

 "The art of a people is a true mirror to their minds."