April 29, 2004
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by LINDA MITCHELL
RAN INTO EUREKA'S FORMER MAYOR Nancy Flemming at a potluck dinner
last night and we talked about the upcoming debut of the Empire
Squared (E2) Studio and Gallery in Old Town. "I think it's
fabulous," she said. "Here's this group of kids with
basically no financial resources, and they're just making it
happen. I love it." [photo
What's even better is that E2
is just one of three new gallery ventures -- all very different
-- slated to open this coming Saturday night during Arts Alive.
This indicates that there are a lot of creative people around
town "making it happen," and hopefully the weather
will hold so the community will turn out in droves to celebrate.
After all, it's been a long time since Eureka has seen a new
gallery, and everybody knows we're in desperate need of more
places to exhibit and market our art.
While one of these new venues,
the Accident Gallery on F Street, is only temporary, both the
E2 Studio and the new Shorelines Gallery have long-range plans.
I met the owners of Shorelines, Matt and Sherrie Butler, in front
of their new business the other day, where several of their friends
were helping them unload a truck parked on the sidewalk. After
welcoming them to the neighborhood, I peeked inside.
The room was still in progress
so there wasn't much art to see yet, but the Butlers had clearly
been working hard on the space -- there was fresh white paint
on the walls and lots of great lighting. The couple (both potters)
said they'll be showing a variety of artwork by local and regional
artists, including paintings, sculpture, jewelry, glass and handmade
While I haven't seen the finished
gallery or the art they'll be exhibiting yet, Matt Butler has
a sales background, which can't hurt. Shorelines is also right
in the heart of Old Town (directly across from the gazebo on
Second Street), so the Butlers definitely have the location factor
The E2 Studio, on the other
hand, is all the way down at 47 Third Street, between A and Commercial.
To call this block "iffy" would be glamorizing it,
but the rent is cheap and these 25 energetic and talented young
artists are bound to reinvigorate the neighborhood. When I visited
them at their new digs the other day, several members of the
group were working on a variety of tasks and projects, readying
the space for opening night. "It'll be an event,"
Anayansi Ricketts promised. "We have lots of surprises planned."
Donovan Clark showed me around
the 1,600-square-foot space while explaining their concept. "It's
mainly a working studio," he said. "We wanted to have
a collaborative space where we could work together and inspire
each other, but we also wanted gallery space so we could do Arts
Alive openings." The initial plan is for each E2 member
to contribute $50 a month to cover rent and expenses. Clark added
that while E2 won't initially keep regular hours, group members
will usually be there creating their art if people want to drop
This won't be the case with
the Accident Gallery down at the foot of F Street (next door
to Vanity) -- if you miss the Arts Alive opening of their "Hit
and Run" exhibit, the 20 participating artists will have
packed up their art and moved on.
I discovered this collaborative
venture (by accident) the other day on my way to the boardwalk
when I saw three young people inside the space pounding nails
in the wall. I poked my head in to see what was going on and
Phyllis Barba, one of the artists, explained that the group is
composed of several friends (in the 20-30 age range) who were
just looking for a place to display their art. The F Street location
is currently being leased by Laura Dougherty next door at Vanity
(she'll be knocking down the wall and expanding), and she offered
the artists temporary use of the space, rent-free.
I can't vouch for the quality
of the art, since I haven't seen any of it, but the Hit and Run
show should still be a really fun event, with lots of inexpensive
art, live music and serious prizes. Get this: The group
will be raffling off 15-20 pieces of their art at 9 p.m. (you
have to be there to win) and the ticket prices are only 50 cents
each. That's right, 50 cents. Guess where I'll be at 9 on Saturday
night? Barba says the group plans to use the raffle money to
keep their Hit and Run concept going, since the next time they
have a show they'll probably have to pay someone rent.
Now, I have no idea whether
any of these new ventures will still be around next year or the
year after that, but for me, success comes in the doing of it.
It's impossible to keep our art community healthy and alive unless
local entrepreneurial spirits are willing to go for it and "make
it happen." As Nancy Flemming said when we spoke last night,
"Sometimes you just have to hold your nose and jump."
Also in MAY:
- This weekend will be your very
last chance to see Mel Schuler's exhibit at Morris Graves, since
the show closes on May 2. The Redwood Art Association's Juried
Spring Exhibit also opens at the museum this weekend.
- If you missed the opening of Becky
Evans' exhibit at HSU's First Street Gallery in Old Town last
month (one of the best local shows I've seen this year), you
can still see it through May 16.
- Eric Fidjeland's "Fragile"
exhibit is another one you don't want to miss -- it opens at
Piante for Arts Alive and continues through May.
- Frances Boettcher is one of the
featured artists at Arcata Artisans (on the plaza) this month,
and I just want to correct an omission from the title page of
the 2004 Palette magazine, which I edited. The palette
and that magnificent painting on the cover are hers and we neglected
to give her credit. Mea culpa, Frances.
- Janie Walsh has been working on
an illustrated roster of all Humboldt County artists for some
time now, one that will eventually reside in the county library's
Humboldt Room. If you are producing any sort of two- or three-dimensional
work, she wants to hear from you. Return the form she sent you
-- or call her at 443-4733 and she'll send you one.
Linda Mitchell can be reached
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