Chico, CA, is an art-loving town, no doubt about it. From private galleries and coffee shops to public art to offerings at Chico State, art abounds! I recently came across this KCHO News YouTube video interview with James Snidle (2011-12 Turner Prize recipient)
wherein he discusses how he came to own art galleries in both San Francisco and our little Chicotown. He also talks about his early years as an artist and his relationship with the renowned Janet Turner (who bequeathed her prints and beloved collected works of art to Chico State) and Ken Morrow (view a lovely 3 minute video of several of his ethereal works here).
Current buzz in the local art world is “monCA” (Museum of Northern California Art), which boasts over 350 works of art by over 96 Northern California artists. (Read the E-R article here and the CN&R article here.)
While the dedicated volunteers at monCA search for a permanent home for this amazing collection (which was donated to the museum by collector and monCA board member Reed Applegate), they are helping to put art education back into local schools with their “mobile museum.” Kudos to them! (Check out the monCA web site for more info or to become a member or make a donation.)
Eight interns from CSUC’s Concrete Industry Management Program (one of only five such university programs in the U.S.) tackled the job of repairing concrete on the infamous island these past few months.
The park service was so thrilled with the results from last year’s internship that they signed an agreement to bring the students back every summer for five years.
The students are paid for their work, with funds coming from BASF (a leading chemical company) as well as the park service.
Says CIM Director Tanya Wattenburg Komas:
“It’s an amazing opportunity for the students; it’s really a once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable experience. Our students have a classroom and laboratory education, but this is their opportunity to apply it in the real world. Alcatraz on your résumé is not a bad way to go.”
Here’s Part 1 of a short video of Dr. Komas making a presentation to “Women in Concrete“:
<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/a62zHtPyijI” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Kudos to Doug Guerrero, Chairman of the Chico State CIM Patrons, for working so hard to bring this concrete program to CSUC!
It’s hard not to notice this John Pugh mural if you spend any time in downtown Chico. Located on the corner of 1st Street and Broadway (on Taylor Hall, which houses the University Art Gallery), it was Pugh’s first mural, painted in 1980-81 when he was a CSUC student.
Pugh went on to create more than 200 large-scale “trompe l’oei” (“trick of the eye”) murals across the United States, New Zealand, and Taiwan.
Rather than simply paint a realistic-looking series of columns, Pugh was influenced by a dream to “break open” the wall on Taylor and “fill this fictive space with relevant narrative creations — intended to engage the viewer on deeper levels.”
The fate of this well-loved mural (also known as “Academe”) currently hangs in the balance as plans to demolish the building are underway. There has been much debate about preserving the mural, whether in its current location (can’t we just keep THAT wall?) or elsewhere on campus. I will post an update on the status when I can.
I feel honored to live in a place that has been named one of America’s “Best Art Towns*,” and I think Mr. Pugh’s artwork has much to do with that distinction! (Check out these photos of Pugh’s murals.)
* Author John Villani named Chico #10 in his book The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America!
Cash crunch? Why not simply print some money? That’s just what the Chico Chamber of Commerce did in April of 1933 (April 12th to be exact, my birthday–although a few years before my arrival).
It was during the depths of the Great Depression, and two prominent banks had denied citizens access to their accounts for well over a month. The Chamber’s newly-minted “Chico Currency” could be used to draw on up to one-fourth of citizens’ bank accounts (not to exceed $25!).
During its five-month-long circulation, local business owners gladly accepted “Chico Bucks,” even promoting their use in newspaper advertising.
By September, when the banks “thawed” their coffers, the city held a parade and mock funeral (complete with drum, bugle corps and coffin) in Children’s Park, with a young Ted Meriam (for whom Meriam Library is named, and–like Dr. Seuss’s “Lorax”–who spoke for Chico’s trees) acting as parade marshal. About $15,000 worth of the script was torched in a dramatic funeral pyre. Only a few specimens remain to this day.
(Note: A big “thank you” to Tina Aranguren for her research and for bringing the story of “Chico Bucks” to my attention!)