Artist, advocate bolsters Chico’s creative community

Greta Gordon

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In addition to supporting the local arts scene as president of the board at 1078 Gallery, Erin Wade also teaches photography and photo editing at Butte College. Photo courtesy of Erin Wade.

Artist, freelance graphic designer, teacher, and president of the board at 1078 Gallery, Erin Wade is a multitalented and important member of the Chico art scene.

“I always knew I wanted to be an artist from a young age,” Wade said. “In high school I started taking art more seriously and my teachers inspired me.”

Raised in Utah and Connecticut, Wade left for New York City to attend college, and spent her 20s there, immersed in the art scene. She moved to Chico to raise her son and has now been a Chico resident for 14 years.

“I would say that (the Chico art scene) is very inclusive and supportive,” Wade said. “There’s a lot of acceptance and encouragement for artists, which is great. Some people might complain about the quality, but it’s not San Francisco or New York. To me all art is great.”

Wade claims that throughout her love of art, she’s still practical about the profession, which lead her to do graphic design. She has been teaching for five years and currently teaches Photoshop and video editing at Butte College. Wade also is in charge of the community college’s art gallery.

“(With teaching) I know it’s important and worthwhile,” Wade said. “I know I’m 100 percent doing good for the world.”

As president of the board at 1078 Gallery, Wade has the chance to showcase other artists. The gallery is a nonprofit organization founded in 1981. Since then it has moved from its original space on Humboldt Road to 820 Broadway in downtown Chico.

1078 Gallery is one of the few galleries in Chico and plays a crucial role in supporting our local artists, Wade said. She has been the president of the board there for a year. Currently on the walls at the gallery is “Fragile Structures,” by Monika Meler, which features delicate paper cutouts and collages.

When she is not preoccupied with her many jobs, Wade works in her home studio, which she admits can sometimes turn into the junk room. Right now she is working with a stack of paper she found at an estate sale.

“I’m limiting myself to that paper and a pencil,” Wade said. “Right now I don’t really believe in buying art supplies to make something. There’s so much excess stuff around that the challenge is to make things out of whatever you have.”

This philosophy is aligned with work Wade has done in the past. In 2013, she received a grant from the city of Chico to create an outdoor art project in Bidwell Park. The show, called “Invasive Natures,” was created using exclusively invasive plants found in the park.

“I like to play with the materials and see what they can do,” Wade said.

“Usually I’ll have some ideas — not really visual ideas, more just things I’m thinking about,” Wade said. “Right now I’m thinking a lot about daily routines of people, habits and the junk of our daily lives. Those are the things on my mind. They will probably come out in whatever I’m doing, though I don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

Greta Gordon can be reached at [email protected] or @hakunagretata on Twitter.