140 art pieces find new home in the Museum of Northern California Art


An unlabeled piece of art displayed at MONCA’s exhibit “Affinity.” Instead labelling, they display a set of questions to inspire conversation. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

The same building that once hosted yoga classes, weddings and even voting, is now home to a collective of over 140 permanent art pieces.

The display front of MONCA on 900 Esplanade. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

The revival of the classical 1927 building on 900 Esplanade, now known as the Museum of Northern California Art MONCA, opened July 13. Artworks displayed range in location from Oregon to Northern California, to San Jose and as far wide as Nevada.

“[MONCA] is about keeping people up on the new things that are happening,” said Pat Macias, Board Director of MONCA. “Yes, we’ll intersperse into the old, but for the most part we want this to be really new exciting things that people possibly wouldn’t see around here for the most part.”

The pieces in MONCA’s permanent collection feature at least 90 different artists’ work, a generous donation from Reed Applegate. The hopes for this new museum opening is to push the envelope on the boundaries of art to include video, conceptual and installation art.

The current exhibition “Affinity” opened Aug. 31 and was curated by the National Institution of Art & Disabilities (NIAD) from Richmond, California. “Affinity” was inspired by the fusing of MONCA’s collection of art with NIAD’s to create one cohesive exhibit. It demonstrates that no matter how different we may seem from each other, people are more alike than meets the eye.

An unlabeled piece of art displayed at MONCA's exhibit "Affinity." Instead labelling, they display a set of questions to inspire conversation. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell
A set of art pieces displayed under the "Affinity" exhibition at MONCA. Beside the artworks are a different set of questions to spark conversation. Photo credit: Jordan Jarrell

Unlike any other museum, MONCA displays its works of art with questions in place of the names, dates and medium. The art does not go uncredited. Every artist and their works are shown in a separate hand out.

Rather than listing the name, date, and medium, MONCA uses questions to open a discussion. Photo credit: Alejandra Solorio

“It’s been really fun to watch people engage and interact,” Macias said. “That’s exactly what we want this to be, a place where people are not silent, where they’re talking to each other and asking, what really is that?”

On Sept. 1, MONCA hosted the TED talks-like event, PechaKucha 20×20. The event organization specializes in its presentation format of 20 slides displayed for 20 seconds each.

Christian Garcia presenting his artwork at MONCA for the PechaKucha 20x20 event on Sept. 1 Photo credit: Alejandra Solorio

The event featured presenters: Jed Speer, Christian Garcia, Kandis Horton-Jorth, Rebecca Shelly, David Sisk and J Pouwels.

Speakers either revisited their own artwork or works of art they encountered in various cities across the globe. Most presentations discussed, from a reflective standpoint, their creative inspirations and experiences with the different pieces of art on the displayed slideshow.

“I think [MONCA] will be beneficial for the younger generation,” said Christian Garcia, local street artist, owner and creative director of The Identity Thieves Collective. “People who are pushing the envelope and are making controversial art or art that can be questioned…will benefit from [MONCA].”

Pechakucha 20×20 is just one the many events the location plans on hosting. The building will benefit not only artists, but student organization events and local events to create an even more tight-knit community.

Alejandra Solorio can be reached at [email protected] or @alesolorio8 on Twitter.