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The Orion

Chico Art Center celebrates community

The Lifetime Award was presented to Sadie Card during the Members’ Showcase in honor of the 20 years she has dedicated to bringing art to the Chico community.Photo credit: Yoselin Calderon

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A widely eclectic group of artists chatted and ate nachos out of ceramic bowls as the low hum of their friendly conversation filled the gallery, masked with a wide variety of art on the walls.

The Chico Art Center held a reception Friday evening at the gallery located on Orange Street to introduce the latest artwork in the Members’ Showcase.

The Members’ Showcase will be featured in the gallery until Feb. 14. It features artwork by many of the different artists that participate in the Chico Art Center members program.

“You’re probably not going to find another show in Chico that has so many different artists that contribute to a show,” said Grant Branson, a volunteer at the Chico Art Center.

The artwork ranges from wooden sculptures to paintings to newer methods of art such as photo painting and ink transfers.

At the Members’ Showcase reception, all of the artists congratulated and critiqued each other’s work. Each led to the next like a trail of breadcrumbs around the room.

The center even awarded a lifetime membership award to Sadie Card, who has been a member of the Chico Art Center for 20 years. When receiving her award, she summed up the beauty of the art community perfectly.

“The arts community keeps you working and keeps you motivated,” she said.

The Chico Art Center is an art gallery and gift shop. It began in 1956, which makes it the oldest gallery in Chico, changing locations a few times before settling in at the Amtrak station.

It’s a nonprofit art gallery which means that there is no admission fee. They’ve continued to stay in business through government grants, selling artwork in the gallery, selling items from the gift shop and managing the cable car in front of the gallery, which currently houses Empire Coffee.

The goal is to support the community of Chico by providing a location for artists to show their work and to meet other local artists.

The Chico Art Center offers a membership program to those who wish to participate in the Members’ Showcase or receive discounts on any of the art classes, along with many other benefits.

The center also has its own publication called “The Mosaic” that focuses on its artists and new events. It goes into detail on who is being featured and the concept behind each show.

“The nice thing for the rest of the community is it’s really an opportunity for them to see what Chico has to offer,” said Darah Votaw, director of the Chico Art Center.

The true heart of the center is to benefit the community through art, and to give the community what they want to see in the arts center. Even the classes they offer each season are based on what the members have said they would want to learn, from figure drawing to newer techniques like Zentangle, which is a form of meditative sketching.

“If a member says they want to learn something specific, we’ll find someone who can teach a class for us,” Votaw said.

The Chico Art Center is open seven days a week and most of the art in the gallery is for sale. Information regarding memberships and upcoming events can be found at

Veronica Hodur can be reached at [email protected] or @VeronicaHodur on Twitter.

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