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Celebrating the visual arts
The Colusa County Arts Council gala at the Colusa Indian Community Center on Thursday wasn't the same as it was last year.
"Last year, we called it a 'friend-raiser,'" said Director Jan Highman. "This year we called it a gala, because that is what it is."
But the event wasn't the only thing that has changed, according to Arts Council President Fred Welcome.
"We're really looking to change direction from what we've been doing the past year and a half," Welcome said.
The Arts Council was formed in 1991 with a goal to bring visual and performing arts to the community.
The organization offers ceramic, watercolor, drawing and other art medium classes throughout the year, and host cultural tours for the advancement of art appreciation for members and non-members.
For the most part, the Arts Council has met its goal to bring culture to Colusa County, but members say that it is not enough. "We realized at last year's May Surprise that we were showing the same artists to the same art lovers," Welcome said. "We have to do more."
Welcome said the Arts Council plans to grow its own new artists by inspiring Colusa County children to look at art, love art and want to make art.
The organization plans to do this in several ways, Welcome said, the first of which will be establishing the county's first art docent program for elementary school children.
The program will be established at Burchfield Primary to provide students with an interactive education in art history and artistic skills.
"We eventually want to get every kid in the county involved in an art docent program," Welcome said. "That is our long-term goal."
The Arts Council also plans to soon introduce an art program to Williams youth through the Williams Recreation Department, Welcome said.
Perhaps the most important way the Arts Council plans to inspire young artists is by its running of the art exhibit progam at the Colusa County Fair, and by encouraging all young artists to submit their work.
Welcome said the exhibits at the fair have become simple displays of classroom art, and more needs to be done to inspire youth to become more creative.
And honoring founding member and past President Harriet Resch on Thursday was the crucial first step.
Welcome surprised Resch at the gala by announcing the Arts Council has decided to offer cash awards for the top youth art exhibits entered in the County Fair each year.
"We are calling the awards 'The Hatties,'" said Welcome, who choked back a tear as he put his arm around Resch.
Welcome said the Arts Council chose to name the awards after Resch because she inspired children to be creative throughout her nearly 30 years as a teacher in Colusa, Arbuckle and Williams schools.
Resch taught English, public speaking and drama, but was known for always including art in her curriculum.
"It was always so exciting to see my students respond to art," Resch said.
"When I started introducing art, I had no idea they could be that creative. Everyone responds to art in some form or another. It permeates everything in life."
Resch said she was very touched at being honored by the Arts Council, which she helped establish.
"This is such a surprise, but I think it's wonderful," she said.
Welcome said the cash awards will give youth incentives to produce good quality work, and help cover the cost of art materials.
The Arts Council will look for sponsors to help fund the awards, he said.
To learn more about the Colusa County Arts Council visit online at www.colusacountyartscouncil.org or visit its downtown office and gallery at 430 Market St., Suite C, or call 458-2222 (458-CCAC).