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Council bringing the arts to public
From needlepoint classes to watercolor displays, a group of committed volunteers is working to enhance the role of the arts in Colusa County.
The Colusa County Arts Council, with an infusion of energy and a new partnership with the California Arts Council, is creating programs to better support local artists and to make art more accessible to the larger community.
"We're on a cusp in terms of evolvement. We are fairly new in current incarnation," said Fred Welcome, president of the Colusa County Arts Council board of directors.
The current incarnation includes partnerships with local groups to expand art shows, a mobile mural project, a rich offering of art classes, an online artists registry, monthly art shows, and placement of local art in local businesses.
The menu of class offerings includes ceramics, pastels, needlepoint, photography and watercolor.
"We offer arts classes for enrichment to help people develop," said Hartel.
Class fees range from $5 to $100, and Premiere Mushrooms has recently offered funds as scholarship to students in the county.
"We're asking ourselves: How can we get activities that make the arts accessible?," said Welcome.
One program would bring artists into public schools throughout the county to offer lessons.
"We're working with Yolo Arts, who has similar demographics and a successful model. Ideally we'd like to see all schools in the county have the program," said Hartel.
"We're determined we're going to have a program in place by fall of next year, starting at Burchfield Elementary," said Welcome.
The Arts Council is working on various arts and crafts shows, including the Art & Wine Festival at the Sacramento Valley Museum on March 16, and a craft fair at the annual May Surprise.
"They support us. If there is a show they have, we're the first people we call as local artists to ask us if we want to show for free. They have the artists at the heart of everything they do." said Elvira Gutierrez, a Colusa photographer.
"They showcase my work. I could choose to show or sell my items at local business with no charge to me, and that's 100 percent because of the Arts Council," said Gutierrez.
Vic Kronberg, a noted Willows watercolor painter, is the current artist on display at the Arts Council. He has also benefited from the Arts Council placing his paintings in businesses around the county.
"They are very encouraging. They are very helpful. I can't say enough about them. I'm very impressed," said Kronberg.
The featured artist in March will be Barney Fitzpatric, a photographer from Colusa. The Arts Council keeps 25 percent of money generated from art sold on display in their office.
The new energy is due to a dedicated board president, passionate and active board members and volunteers a partnership and grant from the California Arts Council.
"Three years ago the State Arts Council came and asked if we would be part of the state organization," said Welcome.
The California Arts Council is a state agency governed by a council appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. The organization provides annual grant funding every year that amounts to about half of the Colusa County Art Council's budget. A condition of the grant is that the organization must match it with outside funds.
"Its a long time coming and we're finally doing what we should be doing and that is supporting any artist that wants the support," said Welcome.
Welcome is in his second term as president of the all-volunteer board. He and his wife, Judy, write the grants.
"I was 5 years old when my father took me to a museum for the first time; it affected me. Sixty years later, I remember. Basically there was a void (on the board) and I filled it," he said.
"Art in some form is a part of everyone's life; somehow or another everyone's life is involved in art. If we can enrich that part of their life, that's what we're here to do," he said.