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Davis Art Center: Celebrating the art of community

By Erie Vitiello

When we surveyed participants in last summer’s Discovery Art Exhibit, one of the things they told us was that the collaborative, interactive art activities at the core of this program made them feel closer to their community. Working on projects like Off the Grid — in which each participant created one piece of a large-scale artwork — brought individuals and families, amateurs and artists, and folks of all ages together, each person making an essential contribution to the larger whole.

I am struck by how the same is true for the Discovery Art Program itself: its success has depended on the support of many local businesses and organizations who have made this a truly community-based program. These organizations include the California Energy Commission, Genentech and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, who have put our beautiful large-scale murals on display at their locations; Paint Bike Fun, which collaborated with us to create the new Bike Mural on the corner of Third and F streets, as well as the city of Davis and Downtown Davis who supported this project; the UC Davis Arboretum, which has hosted Discovery Art activities each year; and the Pence Gallery, which worked with us on a joint art/science camp for kids this summer — along with DK Kemp and volunteers from Walk/Ride Davis, who trained campers in bike safety and chaperoned them from the art center to the Pence each day.

My deepest thanks to all who have helped us bring participation in the arts to a wider audience. Here in Davis, where new public art projects seem to spring up overnight, we have shown that art-making as a community creates community, stimulating diverse citizens to share ideas, creativity and culture. All of us at the art center look forward to more exciting and productive collaborations with our current partners — and to developing new ones — in the coming year.

Speaking of collaborations, take note of these special events hosted by partner organizations on our behalf this fall:

* In conjunction with the Discovery Art Program, the UC Davis Arboretum will host a Design + Flight Derby in the Arboretum Gazebo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8. All ages are invited to examine the physics of flight and momentum in birds, butterflies, seeds, rockets and more, plus try out DIY paper airplane designs and take part in a fun flight derby.

* The Pence Gallery has included six works from the Davis Art Center collection in its annual art auction, including pieces by ceramic artists Robert Arneson and David Gilhooly, along with paintings by Gladys Nilsson and Chiura Obata. The auction takes place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at the Pence Gallery, 212 D St. Tickets are $30 for Pence members and $40 for non-members and can be obtained online at pencegallery.org or by calling the gallery at 530-758-3370.

* The Davis Food Co-op has designated the Davis Art Center as the beneficiary of its fabulous Friday night wine-tastings this fall, starting in October. The Co-op has an amazing selection of local, regional and international wines, so please join us for the first event from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4.

— Erie Vitiello is Executive Director of the Davis Art Center. She can be reached at [email protected]

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