One of my great pleasures in working at an organization like the Pence Gallery (now in its 38th year), is listening to stories from members about “the old Pence.”
Behind our original gallery building at 212 D St. in downtown Davis was a park with brick seating, where theatrical groups and various musical ensembles performed over the years. The lively atmosphere made this courtyard a little hidden gem for those eager for entertainment in the downtown area.
Following our expansion in 2005, this courtyard area languished a bit, and was in need of some major facility improvements.
Our new project, initiated last year, is designed to improve our existing courtyard in the hopes of increasing performances and classes, while taking care of maintenance and drainage issues. With the help of the community, we installed new pavers, replanted our Tupper Arbor and created better seating and lighting.
Our concept is to create an art-filled courtyard that would be open to the public and provide a space for families and student groups to use, while encouraging performances. In the past few months, the Acme Theatre Company and Barnyard Theatre have both performed, while six bands took the stage for the Davis Music Festival in June.
This summer, we are turning our sights on the courtyard’s east wall, a 22-by-22-foot area faces our Dowling Community Gallery. On it, muralist Anthony Padilla will paint “Solar Compass,” celebrating the power of the sun and wind as renewable sources of energy. His design also focuses on honeybees, as they use the sun as a compass to scout the location of food. The honey they produce in turn fuels many creatures, big and small. This will be the first mural in Davis to cover such a large surface, and will greatly enhance our improvements to our courtyard.
Already, new programs such as monthly musical performances during the Second Friday ArtAbout on our paved patio area with its lovely sculpture by Donna Billick have increased our ability to serve the community.
Padilla is well known to many residents in Sacramento for his colorful murals that grace the walls of local businesses and civic buildings. He recently completed a public art commission for the Boys & Girls Club in downtown Sacramento, “Solar Power Plant,” using solar panels as part of his mural to provide a recharging station, showing his interest in using art to “participate in building the future.”
Other major commissions include his “Seasons of Sacramento” mural in the Historic City Hall and his giant California poppies at the UC Davis Medical Center. Hailing from a graffiti tradition, he is a master at creating naturalistic color and shadow, using myriad cans of spray paint. For those interested in contributing, check out our website at www.pencegallery.org, or call the gallery at 530-758-3370 for more information.
Gayle Rappaport-Weiland is offering a water media/collage workshop that incorporates rice paper, pastels and other materials, to inspire beginning and experienced artists to create lively works on paper. She makes learning new processes fun and even easy, in this workshop Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. Call the gallery to sign up by Saturday. The cost is $78, and a supply list is provided.
During August, three exhibits that opened early this summer will be closing. Be sure to see our photography exhibit, “Kurt Edward Fishback: Face Forward,” for his environmental shots of California artists such as Ansel Adams, Wayne Thiebaud and Roy de Forest. This show continues until Aug. 18, whereas our “Slice” exhibit, a juried selection of regional art, closes Sunday.
“Community Hang-Up,” our nonjuried display of 50 works of art, is still open through Aug. 22, giving you a chance to vote for your favorite work of art. The piece with the most votes endows the selected artist with a $50 gift certificate and a Pence Gallery membership.
August is also a busy month, as staff members prepare for our annual Art Auction fundraiser and exhibit. More than 175 works of art will be on display Aug. 29- Sept. 20, and that means that patrons can place silent bids anytime during this three-week period. On Sept. 20, we will have our auction event from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., with fantastic food and wine provided by some of the best restaurants and wineries in town.
Tickets go on sale by Sept. 1 for our event, which includes entertainment by Zorelli, a fantastic Caribbean jazz collective from Sacramento. I hope that you stop by the gallery during the preview exhibit to enjoy some truly inspiring work by select local and regional artists.
— Natalie Nelson is executive director and curator of the Pence Gallery; her column is published monthly.