Nearly three dozen artists displaying their talent at Art Works; Eileen Blodgett, Susan Lobb Porter and David Wong on display this weekend
Special to Prospector
KNOW & GO
Who: Art Works Gallery Co-op
What: Second Saturday Spotlight
When: Saturday Nov. 9 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Art Works Gallery, 113 Mill Street, Grass Valley
How: Admission is free
Just a decade ago, a small group of seven dedicated artists decided to forge together to open a gallery in downtown Grass Valley as a means to display their work to the public. Today, thirty-three artists make up the cooperative, each bringing their unique talents to the 2,000 square feet brick and mortar building on Mill Street in the historic downtown area. Resident artist Eileen Blodgett said, “We are still going strong. I was not part of the original group but several of the original group are still here.”
The artists work in a variety of media including carved stone, photography, ceramics, paintings, glass, textiles, woodturning and about every form of art imaginable. Blodgett said that variety has made Art Works Gallery a destination for locals as well as visitors who come to the area. “Customers bring their family and friends when they come to Nevada County. They bring them into the gallery. It’s really a community gallery. Because it is a co-op, we (the artists) are there, at the gallery.”
Blodgett went on to explain each member of the gallery is on a committee, each artist has a job to do and every member is committed to work at the gallery for a required number of hours per month. Blodgett said, “When you visit you meet different artists working behind the counter, so we also have retail skills.” She added, lightly. “It’s a great thing to learn! We have members who take care of the facilities changing light bulbs and taking care of lights and others, like me, who are on the events committee and work to prepare everything and to get the word out.”
One of those events happens the second Saturday of the month when a few of the artists are chosen to demonstrate what they do. Blodgett explained many cities will have a second Saturday art walk, but they did not have as many businesses that wanted to take part in a monthly event, so the members decided on a featured artists event each second Saturday instead. Now in its second year, each month is different, as each artist brings their unique spin to the day. Blodgett said, “It depends on the artist and the work they do. We have had people turning stone out in the foyer. But generally, you can find artists demonstrating what they do and sometimes they even give a mini class for people who want to be hands-on to try something out.”
This month, the Second Saturday featured artists are Eileen Blodgett, Susan Lobb Porter and David Wong. Blodgett said she will be working on a fall landscape painting. Susan Lobb Porter is an abstract painter who will be discussing what she does and telling about her upcoming classes, and David Wong is a well- known photographer who Blodgett believes is just coming back from Paris. Wong will be giving interactive instruction on tricks to make your photographs look even better — just bring a photo on a thumb drive to have Wong help you work some digital magic.
While having artists on site is a treat for the consumer, it is also a benefit to the artist. Blodgett said it is great to have publicity and interface with the public about what they do. By featuring a few different artists each month, everyone who is part of the gallery who wants to be featured gets an opportunity to do so, but not everyone likes the spotlight, “Not all artists want to do that. A lot of artists like to work quietly and just show their work,” Blodgett said. But for those of who want to be out there, the Second Saturday event is a wonderful opportunity. “For example, I also teach classes so any chance I can get for people to meet me and have access to wanting to get in touch with their creative side, it’s a good thing for us and it’s a great thing for the gallery. It brings people into the gallery to see how much we do have.”
Blodgett says they can not expand the gallery any further because they do not want to crowd the exhibits, but they do have a little bit of turnover now and then, which gives new artists a chance to show their work.
Members of the cooperative also give a percentage of their sales to the gallery and pay a monthly fee. “We are constantly doing better each year, which is a hard thing for a gallery to do,” Blodgett said. “But when you consider that we basically have free labor and artists chipping in to do all the work at the gallery, it works. We are getting to be more well known as a great place with a lot of different price points, so people can find things from four dollars to three thousand dollars and there are many things priced in between.”
In addition, Art Works members also gives back to the community. Blodgett said, for the 6th year, they are holding a holiday party with drawings for donated art. This year the holiday party will take place Dec. 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. People can buy tickets for $1 each with proceeds going to the Food Bank of Nevada County.
Blodgett encourages people to come by and take a look around. “Come in and see what we have been working on.” With nearly three dozen artists displaying their talents, there is surely something for everyone.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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