West of Lincoln: Nevada City artist awarded grant for painting project | TheUnion.com

West of Lincoln: Nevada City artist awarded grant for painting project

Submitted to The Union

Nevada County artist Ruth Chase, with the help of Nevada County Arts, was awarded a grant for the West of Lincoln Project, a series of paintings that portray the way outsiders connect with the local community of Venice, Calif.

People are the hidden treasure of any town. They give a place character, and ambiance. Across America, quaint communities are being flipped into trendy hipster neighborhoods that often overlook local culture for the treasure it is. The ever-changing face of Venice is the focus of the West of Lincoln Project. Its bad-ass, gritty past can still be found on every corner of this community; however, you will have to talk to a local that grew up there to find it. Venice, like many small, close-knit communities, breeds authentic people; people that have worked together to create a culture that colors the atmosphere of the place.

Artist Ruth Chase worked with 12 individuals who gave tell-all interviews, revealing the highs and lows and lessons-learned while growing up in this Los Angeles suburb. Before this history is gone, Chase is documenting the wisdom that comes from the street smarts of one neighborhood, and the edgy past that made this community what it is today.

The entire project is composed of a total of 13 paintings. Twelve of the paintings, including one, Ruth's self-portrait, are based on individuals who grew up in Venice, mostly during the 1980s. Chase conducts live interviews and works using a dynamic process of ongoing collaboration with each subject to create portraits reflecting both the individual and their experiences. Each piece is accompanied by an autobiography developed from interviews. They tell powerful stories revealing the heart of Venice's people.

The 13th painting, titled "West of Lincoln," is based on photographs reflecting life in Venice that were submitted to Ruth from all over the world. Each photo image, accompanied by an audio recording, was submitted by individuals and incorporated into a painted collage, giving a wide spectrum of perspectives about Venice, and how it can be viewed in many different ways.

"It is my personal hope that this series creates a conversation in a community rapidly undergoing big changes," Chase said. "An exchange that asks, 'Who are my neighbors? Why are people valuable to each other, and how do people from diverse backgrounds make connections in a constantly changing environment?'"

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Chase was born and raised in Venice. By the time she was 10, she realized that her mother could not read. At 19, she was using drugs and felt hopeless about her future. She saw art as her way out of limiting circumstances and began to paint. Chase went on to graduate from the San Francisco Art Institute and was awarded a grant to an individual artist. She has also been an Artist in Residence at the Millay Colony for the Arts in New York, been published in Catapult Art Magazine, and Huffington Post, and has taught at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. To find out more about The West of Lincoln Project or artist Ruth Chase, visit http://www.RuthChase.com.

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