Show at Neighborhood Center of the Arts honors Ernie Demeter |

Show at Neighborhood Center of the Arts honors Ernie Demeter

Know & Go

What: Celebrating the Life and Art of Ernie Demeter

When: 5-7 p.m. today; gallery open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday

Where: Neighborhood Center for the Arts, 200 Litton Drive, No. 212, Grass Valley

For info: Call 530-272-7287 or go to

“Elaine has the giggles today.”

It would come as no surprise to Greg Demeter that the “happy magnet” spirit of his sister would be the opening line of a 2005 article in the Union about the Neighborhood Center of the Arts.

“It’s so much fun here at the art center,” Elaine told the writer.

Despite sustaining a traumatic brain injury at 12 when a big rig ran her over and crushed her skull, Elaine always overflowed with love and joy, Greg said. She was able to express her creative side at the center — which provides studio space, instruction, art materials and two in-house art galleries to developmentally disabled or intellectually challenged adults — through the years. And her parents became stalwart supporters of the nonprofit, with Ernie joining the board and Betty volunteering for many years.

“When I first met Ernie, I knew he was the type to do whatever needed to be done,” said longtime teacher Kris Johnson, who served for a period as interim director of the nonprofit.

It was Ernie who helped Johnson transform a room in the building into a functional gallery space — the same space where a show honoring Elaine, Ernie and Betty Demeter has been hung.

“He built out the room, scrounged the materials, did all the labor,” Johnson said.

All three were artists in their own right and an art show seemed the best way to celebrate their lives, said Greg Demeter. All of the artwork has been donated so the proceeds will be funneled back into supporting the center.

“We talked about this years ago,” he said. “It always made sense to donate (the art) here, because they have done so much for our family.”

There will be a reception at Neighborhood Center of the Arts from 5-7 p.m. today, mostly featuring Ernie’s art but with pieces by Betty and Elaine as well.

“We’re inviting the community to come by and see Ernie’s work,” said Neighborhood Center of the Arts Executive Director Amee Medeiros. “This is just a tiny piece of what was in his studio. He was a very talented man.”

Medeiros, who was named executive director in 2006, said Ernie had been a board member as long as she could remember, before he stepped down due to medical issues. Betty helped out in the office and was known for constantly bringing in treats like truffles. Elaine died in 2015, followed by Betty the following year and Ernie in 2019.

The show will be something of “a closure,” said Medeiros, growing emotional and turning to Greg for a hug. “Ernie was pretty much one of the last parents of that beginning group (from the 1980s). We’ve lost so many of them. It’s the end of an era.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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