19th annual ‘Art of a Community’ held Saturday
By Keri Luiz
There are paintings on walls, paintings leaning against walls, sculptures, pieces of jewelry and more paintings waiting for their place — or for someone to find a place for them. People move around at a frenetic pace, volunteers who will, no doubt, manage to get it all pulled together in time for the opening.
This controlled chaos is the runup to Arts Benicia’s 19th annual “Art of a Community,” opening Saturday, and it includes 116 contributing members and 130 pieces of art — meaning the sheer volume of work is a logistical conundrum.
Many of the contributing artists are from the Benicia and Vallejo communities, but quite a few are from other parts of the Bay Area and beyond. Somehow, some way, their work will all be ready by Saturday’s reception.
“This show always packs our gallery, and this year is certainly no exception,” Executive Director Larnie Fox said.
Mary Shaw again led the team of volunteers hanging the show. Shaw has also been responsible for installing the “Arts Benicia Presents” exhibits in various locations around town, most recently the work of Chuck Potter at the Rellik Tavern.
For this year’s “Art of a Community,” Arts Benicia tried something different with the submissions, which all came from members of the nonprofit.
In the past each artist was allowed to bring two smaller pieces, but the space became very crowded. This year they were encouraged to contribute one larger piece instead.
“Last year’s show was so crowded,” Fox said. “This year there is more large work in here, and sometimes more substantial pieces. That may be why it’s looking better than it has in past years. Not as many pieces, but bigger.”
This year Arts Benicia handled the art dropoff a little differently, too.
“It’s always a wonderful time when you see all these artists standing with their work, and they’re all checking out each others’ work, talking,” Fox said. “In the past it was just ‘drop off your work and go away.’ But recognizing it was more of a social event, we put out some hot apple cider and some cheese. Folks stayed a little bit longer, and talked a little more.”
The work gracing the walls and floor space varies from well-known community artists to newcomers enjoying their first exhibit. “It runs the gamut from beginners to seasoned professionals,” Fox said.
“We have such a strong arts community here. This is the best chance of the year to get a sense of what that is and what they are doing.
“It is a lovely group of people that show up.”
IF YOU GO
An opening reception for “Art of a Community” will be from 7-9 p.m. at Arts Benicia, 991 Tyler St., #114. A Family Art Day will be held Feb. 10 from 1-3 p.m.