Anniversary show to feature work from gallery’s ‘illustrious past’
By Keri Luiz
Arts Benicia is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month with a collection of artwork exhibited by the nonprofit gallery over the past quarter-century.
But first they had to find it all.
Though much of the artwork is in private collections, artist curators Hedi Desuyo, Mark Eanes and Erika Von Zoog worked for months to track down and acquire for loan the pieces that will be displayed in AB 25 / Collective Memories, which opens next week.
“This is one of the most important and wonderful shows we will have any time soon,” Arts Benicia director Larnie Fox said.
“There are some very important pieces and artists from our past, and we have a very illustrious past.”
Arts Benicia had its first board of directors meeting in 1986, but didn’t call their current space, at 991 Tyler St., #114, in the Arsenal, home until 1992.
“When we first came in here, you could see from one end to the other of the building,” Desuyo said.
Before that, Arts Benicia’s shows were shown at City Hall. “We still have work there,” Fox said.
Desuyo credits Kathy Erteman with Arts Benicia’s founding. The ceramicist, who now lives in New York City, “had her studio in the Yuba, which is no longer in existence,” Desuyo said.
“That’s where the artist studios started in Benicia. There were quite a few artists in there,” but in the late 1990s the artists had to move out when the Yuba, a former manu- facturing plant, was slated for demolition.
For AB 25, the artwork will be arranged in a timeline, beginning with the most recent work and moving clockwise around the gallery to the oldest exhibits in Arts Benicia’s storied past.
Fox credits Kathryn Weller-Renfrow, longtime Arts Benicia director, for “all the amazing work she did bringing in all this art to town, nurturing it here, and showing it,” he said, adding that most of the work displayed in AB 25 was originally exhibited under her direction.
“This place is well above and beyond what a community this size usually has. A lot of that is due to her work.
“Of course it’s a whole community of people that do the work, but she was a major guiding force for years and years.”
Besides an opening reception on Oct. 13, Family Art Day will be Oct. 21, and the exhibit will be celebrated at a champagne reception Nov. 17.
Also that day, Arts Benicia will have what Fox called a fine art photo fundraiser, featuring international and vintage backdrops from the collection of George Berticevich, “a nationally known photographer,” Fox said. At the Nov. 17 reception, visitors can have their photos taken in front of the backdrops.
Fox emphasized how much work Desuyo, Eanes and Zoog put into curating the retrospective show.
“They’ve worked so hard, many many hours, in contacting all of these people. A lot of investigating the work, and then transporting,” he said.
“A lot of this work is very unique, and requires unique ways to be handled and dealt with.
“People in Benicia will have the opportunity to be in the presence of great art. I hope they come see it while it’s up, and come help us celebrate our 25th anniversary.”
If You Go
AB 25 / Collective Memories runs from Oct. 11 to Nov. 18 at 991 Tyler St., #114. A reception will be held Oct. 13 from 7-9 p.m.; Family Art Day is Oct. 21 from 1-3 p.m.