Spotlight Columns

Fall in love with the arts

By September 15, 2012

Fall, like spring, is a season for new beginnings. Students are beginning a new year. Live entertainment organizations begin the 2012-2013 season. And it’s a great time to take a look at what our local arts associations have in store.

We are fortunate to have several arts and artists associations in the vicinity. I’ve met many of the members of these groups. They are talented, charming people who have warm, encouraging hearts. Many started as timid newbies to the arts, met new friends here, and their artistic talent just grew in the fertile soil of encouragement. Others simply enjoy supporting the arts and being in this positive atmosphere.

What’s not to like?

Our first stop is the El Dorado Hills Arts Association, also known as EDHAA. These artists, fine crafts people, patrons of the arts and arts aficionados interested in promoting the arts are an enthusiastic and gracious group. Membership is open to all, and dues are modest — about $20 or so.

EDHAA hosts monthly meetings with interesting topics. It’s never boring. This fall, for example, Mike Ryan will discuss photography on Oct. 8, and Varya McMillan will teach on encaustics on Nov. 12.

Want to learn a new skill? EDHAA offers connections to workshops and classes. There is also a Monday Morning Painting Group.

EDHAA posts regularly on its website, There, you can download and read the monthly newsletter, check for upcoming events and more.

The Sierra Pastel Society is very active in our area. Pastel does not refer to soft, muted colors. It is an art form that works in pure pigment, and is among the most durable forms of painting when done well.

The mission of the Sierra Pastel Society is to support artists on their journey of artistic excellence and to promote greater public awareness of soft pastels as a fine art medium through learning opportunities, plein air gatherings, demonstrations and juried exhibitions.

Yes, this is a local group, but they have a far reach. This group is known around the globe. Each year the SPS hosts an international open exhibition. This year’s event, “Pastels on High,” will be held Nov. 6 through Dec. 1 at the EDAC ArtSpace Gallery in Placerville. This is always a fun event, and the opening artists’ reception is a great way to get to meet local artists and make some new friends. Dues are modest, from $20 for non-artists to $35 for signature artists. SPS is a member of the International Association of Pastel Societies.

SPS hosts monthly meetings and posts these to its website,

Finally, the El Dorado Arts Council, EDAC, is dedicated to promoting the arts in more places around our fair county. In addition to promoting the cultural aspect of the arts, EDAC takes the additional step of promoting the economic development of El Dorado County by advocating and creating “the highest quality artistic opportunities for visitors and residents.”

This group holds a number of fundraisers to fund arts events throughout the county. This includes Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation contest for high school students, plus grants to bring art to young people.

If you want to become involved in the arts on a national level, this a great place to get your feet wet. EDAC is uniquely placed to sponsor high quality events, as well as to inform the local, state and national arts communities. For example, I learned from EDAC that the State of California spends just 3 cents per capita on the arts. Now, with a state population of more than 37.6 million people, that might seem like a good chunk of change at $1.13 million.

As a parent of a high school student who purchased her own arts supplies with Mom’s money, however … it just isn’t enough. The public sector can’t fund everything. That’s why our local arts organizations and private citizens are so important.

EDAC maintains a pretty information-packed website at Membership in EDAC ranges from $10 for students to $35 for individuals. Family, corporate and various patrons’ levels are also available.

The arts provide much for our quality of life in El Dorado County, and the region. Far beyond the beauty they provide to the eye and the solace to the soul, the arts add to the value of our homes, the value of our community. They can encourage us when times are hard, help us to celebrate when times are good. The arts can teach us about the mysteries of life.

Our local arts groups promote both the beauty of art and the science of creating it.

As Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious — the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to [email protected].

Susan Laird


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