JAY LENO TESTIFIES, courtroom sketch by Vicki Behringer, featured at The Gallery at 48 Natoma March through April.


The arts: Susan Laird’s year in review

By December 27, 2010

JAY LENO TESTIFIES, courtroom sketch by Vicki Behringer, featured at The Gallery at 48 Natoma March through April.

Looking back at the last 52 weeks in the world of arts and entertainment, several venues really stood out to me in 2010.

The de Young Museum

When I meet readers of Village Life and Cameron Park Life out in the community they will often praise my column. With a bit of amusement, I will ask what their favorite column was. This year, without dropping a beat, readers time and time again said: “I loved what you wrote about the ‘Birth of Impressionism’ exhibit in San Francisco.”

I try to focus on events that are in the neighborhood of El Dorado County, but when a unique event wanders into Northern California Village Life art lovers need to be in the know so I expand my column’s scope. The de Young Museum’s two exhibits, “Birth of Impressionism” and “Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne, and Beyond: Post–Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay” were well attended. These exhibits were unique events in the history of the state, if not the world.

The de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was the only museum in the world to host both exhibitions, and this was a triumph due in no small part to the facilities of the de Young and to its remarkable board president, Diane Wilsey, who forged the friendships with France’s Musée d’Orsay that made the loan of France’s national treasures possible.

The de Young Museum is a treasure for all residents of (and visitors to) Northern California.

The Gallery at 48 Natoma

Folsom’s little gallery on Natoma Street is free to the community … and the exhibits are filled with visual richness. The year kicked off with a fun theme —“Rock, Paper, Scissors” — that featured three regional artists who worked with stone, paper and fabric as artistic media. The staff at the gallery work hard over a year in advance to organize exhibits that are interesting and of good quality. “All That’s Fit to Print” featured the life’s work of artist Charles Waltmire. His work appeared in the Sacramento Bee for decades. Visitors to the gallery saw original portraits of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and others.

It may take only a few minutes to walk through, but if you go through this little gallery on a regular basis, you are bound to come away with at least one memory that will stay with you for a lifetime.

The California State Fair

In a break with tradition, the board of the state fair decided to move the California State Fair in Sacramento from late August to early July this year. It took some getting used to, but the crowds seemed appreciative and responded positively. The fair finished in the black for the first time in years.

At last summer’s fair, the El Dorado County exhibit won a bronze ribbon. County docents were hopeful that there will be a budget for next summer’s county exhibit. El Dorado County was represented in many venues at the fair, including several at the Expo Building, where local residents displayed their creativity in the arts, and by El Dorado Hills entrepreneurs in Buildings C and D.

Crocker Art Museum expansion

The 100,000-square-foot expansion of the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento may well be the local equivalent of having the de Young Museum right in our own backyard. The expansion, which opened on Oct. 10 after a closure of several months last summer, allows large works of art to be displayed – as well as large exhibits. It is now possible to host an exhibit as large as “King Tut” right here.

The Crocker has expanded its programs, and is offering new, innovative activities to the community. “Backstory” is one of these new programs. It offers a view of nationally acclaimed exhibitions that goes beyond what is viewed on the gallery walls, read in catalogues or discussed in the media. In the first edition of “Backstory” on Jan. 8 at 3 p.m., you will be able to enjoy “A Postscript to ‘Van Gogh, Gaugin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay’” with Lynn Orr, curator in charge of European art at the de Young Museum.

At a private media opening of the exhibits in San Francisco, I spoke extensively to Orr, advocating for the residents of our region. The fact that our residents are deeply interested in the arts showed in their attendance earlier this year. Now, the de Young is coming to us. Frankly, I am delighted. Sacramento has been ignored for too long.

Tickets to this event at the Crocker are free to members of the Crocker, $12 for non-members. Visit crockerartmuseum.org for more information.

Three Stages

Perhaps the venue of greatest interest to the area is the brand new Three Stages performing arts center at Folsom Lake College. Dubbed “Mini Mondavi East” by many, this facility sports three stages that can bring large productions (such as “Disney’s ‘The Lion King’”) and small, intimate recitals to our community. It features a state-of-the-art recording studio for students to learn their craft.

The future for the arts looks bright, indeed. The tools and resources are there. We just need to continue to support them. What goes around, comes around, so they say. Let’s continue to support the arts in our community. If we do they will return on that investment with beauty beyond measure. Eventual value of the community here? Priceless.

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

Susan Laird


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