I was at a loss as to what should be covered this week, and was on the verge of devoting this week’s column to praising the virtues of Pokemon and Tumblr, when I happened to walk past Chico Art Center. It’s next to Empire Coffee, and part of the long building on Fifth and Orange that makes up the train station. Two bubbly little writing prompts popped off the gallery’s doors and into my yellow pad! Pokemon will have to wait.

Firstly, I’ll describe what’s going down in the gallery proper: lots of really great art, in all sorts of mediums. Who knew? I had wandered through the very spacious room for a few moments, and passingly admired about thirty great pieces, when it struck me that every piece was by the same person! There was so much work here, of so many different styles, from so many time periods: ‘60s, ‘80s, ‘90s… quite impressive.

The name listed on the tags was Betty Benson, a local personage who I’m beginning to suspect is a major fixture in
the art scene here. Betty went to college here, taught college courses here, raised a family here, and conquered cancer here. She was also making art the entire time—I mean, creating is probably how she got through
it all.

What I found most striking in this sixty-year collection of creation were her yarn pieces. One piece could have been an abstract watercolor painting, portraying many layers of feeling and color in autumnal greens and browns. As a painting it would’ve been alright, but it was made of yarn. It had dimension, and depth, and texture, and it was fuzzy to the touch. Other pieces were these yarn… constructions, I guess. They resembled hats, or octopi, or something an ancient forest nymph would make out of the roots of a petrified tree.

Secondly, I’ll rep Chico Art Center’s first foray into the open community art challenge. Manas Gallery has been doing exhibitions like this for a while—one theme might be “keys”; you pay five bucks, you get a random key, you make art about it, it goes in the gallery that month. The Art Center’s theme is a little more specific—and, dare I say, more challenging? The theme is “rock paper scissors”: you can make anything, in any medium, and it will go in the exhibition, but it has to somehow include or allude to rocks, paper, and scissors. Work that imagination and drop your work off by this Saturday! Here’s a feeder idea: A cat, on a rock, holding huge red scissors, wearing a paper hat.

Howl is a biweekly column devoted to helping local artists/creators/performers get press. If you’re ready to get to represented, email me.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.