November Art Report

Artoberfest has come and gone—a month when painting, prints, sculpture and all things artistic are more prevalent in Chico than jack-o-lanterns. The Open Studios Tour is sort of the backbone of Artoberfest, and this year was the 24th year of the event. Since I attended the very first one in 1990 I had a feeling of obligation to attend again this year.

I was able to see my friend Roger Braddy’s Caledonia Art Studio on 9th street on the 25th. Roger has converted the garage of his 1930s house into a studio. He spent around $55,000 for materials and the assistance he needed, and, altogether, the remodeling took about six or seven months to complete.

Roger is into recycling and his art reflects this. Collages in a group titled Improbable History are images ripped, you might say, from the pages of 1960s National Geographic and mounted on handmade paper. Whimsical “trophies” hang on the walls of his studio, imaginary animals fashioned from castoff, rusted metal parts frequently from bikes. “Untitled” is composed of the kick plate and drip pan of a 1950s refrigerator that he found in Chico Creek and a bicycle seat. Near this beast, whose bulging eyes are marbles mounted on the oxidized springs of the bike seat, it reads: “The deal here is to get you to rethink your wastefulness on this small planet and to have fun doing it.” Roger is open to appointments. Call ahead at 345-7922 to schedule one.

I went downtown next to look at the wonderful things at Chico Paper Co. where a large area of the store is devoted to a display of Jake Early’s popular craftsman style prints. While there, I was particularly taken with Bill Di Grazia’s photos of Chico landmarks digitized to make the buildings stand monumentally alone against a moody sky. I was also charmed by one of Miriam Pakbaz’s many works, “The Colonel,” a mixed-media cat with ‘tude.

Across the street at Janet Lombardi Blixt’s Chico Art School a class for children was in progress. The gallery in front of the classroom was filled with things for Halloween—painted skull masks for the Day of the Dead and a giant skeleton with its own costume: a necklace of skulls.

Whatever the topic displayed at the Chico Museum, the presentation is always the same. I’m a patient person, I love to read, I love to learn. But the storyboards on the walls frequently overwhelm me. I find myself wishing they’d just get to the point. The current show is “Mikćʡapdo: This is Our Home, Here We Remain.” The story presented is the same tragic one experienced by all Native Americans: encroachment on their land, loss, and relocation.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the small cemetery on West Sacramento, the one surrounded by modern apartments that serve as student housing. The cemetery is the last piece of land the Mechoopda own. Around the midpoint of the last century Mechoopda tribal elders felt forced to sell the land around it, fearful that, as they were aged, property taxes would bankrupt them. A selection of the titles on the storyboards outline the shameful treatment of the tribe: “A Swift Change,” “A Broken Promise,” “The Lost Homeland….” The tribe was still fighting for justice in the courts as late as 1986. Many artefacts are on display, as well; some ancient, others modern—such as the tumtum: a traditional cradleboard which was hand made in 2002. The show also covers the Mechoopda religion, a celebration of the changing seasons expressed through dance.

The Chico Museum is located at 141 Salem St., at the corner of 4th St. and Salem and is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 4pm. The show now on display will be in place until next October.