Downtown Visalia’s First Friday Art Walk returns live this Friday, and the art world couldn’t be more excited. After a year of shuttering their doors, coming up with new ways to show their art, and creating virtual shows, downtown art stops invite you to get out and view the art, talk to the artists and greet old friends again.
Four venues will be open from 5-8 p.m. on Friday to show a wide selection of art — from collages, photography, metalwork, plus mud art and skin art! Ampelio Mejia, Arts Consortium executive director, is especially delighted with the show that will be at the Arts Consortium.
“I think it’s some of the coolest art we have in the county,” he said. “I’m really excited that we’re back live with what might be the best show we’ve done. The level of craftsmanship and expertise is really exceptional.”
When Mejia got the go-ahead to open up again, he asked Amie Rangel, art instructor at College of the Sequoias, if she could do a show. With not much time to put something together, Rangel suggested a show of four women, all mothers who also do art.
“Lateral Roots: Mothers Nurturing their Artistic Practice” will feature Rangel along with sister-in-law Patricia Rangel, Laura Melancon, and Saegen Moran Brien, all using their own mediums.
Amie describes the title of the show this way: “The lateral roots of a tree grow outwards to create the support structure of the tree. Mothers are very much the same. Mothers who also happen to be exhibiting artists struggle with many life stresses, often spreading out our lateral roots far and wide.”
All four artists teach art at the college and university level in the Central Valley; All have masters of fine art in printmaking, metals, or drawing/intermedia. All have exhibited nationally.
Patricia Rangel’s work is especially unique—and ephemeral, or as Mejia describes it, “quick passing in a wisp of smoke.” She works with mud—yes, mud—which she packs into wooden frames along with other objects. Then she pulls away the frames to see how long the formation lasts.
Arts Visalia has opened its doors for the last several months to limited guests. Its Chicano Art show was so acclaimed that it was held over for two months.
This month, they open to everyone with a show of two nationally known artists: “Floral Flex Time,” sculptural photos by Kalee Appleton, and “Premium Glossies,” collage art by Brita d’Agostino.
Using striking images, d’Agostino focuses on cultural consumption. Appleton deals with digital technologies and their effects on society and the landscape.
You would swear that some of Appleton’s photos are Photoshopped, but they’re not. They’re just amazing angles, pictures taken at just the right moment.
Arts Visalia is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, another example of creative people coming together to establish a place for the arts.
Like the other galleries, the Brandon-Mitchell began doing virtual shows during the pandemic. As the gallery coordinator, I took a class at the Arts Consortium and learned how to edit videos. Now they will continue to be a great addition to the shows on the brandonmitchellgallery.com website by including background on the art by the artists.
The Brandon-Mitchell focuses on local artists, often spotlighting them for the first time. The last exhibit was a family show, and this one is too: “Mix of Mediums” by father and son Paul and Mason Shirk. They’ve also included a few pieces by Paul’s stepson, Nick Ellis.
As the title implies, there are many mediums in the show: steel cuts, woodburning, acrylic, pencil drawings, and “skin art” or tattoos.
When a friend asked him to create a tattoo for him, Mason read up on the subject, did a few trials on a silicone fake skin (“It’s much harder to do tattoos on silicone. The ink doesn’t penetrate as well”), and did the tattoo. Now he makes his living by doing tattoos, sometimes creating the art himself.
Mason plans to have some of his clients at the event show off their tattoos and explain the intricate process.
The Creative Center is a long-established Visalia institution to promote the arts to adults with developmental disabilities. Besides the amazing art the participants create, one of their mediums has created musical shows each year. For First Friday, the center will put on a Summer Film Fest, showing 40 years’ worth of their original films and recorded performances.
The films will be screened at the Creative Center and next door to the Ice House Theatre. After each video, one or more of the actors starring in the video will be interviewed and answer questions from the audience.
Tacos Lucha will also sell its delicious food to guests.
How to attend
First Friday Art Walk LIVE in Downtown Visalia 5-8 p.m., July 2
- Arts Consortium, 300 E. Oak Ave.
- Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave
- Brandon-Mitchell Gallery, 117 S. Locust St.
- Creative Center, 410 E. Race St.
Information: www.artsconsortium.org or visit each venue’s websites
Sign up now to be part of the Arts Consortium’s annual fall festival, Taste the Arts, on Saturday, Oct. 16. Artists, food vendors, and sponsors are needed. Sign-up form at https://artsconsortium.org/taste-the-arts-2021-applications