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December 3, 2013

New Signs of Arts and Cultural Life in the Inland Empire

Written by  Sharon A. Pittman
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Reflections of Honor by Jerry Dade Reflections of Honor by Jerry Dade Sharon A. Pittman

The Chaffey Community Museum of Art (CCMA) is one of the latest and most visible signs of arts and cultural life in the Inland Empire. CCMA’s 2013 move to the current location marks the first time in its 72 year history that the museum has stood alone as its own facility. On November 17, 2013 I was among the full house of individuals that attended the opening reception for the exhibits “Mythmakers,” “Salute!” and “The Color-Go-Round,” which took place from 2pm to 4pm. Upon entry to the main gallery, visitors were faced with the “Salute!” mural, a lettering design that announces the presence of the exhibit by that name. The exhibit was mounted in honor of, or in other words, to salute the many creative members whose works it features. From it, works by two artists, Helen Hayes and Gina Egan, who are both formally trained, degree-holding artists, were selected to become part of CCMA’s permanent collection The announcement of the two “winners” was the much anticipated high point of the reception.

The skill, educational levels, and age groups of those who participated in “Salute!” vary considerably. For example, Jerry Dade, the artist who produced “Reflections of Honor,” a photograph that, according to his wife, received a high honor at the Los Angeles County Fair, and his granddaughter both participated. Dade’s work caught my attention due to his having captured such detail in the reflection of the soldier’s helmet that I could not resist asking him whether or not he had Photo-shopped it. The answer was a definite “no.” The full photo includes images of the actual crowd that is seen in the reflection, including the photographer.

Steve Long is another CCMA member whose works drew me near. Conversing with Long, I learned that he is a retired railroad worker who looks at the Chaffey Community Museum of Art as having given him the opportunity to pursue his true passion. Like many of the other members, being an artist is a second career for him.

Among those who are now pursuing their true passion is Jan Wright who, in addition to being a participant of “Salute!” is featured in the solo exhibit “The Color-Go-Round.” She is quoted in the exhibition program as having said that “in the musical Cabaret, money makes the world go round. Money may work for cabarets, but ‘as far as painting is concerned, it’s COLOR for me.’” Consisting mainly of abstract imagery, her color experiments represent a departure from her earlier representational style. The exhibit includes works ranging from representational to semi-representational to ones that indicate Wright’s having reached her goal of creating “paintings that vibrate with color.”

Unlike the other two exhibits, “Mythmakers” was not curated by Janelle Lowry, the Museum Coordinator. It is in essence a portfolio of works by two members, John Greco, and Tammy Greenwood, that was curated by another, Leslie Brown. Each produced several fantastical works of art as expressions of their common inward human experience, i.e., imagination. In her artist statement, Greenwood mentioned, “The images in my art have to do with archetypal symbolism and the idea of a collective unconscious as expressed by Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.” Both Greenwood’s and Greco’s works tend to explore the subconscious.

The members’ exhibit will remain on display until January 26, 2014. It represents a new beginning for many artists and art lovers. Considering that the wine, as well as the hors d’oeuvres, was tasty, and the atmosphere was convivial, moving from their last location, the Filippi Winery—one of several places where their collection has been housed, to their own space represents upward mobility for both CCMA and the Inland Empire as a whole. There are definitely new signs of arts and cultural life in the Inland Empire!

Sharon Pittman can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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