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New Show Celebrates Arts Benicia’s Quarter Century of Community Involvement

The latest exhibit at Arts Benicia is a visual delight featuring art that spans the life of the organization’s Tyler Street gallery.

Part 1 

AB25 Collective Memories, the latest exhibition at the Arts Benicia Gallery that opened on October 11 and runs through November 18, is a retrospective of the exhibitions presented at the Arts Benicia gallery since its opening in 1993.  

The show features a wide range of visual art including paintings, sculpture, video, wood and metal works and a bicycle.  

The show was curated by local artists Erika Von Zoog, Mark Eanes and and Hedi B. Desuyo who spent nearly six months poring over photos, calling artists and meeting weekly to discuss progress and collectively select the pieces that would make up the exhibit. 

The sheer size and scope of the exhibition- 124 pieces of art from 45 exhibitions over 19 years- presented many challenges. 

The wide range of art shown over the years and the order in which it was selected by the curator committee made the process more complicated than a show featuring one or two artists.  “As we were going through the process, we had to think ahead and think how a wall was shaping up and that helped inform the rest of the work that got selected,” said Von Zoog. 

When arranging a show, gallery personnel take the art selected by the curator and figure out how best to present it to gallery patrons.  “You are looking for themes and trying not to blow out the color scheme on each wall,” said Von Zoog. 

“Every wall has a flavor,” said Eanes.  “We were very sensitive about what piece was going to be next to another piece, whether it was on the same wall or an adjacent wall and I think the brilliance of the show is to pull that off.” 

“The reason we were able to pull that off is because we did have the 50 years of combined experience with Arts Benicia and we could actually talk about the work on the fly,” said Von Zoog. 

Both Eanes and Von Zoog agree that knowing the art and the artists – Eanes referred to it as “acute visual familiarity”-  contributed to the success of the show.  The two curators also acknowledged the important work of former Arts Benicia Executive Director Kathryn Weller Renfrow who guided Arts Benicia for 20 years.  It was the extensive documentation created by Weller Renfrow that helped the curators choose the art that makes up the show.  “She met with us at the gallery before the show was hung and worked hard on the catalogue,” said Von Zoog.

The Arts Benicia gallery, located at 991 Tyler Street in the Lower Arsenal, is open Thursday through Sunday noon-5 p.m.  Admission is free and donations are accepted. 

AB25 Collective Memories is sponsored by Kathleen Olson and Olson Realty, Inc.

In Part Two the curators will discuss the work of the gallery technical crew and share stories about contacting artists and collecting the art.

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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com.

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