An art gallery that highlights women of color is now being showcased at Sacramento’s Sol Collective. Nisha Sethi, the creator of the gallery, hoped to inspire other people with her work to share their voices and participate in protests.
Alister Oliver, a photographer, presented his portraits on April 14th at the Sparrow Gallery. The pictures depicted gender-nonconforming renditions of male people and characters. The series started as a way to aggravate a perverted costumer that would ask for model’s numbers and ended as a boundary-pushing portrait series. Oliver hires primarily transgender models and other models that bend gender roles. His photography has taken him to different LGBTQ+ schools as a guest speaker and allowed him to meet some interesting people.
The Verge is an art gallery that is free to the public. They offer classes on arts and crafts, as well as summer camps.
Sol Collective now has an open art gallery open to the public until September for anyone to view. Many of the pieces are for sale and have a mix of artists from California and Mexico.
This past Sunday, I attended “A Day of Remembrance” hosted by the local Crocker Art Museum. This spectacular interactive exhibit highlighted the history of the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 internment of Japanese Americans. Exactly 75 years ago this past Sunday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed this Executive order that started incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese who were considered a threat to national defense from the west coast of the United States. They were forced to leave and abandoned their families, homes, businesses, and communities.
The Japanese were forced to leave to internment camps around the West in places like Utah and spread throughout California. The Crocker Center event included the sharing of stories by those who were imprisoned in the camps as children, remarks by community leaders, gallery tours, performances, and a film screening. This day of remembrance allowed attendees to capture the harsh conditions in the camps, living and work conditions.
The Croker Art Museum had a day of workshops and art exhibits planned that allowed every attendee to learn and gain appreciation for the culture of the history of this time. When I entered the building the first workshop I noticed was a group of people taking turns saying the names of all the people who were forced into these camps. As you continued to make your way around the museum there were stations for children to learn how to make traditional origami and have story time. The exhibit that took the majority of people’s breath away who attended was the “Two Views” photographs by Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank. When looking at the exhibit people were captivated by the true realness you can see coming from the photos. The photos showed the struggle of World War ll, forced relocation, and the quality of the work that was captured in each photo.
“After I observed this exhibit I found myself overwhelmed with emotion,” said Ann Peterson, an exhibit attendee.
The high-point of attending the exhibit was the personal narratives from Sacramento incarcerees. Harry Noguchi, 82, of Sacramento, who was interned at Tule Lake at the age of seven, shared his story of his family being forced to move where he was forced to live in an internment camp. Another incarcerated Mas Hatano, 88, of Loomis, who was interned at Tule Lake stated that “It happened, but it shouldn’t have happened”.
While memories of this day open a flood of emotions it’s still important that it is recognized. This Day of Remembrance helped educate and share the true stories of the Japanese decedents of people right in our community. The Crocker Art Museum did a phenomenal job putting this day together bringing the people of Sacramento together to remember the history and to pay respect of the individuals who shared their stories.
Sol Collective is hosting a local art gallery this month called Adversus by YK La Familia. Sol Collective is an amazing hub for the community and creative mind near the state’s capital. Adversus is a show about celebrating diversity and raising awareness through the many opposite ideologies and concepts this world has to offer. The exhibit will be on display until July 31st.
Many people would be shocked to know some of the health statistics surrounding African American women in the Sacramento community. According to a study done by the University of California at San Francisco, 15% have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. However, three women are working to improve that statistic and create a network of women of color within the area. Together, they make up the African American Women’s Health Legacy (AAWHL). Their goal is to educate women and their children about the importance of physical fitness and healthy eating habits.
In addition to health education, the AAWHL is working on a major project called the “AAWHL Mentoring and Empowerment Monthly Meet-Up”. In collaboration with Brickhouse Art Gallery’s director Barbara Range, the two organizations are hosting a series of get-togethers geared towards gathering women of color and encouraging them become advocates for the Sacramento community. At the events, vendors bring their wares and display them to the public while making conversation and sharing life experiences. Many different products are available for purchase at this event, and some can even be traded for. The idea is to to create a sense of community where women of color are more active.
“I see where we can create community, and this is really an opportunity for us create a “well” experience,” says Toni Colley Perry, a coordinator for AAWHL. She refers to the old tradition of women gathering to collect water from wells, while also expressing their opinions about their personal lives and their ideas for the community. “Because of our environment here, there’s no reason for us to gather in our existence as women. And this is an opportunity for people to come together and share who they are, what they have a passion to do, so we start out with the vendors there and then we all come together in a circle and we talk about life. The church environment would not allow us to come together as women, because there are so many woman from different churches. But through art, we can revive ourselves and get connected with who we were as girls. That creative side. It’s an opportunity for us to create a community. We are going to be creating an evening marketplace at the Brickhouse and it’s an opportunity for entrepreneurs to come and sell their wares.”
The Brickhouse Art Gallery, where the events are held monthly, is the perfect location to accomplish this; the museum has a rich tradition of displaying multicultural art that expresses an array of perspectives and ideas about what it means to live in Sacramento. In addition, it is a space that welcomes people of any and all backgrounds. These monthly meet-ups, however, are also a stepping stone to a much greater accomplishment that will affect the entire African American community in Sacramento.
“My goal in doing this idea is to help build the support that Barbara needed for the Brickhouse and the community things that she does and to help her with her ongoing goal to purchase the Brickhouse,” says Colley Perry. “Owning that building will give the African American community and the people of color who want to do art [the opportunity] to be a part of this whole collaborative community. It’s not a white or black thing. We are just participating in helping with that mission so that it can really become a corner where art in the community is happening. With everything that is going on on Broadway, the only real true community thing that is opening up to all ethnic groups is the Brickhouse. But we can’t get her the support if we don’t come. If we are not coming and we’re not helping she can’t do all that needs to be done there. It’s just not something that can be done without a true community coming together. We want to do some community advocacy about the light situation at 36th and Broadway, where the Brickhouse is. We’ve just recently contacted…WALKSacramento to talk about how can we advocate to get lighting and street protection for people who cross that intersection. So that is going to be one of the issues that we want to rally around and get women interested in advocacy.”
The AAWHL Mentoring and Empowerment Monthly Meet-ups are a great way for women of color to network while also sharing their perspectives with a group of invested listeners, but they are also a platform for women interested in becoming community advocates and rallying behind the creation of a community center specifically for people of color. The excitement around this project is infectious.
“The first time we got people together, I couldn’t sleep,” recalls Colley Perry. “I couldn’t because I had met so many wonderful, beautiful people in the evening who were sharing their goals and aspirations.”
For more information about how to get involved with the AAWHL, visit AAWHL.com.
Sacramento’s art scene is one of enormous complexity – with several dozen galleries in the Midtown area alone, it is easy to find a variety of art styles. The art community in this city is so large that every second Saturday of the month there is an event designed to showcase it all – 2nd Saturday Sacramento. It is a collaborative effort between 41 art galleries located “on the grid”, a network of businesses in downtown and midtown. This event has exposed many artists to patrons from all over the city, creating an exciting cultural event for both families and art lovers. However, this concentration of attention to galleries on the grid often overlooks “off the grid” art houses with equally inspiring, attractive, relevant pieces simply because of their location. One such place is The Brickhouse Art Gallery on 36th Street.
The Brickhouse Art Gallery is housed in a historic building in Oak Park. Built in 1924, it was originally a sheet metal factory that was only converted to an art gallery about ten years ago. The building has changed very little since the 1900s- there are only two spaces that have been added onto the original structure. But this is only part of what makes this gallery so special. In addition to being one of the few art galleries that exhibits pieces of all mediums, it is also extremely multicultural and offers a variety of ethnic groups the opportunity to showcase art that represents their personal history and the beauty within their community.
“I really try to make sure that I represent everybody here,” says Director and Curator Barbara Range, the driving force behind the high-quality programs offered here. “I make sure we represent the ethnic minority groups because we are often left out of the midtown or the high-end galleries. Very rarely will you see us in many of those galleries. But that doesn’t mean that coming here I don’t represent everybody- we represent everybody here. You can be abstract, photography, it’s wide open. So there’s no one particular genre of art that I focus on. Art is very broad. It encompasses some of everything.”
This art gallery is the first of a series of developments meant to create several cultural attractions in the Oak Park area. With the opening of two other art galleries just down the block, the hope is that it will create an artistic hub that will bring more foot traffic and business to a blossoming part of town. In addition, several upscale coffee houses and restaurants have opened in the area- like Old Soul Co.- which have the potential of servicing art viewers with snacks and beverages while they browse the beautiful and creative pieces on display just around the corner.
Great art needs a great audience, and that has always been provided for at the Brickhouse Art Gallery, which consistently encourages the community to bring family and friends in for a dynamic visual experience. Most importantly, Ms. Range wants to see more children take part in art appreciation.
“I applaud families that bring the kids out. It isn’t just for adults. This is something that you can learn as early as two years old. You are born with it. You start out scribbling- and being attracted to color. So it starts very early. You can never begin too early. The sooner you begin the better. But we need more parents to engage- bring their children out to the art galleries. There’s always someone there to help you and walk you through, talk you through the art, and see what your visions and missions are about art within your families and in your community.”
The philosophy of the Brickhouse Art Gallery is one without judgement- anyone and everyone can create art. This is fundamentally different than many other art galleries in the area, which sometimes refuse to showcase pieces because of their inability to understand the cultural, aesthetic, or ideological message behind them. Ms. Range explains the difficulty her gallery has had in attracting critics from local papers to review the pieces on display, in addition to the challenges some of her artists have faced when trying to get their pieces in front of an audience. But for anyone with an interest in creative expression of all medias, her gallery is an excellent place to discover our individual artistic preferences.
“How can you judge what’s arts and what’s not art?” asks Range. “A person that creates art is an artist to me. And they are creating art in the best art form that they know how. And it’s up to me to help their interpretation by exposing it to an audience.”
The Brickhouse Art Gallery is located at 2837 36th street, Sacramento, CA 95817. Upcoming exhibits include “The Charles White & Charles Aston Experience”, as well as a graffiti and street art exhibit coming in June. For more information, please visit www.thebrickhousegallery.net.