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.