Planting the seed: Group working to develop a culture around area’s young artists


Every other Thursday night in recent months, behind the doors of the Colusa County Arts Council’s building at the corner of Fifth Street and Main Street in Colusa, a handful of young, local artists have been gathering to tackle what they see as a problem in the City of Colusa.

A tripartite nucleus of young Colusa artists, comprised of Brendan Farrell, Thomas Gentil, and Lauren Boyes, is working to grow the artistic scene in Colusa, with a particular demographic in mind.

“There’s a gap here in art, between the age of say, 16 and 60. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people here who are into art. But the big thing that we’ve been trying to do… is to get a group of dedicated people together who are into art and the arts, who are in that age group.” Farrell said. “I think there is a lot of art, and interest in art here. A lot of people go to San Francisco and go to art galleries. Even though this is a farming town, it’s not an unsophisticated town – but people are only kind of comfortable to show that after the age of 60.”

The group, which is calling itself ‘The Heart of the City,’ is a somewhat independent offshoot of the Colusa County Arts Council. Their mission, Farrell said, is to foster and grow a culture for young artists in the area.

“Colusa is changing – for the good or for the bad – there’s a lot of concern about that right now. And so, what are we going to do going toward the future?” Farrell said. “I think what you need, in my opinion, is young people staying invested in the community, and not leaving as soon as they can… Part of what we’re trying to do is to keep the young energy in the town.”

Farrell said that, because there isn’t currently much of an supportive community for younger artists in town, many feel the need to go to the Bay Area or Sacramento to find that kind of community.

“That’s what it’s about, and that’s what we’re trying to make,” Farrell said. “…I think a lot of these young people go to these other cities to pursue art, or interests in art. If we were to keep some of them, and have these young people create something here that could be special – a small town that has an organic art community or scene that’s dedicated to the city, loves the city and loves the community… (and) that is celebrating and expressing the community itself –that would be pretty exciting.”

On Thursday night at the Arts Council building, from 8 PM to 10 PM, the group will attempt to lay the foundation for the artistic community that they have envisioned. It all begins with a fashion art show, which will feature the works of Boyes, Gentil, and fellow The Heart of the City member Hayden Keeley. Beer and wine will be provided at the event.
“This is our first show, or outlet of (The Heart of the City),” Farrell said.

Gentil will have a “mini-thrift store installation” on display, which will including clothing items from his brand, CSIC – an acronym for “Colusa Stays In Colusa”

“It’s something I’ve wanted to create, and I’ve wanted to find a creative way to distribute it throughout the county without really trying to come off as someone trying to mass-produce this brand – it’s more of a hometown feel,” Gentil said. “That’s what the thrift store is going to be all about. I’m going to have pieces on display that I’ve made over the years, from 2013 – when I started –through maybe the day of the show.”

Gentil’s collection will include clothing, paintings, models – basically, any number of random items one might expect to find in a thrift store. He said he will be selling some of his works – but not for cash. Before “passing go,” potential patrons should bring a bill-fold from a popular board game, he said.

Gentil – who is also a musician – will also be showcasing some of his music at the event.
“Me personally, I’m trying to make an effort to help build the Arts Council and help bring young people in,” Gentil said. “Obviously, I can’t guarantee that, but with me giving my effort, I would love to believe that younger members will follow and be more encouraged to sign up.”

In addition to Gentil, Boyes will have some of her custom festival attire on display, and Keeley will feature some fashion pieces as well. Farrell and Gentil are encouraging any young artists interested in seeing more events in the City of Colusa to contact them or Boyes.■

Brian Pearson is the former Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects included reporting local government and the sports page.