While the artists who visited over the summer for the Social Studies Residency Program are gone, their work is still making an impact in Colusa.
The artists’ drawings, paintings, collages, woodwork, writings, and pottery are on display at the Colusa County Arts Council gallery on Fifth Street.
Artists Sierra Reading, a native of Colusa, and Ross Roadruck started the residency program in January as an opportunity for artists, mostly from the Bay Area, to focus on their practice outside their usual spaces, and for Colusa to collaborate with the artists’ perspectives and energy.
“It’s been a dream for many years,” Reading said.
Reading said the program really started to come together when she met Colusa County Arts Council President Brendan Farrell.
She also credits Roberta James and the James family, who provided living quarters for the residents.
“She was the fuel to actually make it happen,” Reading said.
Throughout the summer, the artists found places to work in unconventional spaces, including an alley, on the levee of the Sacramento River, on the side of barn, and in backyards.
Katherine Rutter painted the mural at Davison Drug, which she said was inspired by a local woman who lovingly nurtures her many succulent plants.
“When I was here early on, and trying to get to know Colusa because I was not here before, I thought it was important to understand and get to know the people in the community before I paint this huge thing they are stuck with forever,” she said.
Rutter said that she wanted to paint something that was true to her work, which almost always includes a strong female form, but would also be important and valued by the residents of Colusa, and the Davison family.
The Colusa County Arts Council exhibit includes other work by Rutter, and the work of Whitney Sharpe, Eric Pocci, Bianca Foss, Brett Flanigan, Wilson Yerxa, Annie Danis, Ani Lee, Katherine Rutter, Ward Long, Alicia Toldi, Megan Leppla, Delia Pless, Isobel Marcus, and Karin Dahl, who shared a living space, provided by the James Family.
Roadruck painted a mural at the Colusa Pool over the summer. A close-up of his work is also on display at the Arts Council’s gallery for the duration of the exhibit.
Reading said she wants the residency program to be sustainable.
“We don’t want it to be done,” Reading said. “We got so much great feedback from folks in town, and also from the artists who were here, and we’re ready to do more of it.”
While the artists dropped what they were doing in their lives and set aside their livelihoods to come to Colusa, Reading hopes sponsorship from the community will allow the residency program to pay artists in the future to come to Colusa and share their talents.
The group is now looking for more donated spaces, indoors and out, so that the next resident artists have a place to work their crafts. ■