The high heat or fear of COVID-19 didn’t stop local residents from enjoying the Art Walk in Colusa, on Friday.
The outdoor event on Fifth Street, sponsored by the Colusa County Arts Council, was the first since the coronavirus outbreak.
The art show provided a glimpse into the talents of local artists and photographers, including two newcomers whose interest in art bloomed decades apart.
Friday’s exhibit provided the first showing for 18-year-old Trinity Montejano’s acrylic paintings.
Montejano, of Colusa, paints under the pseudonym, Frankk Monte.
The event was also the first local showing of the work of seasoned artist, Ken McLellan, 79, who recently moved to Colusa.
Throughout his life, McLellan was able to fuel his passion for fine art by also working as a commercial artist.
“I’ve been making a living as an artist for 60 years,” McLellen said.
McLellan’s work has appeared on countless storefront signs like London Fog and at Trump Plaza, when skilled hands – not computers – produced art used in marketing and other commercial purposes. If you were in just about any Nevada casino in the 1970s, then you also would have seen McLellan’s plums, cherries, and lemons as they spun on the drums of slot machines.
McLellan’s interest in art was inspired at age of 13, while growing up in New York City, where his grandmother worked for the Metropolitan Opera.
“I watched every ballet and every opera, but I became fascinated by the backgrounds – and who did them,” he said. “So between the museums in New York and the art galleries, and culture in New York, I decided this was where I wanted to go.”
Montejano, a 2019 graduate of Sutter High School, has just begun, but she too hopes to make a living from her art.
Montejano developed her love for the craft in high school, and has a particular passion for painting people in abstract.
“I’ve always been a little introverted, so I paint people as I see them,” she said. “But it’s also, lately, been about color for me. I’ve been doing a lot of monochromatic pieces.”
Although Montejano had a number of pieces of art at Friday’s show for sale, she also displayed the first five pieces in a series of paintings that she hopes to sale as a complete collection, when finished.
McLellen’s advise to the budding artist is to also venture into the commercial arena, where employment opportunities are greater in the art world.
“She certainly has the talent for it,” he said.
Exhibitors at Friday’s show included Brenden Farrell, Wilson Yerxa, Mary Ann Nation, Sierra Reading, Ross Roadruck, 10-year-old Lillian Reische, and photographer, Michael Hickel.
Arts Council board member and artist Thomas Gentil had double duty. In addition to showing his work, Gentil, a singer, performed for the attendees.
Farrell, Arts Council president, and Sharon Reische, executive director, spoke about the organization to Colusa Mayor Josh Hill on Thursday, during a community connection webinar.
Reische said about 50 to 75 people (prior to COVID-19) visited the monthly exhibit at the gallery.
“This gives people a chance to see the wonderful talent of our local artists,” Reische said. “The exhibits are free and it’s open to the entire community. Even out of the area people come in, especially if they know the artists.”
The Arts Council gallery and program is funded, in part, by a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, donations, membership, and from the small commission from the sale of art.
Ferrell said the Arts Council is also a support system or network for artists, young and old.
“We’re trying to have a structure in place to give them an opportunity to show their work, to meet other artists, and have funding in place if they want to do something in town,” he said.
The Art Council has a program to help pay local and visiting artists to paint murals and other art projects. There have been three murals painted in Colusa, through this program, and another project is on the way.
“While we do have local shows, I think the future is setting up this network where artists can share their work and support each other,” Farrell said.
The Art Council also plans the return of street dances, once the threat of COVID-19 has passed, and hopes to attract more interest in the community for art programs and projects.
“Local art councils throughout the state help to build healthy, vibrant, an equitable communities,” Reische said. “We help enable diverse forms of art and culture, and help provide broad accessibility to art and public engagement.”
During Friday’s show, people were also able to give input on what kind of artwork they would like on the new sidewalk parklet in front of Rocco’s.
While water towers, sunflowers, and other suggestions were given, Farrell said during the city’s webinar last week that he would like to see more murals or artwork in town that indicate there is a river that runs through Colusa.
Farrell would also like to see pavement art on Fifth Street depicting the Sacramento River, from Market Street all the way north to the stairs leading up to the levee. ■