Richmond Art Center
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Victor Cartagena’s Subtle Political Wake-up Call

Kenneth Baker’s review “Victor Cartagena’s subtle political wake-up call”  appeared in todays’ SF Chronicle.

The more topical political art gets, the sooner it starts to look dated. Victor Cartagena has averted this risk by not tying his “Sites/Sights of Intervention” at the Richmond Art Center too closely to events in his native El Salvador.

Works in his complex ensemble evoke the tragedy of Latin American elites’ corruption, civil war and American anticommunist imperialism, but not too specifically.

In this context, an ostensibly simple object such as “Ante-Ojos/Anti-Eyes” (2014) – a framed pair of crushed glasses – summons thoughts of violent reprisal, the punishment of conscientious witness and the blindness of media complicity.

The work even suggests itself as a distant, underprivileged relation of Jasper Johns’ satirical relief sculpture of lensless glasses, “The Critic Sees” (1961), in which mouths stand in for eyes, and as symbolic windows to a disfigured soul.

Read the full review: Victor Cartagena’s Subtle Political Wake-up Call, SF Chronicle, April 11, 2014

Upcycle: Kids Learn How to Turn Trash into Art in Richmond

This Saturday’s Upcycle event is featured in the SF Chronicle’s 96 Hours section. We sure hope to see you for an afternoon of making, upcycling and music!

Landfills will be a little emptier this weekend, thanks to a fun, kid-friendly program at the Richmond Art Center.

The program, the second annual Upcycle, is a maker festival where families can create, see and learn about the art of “upcycling,” creatively reusing materials otherwise headed for the garbage.

Over the course of the day, visitors will be able to sew bags and quilts from old pieces of clothing, weave small rugs from old T-shirts, use broken plates and tiles to create a colorful mosaic trash can, turn use bicycle inner tubes into jewelry, and experience the magic of fire and metal to fold-form 3-D objects. In many cases, participating families will be able to engage in these activities with the help of local artists, too, taking direction from creative minds who work with upcycled materials every day.

Read the full story:  Upcycle: Kids Learn How to Turn Trash into Art in Richmond, SF Chronicle 96 Hours · April 9, 2014

Art in the Community at Eight Locations This Spring

“We learned how to use metal the right way, how to form it, but in a safe way.”

That’s how a middle school student described what he learned in the Metal Arts class at our newest site, DeJean Middle School. Our traveling Art in the Community program continues to expand and we are now at eight unique sites.

This spring, we are set to bring a variety of art-making programs all across Richmond. Instructor Rachel Schaffran will teach two STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) classes at Lincoln Elementary and Helms Middle School.

Students at DeJean Middle School will paint a mural with artists Suzanne Czerny and Nichole Talbott and at Portola Middle School, teens will screen- print with teaching artist Monica Gyulai. Students at Grant Elementary will be making beautiful metal objects with Holly Carter.

At Nevin Community Center, students will learn ceramics from Kiki Rostad, and at Shields-Reid Community Center, they will create mosaic embellishments with instructor Daud Abdullah. At the Richmond Main Public Library kids will listen to works of children’s literature and make art with Irma Vega Bijou.

Constructing a city with recyclable materials at the Richmond Public Library main branch.

Constructing a city with recyclable materials at the Richmond Public Library main branch.

This amazing season will conclude with Jessica Regalado leading families through several art-making experiences at two Youth Enrichment Strategies (YES) camps.

If you are interested in bringing our Art in the Community programs to your group or school?

Learn more here or contact Rebeca García-González at or call 510.620.6772.

Executive Director Update: Spring 2014

Executive Director Update by Ric Ambrose

I am excited about our spring exhibition series — in particular, The Breakfast Group: Jive and Java, an exhibition of 30 noted artists featuring a unique program of weekly discussions, artist talks and hands-on workshops.

The Breakfast Group was formed in the 1960s by a group of artists who were professors in the Art Department at the University of California Berkeley. They began meeting weekly to talk about art, teaching and individual pursuits. As the coffee flowed, so did conversations about art, film, politics and, naturally, sports. Five decades later, The Breakfast Group still meets weekly. What binds these artists is not a singular style or material, but an interest in the work around them, an engagement in the dialogue of contemporary art and an open and questioning relationship to the world and current events.

I hope you’ll join us as The Breakfast Group takes up residence at the Richmond Art Center in the Main and West Galleries. The exhibition, sponsored by Oliver & Company, will contain works by The Breakfast Group members and each week one or two of these artists will display additional work in the Spotlight Gallery. On Saturdays, the members will meet up in our Main Gallery from 11 am to 1 pm. Everyone is invited to pull up a chair and join in the lively discussion as coffee fuels unexpected conversations about current events and the group exchanges shared experiences of being practicing artists. These discussions will be followed by a talk by one of the Spotlight artists. In addition, six of the artists will also be teaching Saturday workshops.

We hope these unique weekly programs will generate an ongoing discourse for artists (performing, visual and literary) and art enthusiasts and continue building a thriving art community at the Richmond Art Center where artists can share their individual and collective ideas, stories and aspirations in pursuing their artistic and economic prosperity.

And later this spring, don’t miss your opportunity to view the immense talent of over 100 aspiring artists. In April, the 49th Annual West Contra Costa Unified School District Student Exhibition opens and in May we will showcase the work of students from our traveling Art in the Community Program.


Fine Art Connoisseur on the Language of Realism

Why Not Just Photograph it? That’s the question that Jeffrey Carlson, Contributing Editor at Fine Art Connoisseur asked John Wehrle the curator for our exhibition The Language of Realism and a California artist best known for his site-specific public artworks. This exhibition features four West Coast realist painters — Michael Beck, Christine Hanlon, Anthony Holdsworth and John Rampley.

I have often been asked the question, ‘Why not just photograph it?’ I have never had a simple answer, either for myself or for others. So, one of the goals of this exhibition was to provide examples of realist painting that, if not providing a definitive solution, at least presented a variety of reasons.” – John Wehrle. 

Read the full interview here: Honoring the Language of Realism, Fine Art Connoisseur.

Image: Michael Beck, American Roots, Oil on canvas, 46 x 40 inches, 2009. Featured artist in “The Language of Realism” Exhibition

KQED on Collaborating with “The American Teenager”

Kristin Farr from KQED stopped by to view our latest exhibition, The American Teenager Project, a collection of photographs and audio recordings completed by 20 local teenagers.

Robin Bowman is a photojournalist who traveled the country interviewing teenagers about their lives in the early 2000s. She took their portraits to illustrate the interviews, and later published them in a book. Bowman’s portraits prove that a picture is worth many words. She skillfully captures moments and complex stories in single, black-and-white images. The project grew when Bowman began working with teens on another level, training them to conduct their own interviews and shoot portraits of their peers. The group of students currently working on the project are in Richmond where many of the portraits are on view in the bustling back hallway of the Richmond Art Center.

Read the full review here

Collaborating with ‘The American Teenager,” KQED Arts, January 31, 2014

SF Chronicle on The Art of Living Black

The SF Chronicle 96 Hours cover story featured our exhibition The Art of Living Black. Writer Kimberly Chun stopped by the Richmond Art Center for a preview of the exhibition and spoke to some of the 50 artists who will be showing their work. We’re thrilled that our work hosting this long-running exhibition of established and emerging artists has received this major coverage!

It’s unique — there’s nothing else like this in Northern California. There’s no other place you can go every year and see a cross section of the area’s black artists.” 
— Oakland artist Ajuan Mance. 

Read the full story online.


Richmond Art Center Celebrates 75 Years

This story was originally published by the Richmond Confidential and written by Rachel Waldholz. Read the full story and see additional photos here.

The internationally renowned artist Richard Diebenkorn showed his drawings here. Tom Marioni, the conceptual artist known for the One Second Sculpture, was a curator here. Jasper Johns, credited with paving the way for both Pop Art and Minimalism – and an intimate of Bob Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, and John Cage — had his first West Coast show here.

For decades, the Richmond Art Center provided early exposure for artists ahead of the curve, many of whom went on to blossom nationally and internationally.

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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, California 94804

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