Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

An Interview with Tomye Neal-Madison

Tomye in the Main Gallery with her current work

Tomye Neal-Madison is an exhibiting artist in this year’s Art of Living Black. She’s been showing her work in this annual show since its inception. We’re pleased to share some of her thoughts about her art and what inspires her to create. 

Please be sure to visit the gallery to see this diverse collection of African-American artists through March 8. Our galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday and are always free to the public. 


Q. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Apparent Love
Ink Drawing

A. My formal Art education began learning fine Art techniques within Dobbins Technical High in Phila., PA. While living in Phila., I enhanced my scholarly and Artistic skills with employable skills of Advertising, Fashion Design, receiving a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design.  Soon after graduation, during the mid 70’s, I ventured from family and moved to San Francisco, to begin a professional Artist Life. I learned more substantial skills, Business Math Media Production, Welding & various Art programs as computers replaced hand-made imagery.  I’m fortunate my knowledge results in employability and freelance contract work.

Q. What do you find most inspiring about making art? Tell us about your current projects.  

Her Rockin’ Horse Enamel on copper

A. I’m a proponent of integration of Art with any other knowledge, as viable connections that boost retention. As a Visual storyteller, I enjoy a process of making Art which involves research, attentiveness to oral stories, looking at photographs and other references such as maps, books, documents, etc. which help me create images to remind viewers of crucial past occurrences that affect the present and future.

It seems my shift from universal subjects to my current images, have political overtones. The most recent inspirational Artworks created from Dec. 2017- Feb. 2018, are the result of having joined the National Women’s Caucus for the Arts last November. This is an organization that I felt ready to become a member. I encourage anyone to review their website and mission. I now express matters affecting “working people” which are out of kilter.   This includes the Art I’m exhibiting at the Richmond Art Center, the Pacific Pinball Museum and SpiritHaus.

Of a total different path, is my series of profiles fabricated with Fused Slumped Glass.

African Lion Mask
Fused glass

These are light expressions of one Artist supposedly meeting another.  In reality most haven’t met. This is using Artistic license.

Q. How did you become involved with the Art of Living Black? How does your work represent and uphold the tradition of this exhibition?

A. During the mid 1990’s while I was gallery director of a non-profit Center for Visual Arts, I met Jan Hart Shulyer and subsequently her friend Rae Louise Hayward. Sometime during our discussions of business and life, they told me of their desire to have TAOLB.  Once it became a reality, of course, I accepted their invitation to participate. I’ve only missed one year of the 22 years it has been presented to the public. They would be proud.

Rae and Jan only knew my Art as an interpretation of a fortunate life, encouraged by my Mom and Dad, siblings and friends. Typically, I rendered lovely portraits, pleasing renditions of musicians, children, city scenes. Since they’ve passed on, my Art reflects my life shifts from compromising, sad, taken aback, enlightenment, beautiful and now historical.  The latter, I believe would delight them in honoring their vision.

Q. What was your path to becoming an artist? Please share some of your favorite work.

Wanda as a youth in SF

A. Mom, now 92, told me that I was 6 years old when a teacher gave her a watercolor tin as a gift for me.  The teacher was impressed with my abilities.  I continue my love of Art throughout my life.  At times when my employment wasn’t Art related, I was able to exhibit and sell what I created beyond work hours.  I’m classically trained from a technical high school, obtaining a BFA degree from college and participating in workshops.

Q. Who are your inspirations?

A. Tamayo Rufino, Romare Bearden, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Gordon Parks, Claes Oldenburg, Samella Lewis, Louise Nevelson, Elizabeth Catlett, Kitagawa Utamaro, Carrie Mae Weems, Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Goldsworthy, Martin Puryear, John Wehrle, etc.

Head Chakra
Gouache on cork

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not making art?

A. Enjoying time with my buddies and friends, going to plays, movies, music performances and helping with whatever each needs.

Q. What’s on your bucket list?  

A. To live and remain healthy for at least as long as my Mom. Who knows what will be possible for me to do within 20-30 years.

Q. If you could meet one artist, living or not, who would it be and why?

A. Martin Puryear, has an awesome imagination of fabrication on a large scale. I’m moving in that direction and could be inspired by his mentorship.

Thank you, Tomye.

Meet Nisa Sanders, Our New Studio Coordinator!

Nisa is a Texas native who recently relocated to the Bay Area. Raised in a very artistic household, she is the daughter of a Jazz musician turned videographer and an Assistant Young Artist Director at a nonprofit that provides studio art programming to the San Antonio community. Nisa has a BA in Film and Media Arts from American University in Washington D.C.

After working as a Digital Media Coordinator at a Texas, nature, science and culture museum and a manager at a pop-up exhibition in San Francisco, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the arts that involved serving the community. In her free time, Nisa enjoys oil painting, drawing and watching films.


Q. What do you find most inspiring about working in studio art?

When you know you have a tiny part in making someone feel good it is extremely gratifying. Working in Studio Art is a privilege, being surrounded by so much creative energy, seeing people’s artistic process evolve and so many different types of art being made all the time. Then the cherry on top is having the ability to get your hands dirty as well by taking a class or workshop!

Q. Tell us about your personal art practice? What artists and styles inspire you?

My mom is a teaching and practicing artist, so I had a blessed childhood filled with learning various art techniques and exploring mediums from her as well as from many other artists in the San Antonio community. In high school, I was introduced to oil painting by participating in a teen intensive program started by my mom and local artist, Rainey Rodriguez, and after struggling and I almost giving up I found my groove and I eventually fell in love with oil painting. I moved back to Texas after going to college in DC and picked up oil painting again by taking weekly classes with Rainy. I am inspired by vintage black glamour, social justice and inclusive feminism. I tend to make a lot of mood/inspiration boards before starting any artistic project no matter the medium I am working with at the time. Currently, I am working on a series of oil paintings and illustrations based off old Jet magazine covers.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not at the Art Center?

A. Working on my art, reading a good book, exploring the Bay Area and watching a movie or tv show!

Q. What’s on your bucket list?

A. To start an artistic business with my mom, learn how to make neon signs and travel to as many places as possible.

Q. If you could meet one artist, living or not, who would it be and why?

A. This is a very hard question to answer because there are too many artists I would like to meet. If I had to choose I think it would be RuPaul because he uses his entire body and personality as his canvas and also uses his platform to give back, promote artistic expression and self-love.

Thanks, Nisa!

Meet Anna Speaker, Our New Studio Director!

A native of the Central Coast, Anna has lived all around the Bay Area since attending Sonoma State University for her BA in Art History. In that time, she has worked for several nonprofit arts organizations in the areas of exhibition, fundraising, operations and education programming, and completed a Museum Studies graduate program at John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley.

A serial dabbler in many art media including ceramics, bronze foundry, steel sculpture and printmaking, her most recent works combine mixed water-based media, sculpture and found objects. Anna is excited to add more skills to her toolkit through taking classes at the RAC!


Q. What do you find most inspiring about working in studio art?

A. The best part about this job is seeing students learn and build their skills, and then seeing the amazing work they create with those skills. I am continually inspired by their creativity, ingenuity and passion. Don’t be surprised to see me pop my head into the classroom – it’s the best part of my day!

Q. Tell us about your personal art practice? What artists and styles inspire you?

A. I’ve worked with a lot of different media, depending on what I have access to at the time. I was wholly devoted to sculpture in college, but since then, until starting here at the RAC, I haven’t had access to the equipment and studio space to do it. Because of this, I shifted towards working on 2-D surfaces, which are a lot easier to manage on the kitchen table. I credit Stella Zhang, an artist I used to work with at another organization, for introducing me to the idea of using cheap, hardware-store materials in fine art. Now I buy the extra-large tubs of spackle. I’m most inspired by the weather-worn surfaces I see in the old parts of cities, and the surprising forms of biology under the microscope. My most jaw-dropping moment was seeing Jay De Feo’s “The Rose” at the SFMOMA.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not at the Art Center?

A. We just bought a fixer-upper house in Vallejo, so most of my time outside of the RAC is devoted to that project. Plumbing for Dummies is my bedtime reading. We do also try to make a little time each week to explore somewhere we haven’t been in the Bay Area. We’re new to the East Bay, so the list is long!

Q. What’s on your bucket list?

A. One of these days, I am going to properly learn to play my bass guitar.

Q. If you could meet one artist, living or not, who would it be and why?

A. I learned the hard way that you should never meet your heroes, but I’d take that risk for David Bowie.

Thanks, Anna!

Art Center closed for the holiday break, starting Saturday, Dec. 23.

The Art Center will be closed to the general public from Saturday, December 23 until Tuesday, January 2, 2018. Our administrative offices will reopen on Tuesday, January 2, 2018.

Studio Art classes will resume on Monday, January 8. You can register online for Winter classes here:

We look forward to seeing you in the new year!

Support Your Studio!

Are you a painter, weaver, printmaker? A metalsmith, illustrator, ceramicist?

Make an end-of-year donation to directly support your favorite Studio Arts program at the Art Center.

Thank you for all you do! Your programs have inspired and enriched my life. ~ Jeanne H.

Each year, thousands of students deepen their creative experience through our Studio Arts program. We offer courses that encourage our students to express themselves and their ideas, where they can discover unknown talents and learn new skills.

Keeping our studios maintained is a year-round operation here at the RAC. If you have enjoyed and benefitted from the incredible teachers and classes here, please consider making a donation to support your favorite studio.

We’ll make sure your money goes to support your area of interest. Just indicate in the Comment field where we should direct your money and benefit your favorite Studio program.

Thank you for your commitment to and generosity in keeping the Studio Arts alive and well in the Bay Area!

Donate to Your Favorite Studio Today.

Give the Gift of Membership this Holiday Season

Giving a gift membership is a great way to share your love of art with someone who matters to you. Members receive automatic discounts on classes, workshops, and juried shows, a chance to show art in our Annual Members Show, and free admission to other local and national arts organizations.*

Call us at 510.620.6772 to purchase a gift membership andreceive a 10% discount through Friday, December 22.

*Benefits vary depending on level. Visit our Membership Levels and Benefits page on our website for details.


Pogo Park

Building Healthy Neighborhoods for Children to Play, Grow, and Thrive

In one of the Bay Area’s toughest inner-city neighborhoods, Richmond’s Iron Triangle, we are transforming two little-used city parks (Elm Playlot and Harbour-8 Park) into safe and vibrant places for children to play.

We have a team of 10 local residents – who plan, design, build (and now manage!) these two parks themselves.

We aim to use the transformation of Elm Playlot and Harbour-8 Park as a vehicle to improve the health of 5,000 of at-risk children living in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood.

A new model for community transformation

Pogo Park is about much more than playgrounds. Our unique approach combines two distinct but interrelated strategies: child development and community development.

Parents of every race, ethnicity, and economic condition share one trait: hope for their children’s future. But the people of the Iron Triangle, like residents of underserved inner-city neighborhoods all over the U.S., have seen a progression of failed efforts to solve the chronic problems of poverty, ineffective schools, and unsafe streets that imperil their children’s healthy development.

Great parks and playgrounds give children and youth profound health benefits. Rich, active outdoor play is the mother’s milk of healthy development. Research shows that such play improves physical and psychological health while boosting language skills, social skills, empathy, creativity, and imagination. Children who play are less aggressive, show more self-control and higher levels of thinking and have fewer attention disorders than nonplayers. Active outdoor play is a highly effective way to prevent and reverse childhood obesity.

Pogo Park makes our playgrounds safe and welcoming by staffing them with playworkers, or park stewards. These trained adults watch over the space and create enriched play environments that spark children’s imagination and initiative.

Our model for transforming parks also functions as a mini-stimulus plan in the Iron Triangle, where residents suffer from the devastating effects of poverty and unemployment. In the last three years, Pogo Park has directed more than $1,000,000 in back into the neighborhood in contracts with local Iron Triangle businesses and in wages to hire and train local residents.

Pogo Park’s impact is visible in the lives of the local residents we have hired, the parks that are being restored, and in the electrifying effect of this community development model on the entire neighborhood.

Give Back to the RAC on Giving Tuesday!

Giving Tuesday was created to unite us all in a day of generosity, to make a difference in the world at the start of this busy holiday season.

Please consider supporting the Richmond Art Center on Tuesday, November 28th.   For the past 81 years, the Art Center has been the home for people of all ages to explore hands-on creative practices and participate in the rich arts community of the East Bay.

A gift of donation will help the Art Center provide:

  • Free enriched art experiences for over 1,800 underserved students participating in our Art in the Community program at schools and community centers throughout Richmond.
  • Free admission to attend our regionally acclaimed art exhibitions.
  • Free admission to our family day events, talks, and performances held throughout the year.
  • Scholarships for youth and adults who could not afford but wish to participate in our robust Studio Art program.

Thank you so much for all you do to support Richmond Art Center.





Ric Ambrose
Executive Director

Donate online.

Anna Kingsley

About Anna’s work: “Pickypockets Press makes hardbound books, letterpress printed goods, and more. I make hardbound books, notebooks, stationery, ephemera are all produced by hand (with the help of some very heavy machinery).”

Anna is an Oakland teaching artist, bookbinder / printer for hire, child whisperer, and mother of three teenagers.

Anna’s website

Find Anna on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, California 94804

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