Meet our Volunteers: Gene and Roger
Gene Erickson and Roger Smith
Exhibitions Installation and Logistics Volunteers
How long have you been volunteering at Richmond Art Center?
Gene: Since moving up to the East Bay in 2006!
What do you like most about volunteering here?
Roger: Everyone here has a sense of what a special resource the Center is for the community and for the artists who show their work here. It’s great to feel a part of that.
Do you always work together as a team?
Gene: “Yes, and we are partners in private life too; 25 years!”
Before moving to the East Bay, Gene Erickson and Roger Smith were partners in life, but they pursued completely independent careers. Now the couple has melded their range of talents to become the Richmond Art Center’s dream team of volunteer art handler / installers.
Gene, whose work was exhibited at SMAart Gallery in San Francisco last year, received an MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts in the 60s, and then went on to run his own successful art framing business in Los Angeles for many years. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about how to handle art and hang a show. Roger’s 30 year career as an organ transplant coordinator at UCLA’s medical center makes him an intrepid facilitator. Together they choreograph some of the Center’s most challenging exhibitions, including the Annual Member’s Show, which allows all Richmond Art Center artist members to exhibit one piece of artwork as part of the Center’s summer exhibition program. “As you can imagine, so many things have to be taken into consideration,” says Gene. “First there is the task of taking in all the different kinds of artworks – from well established artists to artists who are exhibiting for the first time. And then there is the challenge to put all these unrelated pieces together in a way that flows and balances the various formal considerations.”
One of their favorite projects at the Center was the Gary Knox Bennett – Vertical at 75 exhibit in 2010, a wide-ranging retrospective of the Oakland-based woodworker’s paintings, sculptures and furniture. “Gary is just one of those larger than life individuals,” Gene recalls, “and his approach is completely unconventional. It was a great challenge and a lot of fun getting to know him during the installation process.”
Gene and Roger are active participants in Art Center activities as well as members and volunteers – they enjoy attending openings, and Gene, who regularly takes classes as a source of inspiration for his own art, usually contributes work to the member’s show and Holiday Arts Fair each year. This year, he is honored to have been selected as a Showcase Artist for the 2014 Members Show in June.
What makes Richmond Art Center so special? “It’s an organization that runs on volunteer power, and everyone who works here is so committed.” Gene observes, “You’ll even see Ric (Richard Ambrose, the Center’s Executive Director) hammering nails!”
This profile was written by another amazing volunteer, Susan Arick.