Richmond Art Center
Richmond Art Center

East Bay Express: Home Is Where the Art Is

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East Bay Express

Home Is Where the Art Is

Exploring ‘home’ at Richmond Art Center

By Janis Hashe

Jun 4, 2024

The concept of “home” is baked into human DNA. “There’s no place like home,” says Dorothy as she clicks her heels to return to Kansas. But, wrote seminal American writer Thomas Wolfe, “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

Home can be a safe, comforting place—but for some, it’s a place of anger and insecurity, and for others, “the homeless,” it doesn’t exist at all.

All these ideas of home and more are explored in the exhibition at the Richmond Art Center through June 15. “Home Show” features the work of six RAC teaching artists—Eli Africa, Ned Axthelm, Colleen Garland, Julia LaChica, Travis Meinolf and Kristin Satzman—who work in many media, from printmaking to ceramics, to jewelry to video.

RAC Community Engagement Director Amy Spencer both envisioned the idea for “Home Show” and curated it. She did so with two goals, she said: To curate a theme that people have in common, and to highlight the work of the teaching artists at RAC. “Everyone was happy to participate. It’s always exciting to find a way to work differently with them,” she said.

Spencer noted that the pandemic elicited mixed feelings about home for many. While home was a safe space and a retreat from a frightening unknown, it also felt confining and isolating. “You can see that in [one of] Ned Axthem’s paintings, created during the pandemic,” she said. “It’s hyper-focused on this space … comfortable but confined.”

Julia LaChica’s pieces in “Home Show” address home as both a place to be venerated and as an ideal that isn’t realized for many. Her/their Home Altar (Ode to Monica) celebrates her/their Japanese/Filipino ancestry, with items collected over 20 years from those places, and also including an old clock assembly with a note honoring a housing activist friend who died.

LaChica, an Oakland resident, has been a teaching artist at RAC for a year, instructing classes in both screen and block printing. She/they has watched and spoken with gallery visitors while they look at Home Altar. “Someone said, ‘Standing in front of this is very calming,’” she/they said.

But LaChica’s three works in the exhibition deal with her/their own experiences as a child of divorce, moving from one home to another. Court Ordered depicts a family portrait layered over a court-ordered custody document. LaChica and her/their siblings were, for some time, bounced between her/their mother’s and father’s apartments, with neither feeling like a true home.

In another work, Home, some of the effects of this are seen. LaChica’s mother did not speak English well, and felt she had to leave her three young children home alone as she went out to work. LaChica’s five-year-old brother accidentally set the apartment on fire. At that point, “Child Protective Services stepped in, and we moved into public housing in [San Francisco’s] Chinatown,” she/they said.

Yet the third piece, Permanent Resident, is an homage to her/their mother, using her old Japanese passport, and reimagining her/their 4-foot-11-inch-tall mother as a samurai with a sword. Under “occupation” on the passport,  LaChica wrote: “Badass hell-raiser.” Under “visual identification marks,” she/they inserted: “Back straight,” “Youthfully beautiful” and “Singing Japanese love songs.”

LaChica is inspired by the theme of home, and plans to continue creating a “broader exhibit [focusing on] the displacement of people. This project will affirm that all people deserve a place to rest. I want people to think about that,” she/they said.

Displacement is also addressed in Eli Africa’s animated video, The Story of Frai, a tribute to immigrant workers deciding to leave their home in the Philippines to make a better life for their children.

Richmond resident Colleen Garland has taught ceramics at RAC since 2019. With more than 10 pieces in “Home Show,” she considers her contributions to be, in part, a tribute to her own ceramics teacher at Contra Costa College, Mary Law. “I continue to fire with her,” she said.

The show’s theme literally hit home for Garland. “I make pots to be used,” she said. But some of her work in the show is sculptural, including a “chipmunk house,” complete with log and mushrooms, created at the request of a friend, and dioramas of interior scenes. In Soda Kiln (Pot House), “I replicated the inside of Mary Law’s kiln. It’s a home for pots,” she said.

One project she attempted to make specifically for “Home Show” proved unsuccessful. “We had a month’s turnaround to prepare for the show, and I tried to make a self-portrait,” she said. But she didn’t let the clay dry long enough—and it exploded in the kiln. She’s philosophical about it, noting that working with clay, glaze and heat is always full of variables, which is one of the reasons the work that survives and is beautiful should be valued.

Garland would like visitors to “Home Show” to feel “that each artist has brought in a piece of [their own] home.” She also urges viewers to imagine how pieces interact with each other, like her pots being used in Travis Meinolf’s Small Shelter.

“Look really closely [at the art],” she said. “How was it made? Travis’ woven house took hours of work.”

Amy Spencer discussed yet another aspect of the show: That it’s a home for the multiple teaching artists featured in it, as well as for the many students from all over the East Bay who take classes with them. RAC offers classes for adults, kids, youth and families, including some bilingual offerings.

Art Boost! scholarships are available for some who cannot afford class fees. This summer, adult classes run the gamut from “Urban Nature Journaling” to “Japanese Brush Painting and Calligraphy.” A summer art camp for kids, and free summer art classes for youth, are also offered.

“The Richmond Art Center has been here for more than 80 years, but there are still people who haven’t discovered us yet,” Spencer said.

“We are doing special things here,” Garland added.

Upcoming: “Richmond Open Studios Preview,” an exhibition showcasing art by artists participating in Richmond Open Studios; July 3–Aug. 17.

Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond. Gallery hours: Wed-Sat, 10am to 4pm. 510.620.6772.

Top image: Created During The Pandemic, Ned Axthelm’s ‘Whelmed’ (2020, Oil On Panel), Conveys The ‘Comfortable Yet Confined’ Feeling Of Home During That Time. (Photo Courtesy Of Richmond Art Center)

KQED Arts: Your Guide to This Summer’s Not-To-Miss Visual Art



Your Guide to This Summer’s Not-To-Miss Visual Art

By Sarah Hotchkiss | May 13, 2024


Every year, it’s a struggle to whittle this list down to a select few. There’s simply so much happening in art spaces across the Bay Area. For 2024, I’ve plotted out an ideal summer, full of inventive gallery shows, exciting museum exhibitions and local artists getting the attention they deserve, all in venues spread across the region.

Painting of a cell block with collaged images in windows
Keith Andrews, ‘Fishing from a Hole in a Wall,’ 2023; Acrylic on parachute cloth. (Philadelphia Mural Arts at SCI Phoenix)

The View from Here

July 3–Aug. 17, 2024
Richmond Art Center

Over the past year, incarcerated artists at San Quentin and Philadelphia’s State Correctional Institution (SCI) Phoenix have exchanged letters — but not through ordinary means. Using their arts programs (the William James Foundation and Philadelphia Mural Arts) as intermediaries, letters were scanned, emailed and printed out to facilitate a creative exchange. The results in this group show includes both imagined and literal views (of daily prison life, of a landscape seen through bars), alongside some of those letters. Art can transport us to other places and into others’ experiences, the show argues, but that is true for both the makers and viewers of that work.

Richmond Standard: Richmond Art Center seeks applicants for artist residency, board

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Richmond Art Center seeks applicants for artist residency, board

By Kathy Chouteau

The Richmond Art Center (RAC) is offering opportunities for a residency for one special artist and board positions for those wishing to support local art.

The Richmond Artist Residency enables an “emerging or mid-career artist to pursue their creative work, while also engaging with the community in Richmond,” according to the RAC. The center is additionally seeking community-minded folks who live or work in Richmond to serve three-year terms on its Board of Directors in support of its work.

Richmond Artist Residency

Applications for the artist residency are due by Friday, May 24. The residency runs from October 2024 to May 2025 and comes with an $8,000 stipend, 250 square foot dedicated studio for 8 months and opportunities to teach, exhibit, take classes and develop strategies for community-based arts programming. The selected artist will also receive competitive hourly rates for their teaching time.

Those who have a strong connection to Richmond and who are bilingual in English/Spanish or English/Mandarin are especially encouraged by the RAC to apply for the residency, as well as artists who are open to learning the best practices for community engagement. The center is being supported by the National Endowment for the Arts to make this opportunity possible. Learn more and apply here.

Board of Directors

A variety of volunteers are sought, including people who live/work in Richmond, are artists, love the RAC, have accounting/bookkeeping expertise, legal experience, are experienced fundraisers and other leaders who may want to become president/VP someday.

Board meetings are typically held on Zoom or in-person and its members help the RAC as ambassadors at evening and weekend events, by contributing their knowledge and expertise and supporting the center financially as is possible. Learn more here and reach out to to indicate your interest along with a brief bio, if possible.

Richmond Standard: WCCUSD Student Art Show poised to bloom at Richmond Art Center


WCCUSD Student Art Show poised to bloom at Richmond Art Center

By Kathy Chouteau

Three spring exhibitions are readying to debut Wednesday, April 10 at the Richmond Art Center (RAC), including the 58th Annual WCCUSD Student Art ShowHome Show and Art Blooms Here. The exhibitions will run through May 18.

“Spring exhibitions at the Richmond Art Center shine a light on the beautiful, ongoing cycle of teaching, learning and growing through art,” according to the center.

An annual crowd-pleaser for nearly six decades, the teacher-curated WCCUSD Student Art Show features the creative works of more than 300 middle and high school students originating from 13 West Contra Costa Unified School District schools in Richmond, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Montalvin Manor, Pinole and San Pablo.

reception will kick off the WCCUSD Student Art Show on Tuesday, April 16, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. An award presentation will occur at 5:45 p.m. and the event will include music by the De Anza High School band.

The other two exhibitions opening in April, Home Show and Art Blooms Here, illuminate both teacher and student artwork created within the RAC studios and demonstrate the creativity thriving there, said the RAC. 

Shown in the art center’s South Gallery, the Home Show will showcase the works of Eli Africa, Ned Axthelm, Colleen Garland, Julia LaChica, Travis Meinolf and Kristin Satzman.

Artwork by Colleen Garland for the Home Show. 

Over in the Community and West Galleries, Art Blooms Here will spotlight the works of Alice Armstrong, Maggie Burns, Larry Craighill, Julissa Duran, Ana Gadish-Linares, Mara Greenaway, Zamira Ha, Beatrice Hartman, Marion Henon, Eugenie Hsu, Susie Kelly, Jen Kelly-DeWitt, Juniper Kirkwood, Jolie Krakauer, Paula Kristovich, Michelle Lin, Susana Macarron, Ahmaya Maroney, Elijah Martinez Ruiz, Jessica McDowell, Jeanette Nichols, Tatyana Ryevzina, Maya Soichet-Yampolsky, Hanneke Steenmetz and ‘Beginner Handbuilding’ students.

All are welcomed to the reception for Home Show and Art Blooms Here Thurs., April 18, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Find the Richmond Art Center at 2540 Barrett Ave. in Richmond. Visit the gallery during its open hours Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free to the exhibitions and events. 

Art by Jen Kelly-DeWitt, Hold Complexity, 2023, for Art Blooms Here.

Richmond Confidential: Richmond Art Center recovering after losing major donor: ‘We are in the black now, not red.’

Richmond Confidential


Richmond Art Center recovering after losing major donor: ‘We are in the black now, not red.’

Sophia Sun on January 16, 2024

When the Richmond Art Center lost its biggest donor last year, Executive Director José Rivera said he was worried about the future.

“Over many years, that donor contributed $100,00 annually, making him the most significant benefactor in the center’s history when considering the cumulative sum of his contribution over time,” he said. “We lost him since last year he closed out his foundation.”

For a while, it wasn’t clear how the RAC would make up that shortfall

But things are looking brighter.

So far, the center has raised more than one-third of the $300,000 it needs to cover registration fees and tuition for 2024. In addition, it met its $30,000 scholarship goal. 

The scholarships, Rivera said, allow the center to offer art classes, which attract newcomers and grow the membership. They also make classes accessible to people who could not afford to pay $40 to $50 per session.

“We are in the black now, not red,” said Rivera, who attributes the turnaround to several factors that have increased revenue and donations. 

The RAC has been holding more exhibitions and partnering more with sister museums to raise visibility and draw crowds from outside of Richmond. In 2022, for example, it partnered with the SFMOMA on the exhibition “Emmy Lou Packard — Artist of Conscience.”

“We also have a good amount of returning students who want to continue taking art classes after their first quarter,” said Elaine Moreno, the center’s visitor services coordinator. “A lot of students feel comfortable and love the space, so they return, and some even take multiple classes at a time.” 

In addition to classes, the center holds events in community gathering spaces like the farmers market, flea markets, and schools. The community programs are free to the public. Some are funded through partnerships or grants, said Irene Conde, the center’s education director.

The center also recently hired Kimberly Ross as public programs coordinator Her goal is to help the center reach more people.

“My priority is to expand our reach and connect directly with the people of Richmond, making the Richmond Art Center and our offerings accessible to everyone,” she said. “As a Richmond native and artist, I can achieve this goal by tapping into my network to create opportunities for program collaboration with local organizations and businesses.”

Richmond Confidential: ‘This is like our Harlem Renaissance’: Exhibition showcasing Black artists set to open in Richmond

Richmond Confidential


‘This is like our Harlem Renaissance’: Exhibition showcasing Black artists set to open in Richmond

Panashe Matemba-Mutasa on January 2, 2024

In an arena where they’re often in the shadows, Black artists are creating spaces to recognize and celebrate their talent. 

For the 28th year, the Richmond Art Center will present the “Art of the African Diaspora” exhibition, later this month. AOTD gives local artists of African descent a way to share their work with the community and each other. 

The showcase, which will run from Jan. 24 to March 16, will feature 160 Bay Area artists working in a variety of mediums.

“You have artists who are at different stages of their career and success. This allows younger and mid-career artists to show their art,” said Stephen Bruce, a Richmond artist who chairs the steering committee. 

The idea of this Black art mecca was first nurtured by the late Jan Hart-Schuyers, a revered Bay Area artist, art educator, and community organizer, according to the AOTAD website. Lauded for her many sculptures, Schuyers established a partnership with Los Angeles-born painter Rae Louise Hayward, and the two would go on to produce the first AOTAD showcase in 1997 under the name “Art of Living Black,” which featured 35 artists. Though they didn’t live to see the event’s growth, their vision was fulfilled.

But when the showcase ends each year, many of the participating artists return to a harsh reality. Since the first museums opened in America, Black people have had their likeness on display but seldom have had the chance to be recognized for their own works: a pattern noted by scholar Bridget R. Cooks in her book “Black Artists and Activism: Harlem on My Mind.” 

In 2022, Julia Halperin and Charlotte Burns, who created the Burns Halperin Report to analyze representation in the art market, surveyed 31 American museums and found that African American artists were underrepresented. Work by Black female artists comprised 0.5% of acquisitions of all the museums surveyed. And of the top 20 artists, only one — Julie Mehretu from Ethiopia — was of African descent. 

AOTAD seeks to give more Black artists a platform to showcase their creative skills. 

“This is like our Harlem Renaissance,” artist Kelvin Curry said, referring to the Black cultural revival in the 1920s. 

This season’s showcase offers variety. Illustrator Virginia Jourdan, who’s been participating since the first showcase, is displaying acrylics. She’s produced works ranging from portraits to urban landscapes, and says her work is focused on “uplifting African American images.” Jourdan said she’s grateful for a space that allows her to celebrate her craft.

“Art is very relaxing for me and something that’s innate,” Jourdan said.

Curry’s work also is featured. A multimedia artist, Curry describes his work as “figurative, abstract, and symbolic.” He incorporates African-inspired shapes and color schemes into his work.

With the showcase, Curry said, “I hope to gain new collectors and more exposure.” 

Bruce, who’s participated in AOTD since the beginning like Jourdan and Curry, said that the showcase benefits Bay Area residents as much as it does the artists, giving people a chance to experience art they otherwise might not have seen. After months of planning, he is excited for opening day.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to see an array of artists in their community,” Bruce said. 

More information about the exhibit is on the AOTAD website

Richmond Standard: RAC celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day through artmaking

Richmond Standard


RAC celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day through artmaking

October 9, 2023

By Mike Kinney

Dozens of community members and their families celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day through artmaking at the Richmond Art Center on Saturday.

It was part of the art center’s annual “Fall Family Day,” a fun, free event that invited the local community to get a taste of the RAC’s offerings while celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The event enlisted families to work on a community mural facilitated by muralist Luis Garcia. In other activities, the Native American Health Center of San Francisco held a powwow reading corner. Printing, knitting and leaf activity sessions were offered, and families could also contribute to a photographic portrait series by Anne Wolf and Lisa Levine.

DJ Freddie J of Hotmixx Entertainment provided guests with the best RB and jazz fusion, and tamales were served at a popular food pop-up.

The spirit of Indigenous Peoples’ Day was definitely here today; I am glad people had a chance to come and celebrate it with us,” said visitor Dee Brown, a Native Lakota.

Added Ruby Johnson, another guest, “My family really enjoyed helping to paint the community mural, it gives me a real sense of how important art is to our community.”

Kathy Driskill said it was her first visit to the RAC.

“And I had such a wonderful time being with the community celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day with arts and culture! I can’t wait to come back here next year,” Driskill said.

Wee Poets Features WCCUSD Youth and Richmond Art Center

Wee Poets Features WCCUSD Youth and Richmond Art Center

For over thirty years Wee Poets on Channel 28 has supported literacy development through interviews with thousands of Bay Area children. This month three WCCUSD students and Roberto Martinez, RAC’s exhibitions director, were invited onto the show to talk about the WCCUSD Student Art Show.

Top Image: Wee Poet’s host Sally Baker speaks with RAC’s Roberto Martinez

The Richmond Standard: Richmond mayor’s office also an art gallery


The Richmond Standard

Richmond mayor’s office also an art gallery

June 23, 2023

After a four years, works from locally-based NIAD Art Center are being exhibited on rotation at the office located at Richmond Civic Center, according to Mayor Eduardo Martinez.

The mayor’s office also partnered with the Richmond Art Center to display art from the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Student Art Show.

“Both shows are in the mayor’s office and you are invited to come and look at the artwork,” Martinez said at this past Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Artnet News: Chevron Took Down an Artwork, Which Called Out the Oil Giant for Polluting a California City, From a Fence Surrounding Its Refinery


Artnet News

Chevron Took Down an Artwork, Which Called Out the Oil Giant for Polluting a California City, From a Fence Surrounding Its Refinery

The project adorned a fence separating an oil refinery from residential neighborhoods.

Brian Boucher | June 8, 2023

Oil giant Chevron has acknowledged that it removed an art installation from a fence surrounding its refinery in Richmond, California, near San Francisco.

The piece, installed on Earth Day (April 22), consisted of brightly painted slats placed on the fence around the oil refinery. Neighborhood residents were invited to inscribe messages and stories on the slats as a way of documenting the local petroleum industry’s health and environmental impacts, and form “a collective monument to resistance.” The slats were painted with messages such as “clean energy now.”

“Our fences and other company facilities are functional equipment and we cannot allow tampering or unauthorized construction,” Chevron spokesman Ross Allen told Artnet News in an email.

Organizers of the art project argue that the portions of the fence they used are owned by the city and that they received permission from Richmond’s Public Arts and Culture Commission, the City of Richmond’s Love Your Block program and Public Works Department, and Contra Costa County’s North Richmond Municipal Advisory Committee to install the work. The removal, they said, was “an attempt to silence our voices and erase our stories.”

The work was the subject of an exhibition at Richmond Art Center that ran from April 5 to June 3. 

Chevron claims that the fence is the company’s private property. “Perhaps someone is mistaken about ownership of our fence and our property line, but we are quite clear about ownership of the area,” spokesman Ross Allen told Artnet News. “[N]o city permit allows construction on private property without landowner permission.”

Earth Justice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, wrote on its website that Chevron’s refinery has been “wreaking havoc on the local community for decades and was the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the state.” The residents of the surrounding neighborhood, the organization points out, are primarily people of color. 

“The population in closest proximity to the refinery has disproportionately high rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer,” the Guardian reported in 2019. The city’s children have rates of asthma twice the national average, the paper reported in a story on a 2018 lawsuit the city filed against Chevron, alleging public nuisance and negligence.

“We think it’s pretty weird that they disappeared the project without any kind of communication with us,” one of the installation’s organizers, Graham Laird Prentice, told the San Francisco Chronicle, noting that there had been extensive publicity surrounding the project. The removal “seems to have transpired during the night. It’s pretty shady stuff.”

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