Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

East Bay Monthly: Juan Fuentes Work on the Cover


The cover of November’s “The Monthly” showcases Maya, 2011, a woodcut by Juan R. Fuentes. His work features prominently in our exhibition Social Discourses: In Print along with the printmaking practices and private collections of Bay Area artists Art Hazelwood, Jos Sances and Jim Nikas. The exhibition addresses links between the practices and how printmaking has been used to create political solidarity, accessible political messages, and social change.

Juan R. Fuentes is a cultural activist, artist, and printmaker who has dedicated his art to supporting and being part of a global movement for social change. His work addresses issues relating to local communities of color, social justice, and international struggles for liberation. His early poster art is now part of the Chicano Poster Movement. In 2007, he created Pajaro Editions, a printmaking studio that is part of Consejo Grafico, a national collective of Chicano/Latino printmakers that promotes printmaking traditions and works to sustain existing Chicano/Latino Talleres nationally.

Superheroes and Princesses Make Art During Skeletonfest

More than 300 people from all across Richmond and the East Bay, including superheroes, witches, princesses and bumblebees, came to make art and celebrate the multicultural traditions of Halloween and Day of the Dead at Skeletonfest on Saturday, Oct 25, 2014.

The Richmond Art Center first hosted Skeletonfest in 2009 and it’s been a wildly popular annual event ever since. And this year was no different.

Kids, parents, grandparents and community members sat side-by-side and spent a fun afternoon coloring and constructing paper masks, learning about Mexican paper cutting and making cool paper creations, designing movable skeletons and decorating sugar skulls with colored frostings and adornments (a crowd favorite)!

Meet Sue, an Art in the Community Hero

Sue Collins
Art in the Community Program
Volunteer since 2013

What do you like most about Richmond Art Center?

“The people. I just love the Education Department. I attended the Upcycle event last year and was just so impressed by how friendly everyone is and how thoughtful they are about the types of activities they set up for the kids to do. I really look forward to the events here.”

Sue Collins found the Richmond Art Center by chance. A former Bay Area resident, Sue eventually moved to Massachusetts where she raised a family and maintained careers as a teacher and graphic designer. Recently, Sue and her husband decided to move back to the East Bay. Once settled, she attended a class at Richmond Art Center taught by Alan Tarbell that “really got me motivated again on my own path as an artist.”

Radio Free Richmond: Art in the everyday: the Richmond Art Center’s mission to make everyone an artist

Sean Pyles from Radio Free Richmond stopped by to learn more about our programs. Following is the article he wrote, you can see the original posting here.

by Sean Pyles

Chris Finch didn’t expect to become an expert jeweler when she first entered the Richmond Art Center. Finch, a local painter, just had a simple repair to make to a single bracelet, and so she signed up for a metal working jewelry class. Without knowing it, Finch was following the intended path for everyone who enters the RAC. Several jewelry and enameling classes later, Finch has joined the canon of hundreds of local artists who have passed through the RAC since its doors first opened 78 years ago. In the hopes of inspiring artistry among the everyday, the RAC has worked to give everyone — no matter their background or artistic ability — a chance at creative self-expression.

Back in 1936, before the Richmond Art Center had a building to call home, Hazel Salmi, the Center’s founder, lugged her briefcase of art supplies around the city. Salmi was often seen painting with kids on the side of the road, or giving impromptu drawing lessons around the city. For the first 15 years of the Center’s life, her arts initiative operated as such.

East Bay Monthly: Bay Area Figuration and More in Four RAC Shows

Dewitt Cheng from The Monthly stopped by our galleries to review our fall exhibitions. You can see the original review here and we’ve posted it below:

by Dewitt Cheng
With SFMOMA closed for construction and the Berkeley Art Museum about to close and move to new digs, what’s an art-lover to do for visual sustenance? The Richmond Art Center has been on a programming roll recently, notably with sculpture, and four shows that started on September 14 promise to keep up the momentum.

Three of the shows examine Bay Area Figuration, one of our region’s main claims to art-world fame. Closely Considered — Diebenkorn in Berkeley follows up on the recent major show by the California painter at the deYoung Museum, with smaller shows at the College of Marin and San Jose State University. This show, curated by Berkeley painter Jan Wurm, focuses on works on paper from Diebenkorn’s Berkeley years, 1953-1966, some never exhibited before, along with works by contemporary Bay Area Figurationists Elmer Bischoff, Joan Brown, Frank Lobdell, Nathan Oliveira, David Park, and James Weeks. Several related events are scheduled.

Richmond Confidential: Art Center provides a blank canvas for community creativity and learning

Loi Almeron on October 2, 2014

“Pinch and pull, pinch and pull” was the constant mantra of 12 kids molding their clay on a sunny afternoon. Each student was given a block of clay, water, molding tools and freedom to make their own clay birds.

At the Richmond City Library, Marie Kamali, a multimedia artist, teaches kids ages 6-9 years old how to make clay sculptures as part of an art in community program.

Art in Community provides career readiness to future artists by aiming to “bring the art-making experience to the community [and] encourage people to see art as a lifelong pursuit,” Community Programs Director Rebeca García-González said.

An outgrowth of the Richmond Art Center, the program provides after-school art training to schools and community centers within the city of Richmond. Art programs usually last 4-8 weeks per semester and admission is free for children and teens. Students are limited to 10-14 per class to make sure that the artist-teachers have time for everyone.

Starting with 5 programs in 2012, Richmond Art Center currently has grown to 16 art in community programs running today. Local program sites decide on the kind of art program they want. Funding comes from the City of Richmond, local businesses and Parent-Teacher Associations.

According to Rebeca, out of the 450 enrolled students, 80% are Latinos and 20% are African-Americans.

During class, each student pinched a part of clay and pulled it to form a wing, then repeated it to make a pair. Their clay birds cannot fly, of course, but it did not matter to these children. They had the choice to create, and so their imaginations soared.

“The risk of being creative, which we lose as we get older,” Marie said, “the kids just have it.” Marie said that it was faith that brought her to meeting Rebeca and the introduction to the art in community program. “Faith in the sense that I believed there was a place for my passion, working with and teaching children, art,” she said.

Marie used to create environmental installations before getting involved with the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) program in Richmond, where she wrote a curriculum linking sciences and art. After years of living a “lucrative life” of art culture, Marie “realized doing something like this [teaching] held a deep sense of well being within.”

The STEAM program, tied to the Common Core, has been essential to the community program. It acknowledges art and design in learning different subjects. Art is the “glue to learning,” Richmond Art Center Executive Director Ric Ambrose said.

Each student carefully places their molded clay birds on plates and Marie collects them in a box ready for glazing.  Students are also taught how to be responsible with their materials and the room. Several students cleaned-up after their class.

“Think of the Richmond Art Center as a person – one arm in exhibitions and one arm in education,” Rebeca said. That person is aiming that the little ones walk out of the room not only with “pinch and pull” thoughts, but also a further sense of freedom ready for their flight to creativity and learning.

Link online:

Annual Holiday Arts Festival Takes Sabbatical for 2014

The Richmond Art Center has announced that its annual Holiday Arts Festival is taking a sabbatical for 2014.

“Organizing this annual community event is a labor of love and one that we all look forward to each year, but as a nonprofit and the largest visual arts center in the East Bay, we are often managing multiple priorities with limited resources. We determined that taking a sabbatical from the Festival this year would ensure that we are able to maintain the high quality of our on-the-ground programs,” says Richard Ambrose, executive director for the Richmond Art Center. The Festival will return in December 2015.

The Richmond Art Center has been celebrating many milestones this fall.

The Center’s Art in the Community programs, which bring free art-making classes to Richmond children, have experienced unprecedented growth and demand and have doubled in number in just one year. Over the Sept. 13-14 weekend, the Art Center hosted hundreds of people at the opening reception for new exhibitions, including a showcase of works by world-renowned artist Richard Diebenkorn and numerous artists from the Bay Area Figurative Movement.

These exhibitions, which underscore the Art Center’s historic role in supporting emerging and established artists, are complemented with a series of free programs and an expansion of the Center’s gallery hours to include Sundays.

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.

San Francisco Chronicle: Closely Considered: Diebenkorn in Berkeley: When friends draw

‘Closely Considered: Diebenkorn in Berkeley’: When friends draw

Meredith May

Sep. 10, 2014Updated: Sep. 11, 2014 4:56 p.m.

This untitled ink and graphite on paper (1964) from the Grant Family Collection is part of the Richmond Art Center show.
This untitled ink and graphite on paper (1964) from the Grant Family Collection is part of the Richmond Art Center show.Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Painter Richard Diebenkorn, whose style has been described as a bridge between Henri Matisse and Abstract Expressionism, became a household name while living in Berkeley from 1955 to 1966, where he and a group of artists started a renaissance of figurative painting, which later became known as the Bay Area Figurative Movement.

Many of his paintings made it into private Bay Area art collections, where a majority of them remained, out of public view. Until now. Beginning Sunday and running through Nov. 16, the Richmond Art Center will display more than 40 of Diebenkorn’s intimate figurative drawings and prints from his Berkeley years, several of which have never been displayed in public.

“Closely Considered: Diebenkorn in Berkeley” will also include drawings by Diebenkorn’s Bay Area figurative contemporaries and friends, including David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Frank Lobdell, Nathan Oliveira, James Weeks and Joan Brown.

“The works on display come from a drawing circle they had together. They would meet in each others’ studios each week and be models for each other,” said guest curator and Berkeley painter Jan Wurm, who studied under Diebenkorn at UCLA. “It was a social interaction for them as well, because as artists they’d spend so much time alone painting, this was an opportunity to eat and drink together and talk about art and life.”

Born in Oregon, Diebenkorn moved to San Francisco at age 2, and began drawing at 5. He entered Stanford University in 1940, and studied classical oil painting technique under professor and muralist Victor Arnautoff, and Professor Daniel Mendelowitz, with whom he shared a passion for the work of Edward Hopper that influenced his own paintings.

“His printmaking was complex for the time,” Wurm said. “He’d use different media, overlapping etchings by scraping into the plates directly or altering them with acid baths, or he’d color his prints by hand or tear them into a collage, just to see what would happen.”

Wurm culled the show from former students, artists and friends she knew who had beloved Diebenkorn works in their private homes. The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation opened their database to her and let her scan their archives.

“I specifically chose pieces that had another life in people’s life,” Wurm said, “One person had a Diebenkorn in the dining room, or their bedroom, or right by their front door so they could consider it every time they were about to walk into the world. I noticed people really were devoted to their Diebenkorns, for the way his work shifted how they saw color and space.”

Also included in the show is a set of six etchings of a coat on a hanger that Diebenkorn created for a book of W.B. Yeats poetry published by Arion Press in San Francisco, which creates limited-edition artworks and classics using a 100-year-old printing press.

“He transforms a line from a Yeats poem about a coat on a hanger into a sense of loss, meditation and mortality,” Wurm said. “There’s a great deal of tenderness and emotion invested in these drawings, which I’m hoping people will find revelatory.”

The show includes a schedule of retrospective events and art classes in Diebenkorn’s honor, including a free Sept. 21 talk given by Diebenkorn’s daughter Gretchen Grant about watching her father at work and living in a home driven by art, and a documentary about Diebenkorn created by Kathan Brown, founder of Crown Point Press in San Francisco, which published Diebenkorn’s work.

Meredith May is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @MeredithMaySFTop Picks In Shopping

View article online here:

Fall Programs Include Works by Richard Diebenkorn & Improvements

Our fall programs, which includes an exhibition of works by world-renowned artist Richard Diebenkorn, will kick off with a gallery reception for the public on Sat., Sept. 13, 2014, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

“Our exhibition lineup this season is exceptionally strong, and underscores the Art Center’s historic role in supporting emerging and established artists,” says Richard Ambrose, executive director for the Richmond Art Center. The Art Center has also launched a series of improvements that highlight its historic legacy as the largest art center in the East Bay.

“As we look to the future, we’re elevating the quality of all we do — from the level of exhibitions the Center presents to our accessibility to diverse communities,” says Ambrose. “We’re thrilled to bring back the work of Richard Diebenkorn, one of the most influential painters of the last 50 years. He exhibited his work at the Art Center in the 1950s and held his first major exhibition of drawings here in 1968.”

The main exhibition, Closely Considered – Diebenkorn in Berkeley, will showcase works by artists from the Bay Area Figurative Movement, which includes artist Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Nathan Oliveira, James Weeks and Joan Brown.

The Art Center’s galleries will also feature works by other Bay Area artists, including prints by Frank Lobdell, large-scale paintings by Tom Holland and the printmaking practices and collections of Juan Fuentes, Art Hazelwood, Jos Sances and Jim Nikas.

Reinforcing Richmond Art Center’s Historic Legacy
The Art Center is making numerous improvements as it looks forward to its 80-year anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2016.

Visit and Contact

Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804-1600


Contact and Visitor Info
Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 10am-4pm