We live in a small town. Ten thousand plus, spread out over more than a dozen communities around a lovely, but fake, lake.
So big-town-type happenings are not expected. Yet today I was taken to a new gallery opening in Kernville – less than six miles in a straight line from my place- so I said ok- I have attended gallery shows and openings from sea to shining sea. New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, L.A., and more…
Still. At the new The Gallery in Kernville, the opening had it all. The place was mobbed from noon until the nudging of the late comers and hard art partiers out the door a half hour after the advertised closing time. The Gallery is a new joint venture partnering KRVAA (Kern River Valley Art Association) and Kern Paiute Council and “Nuui Cuuni”, (Native American Intertribal Cultural Center.)
The small space which used to house a flower shop, was well hung, and dominated by art with local themes, From industrial car-paint drip art, to painting on animal skulls and shells, to my personal show favorite discovery: 86 year old Joan Montano Grant, whose retro style is heart-rendingly persona, evoking War- era magazine illustrations; yet her living subjects, from poets to ponies, have enough personality to jump off the canvas.
There were exquisite woven baskets and painted gourds from local tribe members. Striking oils of Arabian desert people; gorgeous and sensuous glass works. Intricate wood scroll art depicting California wildlife.
There was even controversy: an artist who was asked to move her paintings due to their subject matter.
Jennifer Colley’s painting “A Raven Scolding the Klansman, Kah Kah Kah!” offended some of the artists whose work was also accepted into the show. Colley, Vice President of the KRVAA, responded by transforming the outside space into as much a gallery experience as inside; and despite having to mount her controversial painting on borrowed wood pallets, sold it before the event concluded, to the private collection of artist Kelly McLane.
There was music by OMG, raffles, great wine, comfortable chairs and food.
When a Saturday afternoon provides this kind of social and cultural thrill, all was missing was a great restaurant with any food not based on beleaguered cows, pigs and chickens, which we would rather pet than eat. If only there were a food truck slinging veg Pad Thai that we could take with a couple beers to an outdoor table we would have achieved Saturday Nirvana.
Alas – yet hurrah- it’s Kernville, so of course, we know somebody, and follow them to their crib and the party goes on, friends show up a banjo and guitar materialize; and people you have seen for years, but don’t really know, look you in the eye, share their dreams, and you have a new friend…
Home, without a fifty dollar cab ride. I spent my day with art, artists, and friends. I love the big city museums and galleries – but equally: Kernville Rocks.
KRVAA Kern River Valley Art Association: A not for profit dedicated to serving local artists and craftspeople since 1962. P.O. Box 588, Kernville, CA firstname.lastname@example.org www.krvaa.org The Nuui Cunni Native American Inter-Tribal Cultural Center is a not-for-profit run by the Kern River Tuabtulabal Paiute Council