News Column

Painter looks to knock down walls between public, artists

July 4, 2014

By Lori Gilbert, The Record, Stockton, Calif.

July 04--Matt Rhoades' Artist in Residence stint at the Tracy Grand Center for the Arts next week means he'll have someone to talk to while he works, which, he said, will be a nice change. But there was more to his proposal for the position that was accepted by the gallery's citizen advisory board.

"I just thought it would be a good way for some of the walls between artists and the public to be brought down," Rhoades said. "They'll see artists are not weirdos. They're creative people. They're still weird, but they're approachable."

Rhoades in particular might raise an eyebrow, because his one-man show is the gallery's first of abstract paintings.

"He's brought something new to the history of the program," said William Wilson, manager of visual arts at the gallery.

And generated positive feedback with his show, "Personal Abstractions."

"As an artist you can't control what people see, think or feel about things," Rhoades said. "I would like a reaction one way or another. Either they like it or they hate it, it feels right to them or they don't get it. During the opening (on May 24), people would come over and say, 'Is this what this painting is about?' And they were dead on. They were looking at the work or the title and understood what the painting was about. One of them has to do with childhood haunts. It's about childhood dreams and nightmares and they got it right away."

The titles of his works come after they've been created. Rhoades sits down "with an open mind and open heart" and lets the piece evolve.

"I think it's so exciting and challenging. There's no fear to facing a blank canvas and not doing any preliminary drawings," Rhoades said. "I have no idea what's going to happen. I just begin working. I trust the process. I have no idea what color I'm going to use, what design I'm going to come up with or any images at all. It's an evolutionary process. I just keep working. If something isn't working, I sand it off and try again until it feels finished. I've gone back a year later and made changes to a particular painting.

"You're working without a net. You have to trust your skills it will work."

Abstract painting, which requires painting skill and technique, is about unleashing feelings, thoughts, emotions, and for Rhoades, that process came together most successfully 30 years ago when he painted "Homage to Passion."

The piece, in red and black, is in the Tracy show, and on public display for just the second time. It received a glowing review when it showed as a new piece in a Sacramento gallery.

"I have been sober for 28 years but this was toward the end of my drinking," said the 63-year-old Rhoades. "It's a red piece, with sort of fingers clawing throughout. It was me attempting to look at my life and trying to change it, get out of it. It's the passion of creating art and the pain of living life at that time. It's the most emotionally honest work ever I've done in my life. For 20 years I've tried to recapture that emotional connection. In the process of getting sober, my life changed. I couldn't connect with that sort of angst, anger, fear and other things that are in that painting. I'm no longer that same person.

"I've created other interesting work along the way, but I didn't know if I'd ever get that emotionally honest again."

Emotional triggers were there, though. He and Robin, his wife of 38 years, raised two daughters. They're grandparents. And, the started Southside Art Center, a program for adults with developmental disabilities that teaches art, helps find employment opportunities and offers community access and academic support to them.

Rhoades had taught art at Stockton's Alan Short Center. Robin's training is in social work.

"We feel like a couple of old hippies making the world a better place," Rhoades said of the venture that in 29 years has grown to include four Sacramento-area locations with 80 staff members. His art students have generated more than 20 large-scale, collaborative art pieces commissioned for state buildings and private businesses.

"Art is one of the few things where there's not a strict right or wrong," Rhoades said. "They've spent a lifetime failing and suddenly they can do something. They can contribute to part of the process like in a large-scale public piece or create their own work. Some are self-actualized artists."

Just like Rhoades.

" If I don't have a project going or if I take a few days off, I have trouble sleeping," Rhoades said. "Things build up in my mind. I have energy to create. I can't imagine not doing it. It becomes ingrained in your life."

He's shared that passion with his students, who in turn, helped inspire Rhoades' proposal for the Artist in Residency program in Tracy.

"I notice when people create art, people stop and watch," Rhoades said. "They're enthralled by it."

Rhoades, who does figurative work in addition to abstracts and sells works out of a Southern California gallery that appear in televisions shows and movies, including "Two Broke Girls" and the recently-concluded "How I Met Your Mother," will paint in an open studio at the Tracy Art Center Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. .He'll lead a painting workshop from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday. Cost for the class is $25 for residents, $28 for non-residents.

"I always hope it's a little inspiring to people," Rhoades said. "Not that I'm the person who inspires, but rather the process. Watching somebody be creative might create a spark in somebody else to try it, especially kids. Picasso said we all wish we could paint as well as children. There's a certain amount of truth to that."

Besides, he said, painting in his own studio "gets lonely."

The Grand Theatre Center for the Arts is located at 715 Central Ave.Tracy. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Information: (209) 831-6278 or atthegrand.org

Area galleries

Stockton Art Splash

Allies of the San Joaquin Pride Center (109 N. Sutter St.), Jenny Parro and Jonathan Joint will display photography and poster board art, respectively during the July Summer Art Splash from 5-8 .m. on July 11. Other participants include the Mexican Heritage Center (111 S. Sutter St.) and the San Joaquin County Administration Building (44 N. San Joaquin Street.).

Lodi First Friday Art Hop

This month's hop is delayed by the holiday until July 11. It runs 6-8:30 p.m. with works at Hutchins Street Square (125 S. Hutchins St.); the Lodi Community Art Center (110 W. Pine St.); Lodi Public Library (201 W. Locust St.); Double Dip Gallery (222 W. Pine St.); Bunches of Beads (100 W. Pine St.); One Way Winery (25 N. School St.); Fields Family Winery (20 N. School St.); McKinleys Frame Shop (11 W. Pine St.); The Rusted Mic (14 S. School St.) French at Heart (22 S. School St.); New and Again Consignment Furniture Gallery (110 S. School St.); Olive of Heaven (10 N. School St.); Vinedos Aurora at Tamplona Tapas (14 W. Oak St); Bath and More (19 W. Pine St.); Renee's Boutique (9 W. Pine St.); The Rowan Tree (11 S. Sacramento St.) and Smart Alic Accessories (5 W. Pine St.).

Lodi Community Art Center

110 W. Pine St., Lodi

The art league celebrates its first anniversary in its new facility with a juried membership show. Winners in the unique divisions, as determined by Modesto artist Henrietta Sparkman, are: Jean Justueau, Best in Show for "Chalk Stars," Sam Bassett and Pepe Pool in abstract, surreal, fantasy for "Flag for NSA," Leland Choy for "T Shirt" in portraits, figures, animals, Elen Lavaccare for "By George's Place" in landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes, Chris Anderson's "Boot in Stirrup" in every day objects, and Pam Bechill's "25th Anniversary Coat" in wearable art.

The show runs through July 25 and will be celebrated at the July 11 Art Hop.

Hours: Noon-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Information: 333-3855 or lodiartcenter.org.

The Haggin Museum

1201 N. Pershing Ave, Stockton

"Dark Garden: The Sculpture of Carla Malone," featuring 45 full-scale and 20 miniatures created by the local artist from the 1970s through the 1990s and "The Good Life," a collection of California watercolors of the 1930s through 1950s that depict ordinary life in the idyllic setting and climate of California, continue through July 20.

Hours: 1:30-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, Noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 1:30-9 p.m. the first and third Thursdays. Admission is free to all on the first Saturday of the month.

Information: (209) 940-6300 or hagginmuseum.org.

Art Expressions of San Joaquin

44 N. San Joaquin St., Stockton

Works by Stockton native Vickie Grewazt Ramierz are on display from Monday through Aug. 4 with a reception planned for 5-7 p.m. on July 11 in the San Joaquin County Administration Building. The building is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

Information: (209) 468-3240 or facebook.com/ArtExpressionsofSanJoaquin

Elsie May Goodwin Gallery

1902 Pacific Ave., Stockton

Retired auto mechanic Don Trainer spent 35 years working with cars -- starting as a tire installer, working his way up to Sears' automotive department manager and operating his own company restoring classic Cadillacs -- and when he turned to art, cars were a natural subject. His work -- featuring reverse painting on glass that reveals the true luster of automotive finishes -- is on display this month. A reception is 4-7 p.m. on July 12.

Wendy Rogers will demonstrate watercolor with prismacolor from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 .m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Information: (209) 466-6604 or stocktonartleague.org.

Cece's Art Studio

2324 Grand Canal Blvd. No. 10, Stockton

Open since 1989, the studio is where Cece executes oil portraits either from live sittings or pictures. The gallery hosts shows annually and has many artworks on view.

Hours vary and appointments are encouraged. Information: (209) 951-4130 or cecesartstudio.com.

Whirlow's Tossed and Grilled

1926 Pacific Ave., Stockton

The restaurant's one-day monthly art show is Wednesday. Artists may set up their displays from 3-4:45 p.m. and the show runs from 5-8 p.m. Display space for artists is free, but 20 percent of pieces sold will be donated to a non-profit art organization.

Information: (209) 474-1118.

Mexican Heritage Center

111 S. Sutter St., Stockton

University of the Pacific graduate Alicia Valenzuela began collecting plastic bottle tops when she was a freshman and with more than 10,000 of them, has created works of art, which are on display Tuesday through July 31. The exhibit is interactive. Visitors will receive a kit and be allowed to contribute to some of the works.

Hours: Noon-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Information: facebook.com/mhcgallery.

Knowlton Gallery

115 S. School St., Lodi.

Kim Lordier, Ray Roberts, Clark Mitchell Timothy Horn, Kate Starling, Kathleen Dunphy, Charles Muench, Jean LeGassick, Gil Dellinger, Dennis Ziemienski and John Cosby show the "Way Out West" through Aug. 23. The show features the varied landscapes of the west as well as the mix of people who inhabit it.

A reception is 1-4 p.m. on July 12.

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Information: (209) 368-5123 or knowltongallery.com.

Gallery Calaveras

22 Main St., San Andreas

The gallery showcases high quality art from local artists available for purchase.

Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays.

Information: (209) 754-1774 or calaverasarts.org.

Galerie Copper, 145 Stone Street, Copperopolis

Retired graphic artist Alvin Joe, an accomplished transparent watercolor painter of still life and landscapes is the featured artist.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday through Saturday. Information: (209) 785-2050 or townhallarts.com.

Gallery 10

15 Eureka St., Sutter Creek

Acampo artist Marilyn Eger, known for her landscapes of Amador County and the San Joaquin Valley, will be featured with contemporary jewelry designer Cindy Martin as Gallery 10's special artists for July. Eager paints in oil, pastel and acrylics and has pieces at Lodi Memorial Hosptial, Kaiser Permanente and University of California, Davis Medical Center.

Martin, who was born in Stockton and designs jewelry for Stockton singer Joni Morris, works in varios metals and stones.

A reception for the artists is 2-5 p.m. Saturday.

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m, Thursday through Monday. Information: (209) 267-0203 or gallery10suttercreek.com.

Sutter Creek Gallery

35 Main St., Sutter Creek

Julie Muela-Farris, who draws in charcoal and pastels images she sees on and near her family ranch in Lodi, is the featured artist this month in the cooperative gallery that features 30 local artists. A reception for her show is 4-7 p.m.

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Information: (209) 267-0228 or suttergreekgallery.com

Petroglyphe Gallery

8317 Main St., Mokelumne Hill

The gallery features 17 artists who work in oil, acrylic, watercolor, glass, ceramic and jewelry. Also on display are limited edition bronze sculptures and copper plate etching prints.

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Information: (209) 286-1387 or gallerypetroglyphe.com.

AmadorArts Gallery

11-A Randolph St., Sutter Creek

Laurie Williams turns her love of domestic and wild animals into acrylic paintings and clay and papeir mache sculptures, which will be featured this month. A reception for her show is 3-6 p.m. Saturday.

Hours: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays except Wednesday and 1-4 p.m. weekends.

Information: (209)267-9038 and amadorarts.org.

Amador First Saturday Art Trek

Nine locations feature works by local artists from 1-7 p.m. on Saturday. Participants are AmadorArts Gallery (11-A Randolph St., Sutter Creek); Chaos Glassworks (121 Hanford St., Sutter Creek); Fine Eye Gallery (71 Main St., Sutter Creek); Petroglyphe Gallery (8317 Main St., Mokelumne Hill); Add Art (20 Main St., Jackson); Gallery 10 (15 Eureka St., Sutter Creek); Little City Studio and Gallery (14180 Main St., Amador City); Sutter Creek Gallery (35 Main St., Sutter Creek) and Valley View Interiors (48 Main St., Sutter Creek).

Art on Main

466 B Main St., Murphys

Paintings, cards, sculpture, jewelry and glasswork by local artists are on display.

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

Information: (209) 728-1888

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