Mark Twain Library Art Show: This year marks 40th anniversary

Current and past chairs of the Mark Twain Library Art Show hold posters from the year they chaired this annual event. This year marks the art show’s 40th anniversary. From left are Jill Barberie, Brenda Johnson, Angela Matsouka, Pam Robey, Terry Flagg, Janice Meehan, and Lilyan Durkee. —Kaitlin Bradshaw photo

Mark Twain Library will be hosting its 40th annual Art Show and Sale starting this Saturday and continuing for nine days, until Sunday, Dec. 9, during regular library hours. To commemorate the past 40 years of art, Angela Matsouka, art show chair, came up with the theme “Where were you in 1972?”

“Forty is a big number, and I thought it was the right time and feel for remembering the art show and its history,” said Ms. Matsouka. “It’s fun, it’s different — something to re-ignite the art show.”

Since its beginning in 1972, the art show has been an outlet for area artists to show and sell their work. It has also been an event for local residents to view gallery-quality art without traveling to the city.

During the second annual show, in 1973, artists provided work for sale and also demonstrated live art, allowing visitors to watch as an artist made a silk screen print or drew with charcoal.

Throughout the years different artists have passed through the doors of Mark Twain Library and some made a following for themselves, Ms. Matsouka said.

“So many artists have been submitting their work for years,” said Ms. Matsouka. Artists like Kathy Anderson and Pam Reese have made names for themselves at the art show.

In the mid-1980s the art show became juried by Redding resident and award-winning artist Charles Ray. Before the opening of the art show, Mr. Ray judges the works submitted by each artist. Any artist may submit two works for consideration.

“It didn’t start as a juried show, but the vetting of art has improved the quality of the show,” said Mary Ann Carman, library board member. Because it is a juried show, it assures a higher quality of art, she said.

The artists price their work and when it is sold, 35% of the proceeds go to the library, said Ms. Matsouka. During the silent auction, which consists of artworks donated by artists, 100% of the proceeds go to the library.

“So far, about 120 to 130 artists have submitted  work,” Ms. Matsouka said. After Wednesday, the art will be chosen.

Returning to the show this year is the People’s Choice Award, said Ms. Matsouka.

“Patrons come in during the week of the show and vote for their favorite piece of work or artist in four categories,” she said. “They used to do it years ago and we’re re-instating it.”

Past art show chair members have fond memories of the event and continue to attend.

Terry Flagg, a co-chair in the past, said, “I have fond memories of our ‘men’ helping assemble the stands on which to hang the art — and the fact that they are still in use is amazing.”

She said the collaborative effort to pull the art show together was energizing.

“My favorite was visiting the artists in their studios, seeing firsthand their space and getting to know them and then having the press write a feature article to inspire enthusiasm for the show,” said Ms. Flagg. “The Mark Twain Art Show is a signature event bringing all together in celebration of creativity in such a joyous way.”

Pam Robey, art show chair from 2009 to 2011, recalled her first year as chair.

“In my first year as art show chair, the theme of the show was ‘Paint the Town Redding.’ As much as I recall, it was the first time we encouraged the community to have fun with the theme. Yes, we encouraged the gala guests to wear red. To this day, it amazes me how guests responded in the spirit of the occasion. The room was filled with red. Right down to Helen Hermes, decked out in a chic red jumpsuit. It made my night and art show,” said Ms. Robey.

Ms. Robey also remembered the year when it was 65 degrees out and the champagne and wine for the Preview Gala had to be brought back and forth to the West Redding Fire Department refrigerators so it could be served chilled.

Martha Korman, art show chair in 1995, said the best part about chairing the art show was that her husband, Sinclair, was alive and the second best was the people she got to work with.

“I worked with the most wonderful people to hang the works of art, sell the works of art, and take it down and see that the buyers all went away with smiling faces when they picked up their purchases. And I believe that the bottom line was a tribute to the committee’s hard work,” said Ms. Korman. “I will remember my years there as some of the happiest years of my life.”

For more information about the 40th anniversary of the Mark Twain Library Art Show, visit marktwainlibrary.org.

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