Sunday, 15 November 2015

Surprise “YES!” to Community Arts

When you “ask” for something, it may be a real surprise where it leads.  When I asked to borrow a space for one art exhibit, the owner said “OK". "How about two exhibits?  What if we helped make a series of community exhibits happen?”  From that surprise “YES” a decade ago, a whole new path opened.  Flockworks was formed, with Board, bylaws and all, as a nonprofit framework to support community arts initiatives.   In 2007, the community Art series called Art@OddFellows in Mendocino began.


1,000 Prayer Project by Larry Thomas
To use this premier space, formerly the Zimmer Gallery, Flockworks set up lights, insurance, phone lines, credit card system, seller permits, and more. Our first exhibit featured the Mendocino Figure Drawing Collective, then led by beloved local artist Bill Martin.  The second exhibit that kicked off Mendocino Audubon Society’s “Save Our Shore Birds” research project featured 340 children’s drawings and paintings of local birds.  The response was terrific and things took off from there with each month organized and hosted by a different group of local artists and the entire project run by volunteers.  
Web of Remembrance Installation
 Mural begins at Redwood School.
Flockworks’ focus on children’s creativity began in 2008 with a class visit to OddFellows.  As part of their trip, the children helped create a large abstract painting that was later sold in another exhibit. They voted to use funds to make art banners to hang on the construction fences that surrounded the Mendocino k-8 School during major renovation. Since then, more than 400 banners, 16 large scale murals, in-class art, special projects, and community events have happened.  Art by children is included in exhibits and families visit the gallery and in settings like the CV Starr Center, the Senior Center, Harvest Market, Noyo Food Forest and the Coast Trail. All of these venues host major art pieces created with local children.  Thanks to the AD Abramson Grant for Public Art from the Community Foundation of Mendocino, a new mural will be completed in the Mendocino k-8 School gym this year.  













In November, Art Explorers, the creative arts program for adults with developmental disabilities, hosts their 9th annual exhibit at OddFellows, (weekends through November 29).  The December exhibit celebrates the life, art and music of John Chamberlin.  Overall, 2,500 local adults and 5,000 children have been part of 110 shows in the Arts@Odd Fellows series.  Annually, more than 12,000 visitors from all over the world enjoy the exhibits and art sales from these shows contribute directly to the local economy. This volunteer artist initiative has become a vibrant gathering place for community creativity and spurred collaborations among artists and other groups.  Our modest percentage (15%) from sales fosters seed funds for other community initiatives.  


Noyo Printworks is our new community studio in Fort Bragg led by volunteer artists. Noyo Printworks is dedicated to learning, teaching and practicing letterpress, printmaking and book arts. Gifts of equipment got things rolling and the City of Fort Bragg gave unused space to incubate this start-up. Since doors opened in April 2015, the response has been terrific.  Nearly 200 people signed up to participate. The space hosts visitors each First Friday Art Walk, workshops on printmaking and Studio Groups meet regularly cultivating creative projects.    




“Bones & Beyond: An Ocean Celebration” is part of a growing partnership with the Noyo Center for Marine Science. Combining art and science, outreach activities with schools, exhibits and special events, this collaboration is already proving to be fruitful..  Sheila Semans, Director for the Noyo Center, says “ Working with Flockworks adds so much to how we can engage locals and visitors of all ages in caring for our oceans and sea life.”   

Flockworks weaves community collaboration into everything. Events like Stone Soup or Mendocino Coast Children’s Fund 21st Anniversary bring arts together to strengthen the sense of “community” and address important local concerns. Creative support for Mendocino Film Festival, the Noyo Food Forest, Leadership Mendocino, Coast Youth Soccer, Mendocino Coast Clinic, Safe Passages, MAPA, Mendocino Land Trust, local schools and others, has been visible with banners, murals, exhibits, installations, painted faces, crafts and more.

Flockworks’ accomplishments have all been done with volunteer time, minimal resources and an unwavering willingness to say “yes” whenever someone has asked.  Now, after ten years, the challenge is to make this sustainable.  Added time and expertise is essential.  We simply can’t do it all with volunteer time alone any longer. 

For the very first time, we are asking for community help to continue this work.  We are making our first financial appeal this Winter, planning a March Art-A-Thon and fundraising through grants to enable Flockworks to continue to say “YES” to community creativity.  


We invite your support...Your donation to Flockworks will make a difference.

Click here to Make a Gift by Pay Pal with our thanks! 
Or we love to get mail... Flockworks PO Box 1603 Mendocino, CA 95460




















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