My family and I have been meaning to hit up the local art scene in the Central Valley for some time now. Not only do I want my kids to grow up feeling at home in galleries and museums, but it’s always a good idea for personal edification to have a finger on the pulse of the art world, and that includes supporting local artists in your own backyard!
Here in the Valley of Central California we’re sandwiched geographically in between some major art behemoths. With the industry driven art to the South (Los Angeles and Hollywood), the posh upscale artwork to the north (San Francisco and Sausalito) and the artsy chic boutique artwork found all along the coastal region to the west, we are pretty much smack dab in the middle of the art world of the West Coast.
And truth be told, we are the unspoken location where many artists are birthed, inspired, trained and matured before migrating to the “big city” art scene.
But anyway! We finally made our way out to Arts Visalia (just a few blocks from our home) to check out the delightfully quirky Sofa Art XX: Highways and Byways Exhibit. The “Sofa Art” concept has been held annually by Arts Visalia Community Art Center since 1996.
This is the galleries most long-running and community-oriented art exhibition. The whole concept of “Sofa Art” is intended to poke fun at the idea of art being made to match one’s sofa. To quote Arts Visalia:
“In this case, the sofa becomes the subject of the artwork.. or perhaps the protagonist. With that in mind, the artwork must include an image of a sofa or something to sit on such as a bench, chair, stool or.. use your imagination!”
The first Sofa Art Show was held in 1996 as a playful response to an unflattering depiction of Visalia’s local art scene as described by a local newspaper writer. Sofa Art Co-Founder Varian Mace, then an art instructor at College of the Sequoias, shared the article with her classes and challenged them to make some “real sofa art” in response. The resulting exhibition was a hit and has been an annual Visalia tradition ever since.
We had fun browsing the gallery as a family… And by “browsing the gallery” I mostly mean chasing Tessa from room to room as she pointed out in feverish excitement every new picture and painting that grabbed her fancy. We arrived REALLY close to closing so we only had a few minutes to look around. But it was a fun way to conclude a Thursday evening that would otherwise have been spent playing video games or lounging on the sofa.
Hmmm, back to that sofa theme again. Who knows? I might submit something for next years art show. It sounds like it might be fun!