Sofa Art XX: Highways and Byways Exhibit at Arts Visalia

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.


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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!




Do you like to check out your local art scene? Support local artists? Share your thoughts below!

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at or via the contact form on her website at

51 thoughts on “Sofa Art XX: Highways and Byways Exhibit at Arts Visalia

    • 13 February, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      Hey! I need to find some local ruins to add to your blog!! How does that work, do you take submissions / guest posts???

  • 13 February, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    I love that you’re instilling an appreciation of art in Tessa at a young age. Living so close to Chicago, my husband and I took our kids to art museums at an early age too. I also loved to take them for walks (daily if possible) and collect what I would call “nature’s art.” My son is really creative and even though he’s off at college and very busy, he’ll still send me pictures of sunsets and foliage. 🙂

    This is the first that I’ve heard of sofa art. Such a fun and interesting idea!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      Oh wow, Chicago has a WONDERFUL art scene. During my last visit all I DID was visit art galleries, parks and museums (Sue the Dinosaur wins at everything, forever) and I have been itching to go back and take my husband, who spent three months in the Chicago area.. but locked up in Great Lakes for Navy boot camp! haha!

      That is so awesome that you can see a lasting impression you have made on your son, I so very much want that for Tessa! I hope she comes to love and appreciate the beauty in things, both man-made and God-made! Thanks for sharing Linda!

  • 13 February, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    aww….. I so wish to visit this place, love that sea lion picture! looks like your daughter Tessa had lots of fun 🙂

    • 13 February, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      Yeah, I guess the sea lion picture was the community favorite… even though it didn’t have a clear “sofa’ and just a chair, I really liked the black bear painting! And yes, Tessa had a blast! She threw a fit when it was time to go. 😉

  • 13 February, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    It looks like you had an awesome afternoon. And Tessa seems to have enjoyed the adventure. Have a great weekend!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      Yeah, she was a little nut, running from room to room. The staff were super sweet letting her run amok too. You have a great weekend as well! <3

  • 13 February, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    We have started supporting local artists a lot more in the past couple of years. One of my favorite ways is the Art Auction that the local battered women’s shelter uses as there big fundraiser. I’m excited about it again this year – it is also at our venue!!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      Now THAT is cool!! Supporting the local arts AND meeting a need in the community? It doesn’t get better than that! Make sure you share pictures from that event, I’d love to see!

  • 13 February, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    What a fun concept for an exhibition! I think it’s admirable that you’re exposing Tessa to local art at an early age. Judging from the photos, it looked like a great time!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      It was fun! I’ll have to keep Arts Visalia in mind for future art outings. Going to try to get to one of their opening receptions soon… thanks for stopping by my blog! <3

    • 13 February, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      Awww, thank you! <3

    • 13 February, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Thanks, it was!! <3

  • 13 February, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Great photos! It looks like a wonderful place and I love that you’re sharing your love of art with your family!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      I hope I can impart a love of art to my little one! That’s one of the biggest gifts a parent CAN give! <3

  • 13 February, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    You even have time to go to art galleries (besides writing a port a day, I simply can’t manage..) – but thanks for doing sol, because in seeing your pictures it seems to me to be there! Lovely photos of your daughter, think she enjoyed it! 🙂 Like the painting of the seals, it’s great!!

    Have a nice Valentines Day!

    • 13 February, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      I have a feeling that once the new baby arrives I’ll be posting a LOT less!! hehe! So I’m having fun posting to my hearts content now. I love seeing your new posts, you should blog MORE! 😉 Have a great Valentines weekend Rosa! <3

      • 16 February, 2015 at 12:23 am

        :))) Thanks so much for your kindness!! I have plans for a million posts….but the pictures…..the translations….the mass I make before publishing…:lol
        Waiting for the baby – afterwards you could make a post once a week with their pictures – and toys and clothes :))

        • 16 February, 2015 at 1:30 am

          I have so much respect for you translating your posts for different audiences! I have tried to teach myself other languages, but it’s so hard for me! I haven’t learned much beyond random nouns in a few languages.. so I have no idea how you do it!!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:35 am

      Only time will tell if it “sticks”! hehe!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:38 am

      Thanks Borka! <3

  • 14 February, 2015 at 3:59 am

    This place looks really cool! I love all of the artwork!
    Melanie @

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:39 am

      Yeah, I am planning on coming back for some of their more formal exhibits!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:40 am

      I didn’t want to flood everyone with pictures! haha.. I figured I’d go with the whole “less is more” mindset. 😉

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:41 am

      Thanks Mel, you too! <3

  • 14 February, 2015 at 7:53 am

    The Sofa theme reminds me of the photos you did with the red chair in the orchard years ago! Fun stuff. I bet Tessa loved the bright colors that a lot of the paintings used. When she’s older, you need to get her involved with the art classes they have at the Art center here or if they have them over there for kids. It will be perfect for your home schooling.

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Yeah, I think next year I’ll enter something similar.. how fun would THAT be?! I need to wait and see what next years “theme” will be before I go and make any grand plans though! And YES, art classes for Tessa is a MUST for sure!

  • 14 February, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Fabulous pictures! I love the one of the bears! We have plenty of local art galleries to choose from where I live but haven’t even begun to explore them yet! We really must!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Yes you do!! I bet you’re missing out.. go NOW!! hehehe! <3

  • 14 February, 2015 at 10:05 am

    I have never heard about Sofa Art before but that’s a brilliant idea. I love art exhibitions, I would clearly like to have some of that art in my home!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:45 am

      Yeah, almost every single piece was for sale.. but by the time we hit up the exhibit, every single piece was sold! haha! I would have been interested in buying the bear picture, it was my favorite!

  • 14 February, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    The Monument Sofa Valley art is awesome and your little girl is such a doll!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 12:53 am

      Yeah, I like all of the hidden sofas in the rock formations! So clever! <3

  • 15 February, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Yes. Do it! Submit something next year!
    We have an awesome art scene in our little city. In fact, I was just contemplating bundling up and seeing the ice sculpture show that takes place every Valentine’s Day weekend!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 1:06 am

      I think I will.. I actually have some ideas for fun photos too! hehe.. need to wait and see what next years theme is before I let my imagination run too wild though, lol. And ice sculptures?! That sounds FUN! Take lots of pictures!!!

  • 15 February, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    These are such lovely photographs. The sofa depictions are fun and inspiring. It looks like an amazing day out and so much better than watching TV! Your little one is so cute and a lucky one too!

    xo Bry

    • 16 February, 2015 at 1:09 am

      Thank you! I’d like to make taking breaks from video games and TV a “normal thing” in our house! 😉

  • 15 February, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    The sofa picture is amazing! I like this type of modern art:) Thanks for sharing! xx
    Margo Raffaelli

    • 16 February, 2015 at 1:13 am

      No prob! Thanks for reading! <3

  • 15 February, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    I love that you’re sharing what matters to you with your kids, Gingi. It’s never too early for the creative beauties of art to become a part of their world!

    And warm, sun-shiney California’s looking pretty appealing to this east coast, blizzard-bound girl right about now!


    • 16 February, 2015 at 1:19 am

      I keep getting people telling me how jealous they are of the California sunshine, meanwhile, I’m jealous of all the snow everywhere else! hehe!

    • 16 February, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Me too! Glad we have some fun ones in the area!

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