It was 1982 and a number of art enthusiasts gathered in the living room of Pat and Duane Furman. The group’s goal was to promote the arts in Madera.
Among those aficionados was a woman who had been an illustrator for Studebaker Automobiles in earlier years when she lived in South Bend, Indiana. Her name was Evelyn Ducoff, and she was instrumental in creating the Madera County Arts Council (MCAC). She passed away on March 17, but her memory will be honored at the MCAC’s annual gala to be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, at Toca Winery on Avenue 9.
That first meeting was organized by the late Nancy Clute in response to a 1981 program promoted by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, who believed that every California county should have a formal organization to promote the arts. Through the work of Clute, Ducoff and others, the Madera County Arts Council was formed and commissioned by the board of supervisors in 1983. (Please see photo of Ducoff, with Matt Bonander and Jeannie DeGroot, at the 30th anniversary MCAC gala in 2013.)
While Clute assumed the position of executive director, Ducoff concentrated on creating a program to introduce students to the creative arts. The result of her efforts was the PACES program (Presenting Art to Children in Elementary School). As the program became a signal part of our local schools, Ducoff developed a reputation as the “Paper Lady” and the “Clay Lady.” She worked with at-risk children, teaching them to make paper from otherwise discarded materials and to fashion ceramic artworks from clay. Her own ceramic work and beautiful jewelry was displayed at the Circle Gallery, which, after several moves, is located at 1653 N. Schnoor Ave. ...