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Agriculture and art, an annual celebration

Annette Nordine Doud/The Madera Tribune

Rochelle Noblett, executive director of Madera County Arts Council and Circle Gallery, stands by artist Kate Jackson’s “Counter Flow,” which is one of many pieces that will be at the 24th Annual Celebrate Agriculture with the Arts show. The exhibit will open with a reception and awards presentation 5:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Circle Gallery.


Agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley was flourishing in 1994. Where farmers saw their crops as commodities, there were artists who saw beauty and creativity in their efforts. They were interpreting their visions through all paint media, fiber arts and sculpture.

The questions of where and how to showcase their work were answered when Celebrate Agriculture with the Arts Exhibition and Competition was originally funded by a 1994 California Arts Council grant under the watchful eyes of then-Arts Council Executive Director Nancy Clute. That first year, the Madera County Arts Council participated in a California Countryside Festival with agriculturally themed art by professional artists of the San Joaquin Valley. The Circle Gallery was soon opened to accommodate the art.

By 1995, Madera County Arts Council established the agriculturally themed art competition and exhibit as an annual event. Two years later, all California artists were invited to participate.

This year, the Celebrate Agriculture With The Arts show will open in the Circle Gallery Sept. 14, with a reception and awards presentations from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The annual show will run from Sept. 14 to Oct. 28.

The art categories include: California Crops; Farm Machinery and Structures; Our Farm and Ranch Friends; Celebrate Agriculture…The Human Factor; and Water…Agriculture’s Lifeblood. Some 80 pieces of art will be juried into the show.

While most other California Arts Councils have disbanded, the current executive director of Madera County Arts Council (MCAC), Rochelle Noblett, attributes its longevity to its board and membership.

“The board has kept the MCAC going for these 24 years,” she said. “They are hard-working volunteers from the community. We also have great membership support. This all goes back to Nancy’s time.”

Noblett has set a goal to interest the young professionals and business people of the area to serve on the MCAC Board. “We need to reach out to the young crowd,“ she said.

Noblett also attributes the continuing success of the annual art show to the farm community and art patrons.

“Traditionally we have been very generously supported by the farm community and the art patrons. It’s their support that covers the artists’ prize money.”

New to the MCAC Board are: Madera County Assessor Gary Svanda; Madera County head librarian Patrick Fitzgerald; Steve Copland; Chris Miller; and Diane Rich.

Current board members are: Julie O’Kane, president; Dr. Martha Mossman, vice president; Diana Marsh, secretary; Carol Moses, treasurer; Gail Beyer; Cal Crane; Tina Unti; and Dr. Marcheta Williams. The educational programs manager is Sherril Royse.

Circle Gallery,1653 N. Schnoor Ave., is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For information, call 661-7005 or visit

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