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The arts are set to grow within Madera

As is painfully clear, especially during the “commuting hours,” Madera has been growing.

According to the last official estimate, the city was home to 64,444 people in 2016, having grown by 4.9 percent since our last census in 2010, and 47.5 percent since our 2000 census. As our population has expanded and become more complex, interest in the arts has grown, and programs in the arts must become more diverse.

Rochelle Noblett, executive director of the Madera County Arts Council (MCAC), said, “We’ve outgrown our present location and will be moving to a larger building.” For the past decade, the arts council’s gallery has been housed in a little more than 1,400 sq. ft., and that is inadequate for the various activities that she is planning. New art gallery

This spring, acting on behalf of the MCAC Board of Directors, Noblett negotiated a lease with Philip and Klina Oberti for one of their properties, located at 424 North Gateway Drive. But, moving to the new location would have been impossible without the participation of the Obertis. Noblett said, “Philip and Klina have gone over the top to make the building (which was once occupied by the Social Security Administration) suitable to the purposes of an art gallery.”

If all goes well with the renovations, the move to the new gallery will begin at the end of June. “At the North Gateway location, we’ll have three and half times the space, and we’re looking forward to devising creative uses for the additional room,” Noblett said. She is especially pleased that the building will accommodate an 800-square-foot classroom, which will be used for activities for both adults and children. At the new building, the entrance will open to the main gallery, which will be more than 1,100 square feet, affording people who enter a comprehensive view of the featured exhibition. Along with the main gallery and classroom, the new building will have secondary and tertiary galleries, a kitchen, gift shop, photography room, conference room, offices, and rental space in the 5,000 square-foot structure.

The building fronts on North Gateway Drive and has ample parking on the premises. Noblett hopes that the exterior north wall will soon display a 40-foot-long, eight-foot high mural, “Women of the World,” that was created by artists at the Valley State Prison for Women. “We’re hoping to open at our new address on July 3,” she said. However, the mural will have to be prepared to withstand atmospheric conditions before it can be displayed on the exterior wall. Gala for the Arts

This year’s Gala for the Arts, set for Thursday, May 24, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the grounds of the San Joaquin Wine Company, 21801 Avenue 16, will be a celebration of the decade spent by the gallery at the NorthPointe Center on Schnoor Avenue and the anticipation of the new location on North Gateway.

The event will feature the local band, J.E.R.K., the wines of the San Joaquin Wine Company, and “heavy hors d’oeuvres” by Mojo’s, a local catering service. The menu will include steak bites with bleu cheese; pulled pork sandwiches; teriyaki wings; Caprese skewers; deviled eggs; a fruit, cheese, and nuts platter; veggie spring roles; and stuffed mushrooms. After dinner, Chantal Sagouspe and Pete Swing will liven thing up with a demonstration of salsa dancing, as well as lessons for those who dare. Sagouspe played a salsa-club dancer in the 1998 film, “Dance with Me,” starring Vanessa Williams and Kris Kristofferson. Swing is from Pete and Carmen’s Salsa Dance Academy. The evening’s activities will then be topped off with a raffle for a $6,000 travel adventure to anywhere in the world that the winner chooses.

Tickets for the gala are $50, and tickets for the raffle are also $50. They may be obtained at Circle Gallery at 1653 N. Schnoor Ave., Suite 113 and online at No more than 300 raffle tickets will be sold. The winner need not be present for the drawing, and all accommodations will be made through Gateway Travel in Madera. Bottles and brushes

One of the activities that had to be discontinued in the present location because of lack of space was the popular Bottles and Brushes paint nights. However, in gearing up for its new location, the MCAC will host a paint night at the Madera District Fairgrounds on June 19, as a promotion for the Madera District Fair, which will be held Sept. 6 through Sept. 9. Subsequent Bottles and Brushes sessions will be held at the new facility on North Gateway.

Bottles and Brushes is designed for those who are new to painting or are beginner artists. All materials are supplied, and a professional art teacher guides the participants in step-by-step instructions. Previous attendees have agreed that an evening of painting in acrylics is fun, and the first glass of wine is free. Tickets for Bottles and Brushes paint night cost $40 ($35 for MCAC members) and are available at Circle Gallery. Hanging shows

An exhibition by Yosemite Western Artists (YWA) opened on May 10, with a reception at Circle Gallery. The show, which will be hanging until June 22, includes a variety of media and artists. This is the 46th annual tri-county art show by the YWA. Viewing is free, and the public is invited.

The next exhibition, and the first show to be held at the new quarters, will be “Animals We Live With.” The display, which focuses on family pets, is targeted to open with a reception on Thursday, July 12, at the North Gateway gallery.

The MCAC’s biggest annual event, Celebrate Agriculture with the Arts, which is sponsored by local farmers, agricultural-related industries, and local patrons of the arts, will open with a reception on Thursday, Sept. 13. Because of economic support from these people and entities, the MCAC awards $3,000 in prize money. Now in its 25th year, this event continues to draw artists and art enthusiasts from throughout the valley and around the state.

All exhibits at Circle Gallery are free and open to the public. For more information about any of the above-mentioned events, contact Rochelle Noblett at the Madera County Arts Council’s Circle Gallery, 1653 North Schnoor Ave., Suite 113, 661-7005. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Jim Glynn may be contacted at


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