Art and the Gathering of Community

By December 11, 2020Blog

Over the course of this year, the Museum had the opportunity to examine the history and role of art in our community. Our Spring exhibition, “Gallery 9: Celebrating Art in Los Altos,” inspired us to tinker with the idea of hosting an art auction fundraiser for the first time and informed our collecting process for the 2020 Benefit Collection. Some of the early works such as “Yosemite Falls” by Lisa Carpenter, and “Blue Eye” by Kiyoco Michot were donated to this collection shortly after the close of that exhibition. Simultaneously, the Museum worked closely with the Public Arts Commission to showcase a mini-retrospective at the Los Altos City Hall. The collection then grew to include “Sunflowers on a Blue Tablecloth” by Jan Meyer and “Meditation” by Mami Weber.

Like it has for so many in-person events, COVID-19 drastically altered our plans. Due to this challenge, we reimagined the original vision and concept of the art auction for a digital space. Since pivoting to an Online Art Auction, we searched for different pieces that would further enhance this collection. It organically grew to include pieces by long-time supporters of the Museum, who include Nan Geschke and Suzanne Maguire-Negus. We were especially honored to include a watercolor piece entitled, “Sunflowers” by Beatrice (Bea) Teer, who was such a beloved local arts educator. With her passing this year, the Museum is deeply honored to remember Bea’s life and her commitment to the arts through this collection.

This collection showcases a wide breadth of mediums ranging from acrylic paintings on canvas to pastels on paper. We also included photography, batik textiles and 3D ceramic work. This body of work highlights the diversity of local artists as we took an open approach with no specified selection-criteria. Interestingly, we quickly discovered that an overarching theme of this collection depicts motifs of self-reflection, self-examination and meditation. At closer glance, there is a sense of quietness, softness and tenderness that exists in each of these artworks. We felt these emotions would resonate with all of us as we collectively seek peace, rest, and solace at this difficult time. We thus chose Agnes Derbin-Caulfield’s “Solace” to represent the cover art of the digital catalogue because it showcased this message of healing so beautifully.

This body of work is truly a symbol of the gathering of our community, one of the cornerstones of the Museum’s mission. From this viewpoint, this collection is meaningful because it was the spirit of giving and a sacred care for the community that the collection was able to grow and evolve.

We have an incredible arts ecosystem here in Los Altos and the Southern Peninsula. I am thrilled the artists and collectors shared their stories at the “Cocktails & Conversations” program. As the year comes to a close, I hope this conversation inspires all of us to reflect upon this year and celebrate art as a beautiful form of human expression. I would like to sincerely thank all the artists and collectors who generously donated to this inaugural collection. My passion for museum work has always been guided by my love for the fine arts, so I thank them for giving me the opportunity to collaborate with the community in this special way.

Contributed by Dianne Shen, Collections Strategist

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