By Lupita Franco Peimbert
On the main street of a community considered one of the most beautiful towns in the United States (2017), the Siskiyou Arts Museum in Dunsmuir, California, stands out as a cultural center with a good dose of heart and vision, providing locals and visitors wonderful opportunities to enjoy and be part of creativity and culture.
By exhibiting the works of talented local and regional painters and musicians, SAM strengthens their artistry, for an artist’s gift is enhanced and enriched by means of exposure and interaction.
I have been at SAM twice and am a fan. Although the museum is abundant of paintings, small sculptured, some ceramics, and mixed forms, it also promotes music and other expressions. The first time I attended was in September during “Jazz in the Canyon,” and was impressed by the quality of “Sonido Alegre,” a duo performing original songs in a casual concert with guitar, violin, viola, and vocals. It is also interesting to hear to Charles Guy and Linda Powers experiences in Mexico and listen to some of the lyrics in Spanish, in addition to outstanding music.
On a Saturday in October, the “River” art exhibit by Bob Nugent was a reason for my traveling from Redding to Dunsmuir on Interstate 5 just to see the artist’s abstract rendition of the river that surrounds us. Nugent, who at some point taught art at the College of the Siskiyous and now lives half of the time in Brazil, was present and I had the opportunity to chat with him. For “River,” he focused on the Sacramento River, which starts in Mount Shasta and streams throughout Siskiyou County before its waters run through other areas until it immerses in the Pacific Ocean.
“I took long walks along the river and it surroundings,” he told a group of people in attendance the first day of the exhibit. “As an artist, I had to embrace the river with all my senses so that I could then transform it into abstract art.” He also said the exhibit at SAM is only half of what he has created.
On that same afternoon, Ellen, one of the friendly board members, showed me the atelier downstairs. It is a workshop area where creatives can learn and practice. “We have opened this space to be used on Sundays, hoping that people will welcome the idea and come this way to draw or paint.” People could bring their own materials or buy them at the museum, and use the space or take a class for a symbolic fee. Ellen said they also hope the center will attract people of all ages.
Comprised of a museum, a gallery, a gift shop, and a workshop area, SAM is fun and friendly; a quality center for any and everybody interested in the arts. Compared to the size of well-known museums is tiny, but considering that Dunsmuir has a population of approximately 1,600, SAM is just the right size. More importantly, SAM is in accord with the direction worldwide museums have taken to present art simply and informally.
Art is not a privilege. Culture is all we create.