Kati Texas: Evolution of a gallery

Through the years, the Ink People’s gallery has had many forms.  The first collective shows were in coffee shops, restaurants, and empty storefronts. 

 For years, in the Municipal Building, the Ink People was a school, gallery, and studio, all in one. A person could take a class on the weekend, use the studio all week, and put their art in the next gallery show.  

The long hallway was named the “Tuxford Gallery,” and the intimate, light-filled smaller space was the “Brenda Gallery,” both for co-founder Brenda Tuxford after her passing in 2004.

Ten years ago this month, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook the beloved art space to its foundation. The usual Saturday afternoon crowd of artists, students, teachers, and staff rushed through the Tuxford Gallery to safety, while dust and plaster rained down on them.  

After everything settled, it seemed one of the slab walls of the building had shifted, and the City slapped alarming red “Danger” tags on the doors. No one would be allowed back in.

Though the walls of the Ink People’s space were shaken loose, the foundation of the Ink People organization proved much stronger.

All through the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, Ink People staff, led by co-founder Libby Maynard were putting to work one of the most powerful tools in an artist’s kit: collaboration. Maynard’s passion project, the DreamMaker Program, was and is a technical support network for small arts nonprofit projects. 

 The community began to realize that the Ink People was not just a place to go, but an idea to share. The grassroots arts and culture network underpinning this valuable community resource reached well beyond the seismically damaged walls of their clubhouse.  

The DreamMakers are out there, all over the county, even the state, busily weaving the arts into the fabric of our community.

A DreamMaker project works like this: Anyone with an idea for an arts, cultural or educational project that aligns with the Ink People’s mission can present to the board of directors, and ask to become part of the family. Project leaders benefit from the Ink People’s 40 years of experience as well as nonprofit status, bookkeeping and other financial services, and lots of general support specific to the needs of each project.  

Since its inception, there have been literally hundreds of DreamMakers. They are working all over the community, teaching, performing, creating connections, and engaging people in a hundred different empowering, creative ways. 

In 2020, the Ink People will dedicate the Tuxford Gallery to highlighting and supporting the DreamMakers, and all the ways they make Humboldt County a better, more interesting, healthier place to live.

 Tuxford Gallery 2020 shows will run longer, and rather than being open consistently for Arts Alive!, DreamMakers will offer special events, classes, and fun surprises at different points through the month and year.  The gallery will remain open and staffed Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. 

To kick things off, the Tuxford Gallery will open “All Inkers,” a showcase of works from Ink People staff and board of directors.  The shows runs through Saturday, Feb. 25.

Later this spring, the North Star Quest Camp for Girls will host “Inspiring Girls,” a show all about the women and girls who inspire us, opening March 7. 

The North Coast Open Studios will hold a month-long preview of their county-wide art crawl, May 2 to May 30.  The main event, North Coast Open Studios happens in artists’ studios, close and far flung, during the first two weekends in June, the June 6-7, and June 13-14. Some artists will even be opening their studios a day early for a special kick off night, Friday, June 5.

Over the summer, expect DreamMaker project Trajectory to show off some of the artists they work with, and the services they offer. 

Then, there will be more DreamMaker project showcases to come later in the year.  Keep an eye on Ink News, or catch the Ink People on social media to find out about special events, and what’s showing now.

Kati Texas is the artistic director for Ink People.



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