Middletown Art Center Launches MAC For Lake County, Celebrates 7th Year

The MAC For Lake County (MAC4LC) launch and celebration of 7 years of operations drew over 150 people on Saturday, October 9th. Guests from around the County enjoyed a well-orchestrated outdoor program, indoor exhibits, and silent auction of Lake-made art and goods in the heart of Middletown at MAC and virtually by Zoom or on Facebook livestream.

Guests were invited to enjoy complimentary samplings of local wines and hors d’oeuvres and pin their residence locations on a large map of Lake County, illustrating MAC’s reach across the county, past and present. The program included the current LIGHT exhibit, featuring an interactive sound and light installation. Winners of MAC’s design concept contest Summer Cronin and Rosie Starchild were announced, and a variety of speakers highlighted MAC’s history, impact, and vision of art’s potential to contribute to Lake County’s growth.

MAC’s Board President Amanda Martin introduced the speakers. She said, “MAC for Lake County is about extending an invitation to the whole county to engage with us as the premier contemporary art resource for Lake communities that we are.”

Moke Simon, District 1 Supervisor and Chairman of Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, conveyed his support of MAC in both his roles, highlighting the importance of  building partnerships that support local culture. “The growth in Lake County is coming, and we (the community) need to be the ones steering that vision,” Simon said. He also recognised his Aunt, Tribal Edler Millie Simon, and their ancestors who have been here for over 12,500 years.

Michelle Scully, Lake County tourism and economic development advocate and author of Broken, Tales of a Titanium Cowgirl, recalled the “Clearly Different Lake County” branding team’s experience of the healing power of art and resilience at the 2019 EcoArts Sculpture Walk – the first exhibit at Trailside Park after the Valley Fire devastated the area. That profound sense of Lake County resilience informed the design team’s branding decisions. She emphasized that a vibrant arts community can contribute both to economic development and a vital sense of place.

Georgina Marie, Lake County Poet Laureate and past MAC board member, read her piece Confetti written during and about the Resilience writing workshops at MAC – a fire recovery project at MAC funded in part by the California Arts Council. Clovice Lewis, composer/musician and Musical Director of Sounds of Liberation, a current MAC project funded in part by California Humanities,spoke to the role artists play in their communities, emphasizing the importance of places like the MAC in giving artists a sense of belonging and a place to be supported and appreciated.

Guests viewed a pre-recorded video from Lake County Office of Education staff who spoke to the value of arts integration in the core curriculum. The Lake County Arts Council and The Art House Gallery of Clearlake each expressed the value of the arts in communities recognizing the value of their partnership and collaborations with MAC and MAC staff.

Lisa Kaplan, MAC Executive Director, told the story of MAC by recognizing contributors over the years from the inception of EcoArts in 2003 to the present, giving flowers to those present in the audience. “I did this both in gratitude and to demonstrate that it takes a village to make an organization like MAC happen, and it will take a village to sustain it.”

EcoArts Sculpture Walk Founders Karen Turcotte and her husband John Williams shared the story of EcoArts and identified a number of sculpture walk artists present at the event. “I know art turned my world around,” said Turcotte. “I’m sure we have affected people through the sculpture walks, in this gallery, and in these classrooms, and that is probably the biggest gift someone could ask for.” 

Pomo Culture Bearers Corine Pearce, via video, and Tribal Elder Millie Simon closed the presentation on stage. They spoke to the significance of sharing Pomo culture and cultural arts with the people of Lake County through MAC’s cross-cultural Weaving project, which they collaborated with MAC staff in designing. The project will begin mid-November and is also funded in part by a grant from the California Arts Council.

Guests to the celebration were enthusiastic. “I was thrilled to share in the celebration for the launch of MAC for Lake County,” said Lisa Wilson, Vice President of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce. It was inspiring to hear from various artists and to know what this expansion will mean to more artists and those who appreciate them. This redefinition is important for the arts in Lake County,”

A recording of the MAC4LC event can be found at middletownartcenter.org/MAC4LC. To learn more about MAC and join as a workshop or event participant, volunteer, become a member or contributor, please visit middletownartcenter.org or find the MAC on Facebook @middletownartcenter or on Instagram @mtownartcenter.

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