By Paxton Wilkinson
Arts Arcata is a lively art and music filled event that happens in downtown Arcata every second Friday of the month from 6-9pm. Typically there is art shown in stores on the plaza, people outside playing music, and stores open later than usual serving snacks and representing local artists. Most artists agree that this event is quite popular during the warm summer months; however, there are differing opinions about attendance during the cold and rainy seasons.
Reuben Mayes is a 25-year-old abstract expressionist who resides in McKinleyville. He has been showing his art locally in Humboldt County for a few years now. Mayes participates in as many shows as he can find. He enjoys sharing his paintings with the monthly event, Arts Arcata, even if he doesn’t always make money from it.
“One thing I don’t like about Arts Arcata is that I don’t make good sales,” Mayes said. “I have had my work shown at Willow & Rags and Plaza Grill.”
Mayes also talked about a decline of visitors during the winter months. He said that Arts Alive in Eureka has more people in general, but even during the cold and rainy season, Arts Alive is more populated and he will make better sales for a night show there.
“Arts Arcata is definitely not as alive during the winter months. By the time 6 o’clock rolls around it is already dark and cold,” Mayes said. “Plus it is much rainier in the winter.”
Ashley Shoemaker, 26, works at Fabric Temptations on the Plaza. She said that there is a different kind of crowd who attend Arts Arcata during the winter months.
“There are still a good amount of people who come during the cold months,” Shoemaker said.
“Something I have noticed that is different about the winter months though is that there are more older folks who attend.”
Shoemaker enjoys working Friday nights during the event.
“I like the fact that our community really makes an effort to bring local artists together,” Shoemaker said. “Arts Arcata is always a fun time with friendly vibes.”
Gina Tuzzi is an art teacher at Humboldt State University. Aside from this, she also participates in local art shows such as Arts Arcata. Tuzzi enjoys Arts Arcata and shares her appreciation for the Humboldt County event.
“I appreciate that Arts Alive and Arts Arcata showcase such a wide variety of local artists from people who have been well established in this community for decades to students who are emerging into their art careers,” Tuzzi said. “There is also an increasingly diverse set of venues where the art can be seen, from project spaces that host both performing and visual art to more traditional white walled gallery spaces.”
Tuzzi said that local art is very important to our community; not only for artists just starting out but also to support local artists who have been immersed in this lifestyle for quite some time. While Mayes said that Arts Arcata does not prosper in the same way during the winter as it does in the summer months, Tuzzi said that winter months for Arts Arcata showcase a different kind of theme.
“Often times Winter exhibitions are curated for holiday shoppers with more accessible price points and artisan craft markets which makes for a thriving season,” Tuzzi said. “I am currently showing some paintings in Third Street Gallery’s Holiday exhibition and am participating in two local makers fairs.”
Tuzzi said that the cold winter months, also the holiday season, brings a new market to the local art industry. People may be looking for Christmas gifts for their loved ones, or Christmas themed art pieces to decorate their homes. Since the winter months coincide with the holiday season, it allows for art makers to stay in business during some rainy weather.
Mayes does not have much experience selling his art in places outside of Humboldt County. However, Tuzzi describes her experience selling her art in all kinds of places other than locally here in Humboldt.
“I have exhibited and sold my work both nationally and internationally and in a range of cities from rural to metropolitan, as well as right here in Humboldt County over the past 15 years,” said Tuzzi. “The most notable difference that comes to mind is the culture of the creative community.”
Tuzzi said that Humboldt County is “very tightly knit with an abundance of comfortably established artists.” Because of this, our community creates a “rock solid foundation of creative advocacy” for artists who are showing their work.
While smaller communities allow for the more personalized feel of a close community, larger cities allow for other opportunities such as more gallery space and a more diverse artistic perspective.
“A larger city with more artists will also have more exhibition opportunities, project spaces, grant opportunities, residencies, etc,” Tuzzi said. “Which makes for a healthy level of competition and a constant buzz of fresh perspective and inspiration.”