Aiming to showcase the “endless” pool of Santa Cruz County arts talent, the group show “Ten” opens Saturday at the Radius Gallery at the Tannery and M.K. Contemporary Art, formerly Curated By the Sea. Gallery owner Melissa Kreisa says “Ten” can be an annual event and, coinciding with the annual Open Studios, herald a fall art season in a county brimming with accomplished artists.
It was a Pearl Jam classic back in the day. But now “Ten” is poised to become a Santa Cruz arts tradition.
“Ten” is the name of a new group art show presented by Santa Cruz’s two most ambitious art galleries, the Radius Gallery at the Tannery Arts Center and downtown’s M.K. Contemporary Art, formerly known as Curated By the Sea. The two galleries and their respective directors — Ann Hazels and Melissa Kreisa — are attempting to elevate the visual arts scene by featuring 10 of the most accomplished and respected artists from Santa Cruz County.
“Ten” opens at both galleries with a big reception Saturday, an event that will feature pedicabs traversing the San Lorenzo Riverwalk between the two galleries.
The name of the show itself evokes a recognition of excellence, as in “Top 10” or “on a scale from 1 to 10.” But neither gallery is being so crass. They are simply singling out a handful of Santa Cruz’s finest artists and putting them in the company of each other.
Those artists are, in alphabetical order, painter/sculptor Thomas Campbell, painter Linda Christensen, abstract artist Tim Craighead, sculptor/mixed-media artist Marc D’Estout, ecological artist Kalie Granier, photographer r.r. jones, portrait artist Kajahl, pencil artist Robin Kandel, kinetic sculptor Moto Ohtake and mixed-media artist Beverly Rayner.
Half of the assembled artists are recipients of the Rydell Fellowship, Santa Cruz County’s most prestigious arts recognition. They all have a strong reputation in the greater world outside. Both galleries will feature work from all 10 artists, in some cases featuring a different mode of an artist’s work.
“Ten” also serves as a kind of launch for M.K. Contemporary Art on Front Street, which used to be known as Curated By the Sea. Kreisa, the gallery’s owner, said both the rebranding of her gallery and the idea behind “Ten” are part of an effort to elevate Santa Cruz’s reputation as a visual-arts hot spot, based not on a marketing strategy, but on the hometown talent on hand.
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“It really goes back to the bigger picture, honestly,” said Kreisa, “and that is, why isn’t Santa Cruz an arts destination? We have so much talent here. But we’re not showcasing their work here [in Santa Cruz] because there’s not a lot of exhibition space. So it’s the hope that this is the start of the conversation about how can we become an arts destination.”
The show opens this weekend at both the Radius and M.K. and runs through Nov. 5, with live artist talks slated for Oct. 22 and 29.
Santa Cruz has obviously embraced the monthly First Friday arts tour, but Kreisa said “Ten” is a project designed to aim higher than that, to create an artistic presentation that reflects the quality of the artists in Santa Cruz. The fact that the show will be coinciding with Open Studios — the three-week, all-county event presented by Arts Council Santa Cruz County — is no accident. Kreisa said she wants to create an annual tradition that ushers in, alongside Open Studios, a kind of art season in Santa Cruz. She said that she hopes to do “Ten” again in 2024 with 10 other accomplished Santa Cruz artists.
“The depth of talent here is endless,” she said. “We could do ‘Ten’ for the next 10 years.”
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