By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
From a new exhibition at its Main Street gallery in San Andreas, to the launching of this year's Music in the Parks, art and music fill the Calaveras County Arts Council schedule for the summer.
Seventy acrylic paintings by Valley Springs artist Sindy Kelso were hung in the gallery Friday for the two-month show that begins today.
Kelso's one-woman show is one of six the gallery presents each year, displaying everything from photography and gourd art to paintings, masks, ceramics, drawings and other mediums.
Over the years, more than 500 artists have had their work displayed in the historic building that now serves as the Arts Council gallery.
Tomorrow marks the start of this summer's Music in the Parks concerts. Phil Stock and Vintage Jazz performs at the Valley Springs ballpark above the school from 6:30-8 p.m.
For the next eight weeks, a free Wednesday evening concert will take place in a different park throughout the county.
Penny West, Arts Council executive director, said she focuses on diversity when she begins choosing the concert performers.
"We have a little rhythm and blues, a little jazz. I want to share with our residents a wide range of musical styles," she said. "And I'm also looking for a balance between local and really good affordable out of the area groups."
This summer's Music in the Parks includes Tingstad and Rumbel, the 2003 Grammy winner in New Age music, as well as cowboy singer-yodeler Sourdough Slim, Latin jazz by Pueblo Rooftop and more.
For 22 years, the council has highlighted the arts and artists of the region, bringing programs to the schools, the parks and the neighborhoods of the county.
Calaveras County Arts Council was launched in 1981 with a California Arts Council grant. Since then, the county has continued to receive operating funding from the state council, but West said the funding is less every year.
"The state council has already sustained major cuts due to the state budget," West said. "That's our main source of income."
However, West has run a tight ship for the past 14 years, with successful fund-raisers and careful spending.
"We also have a steadily growing local support system that includes volunteers and members who contribute faithfully," she said.
In addition, the council has established a Calaveras Arts Endowment within the Calaveras Community Foundation, to encourage significant donations.
"We're trying to building sustainability in this way," West said.
In 1998, the council moved into one of the oldest buildings in town, a stone structure at 22 N. Main St. in San Andreas. Built in 1856, the building originally was a general store with a meeting hall upstairs and a saloon in the basement. During the Civil War, the Union Guards used the main floor as an armory.
In 1900, the county bought the building and used it for county offices until 1966, when the present Government Center was built.
Today the upstairs is part of the county museum, the basement is used for museum storage, and the main floor is the Arts Council gallery and offices.
The council has 300 members. West is its only full-time employee. She has a part-time assistant and volunteers who help with the many programs the council supports and provides.