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Art by prison inmates to raise money for Sonora High students


Artwork by Sierra Conservation Center inmates will be showcased in the new “Arts in Corrections” exhibit. The show is a fundraiser to raise money for Sonora High School’s art, band, drama and culinary arts programs.

An exhibition of inmate artwork from the “Arts in Corrections” program at Sierra Conservation Center near Jamestown is now on display at a downtown Sonora art gallery.

About 65 paintings are available for purchase through silent auction, with all of the proceeds going to Sonora High School’s art, band, drama and culinary arts programs.

The show will be on display until Sunday, March 25, at the Ventana Gallery. A reception is planned during this month’s Second Saturday Art Night from 5 to 8 p.m. March 10.

Sonora High students from the culinary arts program will provide cookies for the reception,

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An exhibition of inmate artwork from the “Arts in Corrections” program at Sierra Conservation Center near Jamestown is now on display at a downtown Sonora art gallery.

About 65 paintings are available for purchase through silent auction, with all of the proceeds going to Sonora High School’s art, band, drama and culinary arts programs.

The show will be on display until Sunday, March 25, at the Ventana Gallery. A reception is planned during this month’s Second Saturday Art Night from 5 to 8 p.m. March 10.

Sonora High students from the culinary arts program will provide cookies for the reception, and jazz band student Jake Evans will perform keyboard.

Sonora resident Stacy Hay, who teaches painting and mixed media as an “Arts in Corrections” artist/mentor at SCC, coordinated this event with Ventana owner Steve Leontie and the high school.

Hay goes to the prison weekly and instructs the two-plus hour art classes. She said sometimes the inmates look through pictures, such as old calendars, to get inspired.

“They thoroughly enjoy it,” she said of the art classes. “This is like their escape from prison.”

Hay said some students have told her the art classes have had a positive impact on their lives.

Feedback she’s received has included: “This class takes me out of being in prison and frees my mind.” Another student offered simply: “More art programs, less violence.”

Having taught art at the prison for the past 20 years, Hay said she’s witnessed many inmates use the arts classes as an opportunity to change their perspectives and better themselves, providing a foundation for their positive reintegration into the community upon release.

The exhibition also features poetry and other creative writing produced by the creative writing/poetry class at the prison taught by Kathleen Malloy.

For the art show, the Main Street Shop and the Ventana Gallery both donated frames for the artwork, and the vocational mill and cabinet class at SCC also made frames for the exhibition.

Support for SCC art programs comes from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Arts Council through a contract with the William James Association, which brings art classes to Northern California prisons.

• What: ‘Arts in Corrections’ show.

• When: Through March 25.

• Where: Ventana Gallery, 48 S. Washington St., downtown Sonora.

• Admission: Free.