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Yreka Gallery Channels ‘State of Jefferson’ Spirit

It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing,” so it’s appropriate that an organization, staging a small rebellion of its own, took root in the heart of Yreka, the interim state capitol for the State of Jefferson during the secession attempt of 1941. Liberty Arts, the dream of Creative Director Kim Presley, is a small but progressive gallery – a bastion for contemporary art — bringing “new work and new ideas” to Siskiyou County.

“I think we have a difficult job here,” admits Nikolas Allen, Liberty’s Marketing Director. Allen, an artist and designer transplanted to the North State from San Francisco, praises Presley’s unwavering goal to bring contemporary art to the North State. “She’s been beating the drum here for awhile,” Allen says. Slowly but surely, Presley and Allen are defining Liberty’s brand by displaying the work of contemporary artists in Yreka, Weed, Montague, Mount Shasta and Fort Jones.

There is no doubt that Liberty is a serious contemporary gallery. The façade, with its jewel-toned sign, is the black sheep on a street of gold-rush era buildings. Inside, Presley has created a storybook tableau for displaying contemporary art: whitewashed walls, bright precision lighting, slick wood floors and rolling display walls. Liberty is equally equipped for cinematography, videography and lectures.

This month, Liberty rebels again, with a presentation of “Female Creature – Exploring and Revealing the Full-Spectrum Woman.” This juried show challenges artists to explore both the “light and darks” of women and their multi-faceted characters: creative, passionate, nurturing, playful, soft, strong, raw, wise, powerful, instinctual, sexual, bitchy, jealous, vicious, backstabbing …

Artist and model Brenda Woods, co-curator of Female Creature, prepares visitors to be “enveloped by feminine.” Her installation will engulf audiences with female voices, layered and manipulated sounds and figurative graphite elements. The show opens with Butoh, a guttural, instinctual, hyper-controlled form of dance, originating in Japan after World War II, performed by artist Jacqueline Jensen.

With innovative shows like Female Creature, Liberty Arts may just poise itself as an arts outpost on the route between San Francisco and Portland. But it’s important for Presley and Allen to balance the gallery’s sophistication with accessibility. Their mission also includes an aggressive education component. Funded by grants and donations, Liberty offers “Exhibit Explorations,” which are 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-grade classroom tours of the gallery that introduce students to the elements, language and expression of contemporary art.

So, don’t wait for a drive to Oregon to experience Liberty Arts. It’s a destination all its own, and a vibrant, exciting space — a welcome addition to the region’s contemporary art scene. The State of Jefferson Rebellion ended in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but you can still embrace its spirit and be a little rebellious.

Liberty Arts: 108 West Miner Street, Downtown Yreka

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit libertyartsyreka.org.

The public is invited to the opening of “Female Creature,” Fri., Jan. 7, 5 to 8 p.m.

Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studiosand are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your NorthState weekend events to adamm.anewscafe@gmail.com.

This portrait of Adam Mankoski was created by Shasta High School students Chance Norman and Kenzi Bell.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Adam Mankoski

is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner are the owners of HawkMan Studios and the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop.

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