What makes an art scene “healthy?” If you find yourself answering that question with something like, “artists and art galleries, duh!” then Bows & Arrows’ Prescription for a Healthy Art Scene exhibit, opening on Friday, Aug. 5, is sure to expand upon your notion of what makes a thriving arts culture in a community. The exhibit is inspired directly by the writing of Renny Pritikin, director of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery and the Fine Arts Collection at U.C. Davis, who originally penned his “Prescription for a Healthy Art Scene” list many years ago. “I was on a panel years ago, 15 years ago maybe,” remembered Pritikin during a recent conversation with Submerge. “And I can’t even remember what the topic of the panel was, but those were my notes for what I was going to talk about. It’s one of those things where you never know what project that you take on is going to really stick with you and have a life of its own and which ones will just be forgotten. I’ve done exhibitions that I didn’t think much about, that I just threw together and they became famous, you know, and ones that I worked on for years that I thought were incredible that nobody cared about. I’ve written things that I thought were major and other things, like this, that were almost a throwaway but have gone on to have a life of its own.”
Pritikin’s “Prescription” is made up of 24 bullet points ranging from, “No. 1: A large pool of artists, there’s a critical mass or tipping point that makes a scene,” to “No. 8: Sophisticated writers to document, discuss and promote new ideas/continuing regional development,” to “No. 17: Articulate artist leaders,” to “No. 23: Events that bring people together, scheduled multi-gallery opening nights for example.” The list is a sort of Holy Grail for any advocate of local art, including Trisha Rhomberg, co-owner of Bows & Arrows. Rhomberg came across Pritikin’s writings online over a year ago and was immediately touched and inspired by the list. “I saved it to my desktop and I read a bunch of articles online about it and I kept reading it to myself,” she said. “Then I got my sketch book out and wrote the whole thing down by hand so I could start to memorize it and think more about it. Then I was like, ‘Oh my God, wouldn’t it be cool if all my other friends and artists I know could draw a piece of this and we could do a project together?’” And so the idea for the Prescription… art show was born.
Rhomberg collaborated with over 20 local artists, all of whom took items from Pritikin’s list and transferred them onto T-shirts. “Man these shirts are looking cool,” Rhomberg said excitedly. “Every day I’ve wanted to wear one of them. I just want the word out.” One wall inside Bows will feature the Prescription blown up for all to read. The other wall will feature select T-shirts and maybe even some of the artists’ original illustrations framed. Plenty of the shirts will be for sale, too, so not only can you soak up knowledge about what makes an art scene healthy, you can take a piece home with you to wear, spreading the message further and further. After all, that’s the whole point of this thing. “It really is the most important thing I’ve ever come across,” admitted Rhomberg. “And I’m really excited that it has been working. People are working together and learning new crafts and are being supportive and becoming more aware of each other and of each other’s talents and where they live and what they do and participating in buying art, which is what we’ve set out to do.” For more information, visit Bowscollective.com