The Arts Council of Mendocino County is assisting with the long recovery from last October’s Redwood Complex Fire through three current fire-healing projects.
image caption: “Autumn” by Rose Easterbrook, relief print with chine colle, reproduced courtesy of the artist.
With support from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, the Arts Council has already provided 29 grants totaling $5,800 to artists who lost supplies and equipment in the fire. At this point, all available funds have been fully expended for direct assistance to artists; however, the arts council will continue to accept applications until the one-year anniversary of the fire in the event that additional funding becomes available. Historian and author Dot Brovarney has generously offered a percentage of the proceeds from her book, The Sweet Life: Stories from Butler Ranch to support this fund.
With support from the California Arts Council and the Community Foundation of Mendocino County, the Arts Council is also sponsoring “Arts from the Ashes,” a workshop series and mosaic-art project led by artists Elizabeth Raybee and Nori Dolan. This multi-layered endeavor involves therapeutic workshops for fire survivors, in which they create mosaic art using pieces of pottery, glass, metal, and other shards retrieved from their fire-ravaged homes. The Mendocino Inland Ceramics Association approached mosaic artist Elizabeth Raybee about incorporating these into a mosaic mural, and artist Nori Dolan, who also lost her home in the fire, simultaneously offered to lead other fire survivors in workshops exploring their experiences together, developing imagery that might help metabolize grief around personal losses, and assembling personal fire fragments into expressive art to create something new. Raybee will offer her studio and mosaic skills to assist with the survivors’ artwork. These pieces, along with other fire-related work by local artists, will be displayed in an “Art from the Ashes” exhibit on the one-year anniversary of the Redwood Complex fire in October. The “Arts from the Ashes” project includes a public art component in the creation and installation of a mosaic wall mural in Redwood Valley. This project also has received generous in-kind commitments from Butch Bainbridge of Paramount Sign Contractors and Mendocino College Ceramics Department.
The Arts Council is also sponsoring a “First Person Plural” monologue event, created and directed by Ellen Weed, in which fire victims, volunteers, and first responders will develop short monologues about their experiences during and after the fire. Through mutual support from each other and professional guidance from Weed, fire survivor stories will be distilled into fifteen-minute monologues, and presented to the public in a one-night-only theater performance. This process is healing not only to the individuals who get an opportunity to share events from their lives, and gain confidence to present these to a live audience, but also to the audience members themselves who participate empathically as close listeners to the wisdom that comes from experience.
The “First Person Plural” performance to be specifically created for and about the fire experience and supported by the Arts Council and Community Foundation, will be presented on Wednesday evening, September 19, at Ukiah Senior Center’s Bartlett Hall. Tickets will be $10 on a sliding scale, with admission free to other fire survivors, volunteers, and first responders. Half of ticket sales will also be donated back to the Community Foundation’s Disaster Fund for ongoing fire relief.
Art throughout history has been a powerful vehicle for expressing human experience in ways that can’t always be captured in words. The emotional, psychological, and even intellectual impact of images and symbols can have profound healing effects on an entire community as well as on the artists themselves. Through these projects and others, the Arts Council of Mendocino County supports healing from the fire’s traumatic legacy, and offers diverse ways for the community itself to be involved in the healing process.
For more information on the “First Person Plural” fire monologue event or future monologue workshops, contact Ellen Weed at 707-462-6366. For more information about “Art from the Ashes” contact Elizabeth Raybee at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Arts Council, visit ArtsMendocino.org, email email@example.com or call the Arts Council office at 707-463-2727.