Since opening over three decades ago, the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts has played an active role in the local community. One of the major roles of the John Natsoulas Gallery is to provide a place for cultural meetings, conferences, and public activities, which foster community dialogue through a variety of visual, literary and musical events. The John Natsoulas Gallery has considerable success engineering events focusing on philanthropy.
The Davis Art Garage
The Davis Art Garage is a community project that involved more than 200 local residents and artists. Recently, the project has won a Grassroots initiative Award of Merit from the American Planning Association of California.
This historical arts project, designed to commemorate more that 60 years of art in Davis, transformed a dimly lit building in to a celebration of Davis’s rich cultural heritage. The garage includes one of the largest murals in Northern California, a wall space covering more than 120 feet. The Art Garage project was spearheaded by the Davis Cultural Arts and Entertainment Committee, the Davis Mural Team, and the Yolo County Visitors Bureau.
Phase I of the project included the completion of a three-story mural in the stairwell and entryway on the first, second, and third floors of the Regal Cinema parking garage. Phase II is the installation of benches – sponsored by City Council members Rochelle Swanson, Lucas Frerichs, and Brett Lee and the Cheney family, in memory of Frankyee Jane Cheney. Phase III will include improvements that address visibility and public safety, including lighting on the E and F streets corridor.
Sponsorship opportunities are available at davisartgarage.org
The Historic Log Cabin – A Free Space for Public Use!
Located kitty-corner to the gallery at 616 F Street, is an original 1926 Boy Scout log cabin. The gallery has preserved the historical integrity of the building while bringing the interior into the twenty-first century. The Log Cabin Gallery is open by appointment, and also available for the use of local groups for free. In the past, the Log Cabin has been used for the AIDS Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Benefit, the Optimists and other groups. We encourage Davisites to consider using this great space for your next fund-raiser or benefit! If you are interested in using this space please contact the gallery for the proper forms and additional information.
Natsoulas’ drive to help others led him to Amnesty International. Amnesty is an NGO with the inspirational goal to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights. It is here that Natsoulas began to focus on that which he could give back to the larger global community.
Natsoulas has enjoyed considerable success raising funds for various Amnesty causes. In fact, it is his work with Amnesty International that paved the way for Artists for Amnesty, with the first Artists for Amnesty International Benefit Series in 1985. These benefits were the first major philanthropic event to harness the power, publicity and excitement generated by famous artists of all genres. It was used as a fundraising example in the Amnesty International 1987 Handbook for chapters around the globe. Today this concept has grown into a project mobilizing the power of artists such as Nicholas Cage to promote human rights worldwide.
Natsoulas has been heavily involved in other capacities with Amnesty. For instance, he worked on the project for Chilean Relief in the 1980s. He also worked on benefits for the Ivan Morris Fund, which provides monetary support for prisoners of conscience and their families. Additionally, Natsoulas assisted in the release of several prisoners of conscience in North Africa.
The John Natsoulas Gallery has also worked with Amnesty International. In June of 1987, the Gallery co-sponsored and hosted an Amnesty benefit featuring an exhibition of Chilean artist Danilo Bahamondes donated by Chilean Humanitarian Aid Project. Other co-sponsors included Congressman Vic Fazio, Davis Mayor Dave Rosenberg, Father William Coffey, and Professor Arnold Bauer.
Education and the Arts
The John Natsoulas Gallery has fostered an important relationship with local youth. With the decline in funding for arts programs at public schools, children are getting less and less exposure to art. We work with local schools and kids groups in an attempt to inspire and educate our most important resource- children.
The John Natsoulas Center for the Arts hosts a Kids-in-Clay program which features free workshops for children. Workshops, lead by Kevin Nierman, are scheduled throughout the year and are open to kids of all ages.
Hands-on Workshops and Tours
The John Natsoulas Gallery also offers programs for local schools to visit us for educational tours combined with hands-on art workshops. Recently the gallery did a Kids and Printmaking workshop with Merryhill Elementary School. The artwork created by the children was displayed in a special exhibit, here at our gallery. We would like to extend a warm invitation to all schools in the area of any level to come for free gallery tours as well as educational support in the exciting realm of art and culture.
Davis High School Photo Expo
This year we have our second Davis High School Photo Expo. This will be an opportunity for high school students to exhibit at the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts. All photographs sold to benefit Davis High School’s Photography Department.
The John Natsoulas Gallery, artists Troy Dalton, Jean van Keuran, Donna Billick and Gerald Heffernon, students, and kids from Families First collaborated to create the large mural located at the corner of Fourth Street and “G” Street on the original Davis Enterprise building. The mural was created over a three-month period and given to the city of Davis.
John Natsoulas coordinated the creation of the “Secret of Dogmore Island,” a 168-page book that resulted from collaboration between artists, writers, the students of Families First, and California artist Roy de Forest. Natsoulas organized and orchestrated the book, bringing together Peter Beagle, Heidi Bekebrede, Clarence Major, Troy Dalton, Barry Marcus, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Nixon, and Ira Watkins.
Nurturing the Development of Young Ceramicists
The John Natsoulas Center for the Arts has created the largest Clay educational week for high school and college students in the country. Many students come to the exhibitions and decide which colleges that they are interested based on the program. Many California Universities and Junior Colleges select students and instructors for group exhibitions. Teachers are available to answer any inquiries from students.
Benefits Response to Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina had devastating consequences for the residents along the Gulf of Mexico. The John Natsoulas Gallery hosted an art and wine auction featuring over 50 artists. Our photographer, Michael Trask, organized this event. This benefit raised thousands of dollars for the relief of Hurricane Katrina victims.
Response to 9/11
The events of September 11th marked a trying time for Americans, but none felt the blow more significantly than the families and victims of 9/11. Yoshio Taylor’s class from Cosumnes River College and artists of the John Natsoulas Gallery’s collaborated to create ceramic flags, flag pins, and flag pennants to benefit the families of the victims of 9/11.
In 1990, The John Natsoulas Center for the Arts established an annual exhibition to celebrate the role and companionship of animals and the efforts brought forth by organizations such as the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the SPCA. The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is running the Community Surgery Program where senior veterinary students attend to and treat shelter animals and pets of low-income households. This program gives animals otherwise without hope for recovery from serious medical conditions the care they need, while also allowing Vet Med students the opportunity to master common yet critical surgical procedures. The majority of the proceeds from this exhibition will benefit the UC Davis Veterinary School.
Natsoulas won the UC Philanthropist’s Award in 1996 for his work on the Arneson Endowed Chair position at UC Davis.
Shields Library Art Collection
John Natsoulas organized and developed the UC Davis library art collection in Shields Library. Comprised of individual gifts, the collection aims to create a museum inside the library that highlights the work of past art faculty of UC Davis. John Natsoulas and Marilyn Sharrow joined forces to create this museum and have created a working tool for all art students studying at Davis. Their efforts have resulted in one of the most important art collections in the nation.