Forty-four years ago this month, College of the Redwoods in Eureka celebrated the opening of its Creative Arts Complex with a faculty art show in the gallery space located inside of the new building.
The exhibit featured the work of 11 full-time and part-time CR art faculty members, including Shareen La Plantz, Larky Reed, Jack Mays, Henry Collins, Reg Mintey, Sophie and Michael Diven, Leonard Sevens, Bob Benson, Jim Whaley and Floyd Bettiga.
In an Oct. 27, 1974 Times-Standard article, Dean Boyd, then-chairman of the Creative Arts Division at CR, said, “The gallery — and an exhibit such as this — adds a fine new dimension to what this department couldn’t do before, when limited to one studio room and partial library space.”
He added: “The gallery is an important part of this complex — encompassing music, art, speech, photography, television — in the five studio sections.”
The director of the new CR Creative Arts Gallery was Benson, who also hung the first show with assistance from Whaley. Benson — best known for his watercolor paintings — taught at CR for more than three decades.
The new gallery design was created by architect Jack Nielsen of Matsen and Nielsen, AIA. A dedication ceremony for the space took place on Oct. 27, 1974.
Several other events were also scheduled at the CR gallery for late 1974/early 1975, including a student Christmas art show and sale and a weaving and textile show.
Today, according to CR’s website, the Creative Arts Gallery supports the coursework of the college’s Art Department with exhibition programming that features innovative work by local, national and international artists working in a variety of media.
Heather Shelton can be reached at 707-441-0516.