Art Upstart

Valley artists benefit from a new wave of support that includes an arts and culture center.

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    Willard Simms


It was almost unthinkable a few years ago, but a new populist arts movement is gaining momentum here in the Valley while “Old Guard” artists are experiencing a renaissance. Spearheading the force behind established artists is the San Fernando Valley Arts and Cultural Center, which includes among its partners the California Art League, Artists Co-op 7, Collage Artists of America, San Fernando Valley Art Club, Valley Watercolor Society and Women Painters West. 

The group is responsible for the area’s only public arts and culture center, scheduled to open in Tarzana in July. The new facility will showcase works (for sale) of local artists and offer classes, workshops, theatrical performances and poetry readings. 

Up-and-coming artists, meantime, are getting support from 11:11 A Creative Collective. The grassroots organization aims to promote the work of the less-known set—such as graffiti artists—with events like Third Thursday, during which several blocks of Canoga Park are turned into an exciting art walk each month. 

Despite a common goal, the two organizations are as different as punk rock and classical music. Erin Stone, one of the founders of the group, says, “11:11 is not a membership-based collective. Our artist calls are open to the public everywhere. Anyone and everyone is urged to submit.”  

For events like Third Thursday, 100% of the submissions are displayed. “We want everybody to get involved and show off the creativity in the San Fernando Valley.” 11:11 also has occasional gallery exhibits, and while those submissions are subject to review, a high percentage of them are put on display.

Even a few politicians have become part of the wave of support. At the recent opening of Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets program in Northridge (an initiative that, in part, aims to support local artists), Barbara Katz Bierman—an artist associated with the Arts and Cultural Center—was chosen to create an on-site painting. 

Her colorful canvas and notoriety (she’s had several exhibits) attracted a notable number of onlookers. Barbara’s completed painting is now on display at city councilman Mitch Englander’s C-12 office in Chatsworth.