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Art Show Celebrates the Spirit of the Rydells

Rydell Fellowship artists are exhibiting their work at the Pajaro Valley Arts Council and Gallery.

Frances and Roy Rydell moved from Hollywood to Santa Cruz in 1947 and although they passed away in 1998 and 2000, the couple's presence still resonates in Santa Cruz County.

In Watsonville, it's on display at the , where local artists celebrated the work at a reception Sunday afternoon.

The Rydells touched many parts of the county in the five decades the lived here. By 1950 the vibrant couple had moved into the old Oceanview school in Bonny Doon. Roy was a landscape architect and artist, and designed the Pacific Garden Mall in Santa Cruz. Frances was among the founding faculty at UC Santa Cruz.

When they died, the Rydells left the gift of their estate with the  Community Foundation in order to perpetuate visual art and artists ins Santa Cruz County.

Each year since 2006, the Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship has awarded two local artists with a generous grant: $20,000 generous. The recipients of the awards are chosen solely for their artistic merit. 

On Sunday, the  celebrated the opening of “The Art of the Rydell Fellowship 2006-2009," an exhibit that reconnects with the first eight artists to recieve the grant. 

“It’s an exhibit to honor the generosity of Roy and Frances Rydell, and also for the artists, what they’ve been doing since then and the impact that the Rydell Fellowship Grant has had on their lives and work,” said Arlene Gotshalk, curator of the show. 

The show is an eruption of eight completely unique art forms, which spans everything from theater set production to found and recyled art, including wax boats and broken-down and re-imagined dart boards.

Artist Will Marino told Patch about the colorful two- and three-dimensional works he has been fashioning out of dart boards since 1996.

“I worked with found art before this, so I was always looking at things and saying ‘Oh, maybe I can make art out of this.’ I had this dart board and when I needed a new one I started taking apart my old one and almost unconsciously rolling up the pieces,” said Marino, who buys up dart boards wherever he can find them, and may be responsible for the depleted supply of dart boards at the flea market in Soquel. 

The first two galleries Marino brought his dart board work to didn't take well to the idea, but Marino continued exploring this art form, and the galleries eventually both closed down, he said.

Rather than require the completion of a specific artistic project, the Rydell Fellowship is solely meant to fund uninterrupted time to pursue new work. In other words, it's a life line and golden ticket for the talented artist, starving or otherwise.

All of the Rydell Fellowship artists expressed a deep gratitude.

“This award has allowed me to take myself seriously as an artist—to take the necessary trips, buy the needed equipment and not make apologies. Although the funds have been spent, what remains is the gratitude of validation and a deeper commitment to doing my work,” artist Terri Garland said in a written statement. 

Gotshalk also said that this particular show sends an important message to young artists.

"When we have our schools come in, part of this show is to show them that you can do this, you can make a living off your art," said Gotshalk.

The eight Rydell Fellowship artists featured in the Pajaro Valley Council of the Arts Gallery are:

The exhibit will be on display until Feb. 12, and can be viewed for free on Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 12-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Pajaro Valley Arts Council is at 37 Sudden Street in Watsonville. 831-722-3062.

An exhibit of the four 2010-2011 Rydell Fellowship awardees is at the the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History until March 18.

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