When I was a twentysomething living at 21st and I streets in midtown, I would walk out my front door on Second Saturday and immediately join the fray of locals strolling the streets in search of art—and free booze—on the city’s monthly art walk.
My then-boyfriend and I would wander through dozens of neighborhood galleries, including Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, b. sakata garo, 20th Street Art Gallery, The Art Studios, Kennedy Gallery and more, before going to dinner somewhere on the Grid. Things have changed. I’m no longer a twentysomething (thank goodness), and I no longer live in midtown. My then-boyfriend has been my husband for more than 11 years. And Second Saturday, though still alive and kicking, hasn’t quite recovered its usual vigor since the pandemic temporarily shut it down in 2020—and permanently shuttered more than a few venerable art galleries.
But depending on whom you ask, the change in the local art scene hasn’t been all bad. A renewed focus on the artists themselves as well as access to patronage through both traditional galleries and unconventional venues has led to a clearer sense of purpose for both curators and creatives.
Not Just Four Walls and a Door
Galleries help expose us to the larger narrative around our culture,” says independent art curator and former gallerist Faith J. Mc-Kinnie. “Just as we need museums, we need those places where we can look at art and see what artists are thinking about. But a gallery is not just four walls and a door—there’s a responsibility. The duty of a gallery is to make an artist more visible to the public and advance their work through institutional placement, to advocate for their career and think about how they’ll hold up in the canon when we’re all long gone. I love to think the artists I’ve shown have this place in history where their work can stand out in the present moment as well as when we look back.”
Funnily enough, McKinnie didn’t intend to become a gallerist. She worked in nonprofit arts administration for years before using her extensive knowledge of the art market to curate for local collectors. When a client suggested she should have her own gallery and offered her the temporary use of a building that was about to be demolished, McKinnie jumped at the chance to have her own space. The Faith J. McKinnie Gallery showed 35 artists across six shows between July 2021 and January 2022. The entire experience made McKinnie keenly aware of not only the difficulty of running a for-profit gallery—even though she got the building for free, she says she ran through her personal savings to keep it afloat—but also of how the gallery scene was shifting around her.
“Ten years ago, it was all about going out on Second Saturday, planning where you were going to start and finish,” McKinnie says. “Galleries were the foundational, institutional base, and I feel like after the pandemic it’s transitioned into pop-up galleries and temporary activations like Art Hotel, Art Street, Coordinates and The InsideOut. We’ve turned to these alternative art spaces because we don’t have access to the economic influence to get space. I don’t want the city to lean on those temporary spaces. It’s important that we also have galleries to anchor the community together.”
D. Oldham Neath has seen this evolution of the local gallery scene from multiple angles. As the director of Archival Gallery since 1983, Neath helped found the Second Saturday Art Walk with the late Michael Himovitz, the late Chuck Miller, Sheri Watson and the late Judith Weintraub. She’s also served as a curator for several galleries in and out of town and for the PBS KVIE Art Auction and gallery.
“The gallery role has really changed,” Neath says. “I’m one of the few galleries that still actively represents their artists and places them in galleries—some I’ve represented for 30-plus years. There used to be a lot of sales driven by interior designers or people who were paid to choose work for corporate or private clients. Now, people walk in and want a piece of art because they like it; they don’t care where the artist went to school. We have a younger clientele, and they have a different aesthetic from their parents. It’s really nice to see people making their own choices.”
Neath can also see a positive even in the pandemic. “I think COVID was actually really good for art galleries,” she says. “When they were locked in their homes for two months, people started nesting and figured out that their environment was important. They started to want things that people made, not mass-produced crap. Even business owners are taking their environment more seriously. Art has become more of a personal choice and less of a status statement.”
A Really Big Party
Being in person with a piece of art is still a crucial part of the buying process, and galleries felt the squeeze when lockdown orders kept clients out. The city shut down Second Saturday from March 2020 through June 2021, which Neath believes hurt pop-up exhibitions more than brick-and-mortar galleries. “For pop-up galleries, where a show is only up for three days, Second Saturday is a blood source,” Neath says. “But for us, it’s not a bastion of sales. It’s for people to meet the artists and celebrate. True collectors come in before Second Saturday, just after we’ve installed a show, to make sure they get the good stuff.”
Melissa Uroff, curator of Warehouse Artist Lofts Public Market Gallery from January 2019 to 2023, also noticed a shift in First Friday, the R Street Corridor’s answer to Second Saturday.
“Prior to COVID, our First Friday receptions were packed, and we’d sell lots of things that night,” Uroff says. “Now, people tend to visit the gallery throughout the month since they don’t want to be around crowds, which has actually been better for sales. People are buying higher-priced items and are more apt to spend money on the creative community.”
Mima Begovic, former owner of contemporary gallery artspace1616 on Del Paso Boulevard, which closed in 2020, remembers Second Saturday as “a really big party with so many people you could barely move,” but not much more.
“I loved having monthly parties, but that’s not what it takes to run a gallery,” she says. “I’m focused on the artists first of all, then on people who actually spend money on art. You can have a party without having a gallery. When I think about what I want to do as a next step, I’m going to try to expand my collectors circle and promote artists to support their careers. It’s not about how many people come to a reception.”
Begovic takes heart that even with some local gallery mainstays closing down (she wistfully mentions JAYJAY), the art scene in Sacramento is still headed in the right direction. She specifically singles out curators like McKinnie and Kelly Lindner of Sacramento State’s University Galleries and spaces like Verge Center for the Arts for their continued creation of opportunities for emerging as well as established artists.
“We have good curators and excellent artists. I think it’s a matter of connecting them,” Begovic says. “Right now, there’s a feeling that something is brewing in Sacramento. If we are all connected and smart, we might actually have an art renaissance.”
Regional galleries offer artistic variety.
Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties are home to a variety of art spaces: traditional galleries supported solely by art sales; arts nonprofits that offer educational programming in addition to exhibition; cooperatives where member artists share costs, tasks and exhibition space. Here are 12 places around the region to add to your list the next time you go gallery hopping.
3223 Folsom Blvd. | archivalgallery.com
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1983
EMPHASIS: Contemporary Northern California fine art
KEY ARTISTS: Sean Royal, Maureen Hood, Mel Ramos, Jian Wang
Since 1983, Archival Gallery has given serious art collectors access to the best and brightest of Northern California. Director D. Oldham Neath—also known as the Art Lady—represents a core group of more than 30 artists and actively places them in galleries around the state, including in Palm Springs and Carmel, as well as showcasing them on a monthly basis in her East Sacramento gallery.
As a longtime curator, Neath keeps an eye out for up-and-coming talent like Sean Royal, Davy Fiveash, Corey Okada and more. She also exhibits work from late, great “legacy artists” like Mel Ramos, Eric Dahlin and Laureen Landau and current big names like Al Farrow, Gary Dinnen and Jian Wang. As one of the founders of Second Saturday, Neath also knows how to throw a good party—Archival’s monthly artist receptions are legendary for their lively atmosphere, now with live music from Cactus Pete.
As the gallery prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary this August, Neath is looking toward the future. She plans to bring back “Introductions,” an annual July exhibition featuring artists who’ve never shown before—a concept she hopes to make citywide. Neath also started Sacramento Mural Alley in the 32nd/33rd Street Alley as a way to beautify and elevate blank walls and other surfaces with art by local artists. Six murals have been completed thus far.
Archival is also Sacramento’s longest-operating picture frame shop, offering custom designs and a variety of specialty services.
Group show “Women’s History Month” is on display March 2–31.
1931 L St. | kennedygallerysacramento.com
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 2006
KEY ARTISTS: Pat Orner, Sally Shapiro, Crystyl Hollister, Janet Waltz
In an iconic Victorian on the corner of 20th and L streets in midtown Sacramento sits a jewel of the local art scene, Kennedy Gallery. Owner Michael Misha Kennedy has spent the past 17 years creating an artistic hub not only for the 18 resident artists he represents but for all of art-loving Sacramento.
“Our strong suit is our diversity of types of art,” says Kennedy, himself a celebrated painter who exhibits in the gallery each March. “Metal, glass, painters in all media, mixed media—all of that is representative of the art at our gallery.”
Kennedy Gallery has even received commendations from the California State Assembly and the Sacramento City Council for its contributions to the community as a platform for minority-based artists.
Each May, the gallery puts on its highly anticipated Twenty20 show, wherein 20 artists selected by a panel of judges are asked to produce 25 8-by-8-inch pieces on a common theme. (The work is small to keep it affordable.) Kennedy also hosts a mean Second Saturday—the gallery saw upward of 3,000 patrons each month pre-pandemic.
Like many galleries, COVID took a toll, but Kennedy has the antidote. “The best thing to do is to come back out and support on Second Saturday,” he says. “If you make an outing to a gallery, it isn’t just the gallery that benefits. All the retail stores around us, the restaurants and nightclubs benefit, too.”
“My Abstract View: Abstract Artists Take Center Stage” is on display March 9 through April 2.
Elliott Fouts Gallery
1831 P St. | efgallery.com
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1999
EMPHASIS: Landscapes, ceramics, Pop art, resale
KEY ARTISTS: Gregory Kondos, Wayne Thiebaud, Jeff Nebeker, Karen Shapiro, Deladier Almeida, Samantha Buller, Timothy Mulligan, Miles Hermann
Elliott Fouts has seen a lot during his decades on the gallery scene, but one thing is consistent. “Some classics you can keep around and people will keep buying them from generation to generation,” he says.
Fouts launched his eponymous gallery in 1999 to showcase a range of “classics” from well-known faculty and alumni of UC Davis’ storied art department as well as new talent—to have “something for everybody” in a range of prices. Since 2012, he’s occupied an unassuming midtown building that houses 5,600 square feet of exhibition space with exposed ceilings and concrete floors. It feels like a quintessential—read: classic—art gallery.
In 2010, Fouts entered the secondary art market with EFG Private Collections, offering resale and consignment of big-name artists like Robert Arneson, Matt Bult, Fred Dalkey, Roy DeForest, David Gilhooly, Helen Post, Jerald Silva, Peter VandenBerge and more.
Monthly rotating solo and group exhibitions of contemporary artists feature work from Northern California and Utah creatives working in a variety of subjects and mediums, including photography, ceramics, landscapes and still lifes. Recent exhibitions include work by Miles Hermann, Sarah Gayle Carter, Tyler Abshier, Nathanael Gray, Timothy Mulligan, Samantha Buller, Bill Chambers, Ken Waterstreet and Andrew Walker Patterson.
Gold Country Artists Gallery
379 Main St., Placerville | goldcountryartistsgallery.net
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1992
EMPHASIS: Paintings, photos, ceramics, wood, glass, jewelry
KEY ARTISTS: Cooperative of 47 artists
Treasures abound at Gold Country Artists Gallery, the Sierra Foothills’ longest continuously running gallery, a cooperative of 47 member artists.
Located in historic downtown Placerville, the two-story building features dark gray walls and bright lighting to brilliantly showcase a collection of all kinds of handmade artwork, from ceramics and paintings to woodwork, leather goods, gourds, jewelry and more.
“When I first came in, I thought it was the most beautiful gallery I’d ever seen,” says Lori Anderson, the gallery’s president for the past six years. Anderson started as a customer before applying to join the co-op at the behest of a fellow painter and was thrilled when she was accepted by the gallery’s 16-person committee.
As part of her membership, Anderson works three shifts per month in the gallery. This cooperative model helped the gallery stay afloat during the pandemic. Because the artists share the monthly rent, Gold Country survived even when it was forced to close during lockdown.
Now, the gallery is abuzz with activity again and is open seven days a week, with two artists on hand at all times. It participates in Placerville’s Third Saturday Art Walk (which Anderson says is “like Second Saturday, only more low key”) along with two neighboring Main Street galleries.
“It’s a nice way to spend the evening,” Anderson says. “Come up early, go shopping at some cute stores, look at art, have a glass of wine, go out to dinner. You can make a whole afternoon and evening of it.”
Twisted Track Gallery
1730 12th St. | rocnsol.life
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 2021
EMPHASIS: Contemporary art
KEY ARTISTS: Kosono Okina, Ryan “Pawn” Rhodes, Shane Grammer, Raphael Delgado
One of the newest art spaces on the scene, Twisted Track Gallery is part of the lifestyle company Roc & Sol, launched by restaurateur Matt Haines in 2020.
Though he and his brother Fred are best known as the brains behind 33rd Street Bistro, Haines is no stranger to the art world. He ran a gallery adjacent to the bistro for years and is excited to dive back into the creative arts with Roc & Sol, an umbrella brand that includes the Twisted Track art and music venue at 12th and R streets, Roc & Sol Diner (an art-driven restaurant/bar and e-sports lounge at 10th and R streets) and a retail store.
“R Street is the hub of the art scene in Sacramento,” Haines says. “There are beautiful live-music venues like Ace of Spades and Old Ironsides. We’re across the street from the Warehouse Artist Lofts, and murals from Wide Open Walls surround us. R Street is really a unique street in our city.”
A new show goes up at Twisted Track every First Friday featuring local artists, many of whom have participated in Wide Open Walls. Haines has incorporated art into Roc & Sol Diner, with paintings inside and out by Shane Grammer, Ryan “Pawn” Rhodes, Kosono Okina and Rigo the Artist. Haines also has plans to create an outdoor patio gallery at the space he bought down the block that previously housed Shoki Ramen House.
Don’t miss the TTG Mini Mural Festival this month, featuring 30 affordable, large-scale pieces by local artists.
212 D St., Davis | pencegallery.org
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1975
EMPHASIS: Local and regional fine art of all media
KEY ARTISTS: Chris Daubert, Marsha Schindler, Jose Arenas, Sara Post
Pence Gallery’s cool contemporary façade of steel, glass and brightly colored concrete announces itself as a place where art lives.
The nonprofit gallery has been in operation since 1975, when a local dentist gifted the building to the city of Davis. In 2005, the facility was redesigned by San Francisco firm Barcelon Jang Architecture to contain three gallery spaces: the Andresen Learning Center Gallery, the Dowling Community Gallery and the Coldwell Banker Main Gallery.
“Our solo and group shows by artists from this region challenge people to think in interesting and different ways,” says Natalie Nelson, Pence’s director and curator. “I want people to be talking about the meaning of art. How do these artworks make people engage with ideas and each other?” Pence Gallery offers plenty of opportunities to engage, with 20 exhibitions per year, coordination of the citywide 2nd Friday Art-About with fellow Davis gallery The Artery, and a multitude of educational programming that includes lectures and workshops.
“Some people are only comfortable coming into a gallery if they want to buy something. But only about 50 percent of our effort goes into that type of experience,” Nelson says. “We want people to learn, ask questions and be very hands-on. If we had to focus on just selling art, it would be a sad day.”
“Figurative Exposé: Art From the California Art Club” is on view through April 2, and ceramics by Cathi Newlin and paintings by Toni Rizzo are on display from March 3 through April 30.
Viewpoint Photographic Art Center
2015 J St. | viewpointphotoartcenter.org
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1991
EMPHASIS: Full-service photographic art center
KEY ARTISTS: Rotating exhibits featuring more than 200 photographers each year
“Viewpoint is a hybrid in the gallery world—we’re both a museum and a gallery,” says executive director Roberta McClellan. “We’re not just about gallery sales, though that is important to us, but about the whole fine-art photography movement. We want to create meaningful displays of art to share and create community and discussion.”
The full-service, nonprofit photographic art center offers a diverse range of programming, including two galleries with monthly rotating exhibits, student education programs, print and portfolio nights for members, lectures and workshops. Viewpoint also spearheads Photography Month Sacramento, an annual monthlong celebration each April that brings creatives together from around the region. McClellan says the center provides many photographic artists with their first opportunity to show work publicly on gallery walls.
Started more than 35 years ago by Jeff Redman and Jim Galvin as part of their camera store Lightwork on 57th Street, Viewpoint has grown into a robust gathering space for photographic artists looking for community, exhibition space and camaraderie.
Surprisingly, the pandemic actually increased—and youthened—Viewpoint’s membership base, as people searching for something to do discovered that photography would get them out and about safely while engaging in an artistic endeavor. The center also invested in a new website complete with online galleries and sales to allow fully remote participation. “We want to keep the gallery ‘walls’ where people can access them,” McClellan says.
“Mary Aiu: Unbridled, The Horse at Liberty” and “Brooklyn Shinabargar: American Indigeneity” are on display March 8 through April 1.
Blue Line Arts
405 Vernon St., Roseville | bluelinearts.org
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1966
EMPHASIS: Contemporary fine art
KEY ARTISTS: Recent solo exhibitions of Peter Combe, Mark Abildgaard, M. Mark Bauer, Joe Strickland, Teagan McLarnan, Brandon Gastinell
Blue Line Arts is a testament to the growth that can happen when a community invests in its artists. Since its first outreach exhibit in 1966 under the name Roseville Community Projects Incorporated, Blue Line has grown into a regional nonprofit arts hub housed in a beautiful 5,000-square-foot facility.
“Our new five-year plan is to be a regional cultural hub committed to fostering impactful experiences through the visual arts,” says Brooke Abrames, co-executive director with MaryTess Mayall. “We do that through exhibitions, educational and community programs centered in the arts, work in the public art space and arts consulting for private projects.”
Blue Line serves thousands of kids each year through its classroom and on-site arts programming. It also offers art therapy for veterans, art camps for vulnerable youth and public art initiatives like the Roseville Mural Project.
Exhibitions rotate every six weeks in Blue Line’s five display spaces. Abrames and her team “try to curate art that’s supportive of regional and emerging artists and is inclusive and welcoming to all,” she says. “We’re making sure we’re representing communities that have been historically underrepresented in the fine-arts world.”
To that end, Blue Line holds regular open calls for artists both local and farflung and partners with Placer Artists Studios Tour, the Susan Cooley Gilliom Artist in Residence & Teaching (ART) Program and Kingsley Art Club to find new talent.
This month, check out “Duality: An African Diasporic Narrative” featuring Ghanaian artists Teddy Osei and Glover Marfo, on view through April 1.
The Brickhouse Gallery & Art Complex
2837 36th St. | thebrickhousegalleryartcomplex.com
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 2003
EMPHASIS: Contemporary fine art
KEY ARTISTS: BAMR the Artist, Shonna McDaniels, Deborah Pittman, Keith Mikell, Rita Szuszkiewicz, Milton 510 Bowens, Esteban Villa
The Brickhouse Gallery in historic Oak Park feels like the perfect marriage of classic and contemporary. The building itself was once a sheet metal factory built in 1924 and is surrounded by other historic landmarks. The gallery was opened in 2003 by David DeCamilla and featured nine art studios for local creatives.
Director and curator Barbara Range took over in 2010 and has made it her mission to establish The Brickhouse Gallery as an art destination for the Sacramento community and beyond. Recent exhibitions include artwork by DeAndre Drake, Esteban Villa, Rita Szuszkiewicz and Dr. Lisa Daniels as well as two quilt exhibitions.
“The goal of The Brickhouse Gallery is to provide a space for all forms of art and art voices, especially for Black and Brown artists,” Range says. “Our goal for our audience is to expand it beyond our Sacramento art community. I feel that’s the goal of any gallerist: to be known beyond where you are.”
The building is still home to nine art studios (and a pizza oven on the patio) as well as a regular slate of monthly and bimonthly exhibitions and events. Range presents special exhibitions for Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March. The gallery also participates in First Fridays Oak Park as well as the Second Saturday Art Walk. Beyond the visual arts, The Brickhouse hosts a poetry night every second Saturday and will start The Brickhouse Music Series on the first Friday of the month from May to December.
Art Works Gallery
113 Mill St., Grass Valley | artworksgalleryco-op.com
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 2010
KEY ARTISTS: Cooperative of 32 artists
It’s hard to know where to start when you first step into Art Works Gallery. Everywhere you look, beautiful art objects meet your eye, from photography and painting to fiber art, ceramics, jewelry and more.
Art Works started as a concept in 2009 when a group of local artists got together to do a pop-up to sell their work. It went so well that they decided to find a building, include even more people and make a go at a cooperative art space. They’ve been in the 19th-century building on Mill Street in Grass Valley’s historic downtown since 2010 and have now grown to a group of 32 artists who share rent and other tasks to keep the gallery running. An artist is always on duty, seven days a week.
“We’re all locals,” says Susan Lobb Porter, a mixed-media artist and former board vice president. “We’re your neighbors—you’re supporting us and we’re supporting you. Being in a co-op is like being in an extended family. We’ve got each other’s backs.”
Just as they’ve formed a community within the co-op itself, Art Works members pride themselves on supporting the community around them as well. They host two fundraisers every year to support the Food Bank of Nevada County and local youth art programs.
As for the art, there’s something for everyone—and every budget. Artists must be juried in to join the co-op, so the artwork is high caliber and as varied as the population. All the artists live and work in the Sierra Foothills.
Latino Center of Art & Culture
2700 Front St. | thelatinocenter.org
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1972
EMPHASIS: Latino/Hispanic/Chicano art
KEY ARTISTS: Project-based
“We’re living in the spirit of our mission statement: to be by, for and to the Latinx community,” says Justin Mata, board secretary of the Latino Center of Art and Culture. “That’s the filter we look through for all our programming.”
Having just celebrated its 50th year, LCAC has lived many lives over the past five decades. Started as La Raza Bookstore by members of the Royal Chicano Air Force art collective, the organization evolved into a creative hub under the name La Raza Galeria Posada. In 2014, it rebranded as the Latino Center for Art and Culture to respond to the evolution of its community.
“We were founded as a Chicano art space, but we have the opportunity to have a conversation with the community about what it means to be Latino now,” says executive director Carissa Gutiérrez.
Now a multidisciplinary cultural center, LCAC hosts regular in-person and digital exhibitions highlighting Latinx creators as well as its permanent collection of artwork, which includes historic political posters. It puts on live cultural events like the annual El Pantéon de Sacramento as part of Día de los Muertos and the holiday musical “A Pastorela in Sacramento.” The nonprofit also serves as part of Sacramento Artists Corps, an initiative started during the pandemic to put local artists to work.
“We have a commitment to making visible what is sometimes seen as invisible,” Gutiérrez says of the local Latinidad community. “Showcasing this artwork tells a more accurate story of the people who live here.”
625 S St. | axisgallery.org
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1987
EMPHASIS: Contemporary multimedia from regional artists
KEY ARTISTS: Muzi Li Rowe, Vincent Pacheco, Joanne Tepper Saffren
“What’s amazing about a cooperative gallery is that the economics are taken out of it,” says Eliza Gregory, current president of Axis Gallery and a social-practice artist and photographer. “It’s a place for experimentation, a place for artists to build and connect with their particular audiences, where they can test out new ways of working and new ideas without the market pressures. You can make whatever you want to make, push yourself and your practice in new directions, take risks and be vulnerable. It’s a very exciting space to be in.”
Founded in 1987 as 750 Gallery, Axis changed to its current name in 2007 when it moved to 19th Street, where it shared a building with the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento. It moved to its current location in the Verge Center for the Arts building in 2014. Gregory says the move has proven “mutually beneficial” and has opened up all kinds of opportunities for Axis’ 22 members.
“The gatekeeping is minimal,” Gregory says. “We maintain a standard of quality, thoughtfulness and commitment to art making, but it’s really accessible. Having a space like this helps you develop as an artist—you need a deadline, something to work toward.”
Axis presents two new exhibitions each month, one in the main gallery and one in the East Room. The shows represent a wide variety of different mediums from a diverse stable of emerging and established artists. This month, Axis is featuring photographer Nick Shepard and large-scale landscape painter Mirabel Wigon.