20 & 90: North Tahoe Arts and its Founder Celebrate Coming of Age
by Lisa Korb, Moonshine Ink
This article is a reprint from the July Print Edition of Moonshine Ink, the Independent News Source for Truckee and North Lake Tahoe.
Think back to where you were at 20. Perhaps you were on your way to a college degree (like me), anxiously awaiting that legal age, traveling the world or taking on a first “real” job? Lucky for North Shore artists, the 20-year-old North Tahoe Arts (NTA) hasn’t flown the coop, but has instead grown into a nonprofit that’s made its founder, 90-year-old Madeline Bohanon, proud.
North Tahoe Arts was born at Rosie’s Café in 1989, back when Tahoe City’s “Big Tree” still fronted the restaurant. There gathered a group of 23 artists (who then dubbed themselves the Sierra Artists’ Network), ready to socialize and discuss each other’s work.
Attendance jumped to 93 by the third meeting, and Bohanon knew she had something big on her hands. By 2003, the group found a permanent home large enough for its needs with the newly renovated Tahoe Community Center.
Today, 20 years later, NTA is a thriving, 215-member nonprofit organization with galleries, a gift shop and loads of educational offerings and events – like ARTour, one of my favorite local art happenings (see Carole Sesko’s write-up on page 70 in the July issue of Moonshine Ink).
“I think it’s quite a feather in their cap that they’ve been able to keep it running so smoothly,” says Bohanon of NTA’s collective success. And certainly, Bohanon has more than a few feathers in her own cap. When I spoke with the artist earlier this month, she was fired up on her current project, a triptych called Spirit Dancers, in which she delves into Southwest symbology inspired by Hopi and Pueblo tribal rituals. She continues to paint daily from her Cedar Flat home, and keeps ties to both NTA and the Art Vision critique group she also started in 1989.
“Madeline has really made an impact on the local art world,” says Fritzi Briner, an Art Vision member. “A lot of her early work was very representational, and people were encouraged by how she was able to go abstract,” adds Karen Ellis, NTA’s executive director. “She’s also very supportive of new artists, and has donated a lot of materials for kids’ art camps through the years.”
“I like to see artists grow, and enjoy helping them do that,” says Bohanon, who also taught for 25 years.
Thus it’s only fitting that an NTA anniversary celebration would pay homage to its original benefactor, in such a landmark year of her life. August 3 through 30, Bohanon’s paintings will be on display, along with various works from Art Vision group members and past NTA exhibitors. If you haven’t had a chance to view Bohanon’s work in the some 38 years she’s exhibited locally, then get yourself over to the art center. Ranging from acrylic abstracts to classic Tahoe watercolor landscapes, her compositions are exciting and fun. Plus, she’s just a fabulous spirit to mingle with. At her request, a jazz musician will be playing at the opening reception on August 7.
I, for one, am excited to see NTA blossom even more in the coming years, as it continues its updated mission of reaching out further to the community. One can only hope it’s as sprightly at 90 as Bohanon.
Madeline Bohanon and Art Vision
August 3 to 30
Opening reception, August 7, from 5 to 7 p.m.
North Tahoe Art Center
380 North Lake Blvd
Tahoe City (next to the Fire Station)
Open 11 am to 6 pm daily; closed on Tuesdays.
Top photo by Lau Haaning
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