Remembering Madeline Bohanon

April 28, 2016

Bohanon Inner Iris Moonshine InkA wonderful artist, mentor, and teacher – Madeline Bohanon – founded Sierra Artists Network 30 years ago, which became, North Tahoe ARTS and an artists group called Art Vision.

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.

“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.