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UC Davis Art, Community Center for Local Youths Opens in Woodland

December 9, 2009

Montoya on power of art

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Photo: Malaquias Montoya demonstrating silk screening

UC Davis Professor Emeritus Malaquias Montoya (foreground) shows Woodland High School student Arden Gabor how to silk screen. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo)

WOODLAND — University of California, Davis, faculty and students, local residents and government officials gathered today to celebrate the opening of a community art center dedicated to inspiring local youth and reinforcing culture through silk-screening, mural painting and other classes.

The TANA center, conceived and operated by the UC Davis Department of Chicana/o Studies, represents the culmination of a six-year quest to establish the type of community art workshop that existed in many urban settings decades ago. TANA stands for Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer, or Art Workshops of the New Dawn.

The center will operate out of a former Yolo County Housing warehouse that has been renovated with $342,000 in federal grants. It is located across the street from a large subsidized housing neighborhood and is designed to appeal to teenagers and other youth who live there and throughout the community.

Through silk-screen printing and mural painting, the center will attempt to cultivate the cultural and artistic life of the community, while encouraging participants to seek higher education and self-determination, supporters say.

“I want to congratulate the Department of Chicana/o Studies and the Woodland community on this remarkable achievement,” said Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies. “As the daughter of a sharecropper who was the first in his family to go to college, I know first-hand the power of education.

“But access is crucial and TANA is a terrific way of bringing the university to the community and the community to the university.”

The funds that financed the conversion of the 3,600-square-foot maintenance shed into a freshly painted studio were awarded by the City of Woodland from its allocation of federal community development block grants.

Woodland Mayor Skip Davies said the project provided “a great opportunity for the city to strengthen our partnerships with UC Davis and Yolo County Housing” to benefit Woodland youth.

“The opportunity to create and study art will be a lifelong asset for those who choose to participate,” Davies said.

Lisa Baker, executive director of the housing agency, said the opening of the TANA center will be one of the year’s highlights for the agency and greater Woodland area. The agency provided the building under a $1-a-year lease.

“The center is an opportunity to bring art education to the ‘front door’ of our housing community, while helping to engage older youth and teens,” Baker said. “It will also offer a way to improve awareness of opportunities through the arts, advanced education and UC Davis.”

UC Davis Professor Emeritus Malaquias Montoya, one of the most prominent living Chicano artists, was the visionary behind the project and will teach classes at the center.

“The idea is to bring people in to work together,” Montoya said. “Have young kids work with older kids. Those who have advanced can actually do work for the community, if some organization needs a poster.”

In addition to an art studio, the center will serve as an extension of the university where other UC events open to the community can be held, said Montoya and Carlos Jackson, an assistant Chicana/o studies professor who will serve as director of the center. Community groups also will be able to use the center, Jackson said.

“You hope some kids catch on with the art, that they find an outlet for themselves and to talk about their community,” Jackson said. “But the main thing is creating community, bringing people together. This is a space that belongs to this community in Woodland and especially the immediate community.”

The center includes a silk-screen studio and exhibition space. Classes are expected to start in mid-January and will be guided by Jackson, an artist and author of a book about Chicano art; Montoya; and his son, Maceo Montoya, a former visiting professor of Chicana/o studies.

Earlier classes conducted through Chicana/o Studies produced existing murals at Pioneer and Woodland high schools; and Beamer, Freeman and Dingle elementary schools. Murals at the Carleton Club and on the side of Taquería Guadalajara were completed by the Chicana/o studies department in cooperation with the Yolo Family Resource Center and the Woodland Coalition for Youth.

In addition to the federal grants, the TANA center received funding from UC Davis, the California Department of Education, the California Arts Council and the Yolo County Arts Council.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools -- Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

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