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August 21, 2007 > Let the Sun shine in

Let the Sun shine in

By Julie Grabowski

Tucked back from the bustle of Mission Boulevard on one of the lesser traveled of "letter streets," Hayward's Sun Gallery sheds warmth and light on all who pass through its doors. The non-profit gallery has a 30-year history of fostering local artists and providing a place to show their work. A range of 10-15 exhibits are scheduled a year in advance. Adolescents have been the focus of 2007; next year will spotlight local professional artists.

The gallery's permanent collection contains 70 pieces of art in a variety of media including ceramics, photography, jewelry, paintings, and glass. When not on display at their home location, these works move throughout the community on loan. They can be seen at City Hall, Chamber of Commerce, or business offices requesting artwork. "It promotes our institution, promotes our partnership in the community, and the artists," says Gallery Director Veronica Dondero who notes that the interests of the community are never far from their thoughts.

Extending beyond its role as an art gallery, Sun Gallery reaches out to Hayward's diverse population, providing space for cultural events, poetry readings, fundraising events, musicians, and other community promotions. Each year, the Art Education Program invites thousands of children from 90 schools around the Bay to tour the gallery and learn basic elements of art. Using basic geometry, the kids are encouraged to identify shapes and colors, to explore their own feelings and ideas about artwork. They then become artists by participating in a hands-on activity at the gallery.

"There is no such thing as culture without art," says Dondero, who believes that art exists to open minds, inform and entertain. She notes that art creates relationships and connections between people, "a way to converse" and to get to know each other better. "I think it's great for your soul." As a painter and printmaker, Dondero joins a group of her peers in the current gallery offering, "7Women Exhibit," a representation of artistic women from different parts of the Bay Area. Working in Sonoma, San Francisco, Hayward, and Marin County, these women range in age from the thirty something's to the seventy something's, with diverse backgrounds of education and experience. All are professional artists, connected by art critique groups at Adobe Art Center (Hayward) receptions and exhibits.

Works on display are as individual as their creators yet combine to form a vibrant and powerful whole. Penny Gamel's mixed media pieces are beautifully arresting in their vivid colors and pieced women. The joyous, tropical vibe of "Aqua Woman," dramatic richness of "Green Clown," and pure loveliness of "Orchid Woman" would be well worth the price of admission if there were one. The female form is contrastingly depicted in the elegant and simple black strokes of Joan Miro's collection of untitled monoprints, created with Sumi ink on rice paper.

Dondero explores the world of bees in a series of works that include the sunshine and honey-toned "Sisters." Sculptor Naomi Stein Cooper and fabric/textile collage artist Christine Bender share the excitement of their first professional show. Cooper's imaginative fantasy-like pieces intrigue, while Bender's fashion and word-centered collages inspire and uplift. Rounding out the exhibit are the bold and thought-provoking paintings of Sharon Spurlock, and Beth Pewther's (a.k.a. Liz Breger) politically charged collage and acrylic works.

For a gift or memento, the Gallery Shop is a small treasure trove of unique artistic items crafted by both local and national artists. Its offerings range from jewelry, cards, and collages to sculptures and small paintings, as well as an array of other creative works.

The success of Sun Gallery is due to the many volunteers and supporters who allow the creative fires to continue burning. Sakura of America generously donates their fine quality art supplies, and the gallery is grateful for the continual support from Hayward Area and Recreation Park District (HARD). "Without them it would be almost impossible for us to do what we do," says Dondero. To see what they do and experience the heartbeat of the community, one only has to step into the Sun.

For more information on Sun Gallery and its events call (510) 581-4050 or visit www.sungallery.org.

7 Women Exhibit
Thursday, August 9 - Saturday, September 15
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Sun Gallery
1015 E Street, Hayward
(510) 581-4050

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