What We Do
Artists and the Community
Since its inception in 1956 as a non-profit community-based organization, the Chico Art Center's mission has been to foster and promote the visual arts. The Center has had a long history of offering fine art instruction, professional gallery shows, and events that connect the public with artists. The intent now, as always, is to help the community appreciate the importance of visual art in our society.
Four times per year a full schedule of art classes is offered. Classes are four to eight weeks in length and geared toward specific age groups or experience levels. The Center also offers special workshops, lectures, and demonstrations by guest artists. The Mosaic newsletter is distributed to all members, and includes announcements of upcoming events, and class or workshop registration information.
Open Studios Art Tour
A self-guided tour through local artists' studios, this delightful adventure gives curious art lovers the opportunity to watch the artists at work in their studios. Open Studios takes place in early October as the kick off for Artoberfest.
Chico Discovery Series
This gallery series is designed to encourage local artists in the exploration and development of their respective mediums. Through exhibitions at the Center, the diversity of talent that surrounds us is highlighted and recognized.
Call for Artists
The Center boasts an 800-square-foot gallery space with professional lighting. It is a very desirable place to exhibit work and the annual call for artists elicits proposals from a wide range of regional artists. Group shows, as well as solo exhibitions, representing all media are presented throughout the year.
Chico is home to many talented artists, many of whom support the arts through their membership in the Chico Art Center. All member artists have the opportunity each year to display their work in the gallery during the annual Member's Show. This event showcases the interesting and diverse talents of our members.
The Northern California Creative Arts Center (now known as the Chico Arts Center) was established on Salem Street near Fourth Street in Chico on November 1, 1955. The Center was created as a private enterprise free of political or religious affiliation, inspired and created to further the exchange, appreciation and production of creative arts and crafts. Within three months the NCCAC's dedicated Board of Directors voted to incorporate as a non-profit group conducting cultural and recreational activities and to promote interest in the execution and appreciation of the various arts. The Center belongs to the people of Chico.
In 1956 the Chico Area Recreation District's (CARD) Eastwood Recreation Center housed the Art Center. In 1957 it moved in with an option to buy at 1324 Dayton Road. The members purchased the building for $5,000 in 1958 and stayed there until 1969. The address at 814 Glenn Street had an Eighth Street address in 1969 as the Center faced Bidwell Park. Later it was nestled among homes and and apartment buildings, near the Chico Nature Center.
The Center found itself an important core group for the support and promotion of art and artists in the area as well as a center for many different art classes for all age groups. It was voluntarily manned by outstanding community volunteers serving as Board of Directors, Executive Directors, and workshop leaders. Class instructors were paid by students taking their classes. Membership dues, fundraisers, memorials, and an astute treasurer who volunteered for twenty-seven years paid off the second building and kept the Center solvent.
The Center, also known as CAC, built community awareness through prominent gallery exhibits, artist lecture series, Fall arts festivals, patrons, sponsors, and sustainers. A 1960 Annual Juried Art Show (the first for CAC) also initiated the Center's permanent collection. The Chico Art Center made an important move into the city-owned historic depot at 450 Orange Street in 1992.
Chico's first railroad depot was constructed by the California and Oregon Railroad in 1877 at the corner of West Fifth and Orange streets and soon became inadequate for the volume of business. The community's struggle to replace the small, shabby and cramped facility for daily passneger and freight business lasted for thirteen years. Passenger service was provided through Chico until 1957.
Chico's historic depot was in danger of meeting the fate of many other closed depots–sold or demolished to save taxes and maintenance. The City of Chico and the Chamber of Commerce's Transportation Committee reached an agreement with Southern Pacific to relocate their office and lease the waiting room to the City of Chico. Amtrak also agreed to contribute the $20,000 cost of the shelter to the rehabilitation of the depot.
In 1987 the Chico Heritage Association applied for and received approval to place the depot on the National Register of Historic Places. The Chico Art Center first became interested in the depot in the Fall of 1988, and is still located in the restored depot.