Arts Devo

Art is key Art can be part of the healing process in many ways after a trauma like the Camp Fire. For local artist and Paradise resident Jessie Mercer, her “Key Project Tribute” provides an opportunity for her to connect with and honor those who lost so much, as well as give her an outlet for her own grief. Mercer’s parents lost their home and she lost her studio in the fire, and the emotional impact of seeing a key on her ring to a lock that no longer exists gave her the idea to reach out to survivors, collect donations of keys for their homes, cars, etc., destroyed in the fire, and turn them into a phoenix sculpture.

The completed work will include a plaque with the names of those who died in the fire. And as Paradise rebuilds, Mercer will seek to have it installed as a symbol of hope by way of unlocking new possibilities in the town’s rebirth.

The artist is giving people a couple of months to donate keys and has partnered with local businesses and organizations to provide convenient drop-off spots. Look for glass collection jars at Blackbird, Museum of Northern California Art, the Elks Lodge and Stonewall Alliance in Chico, Cedarwood School in Magalia and Liberty Tax Service in Red Bluff. For more info, email or visit Key Project Tribute on Facebook.

Rally ’round the artists In addition to the Art Strong Butte County initiative that contributor Rachel Bush reported on this week [see Scene, page 25], there were a couple of additional Camp Fire relief efforts Arts DEVO learned about (thanks to Chico State Art and Art History Department administrative support assistant Taylor Hinchcliff.).

Chico State art student Naomi Herring has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for living expenses for art students and their families who were displaced by the fire. Additionally, Herring launched Paintings for Paradise (search for it on Facebook), a benefit art sale, with proceeds going to the same cause. Only $25 each!

To donate to Artists Affected by Camp Fire, go to (and for Art Strong Butte County, go to

Stocking-stuffer Chico ex-pat and local musical treasure Barbara Manning just announced the release of a special album—“over an hour of unheard recordings by the legendary singer-songwriter, recorded in 1997 by herself—one mic, voice, acoustic guitar.” Alone in a Room will benefit friends of her’s who were displaced by the fire, and the recording is packed with many of the prolific singer/songwriter’s early hits. Buy at

One super-heavy musical note It’s taken me way too long to give props to The Creator, the insanely rad recording project of local brainy metal dudes Ade Porter and Alex Light (both formerly of Sorin). So far, the two haven’t performed live, focusing instead on recording all parts on their debut recording, Hells. It’s a prog-metal tour de force, a dynamic mash-up of tightly wound guitars, dizzying rhythm shifts and poetry (“My old friend has led me to hold this leaf/Adopt its shape, its veins,” from “Psychic Umbilical”). Get some at