Save me, art scene!

Bruce and Jodie Dillman's birdhouses. (Photo by Tina Flynn)
Jason Cassidy

Arts DEVO is a slave to the internet right now. I’m just trying to stay connected to people as I shelter in place, but with that comes being connected to all the anti-science, anti-mask, anti-human-decency noise on social media as well. It deflates my spirit.

I need art.

Thankfully, Chico’s got some new stuff to salve the spirit:

Wild art: I got an email from CN&R Art Director Tina Flynn, who hipped me to a roadside art show that’s gone up along fences on her side of town. Local theater vet Bruce Dillman and his wife, Jodie, have built and painted, respectively, a growing collection of decorative birdhouses that are hung on fences along West Sacramento Avenue—stretching about a half-mile, from Clotilde Way to Glenwood Avenue. The project started with small colorful cuckoo-clock-style houses and has expanded into more whimsical variations, including replicas of Chico icons such as Big Al’s and Northern Star Mills. It’s a perfect excuse to get in the car and do some socially distant drive-by gawking.

The Blue Room, or Blue “Zoom” Theatre rather, has just unveiled the Dark Season, a revamped schedule that replaces canceled stage plays with a new roster of virtual productions: “Theatre outside of the black box delivered straight to your couch.”

The two months of programming features a combination of performances filmed and then released straight to the theater’s Patreon page, as well as shows streamed live on Zoom (and subsequently released to Patreon). A family-friendly version of Treasure Island was just released to the page, as was “Startin’ Over,” the first of four Western-themed installments of the latest Fresh Ink Festival. A new one-act will be released each week in May.

Next on the schedule is a live Zooming of a Blue Stories, May 16, 6:30-7:30 p.m., storytelling event featuring speakers from all over the country (email to be invited to the audience). The evening is directed by Hilary Tellesen and the theme is “Sneaking Out.”

On May 31 Anton Chekhov’s one-character one-act, On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco—starring Joe Hilsee—will be released on Patreon.

June will feature three live Zoom events: Wilde Nights, A night of Oscar Wilde (June 6); the annual Bloomsday Celebration (June 16); and Shakespeare in the Backyard (June 27). The Wilde and Shakespeare events need actors and solo musicians. Email for more information.

The 1078 Gallery: For its 39th annual Members’ Show, the 1078 has gone digital. The [Virtual] Members’ Show is a “rolling” exhibit, meaning the works are posted in the online gallery as they are submitted throughout May and will be featured through the end of the month. The show is a fundraiser, and proceeds from any sales are split 50/50 between artists and the gallery, so check out the pieces and email the 1078 at if you’re interested in a purchase.

“Jack” by Meghan Turner

Museum of Northern California Art: Last month, MONCA posted two pop-up virtual video tours of the Unbroken Legacies art-glass group exhibit on its website and YouTube (here and here), and has since added a video interview with curator Sara Smallhouse. And May 5 the museum debuted a new online-only version of an installation that was part of the Snow Goose Festival exhibit at MONCA earlier this year. In its original form, Mark Lipman’s “Refuge” was presented as a three-screen video with surround sound, which must have been an incredible way to experience the sights and sounds of the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gridley that the artist documented over a three-year span: “The day in ‘Refuge’ unfolds slowly, offering an opportunity to sink deeply into the experience of birds, water, mountains, trees and grasses.”

For the online version, the piece’s three evolving shots are placed side by side in widescreen. Maybe not as epic of an effect, but breathtakingly beautiful nonetheless. The sounds alone provide an immersive soundtrack for a warm spring day spent in quarantine.

Screen capture from Mark Lipman’s “Refuge.”

North State Symphony: Conductor/Music Director Scott Seaton is hosting a couple of watch parties showcasing previous symphony performances this month. March 8 will feature a showing of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony from a September 2015 performance; and May 22 it will be Beethoven’s 7th Symphony from a February 2018 performance (video links will be posted on Facebook the day of the shows). Hang out and listen along with Seaton who will start things off with pre-performance chats at 7 p.m.

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