Wednesday, September 22, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 29

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on January 4th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 17, Issue 44 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 17, Issue 44

For artists, by artists: Valley Art Gallery cooperative shines light on founding members through Feb. 11


Sometimes, you’ve just got to roll up your smock and go totally DIY. Like the old adage goes, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In the case of a diligent group of Santa Maria Valley area artists, I’d amend that quote to read something like, “Be the scrappy nonprofit artists cooperative you want to see in the world.”

The Valley Art Gallery founders create in a variety of media, a collection of which shows now through Feb. 11 at the gallery in Orcutt.

Of course, actually opening your own scrappy, nonprofit artists cooperative gallery takes time, elbow grease, and an endless array of hats. Good thing artists are notoriously creative and crafty, eh?

According to Valley Art Gallery Board President Susan Leedom, one look at the Orcutt-based cooperative’s latest show tells you all you need to know about why the group works as hard as it does. You might have guessed it already. These volunteers are in it for the art, pure and simple.

The gallery’s latest show, showing now through Feb. 11, features the work of a diverse and dedicated cast known well around these parts: Valley Art Gallery board members Beverly Johnson, Pat Salter, John Card, Patricia Smith, Hattie Stoddard, Lynda Schiff, and Michael Corob.

“We’re featuring art from the people who opened up the gallery, took on all the administration tasks, kept the cooperative staffed, managed the accounting, promotion, grant writing, and facility maintenance,” Leedom said. “We also have about 60 talented artist-members, who we regularly show. This time, you’ll see something a little different from the board itself.”

From left, members of the Valley Art Gallery board of directors Michael Corob, Lynda Schiff, Beverly Johnson, Patricia Smith, Pat Salter, John Card, and Susan Leedom (not pictured: Hattie Stoddard). The nonprofit cooperative gallery showcases artwork created by its founding members through Feb. 11.

The cooperative space—which opened in August 2015—is the only one of its kind in the Santa Maria area, serving the community with shows, live demos, and art classes for adults and kids. The gang also works with the Recreation and Parks Department to enliven city streets and take on outreach projects.

The true idea for the group actually began in 1983, at the Santa Maria Veterans Center. The gaggle of artists banded under the title “Culture Corner,” and showed at the now defunct Town Center Gallery at the mall as well as the Santa Maria Airport, which continues to be a much-needed haven for the arts in the area.

The need for local art has only grown since.

“Starting this gallery was so necessary. Putting a roof over our heads gave us a way to reach out to the community in a larger way and let people know that there is an artists cooperative in Santa Maria,” Leedom said. 

The upcoming director’s show will showcase a range of media including silk painting, photography (featuring images of local sights), many kinds of acrylic painting, and more. With no paid staff and plenty of passionate and dedicated members and directors ready to lend a hand, the space is chugging along with a vibrant array of programming, installations, and events slated for 2017. 

Catch the show
The Valley Art Gallery is located at 1108 E. Clark Ave. in Orcutt. In addition to rotating shows at the gallery space, the cooperative also shows new works at the Santa Maria Airport every two months. For more information, go to or email The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

Still, the group is always looking for new members to keep that energy flowing and fresh. Members work four hours per month—although you could say the lines between “work” and “play” are known to blur at times.

Not sure where to start or how to support local arts in the area? Stop on by and see what—and who—is hanging around the space.

“When you walk in the door to the gallery, you’ll see that the person working the front desk is an artist,” Leedom said. “We’re proud to say that, through Feb. 11, their artwork will also be hanging on the wall somewhere.” 

Hayley Thomas Cain blurs the line between work and play more often than not. Contact her through Interim Managing Editor Joe Payne at

Weekly Poll
What are the most important conversations to be having right now when it comes to policing?

We need to address how racial bias influences policing.
We should focus on funding the police so they can do their job.
Mental health is where our dollars need to go, both in and out of the police department.
As one Sept. 20 community input meeting attendee said,

| Poll Results

My 805 Tix - Tickets to upcoming events