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June 27, 2022

SJB art comes to forefront

University officials talk with local artist about expansion
San Juan Bautista could become an artist haven if the ideas of
City Manager Jan McClintock and Galeria Tonatzin owner and artist
Jennifer Colby come to fruition. They are interested in providing
resources both for artists, who currently live in the city and
those who would travel to the mission city to participate in the
arts.
University officials talk with local artist about expansion

San Juan Bautista could become an artist haven if the ideas of City Manager Jan McClintock and Galeria Tonatzin owner and artist Jennifer Colby come to fruition. They are interested in providing resources both for artists, who currently live in the city and those who would travel to the mission city to participate in the arts.

“The city is currently in the early formation stages with plans to expand both educational and residential opportunities,” McClintock said. “The new programs would expand on what we already have.”

The city is already home to many artists.

“A lot of them are active with the Aromas [Artist] Guild or the San Benito [Artist] Guild,” McClintock said. “Every city has its niche. We have so many artists here, that this could be a good niche for us.”

An artist enclave could boost the economy.

“My idea of the school brings different types of clientele to San Juan Bautista,” Colby said. “People who want to spend time developing skills in arts and developing skills in humanities –a longer-term visitor who might stay weeks or months.”

McClintock is a strong proponent of Tod duBois’ recent proposal to build a space on Muckelemi Street that would include artist studios and places to live.

“Live/work communities are popular throughout the country,” Colby said.

There has been interest from artists who want to move to the area, Colby said.

The members of the city council were receptive as well when the ideas were presented to them Dec. 19, McClintock said.

The city needs a more specific plan from the developer. Additionally, the city’s growth ordinance requires the plan to be voted on by its residents, McClintock said.

“The citizens have been historically unfriendly towards new development,” McClintock said.

However, McClintock and Colby both think the gallery would be good for the citizens of the city.

The artisans’ plaza would bring together many kinds of artists, Colby said.

“We would like to create an economic base that will support the small businesses in San Juan,” she said. “The Artisan’s plaza would be complimentary to the rest of town.”

Colby has also been talking to people for nearly seven years about the idea of starting an art school in San Juan Bautista. Recently she began speaking with officials at universities in California and Massachusetts about the possibility of San Juan Bautista being a satellite school that would offer MA and MFA programs. There are not many graduate programs in the area, Colby said

The school could also have continuing education classes and classes taught without credit so many people could participate, she said. Non-credit classes would also encourage students to experiment with learning many art forms, Colby said.

The school would be a chance for people to learn historical art forms from one another. Recently middle-schooler Lily Elder made wheat woven sculptures that have been displayed and sold at Galeria Tonatzin. Wheat weaving is an older art form, which some artists visiting the gallery recognized.

People can learn art and history at the same time, Colby said.

Colby and McClintock plan on applying for federal and state grants to help bring an art community to San Juan Bautista. In the past, federal grants have funded heritage corridors that combine history and arts, Colby said.

Danielle Stolman can be reached at [email protected]

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