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Carnegies Valley Focus offers artistic interpretations of the region
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The Carnegie Arts Center exhibit Valley Focus: Paintings By Chella and Photographs BY Dan Kasser features Young Almonds, Plein Air Oil Chella Gonsalves, and Western Technosites: Patterson photography Dan Kasser. - photo by PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED

The Carnegie Arts Center is featuring the works of two area residents and educators who have used their talents to interpret the region into artistic creations that are now on display in “Valley Focus: Paintings by Chella and Photographs by Dan Kasser.”

The exhibit, which opened Thursday and will run through March 22, features a collection of Valley imagery that highlights the career arcs of both artists, as well as their roles as educators and innovators, said Carnegie Arts Center Director Lisa McDermott.

“Usually this time has been reserved for our distinguished artist exhibit, but this year the board decided that rather than focus on one, we wanted to focus on artists as educators,” McDermott said. “That role is so important for the young people learning to make art and leaving the area and taking that Valley experience with them. Both of these artists are great educators and very well-respected in the art community. The collection of their works just fell together beautifully.”

Chella has been creating and teaching art in the Modesto area for more than 50 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Ball State University and moved to California in 1956. She has created pieces using various mediums, both in non-representation and abstraction form, but prefers “en plain aire” (in the open air) oil paintings, especially of ag-related landscapes. She also has illustrated a cookbook, poetry book and is an illustrator for an international professional essay journal. With two well-known local authors, she illustrated story books for Modesto's historic McHenry Mansion.

Kasser, a professional photographer and a visual arts professor at the University of the Pacific, has created works that mix the mundane, like a rusty shovel head, with landscapes. The mixture is seen in his most recent work, “Western Technosites,” which is a poetic series of constructed photographs that explore the postindustrial Western landscape. The photographs are designed to animate the space, scale and character of the Western landscape.

“These works in the exhibit show the diversity of both artists and their roles as educators, especially showing their students to take risks and innovate,” McDermott said.

Both artists will be on hand for the gallery talk from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 22.

Admission is $5 for the general public. Students with a valid school identification card get half off the admission price. Carnegie members and children under 12 are admitted for free. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

The Carnegie Arts Center is located at 250 N. Broadway in Turlock.