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Image of wet paint brushes on an easel.
Fresno County's rich cultural history is captured through three inspiring art exhibitions honoring the LGBTQ+ community, Oaxacan immigrants, and the Feminine Experience.

$1M Grant Brings Together the Fresno Arts Community to Explore the “Power of Culture”

FRESNO — It’s often said that art can be transformative, and for LGBTQ+ members, young Latinos, and girls growing up in the Central Valley, that transformation can happen when they see themselves and their everyday lives reflected in a powerful local art exhibition.

Fresno’s vibrant arts community is partnering with The McClatchy Fresno Arts Endowment (MFAE), to transform lives through the arts, placing “the power of culture” on full display through a $1M grant-funded collaborative. MFAE is an extension of the James B. McClatchy Foundation (JBMF) aimed at fostering, curating, and supporting art exhibitions of regional, national, and international significance in the greater Fresno area. “The current pandemic has given us an opportunity to recognize the enduring quality of the arts as a tool to heal, unite, and celebrate diversity in our communities,” says Susan McClatchy, co-founder of both MFAE and JBMF. “Our grants to these three remarkable exhibitions will help elevate Fresno as a world-class arts hub by expanding access to newer audiences, curating nationally and globally-renowned exhibitions, and giving visibility to emerging, talented, and culturally relevant artists.”

The three featured exhibitions include:

“Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” is re-presented by the Center for Creativity and the Arts (CCA) at California State University, Fresno, and will be displayed on campus from Aug. 19 – Oct. 31, 2021. The exhibition commemorates the Stonewall riots of 1969, one of the 20th century’s most culturally significant civil rights events, and will highlight Fresno’s important role with LGBTQ+ civil rights and advocacy movements. Originally organized by the Brooklyn Museum of New York, works from the original exhibition will be coupled with those of West Coast artists, all born
post-Stonewall, with distinct voices heard from LGBTQ+ communities of color. A speaker series, colloquium, and public arts projects are also being planned.

“At Fresno State, our core values are Diversity, Distinction and Discovery. “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” reflects on those values and provides a strong educational platform to learn and be curious about Fresno’s own history and participation in significant cultural legacies such as LGBTQ+ civil advocacy and the Feminist Art Movement which began in Fresno.” says CCA Director, Cindy Urrutia, Ph.D.

“Boom Oaxaca,” curated and developed by Arte Américas, is a five-month exhibition that launches Spring 2022. From portraits of farmworkers on reclaimed produce boxes, to street art and giant murals, the works of Narsiso Martinez, Dario Canul, and Cosijoesa Cernas, among others, honor the approximately 50,000 Oaxacan immigrants residing in Central Valley, humanizing their experiences as field laborers, and validating their contributions to California’s rich bounty. The forthcoming exhibition and community programs seek to inspire new audiences and instill cultural pride in the hundreds of Latino students anticipated to visit. The exhibit will open a dialogue on topics that are particularly important during the pandemic, including immigration, border politics, food, labor, and safety.

“At this challenging time, when so many opportunities and programs have been lost, like a beacon of hope, this support allows us to look to the future with optimism,” says Arte Américas Board President, Vivian Velasco Paz. “This support from MFAE will allow us to shine a light on tens of thousands of indigenous people from Oaxaca who contribute so much to the overall economy of the Valley.”

“A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes” will run July 30, 2022, through Jan. 8, 2023, at the Fresno Art Museum. The exhibition offers a unique look at how fashion has shaped the feminine experience throughout history and across the globe, exploring symbols of womanhood and challenging conventional ideas of beauty. For example, designer Louise Linderoth uses a wheelchair and fosters inclusion for those with disabilities, like herself. Her works feature garments designed from a seated position, giving visibility to different bodies and different postures and allowing the disabled to be represented in the fashion world. “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes” is organized and produced by Barrett Barrera Projects and curated by MUSEEA.

“Fashion is art in motion that speaks to all generations and all cultures. “A Queen Within” is the type of high-end, high-impact exhibition that Fresno deserves, and it would not be possible without the support of MFAE.” says Fresno Art Museum Executive Director, Michele Ellis Pracy.

Exhibition plans are underway for all three grant awardees with start dates subject to health and safety guidelines. The exhibitions represent Fresno’s growing prominence as an arts destination that vividly reflects the Central Valley’s diverse population, one rich in culture and historical significance.

About JBMF

The James B. McClatchy Foundation, formerly known as the Central Valley Foundation, was founded in 1994 by Susan and the late James B. McClatchy who together envisioned an organization that builds brilliant futures in California’s Central Valley through support for English Learners and First Amendment protections of free speech, freedom of expression, and a free press. The James B. McClatchy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit philanthropic organization and is not affiliated with the McClatchy Company or McClatchy publications. JBMF accepts grant proposals only by invitation.

About MFAE

The McClatchy Fresno Arts Endowment (MFAE) is a permanent endowment entrusted to The James B. McClatchy Foundation (JBMF) to foster, curate, and support art exhibitions of regional, national, and international significance in the greater Fresno area. The aspirational goal of MFAE is to help establish Fresno as a creative and cultural arts hub and elevate the region as an arts destination.

About “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall”

Organized by the Brooklyn Museum and curated by Margo Cohen Ristorucci, Public Programs Coordinator; Lindsay C. Harris, Teen Programs Manager, Education; Carmen Hermo, Associate Curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; Allie Rickard, former Curatorial Assistant, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; and Lauren Argentina Zelaya, Director, Public Programs, with assistance from Levi Narine, former Teen Programs Assistant, InterseXtions and Special Projects, Brooklyn Museum.

This presentation was adapted by the Center for Creativity and the Arts, Fresno State University.

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