.Pajaro Valley Arts Starts New Chapter

Watsonville arts organization celebrates its new home at the Porter Building and opens a new exhibit

Pajaro Valley Arts has had a busy week. The Watsonville arts nonprofit not only opened a new exhibit at its gallery on Sudden Street but also held its first event at the Porter Building, which the organization took ownership of on Aug. 1.

When the City of Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture hosted the Wine, Beer & Art Walk on Aug. 20, PVA officially opened the Porter Building’s doors to the public for the first time since purchasing the historic building from the city.

Guests could walk through two rooms and the main hallway of the first floor, where artwork from Pajaro Valley Unified School District students, teachers, and PVA-affiliated artists was displayed. Martinelli’s and Grocery Outlet were set up inside, offering food and drink.

“This building—it’s stunning,” said PVA’s Judy Stabile before the event. “The artists were looking around going, ‘look at the brick walls, look at all the hanging space, all the light.’ Even without any major modifications to the building, it’s a beautiful space.”

Stabile says that after the Aug. 1 sale, the organization immediately got to work, spackling and painting the walls. The city gave them a special use permit to participate in the Wine, Beer & Art Walk.

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“This has all been the work of dedicated volunteers,” Stabile said. “It’s amazing to see it come together so fast.”

PVA plans to use the first floor as a gallery and a small performing arts venue and push out one wall to create an outdoor patio setting. Upstairs will include artist studios, offices and workshop spaces.

“The light in every room is extraordinary,” she said. “Every room has an incredible view of our town, the Fox Theater or the mountains. Imagine an artist working in one of these rooms, painting. It’s going to be incredible.”

Meanwhile, a few blocks away, the organization opened a new exhibit at their current gallery. Many Threads—One Cloth opened Wednesday. The show highlights artwork made from various fibers—from wool and silk to cotton. Local, regional and a handful of out-of-state artists are featured in the show.

Curator Roberta Valdez, a textile artist, says she appreciates the diversity of the medium. 

“You see different materials, animal or plant-based,” she says. “I love the idea of diversity of threads, techniques, thought processes and creativity. And how different cultures use different materials. Storytelling, too, is very important. All these pieces have stories behind them.”

The show includes textile sculptures, clothing, large wall hangings, material displays and more. The broad range of pieces did present a challenge for Valdez and the other installers.

“We weren’t sure how it was going to go together,” she says. “But when things come together, and it all works, it’s magic—a miracle. Often textile artists don’t have the venues that other artists do. So, I’m proud we’ve gotten this up.”

Valdez, a relative newcomer to PVA, says she pitched the idea of curating a textile show earlier this year after another artist backed out of a scheduled show. 

“I was introduced to PVA by a friend,” she says, “who suggested I volunteer for last year’s Día de los Muertos show. I was then invited to be mentored as a gallery committee member. Working with PVA has been amazing. Most are volunteers who are so talented and passionate about what they do.”

Many Threads—One Cloth runs through Oct. 2 at PV Arts, 37 Sudden St., Watsonville. The opening reception at the gallery will be held on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2-4pm. On Oct. 1, from 1-3pm, PVA will host “Wearable Stories,” a fashion show featuring the work of local artist Rachel D.K. Clark. pvarts.org.

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