Writer complains privatization of Antioch’s Lynn House Gallery is death of the “Soul of the City”

People attend an event at the Lynn House on August 17, 2016. Photo by Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch.

By Fred Hoskins, Antioch artist

I need to give the readers of this document a short history about art in Antioch. The “Soul of our City”.

Perhaps you’ve seen a couple of sculptures along Hillcrest Avenue. Years ago an ambitious group of citizens collected money to spark the imagination of the public and create interest in art. It was quite an effort obtaining business financial contributions.

Out of this effort a non-profit group was formed. The organization was known as the Delta Art Association (DAA). This group grew to about 350 members (half artists and half patrons of the arts). A dentist was our president and an art teacher from our high was V.P. (Mr. Booth, as I recall). I was a founding member and very involved in the 50’s. I had my first “One-Man Show” in the Bank of America on 18th Street in 1967.

The DAA had a huge art show every year in the Horticulture Building at the Fairgrounds each year. All contributing business representatives were invited to a special preview night. We had wine tasting from Sebastiani of Sonoma, cheese sampling from a Petaluma factory and chamber music by four during the award presentations. Attendance was outstanding!

DAA set-up a gallery on 3rd Street where artworks could be rented or sold by the members. The gallery was moved four times in the downtown area. DAA finally gave up – it seems every time we moved the owners of the space wanted to rent to a paying business. I remember after our first move to 2nd and G Streets a travel agency moved into the site. The agency offered free space, but members objected resulting in a third move across the street. DAA finally gave up. With dwindling membership down to less than 30, it disbanded.

The City, seeing a need for a place for artists to show and sell their works, designated the Lynn House on First Street as our Arts and Cultural Center. Dianne Gibson-Gray was appointed the director and her agency was designated as non-profit. Over time, our city council kept reducing funds for the Lynn House agency and along with poor health, our director resigned.

One of our short-termed council members, Joy Motts suggested turning over the house to a single artist and without forethought all of the other four members voted for the move!

We now have a for-profit business paying $417.00 a month for use of ex-center, at their discretion offering art shows to the public, claiming that the trademark of “The Lynn House Gallery” name came with the rent!

I wish luck to all of the artists in that show. I know most of them. But beware! Someone is trying to buy the Soul of our City. It is also good-bye to the non-profit use of the Antioch Historical Museum for the “Celebraton of Art”. Rent there for profit making companies is $135.00 a day.

I will be showing my second (last was in 1967) One-Man Art Show on the fence of the Hard House on July 3-5. Drop by for a peek and chat. I will be there, full time.

We need to revitalize a city-backed arts commission! The Soul is suffering for now.

 

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