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Tue, Jan 18, 2022

Robb Woulfe

Robb Woulfe - Executive Director

Innovators & Culture Bearers

Honoring the legacy of local philanthropists and art enthusiasts Roy and Frances Rydell, the MAH is pleased to partner with our friends at Community Foundation Santa Cruz County to present the latest Rydell Visual Art Fellowship Exhibition from January 21–March 20, 2022. We are thrilled to once again host this exciting showcase, part of a larger institutional commitment by the MAH to invest in local talent as a means to increase creative capacity and the artistic output of our community.

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Santa Cruz County is defined by a rich creative culture that take its sustenance from the artists who call it home—those who live, work, and create in the shared space of our community. Our artists produce thought-provoking work in a range of disciplines, cutting across the visual, performing, and media arts to offer enlightening interpretations that suggest new ideas, invite reflection, spark dialog, and shift perspectives. In this way they are not only innovators, but culture bearers who make immeasurable contributions to the vibrancy of our community.

Abbott Square

Civic planners around the world have embraced the idea of cultural vibrancy, which refers to the positive emotional qualities of a community. To nurture it, one must recognize, embrace, and elevate the fundamental traits and practices that that make a place singular, breathing life into a community. Time and time again, arts and culture are found to be key to vibrancy. Not only do they inspire, they contribute to people’s sense of connectedness and wellbeing. They also play a role in economic development—fostering creative innovation, attracting investment, and invigorating the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The benefits to be gained from embracing creativity extend well beyond what one might think.


Photo: Roy and Frances Rydell, courtesy Community Foundation Santa Cruz County.

Since 1985 when Roy and Frances Rydell had the foresight to establish a fund for artists and arts organizations, bequeathing their estate to Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, we have been enriched by priceless fellowship opportunities that create space for artists to pursue their work. Because of it, some have been able to extend their reach nationwide and abroad. In turn, empowered artists make a significant impact here at home in our own community, from the inspiration they provide to the stronger creative economy that results.

Empowered artists make a significant impact here at home in our own community, from the inspiration they provide to the stronger creative economy that results.

The MAH is proud to recognize the immense contributions of our artist community—from the professional artists selected as Rydell fellows, to our community practitioners who participate in cultural exchange in myriad ways. Creativity is a world to which all are invited, and from which all can benefit.

It is an honor for me to present the work of the 2020-2021 Rydell fellows, both in this blog and in our exhibition at the MAH: Ann Altstatt, whose interdisciplinary work explores intersections between mysticism and scientific inquiry; Cid Pearlman, whose choreographies disrupt traditional notions of desire, gender, and friendship as they navigate human relationships; the highly crafted work of Marc D’Estout, who creates minimalist sheet metal forms that make subtle commentaries on modern life; and Edward Ramirez, whose engaging photographs and prints offer a strong social commentary on controversial issues. Additional information on these Rydell fellows can be found in the exhibition's catalogue.

We hope you will be moved—both by their work, and by the people, organizations, and community culture that support it.

To learn more about the museum’s efforts to keep the local art scene healthy and thriving, please check out our publication: Cultural Vibrancy Report: The MAH’s Role in the Creative Economy

—Robb Woulfe, Executive Director

Header image: r.r. jones photography

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