Art association moves headquarters, expanding for industrial complex

Photos and Story by Catherine Stachowiak 

Years of planning have finally brought to fruition the expansion of the Art Center for the art association’s new industrial art center.

President of the Kern River Valley Art Association (KRVAA) Christopher Buffalo Folsom told the Kern Valley Sun Tuesday, March 20, about the 66,000 square foot facility the KRVAA recently acquired in Wofford Heights. The nonprofit plans to serve the community with the facility.  “For the past five or six years I’ve been working towards our goal of creating an industrial art complex up here,” Folsom said. 

Folsom’s inspiration came from his previous experiences.  “Six years ago I did a class at the Crucible up in Oakland, California.  So when I was there it was inspiring to see everything they have done, and what they’re trying to do, and how it works with the community getting young people involved.”

The process of fulfilling this mission has been slow going partly because of not having the facility the KRVAA needed.

“I talked to Able (Property Management) four years ago about that building,” said Folsom. “When we signed the lease on the garage and gas station, at that time I reiterated the fact that building was what I wanted, if it ever became available.”

Folsom’s goal has been to provide a facility wherein artists could craft and learn woodworking, stained glass, and pottery. The association’s new building is rated “Industrial” allowing all those things.  “We’re doing two purpose kilns. One kiln is specifically for glass fusing and the other kiln is for pottery. And we’re in the process of acquiring (pottery) wheels as well,” he said. 

New Art association headquarters.

The idea is for artists to have lab time, with minimal supervision, to work on their own art outside of the classes and workshops the association would be holding there. The association also plans to hold its BigFoot FilmCamps there. 

Folsom said the association’s goal is to keep classes financially feasible for everyone.  

Folsom believes the center would bring interest to valley.  He said, “I feel like we’re so close to making it the way I see the Art Center as a spectacular place, where everybody can come up, and everybody can take part in it, and it helps the community by giving people things to do.  In fact actually we just got a grant that is supposed to be about community involvement because the number one illness in the country, they say, is loneliness.”  

The grant the KRVAA attained is all about community events each month. And according to Folsom the building allows the KRVAA to do community events every month.  “That’s our way of giving back because most of us are volunteers.” 

Folsom also said the KRVAA still needs the support of the community.

The KRVAA invites the public to view the new Art Center facility along with the Old Garage, which is now named “Alchemy,” where the KRVAA conducts workshops, and “The Station,” which promises to be a hub for local artists, actors, musicians, and writers. The tour begins at the association’s Art Gallery, at the upcoming Art!Walk! April 20, 10am to 4pm.