Featured News, South County

Siskiyou Arts Museum’s 10-year Anniversary

The Siskiyou Arts Museum Gallery and Gift Shop, also known as SAM, celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a catered public party inviting artists from all over Siskiyou County (and beyond) to get together to enjoy the years of exhibits and culture in the town of Dunsmuir. 

Ten years of posters announcing the opening of each new Second Saturday Art Opening & Reception or special event adorn the walls of the lower level of SAM. Through the years, just about every kind of art style and expression, in many different kinds of media and various levels of talent, has made its way to the public, making the Siskiyou Arts Museum one of the best places to visit in Dunsmuir – and in Siskiyou County according to many. 

SAM Board Members, Volunteers, and Dunsmuir City officials gave speeches to the large crowd about the history of SAM and the projects that made this art gallery so prominent in the community through the years:

Peter Arth, the former member of Dunsmuir’s City Council (and a former Mayor), shared how he originally approached “strong community members” about the vacant downtown buildings he had purchased, and his desire tobring an art gallery/center into the space that SAM currently occupies. He approached Lauri Sturdivant – an artist in her own right – who was already working as a nonprofit arts administrator in Mt. Shasta.  She created a non-profit with board members Kim Solga, Lynn Foreman, and Joanne Steele. Volunteers Lynn and Linda Price worked withSturdivant to renovate the building. 

Peter thanked everyone present, saying that this (event) is a perfect example of this community bringing in more business to town. 

Arth, who is not an artist himself, spoke of one of SAM’s first fundraising efforts: The Dunsmuir Art Fish Project, created with the assistance of local artist, Maryann Kikerpill: cutting fish out of plywood blanks for kids and grownups to decorate. During the summer and fall of 2013, the Siskiyou Arts Museum displayed the Art Fish created by a wide variety of local artists and art lovers throughout Dunsmuir. The Art Fish were then auctioned as a fundraiser, with proceeds shared by their creators and SAM. You can still see some of these decorated fish around Dunsmuir, and a bench commemorating Ms. Kikerpill sits in front of the entrance to the Gift Shop.

Lauri Studivant who was SAM’s first executive director, gave examples of how they made things work back then and said, “We made it happen on March 8th, 2013 without lighting in the building. It was grassroots and bare bones, but we always made things work.”

Dunsmuir’s current mayor, Juliana Lucchesi, called it “Gumption” and said that she hopes SAM will continue doing as well through the next 10 years introducing new artists into the community. “The City of Dunsmuir in general, sees the role of artists as revitalization. We want SAM’s forward experiences to give space to people to express themselves through art.”

Volunteering since July 2013, Ernie Wasson, Board President of Siskiyou Arts Museum says that SAM is slowly building as an institution. He also talked about reopening the Maker Space on the lower level and is looking for more volunteers. Artists will be able to rent studio space to create their art, as well as offer classes & workshops. Ernies says SAM is also hoping to add poetry readings, music events, plays, and classes. Much of that extra activity at SAM ceased during the pandemic. 

Alan and Cynthia Clother are SAM’s newest board members. Their son, Chris Clother, has participated in art exhibits at SAM, and their daughter-in-law, Cate is redesigning SAM’s website. Alan is assisting in the campaign for SAM to purchase the building that they currently rent from Peter Arth. SAM needs to raise $200,000 and the Board Members are working on a grant from the Ford Foundation. “We have a tremendous option to buy. We’re open to availability to sell local art and create more in this area. This needs to be here.” He noted that even SAM’s backyard is a potential space for events and says that the museum is still growing. Ernie also mentioned that by owning their own building, SAM would have access to grants and funding for the expansion they all envision.

Posted on a wall, just inside the small gallery is a list of all the volunteers that have helped make the Siskiyou Arts Museum so successful through the years. On another wall are 3×5 cards where people have posted what they enjoyed most about SAM through the last 10 years: “Adventurous, quality, fun programs.” … “Taking on different styles and variety of art.” …  “Inspiration from the meeting and greeting of artists.” … “Connection with other artists.” and next to those comments are posted what people would like to see in the next 10 years. The answers included: 1) More workshops in the Maker Space so artists can share techniques. 2) Purchasing the building and making upgrades for future events. 3) More youth featuring art. 4) Having concerts, readings, and poetry.

List of SAM Volunteers

Ellen Bonning, SAM’s Board Secretary and Gift Shop Manager says, “The museum’s gift shop represents about 150 different artists. People come from all over the world to visit. We have had some artists through the years come from as far as Africa and Amsterdam. We support many of the other businesses in town. Bee Kind Bakery catered an abundant buffet for this event, and Cobra Lily supplied the wines.” 

Ellen Bonning – behind desk, with Volunteers, Cynthia Clother (L) & Linda Price (R)

Brandy Black of Bee Kind Bakery & Catering

Siskiyou Arts Museum is located at 5824 Dunsmuir Avenue in Dunsmuir, Ca. The Gift Store and Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday from 12 noon to 4 pm.
Visit their website at siskiyouartsmuseum.org


Located in the heART of downtown Dunsmuir, California, the Siskiyou Arts Museum Gallery & Gift Shop strives to enrich the lives of artists, residents and visitors to Siskiyou County through exhibition, sale and interpretation of the visual, literary and performing arts by presenting programs and events that will educate, strengthen, serve and sustain our community.

Current mayor Juliana Lucchesi speaking while past mayor Kathay Edmonson looks on.

Volunteer and past director of SAM, Lauri Sturdivant, stands with young artist Sophia Hunter who has some of her work in one of the current exhibits: “small works,” curated by her mother, Kim Harper.
Volunteers Len Foreman and Peter Arth hold up the original grand opening poster that was signed by the volunteers who are still with SAM 10 years later. 

Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cheryl Petty and Cynthia Henderson, who provides PR services for both the Chamber and the Siskiyou Art Museum, enjoy the celebration and the art exhibits at SAM.

Members of the community enjoy the live music at the Siskiyou Art Museum’s 10-year anniversary celebration. 

 Two local Dunsmuir artists, Ginny Seibert and Fred Gordon, both work in ceramics, were thrilled to have finally met through this evening’s event.
A miniature replica of the Siskiyou Arts Museum Gallery and Gift Shop was created by one of their devoted volunteers in honor of the 10-year anniversary. 

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