An update from David ‘Sus’ Susalla, Exec. Director, Gualala Arts

A PDF of the Update is available here!

The following is an update of our current situation as of today, Sept 3, 2020.

The Arts Center doors are still closed to the public to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We have cancelled dozens of our events, workshops, fundraisers & exhibits starting March 16.  Some of the things that we ARE currently planning and doing to further our mission to promote the arts include:

  • WE LOVE OUR NEW DOLPHIN HOME in Cypress Village. We are creating a new process for new and returning artists to apply to show their work at this wonderful new space. A jury of five will review applications quarterly for inclusion. A refreshing look will happen quarterly or more frequently.
  • GREAT NEWS! 59th annual Art in the Redwoods-Online! is a smashing success, and we have extended it through September 30th. To date we have sold over 30 pieces of art, awarded over $5K in prize monies and the most popular award will go to the artist with the most positive entries in the comments section. Thanks to our Art in the Redwoods’ Sponsors, we have secured funding to get our organization through the summer months.Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

BUT the time to celebrate our achievements is over and its time to reimagine this fall and 2021!

  • We have a plan to open the Gualala Arts Center doors for retail sales through our a gallery spaces starting Friday, October 2. The goal at the moment is to reopen to the public 7 days a week from 11am-4pm. We hope to start having revolving exhibits and selling art through our retail galleries with Global Harmony Sculpture Gardens open 7 days a week as well.
  • Exhibit application deadline for 2021 is Sept 30, and accepted proposals will be notified by October 31. The current plan is to have exhibits up for 2-month periods at the Dolphin and Burnett & Jacob Foyer Galleries at the Gualala Arts center. Openings will alternate months so that every month there will be an opening day the first Saturday of the month 11-7pm. Then gallery hours will go back to 11-4pm. The current plan for our large group exhibit will be a version of our successful Online! Exhibits and will remain up for 3 months for COVID-19 safety and county and state guidelines.
  • Baku Online! Concert Sept 27, 4pm will be our first Gualala Arts simulcast. Gualala Arts is experimenting bringing live entertainment back to the Gualala and on to your favorite device in the comfort and safety of your own home. Baku will help us close our Art in the Redwoods Online! the winner of the Peoples’ Choice artist will be announced at the concert.
  • Gualala Arts Saville Kitchen to reopen! Gualala Arts is preparing to reopen our commercial grade kitchen. The Global Harmony Culinary Guild is planning a monthly drive by dinner with offerings from around the globe for curbside pick-ups. Check for details coming soon.
  • Festival of Trees is being re-imagined “Holiday Retail Wonderland” and introduce COVID safe shopping! A live tree is being picked out and plans to deck the halls are commencing. The ever-popular tree decorating competition will return, and artists are being invited to set up booths with their shopping offerings sans artists.
  • Workshops Online! are being planned for 2021. The Memorial Mezzanine Classroom is being converted to a digital classroom for our artist instructors. The plan is to create an interactive environment where teachers and students can focus on what is important to our teachers. Teaching and connecting with the students rather than just presenting digital demonstrations is our goal in bringing that spirit of exchange into the mix.

These are uncertain times for all of us to say the least. The board and finance committees are making prudent decisions with our Gualala Arts assets. If you find that you are in a position to help with the loss of our revenue stream, it would be greatly appreciated. We are looking to continue our mission – to promote public interest & participation in the arts since 1961 – well into the future.

WE make a difference with our choices.


The September letter from David ‘Sus’ Susalla, Exec. Director, Gualala Arts

Download letter as PDF

Dream Big…or Stay Home?!

I am very proud of what we accomplished this spring and summer.  We had 2 goals – move the Dolphin Gallery and host the 59th Annual Art in the Redwoods.

First up we moved out of a spot the Dolphin was in for 40 years, found a new home for gallery, rehabbed the space, moved fixtures in, repopulated inventory of artists, created a COVID-19 safe retail space and set up 3 monthly gallery exhibits.

Next we needed to re-imagine Art in the Redwood into a COVID-19 safe event.  We envisioned an Online! exhibit and curbside pick-up fundraiser dinner.  We secured a new website, sorted through dozens of online platforms, created new call to artists, created new judging criteria, assisted 120 artists to present 398 pieces of art, secured judges and sponsors for awards, cut over $5K in prize checks and sold over 10% of entries so far.  We served up 142 to-go fundraiser dinners from St. Orres paired with wonderful Woodenhead wines.  I am proud to say that with a few more sales this month it looks like we may just make our regular anticipated financial Art in the Redwoods budget this year!

Now it is time to re-imagine our fall and 2021. 

New Goals Re-imagined:  Re-open Gualala Arts galleries for retail sales, open commercial grade kitchen, host interactive workshops and simulcast live concerts.

When Holly Stiel proposed the exhibit in 2019 entitled “My Valuables What Matters,” including sculpture, photography, poetry, short story, and music I was moved by the idea. It was the artists’  (Holly Stiel and Peg Videtta) response to the many wild fires in California. Little did I know that when we chose the date for the show, (October of 2020) that it would be the uncannily synchronistic timing to re-open the Arts Center with something as thought provoking, as re-assessing what is important to us during these many existential crises.

Since we have all been assessing and re-assessing these very thoughts, we are including a community collage that will be ever changing and will be up for the entire exhibit.

I don’t know about you but I have had an awful lot of bizarre dreams these days.  It is a delicate dance to dream big and executing safely.  Never before has it been such a challenge for me to walk that line of taking peoples’ visions and rallying volunteers and staff to execute these dreams to reality.

Together, we will continue to do our best to create a platform for artists to share art, SAFELY!

David Sus Susalla
Executive Director

David “Sus” Susalla

Executive Director, Gualala Arts


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