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

Executive Director Letter – January 2021

Happy New (Phew!) Year . . .

We are starting off 2021 with a general call to artist exhibit at the Gualala Arts Center, “Shelter from the Storm”, art created in these turbulent times. I could not think of a better exhibit to process what we are all experiencing at the moment and have gone through this past year.

I am a firm believer that art is a safe way to deal with some very heavy topics in society. Art has a way of articulating our feelings and emotions that transcends words, conversations and conscious thoughts.

When thinking about writing my ED letter this month, I ran across this excerpt from

Art influences society by changing opinions, instilling values and translating experiences across space and time. Research has shown art affects the fundamental sense of self. Painting, sculpture, music, literature and the other arts are often considered to be the repository of a society’s collective memory. Art preserves what fact-based historical records cannot: how it felt to exist in a particular place at a particular time.

I hope you take your time to share with our community what you have “felt” during the past year. If you have not created something to share, I hope you will take this “call to action” and create something, anything that comes to you and articulate it and manifest it into this realm as something physical to share.

It is one thing to process feelings by creating art but, by sharing art with your greater community as well, it takes on a whole new meaning and impact for us all.

I cannot thank each of you enough for believing in the arts and helping us get through 2020 and giving us hope for 2021.

Together we have proven that we can get through this with creativity, generosity, kindness and gratitude and of course my favorite, LOVE.

I look forward to rising to the occasion, with all of you, and going into this New Year with creative optimisms lifting our spirits to whatever the next day brings us.


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The following is an update of our current situation as of today, December 30, 2020.

GREAT NEWS! Gualala Arts Center doors ARE OPEN! Well, with that said, we are closed for the first 2 weeks of the year getting ready for the “Shelter from the Storm” exhibit.  We will re-open for retail sales 7 days a week (11am to 4pm) on January 16. The Global Harmony Sculpture Gardens remain open 7 days a week. Thanks to the staff, artists and volunteers for creating a safe environment to embrace our challenges and rising to this occasion!

• “Safety First” is the common theme to keeping the Arts Center open! The staff at Gualala Arts has created a safe environment to stroll the halls with each room having: fresh Pacific breezes running though open doors, ceiling fans spinning above, air purifiers, sanitizer at entrance, central heat with dedicated furnace, ventilation filters, masks required from front gates of property, one person allowed in restroom at a time, requested 6 feet apart outside and 12 feet inside, We have literally been up all night thinking of ways to go above and beyond any requirements for the safety of our volunteers, staff and visitors. New for the second half of December we decided to only have one family pod per room at a time for extra caution.

Festival of Trees was re-imagined into a “Winter Wonderland” for a fun, family friendly, safe shopping experience that was open for 6 weeks instead of 2 days! This event was a smashing success and visitors really appreciated the extra efforts in creating a fun, safe environment.

Contracts have gone out for 2021 to have exhibits up for 1-2-month periods at the Dolphin, Burnett, Jacob Foyer and Coleman Hall Galleries. Openings will alternate months so that every month there will be an opening day the Second Saturday of the month from 11am to 7pm. Then gallery hours will go back to 11 to 4pm. The current plan for our large group exhibits is to be held in person.  We are starting some thing new this year and having a “GARTS Members Only Preview” of the gallery exhibits on the Friday before opening to the public.

“Shelter from the Storm” exhibit opens to the public on Saturday January 16. Gualala Arts membership is invited to see the exhibit a day early on Friday January 16. We are happy to give virtual tours to anyone interested via Zoom, Facetime, Facebook video chat or Instagram Live.  Please call 707-884-1138 or email to set up a time.  We are also happy to arrange an appointment to view exhibit at the Dolphin or Gualala Arts Center for a private tour.  We are exploring options to have the galleries open just for and your family pod, please call or email Sus if this interest you.

Our annual fundraising letter hit the mail early and it worked! This year end turnout was fantastic with large donations from Rich & Connie Schimbor, Andrea Lunsford, Jane & Wayne Novak appreciated securities and many, many, many other checks received in the past month!  YOU ALL truly make a difference, and we raised 100% of our current “2020 annual year end campaign budget!” Please continue to remember us with your contributions; it is going to be a challenging 2021!  YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

We are applying for new state and federal grants and chances are looking up for another round of PPP.  We have applied and received confirmation that our first round of PPP loan will turn into a grant.  Thanks to Westamerica Bank for facilitating this much-needed revenue to keep our staff employed!

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 our revenue stream loss, 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.


David “Sus” Susalla

Executive Director

Gualala Arts

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