ED update on Gualala Arts

David Sus Susalla, Executive Director

An update on the state of Gualala Arts

As of March 3, 2021

Gualala Arts & Dolphin Gallery


The following is an update of our current situation as of today, March 3, 2021.

  • GREAT NEWS! Gualala Arts Center doors ARE OPEN! We are open for retail sales of art 7 days a week (11am to 4pm). The Global Harmony Sculpture Gardens also remain open 7 days a week. The Dolphin Gallery and Gift is open 5 days a week Thursday through Tuesday (11am – 4pm). Many 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 for keeping the Arts Center doors 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. In December we decided to only have one family pod per room at a time for extra caution and we have continued this request into the new year.
  • Barry Weiss passed the Gualala Arts presidential torch to Eric Wilder on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. The Annual Members meeting was a success, and we welcome our incoming board members and thank the retiring directors for their service! Barry successfully stewarded Gualala Arts for 3 years as President and was an inspiration in leadership in his last year through this pandemic. Eric was one of the first Gualala Arts Youth Artists scholarships, and we look forward to him coming full circle and at the helm of Gualala Arts as we reinvent the next chapter of Gualala Arts history to serve our coast.
  • We also welcomed our new volunteers of the year, heartbeats and created a new category: “Volunteer of the Decade,” at the annual members meeting. Along with Barry Weiss’ leadership, Joan Wood stepped up to the challenge of creating an Online! platform for our visual artists so we would not miss our 59th annual Art in the Redwoods. These two volunteers certainly earned the title of Volunteer of the Year and join a short list of volunteers of the year that will hang in perpetuity in the Gualala Arts Hall of Fame. From 2010 to 2020 he worked more events, set up more chairs, handed out more programs, helped serve more meals, took more tickets and attended more openings than another other volunteer to date! In doing so PD is an example of a true renaissance man in his appreciation of all art forms and is very deserving of this new category of “Volunteer of the Decade.” Every volunteer hour matters, and we are so grateful for our 300 plus volunteers that make up our Gualala Arts Family. For a full list of honorees this year, please see the plaque hanging on the wall in our volunteer Hall of Fame at Gualala Arts Center or by visiting our volunteers tab on our website.
  • 2021 exhibits are scheduled for 1-2-month periods at the Dolphin, Burnett, Jacob Foyer and Coleman Hall Galleries. Openings will alternate months & days so that every month there will be an opening day the First and Second Saturday of the month from 11 am to 7 pm. We managed to figure out a safe way to host large group exhibits in person AND Online! New this year: “GARTS Members Only Preview” of the gallery exhibits on the Friday 11 am to 4 pm before the public opening on Saturday.
  • The deadline for 2022 exhibit proposals is April 1 and fast approaching! Details on how to propose an exhibit idea, artist or group exhibits for the Dolphin and Gualala Arts Center Galleries can be found on our website under the “call to artist” section and “how to propose an exhibit” link. The Exhibit Committee welcomes new concepts and proposals. You do not have to be an artist to propose an idea. Proposals must be received by April 1st and applicants will be notified by April 30 for exhibits in the following calendar year. Call the Arts Center at 707-884-1138 if you have questions about the proposal process.
  • “Shelter from the Storm” exhibit was well received. We exhibited over 150 pieces of art by over 70 artists. Artists ranging in age from 2 to 82 years old displayed a wide variety of art. We had many local and traveling tourists view the art, and sales were higher than expected. Thank you to all who participated!   Plans for our next 2 group exhibits for 2021 “Gualala Salon & Refuse” and “Art in the Redwoods” are in the works and online applications for the Salon are now being accepted.
  • “Animalia Musicale: A Chorus of Critters” and “Random & Reason” March exhibits are opening Saturday, March 6. Gualala Arts members are invited to see the exhibit a day early on Friday March 5. Galleries are open everyday 11 am to 4 pm. We are also happy to give virtual tours to anyone interested via Zoom, Facetime, Facebook video chat or Instagram Live. Please call 707-884-1138 or email sus@gualalaarts.org 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 before or after hours.  We are exploring options to have the galleries open just for and your family pod; please call or email Sus if this interests you.
  • THANK YOU! We made it through 2020! Our annual fundraising letter and year-end campaign was a success! Please continue to remember us with your contributions; it is going to be a challenging 2021!
  • More good news! We have applied early and received our PPP2 (Payroll Protection Program) funding that will help us get through the first couple of months of 2021. We have also received confirmation that our first round of PPP loan will turn into a grant. Thanks to Westamerica Bank & the Small Business Association for facilitating this much-needed revenue to keep our staff employed!
  • YOU make a difference and are playing a key role in continuing the legacy of Gualala Arts. Thank you! Thank you! Thank YOU!!!

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.

Executive Director’s musing – March 2021

Inspiring Days…

I absolutely LOVE the sunny days in between the rainy days in our “winter” here on the coast. It makes me feel warm, inspired, hopeful and loved.

Let me elaborate about my upbringing that got me to this point in my life and my appreciation of the sun and its healing qualities.

I entered this world in July, during the summer of Love and in the middle of the Detroit riots. I grew up in Michigan with a sun-worshiping mom. She taught art, life skills and geography for grades 7-9. I spent my summers under pool deck chairs in forts my mom would build for me out of towels to help shelter me from the sun, while she laid in the sun lathering herself with Hawaiian Tropic sun tanning oil.

This went on for years. I eventually joined the swim team and became a sun worshiping, swim meet-tanned, tow-head and loved either swimming in the pool, lake or laying in the sun myself all summer long.

Well, as you may know, Michigan winters can get very cold, snowy, bleak, dreary, icy, and down right miserable to live in. So, every year during our spring breaks, we would load up the family wagon and drive 24 hours to Florida for…you guessed laying in the sun! We usually only had about a week down there, but man, was it a much needed break from the gray and cold of our Michigan winters.

Being the creative art teacher and a little wild & crazy middle school teacher. Mom came up with a way for us to get a “base” tan before we left for Florida so we would not burn so much on the first couple of days.

She would take the family wagon down to Sears and ask at the loading dock for a empty, sturdy refrigerator box carton. They helped us load it up, tie it on the roof and off we went down the slushy, iced roads of Michigan, up our driveway where we unloaded our treasure into the garage.

For months Mom would watch the coupon section of the newspaper, save up the ones for heavy-duty tin foil and would buy rolls in anticipation of our project awaiting us in January.

I was so excited on that one special Saturday in January when she would say, “Its time.”   I remember her grabbing the favorite bread knife, “this one works the best” and we would put on our snow boots and walk across the snow filled driveway to the garage. There it was – our prize refrigerator carton box that would be transformed and would transport us. She carefully inspected it and decided which side needed to go. She would use that bread knife like a saw and remove one of the four sides leaving about 16 inches and one sturdy end intact.

Then, we would begin the meticulous process of lining the inside of the 2 walls, the end, and the floor with (shiney side up of course) foil. Being very careful not to rip it and keeping it straight, we would staple the ends and then run tape along the edges to hold it in place.

We would stand back and marvel in what stood in front of us. Our very own sun, traveling, transporting device that would take us to that warm, calming climate we so desired. On sunny, weekend days, Mom and I would prepare a picnic lunch, put on our bathing suits, lace up our snow boots, wrap up in down jackets and make the trek across the snowy yard, open the garage door and then drag out our sun transporter onto the cold, slippery driveway and position it just right so the sun would not cast any shadows inside. We would take off our down jackets and toss them into the back end of the box (to use for pillows) and enter our sundeck filled with warm, healing rays of the sun to have lunch.

I remember how magically bright and instantaneously warm it would be. It was like we jumped into magical spaceship built for two that would take us to any beach or pool deck in the world we desired! I remember the year when my mom said, “David, I think this is the year that we are going to build you, your very own Sun Machine!” I remember having mixed emotions about this…feeling like I must be really growing up but, I could not help feeling like I was getting thrown out of the proverbial nest.

After we had 2 sun machines, we would take turns stepping into the snow to twist our boxes to align them just right to remove the shadows for maximum sun rays to enter every 15 minutes. We would time the sun and plan our days around the shadows cast by the leafless branches of the towering bare trees.


Now you have a little glimpse into why I like the sunny days in between the rain. You also know what I am thinking about and feeling when you see me sitting in the sun in a chair at the Dolphin, on a terrace at the arts center, at the beach, on my deck, on a bluff top or sitting on Susalla bench on the bluff trail overlooking our Gualala River.

When you see me worshiping the sun…I am transported to a wonderful place, sitting next to my mom, enjoying the warmth, feeling inspired and full of love & hope.

I hope that each of you also find inspiring days full of love & hope…