In 2016, part time art professor Patricia Wood and art department chair Sarah Mattson took a seat in the Oak Cafe at American River College. The restaurant’s beige high ceiling held modern square light fixtures that shone down on the two professors as they discussed their day.
While they scanned the elegant paper menus, Mattson brought up the topic of Kaneko Gallery art director Mick Sheldon’s retirement, which left the full time position open. Woods gripped her menu tighter in excitement as Mattson asked her if she was interested in the position.
“I always wanted a place to show exhibitions of artists that I thought deserved to be seen,” Wood said. “At the college I can do that without having to worry about the rent.”
In 2017, Wood took over as gallery director and the full-time art professor and has since displayed various artists in exhibits at the college.
Wood said she has always had an artistic side and took art classes throughout high school. The young artist didn’t take school seriously until she graduated high school. In 1988, Wood attended Sacramento City College where her art professors pushed her to do her best. She knew from her experience there that she wanted to teach, especially at a community college.
After graduating SCC, Wood attended University of California, Davis where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in studio art and art history in 1994. Wood then pursued her education further and received her Master of Fine Arts degree at Arizona State University in 1997. When Wood graduated, however, she says she felt Arizona had little to offer art degree students so she packed her bags and with a few bucks in her pocket returned to Sacramento.
The first year Wood was back, she waited tables at Chevy’s until she got a job teaching developmentally disabled adults art at the Short Center. While there, Wood picked up gigs left and right. She would teach at the Short Center in the morning, children in the afternoon at Fairytale Town and at night she headed to the prison to teach inmates art.
In 2004, ARC had an opening for an adjunct art professor and Wood applied and got the position. Despite her busy schedule, Wood says she had always wanted to teach community college and so she gladly took on the additional work.
After Sheldon retired, his position as gallery director was offered to Wood and she accepted in 2016.
Wood says she wanted to add more diversity to the gallery rather than just having Sacramento local artists. Wood has artists from all around coming to the Kaneko to display their art for ARC students and faculty to see.
To help her run the gallery, Wood hired fine arts major Jade Jacobs as an intern in 2018. Jacobs says she admires Wood as a mentor and professor.
“She always had a connection with her students where most professors remove themselves completely,” Jacobs said. “She has made the gallery my home.”
During her time at ARC Wood has made friends with her follow art colleagues, including photography professor Jodie Hooker, who says she looks up to Wood’s teaching style.
“I absolutely love how she interacts with the students and how she can break content down to meet every student where they are and I really like that learning environment,” Hooker said.
To Wood, the Kaneko Gallery is a different environment than an ordinary gallery with modern lighting and fancy art.
“My overall impression of the Kaneko was and always has been more than an art gallery, it’s a place that students could call home,” Wood said.