The James Kaneko Gallery offers a full house this semester

The art gallery will have eight new shows this school year


“Marble Clay Tea Set” and “Zebra Tray” by Edris Tauber are displayed at the Faculty Art Exhibit, the first Kaneko Gallery show this school year. (Photo by Jaqueline Ruvalcaba)

A stalwart presence and creative hub, the James Kaneko Gallery at American River College has cultivated a sense of community among artists and art lovers alike since the 1980s.

The COVID-19 pandemic did its best to sideline the ARC arts community, but this school year, eight in-house art exhibitions are slated, up from only three campus shows last year, putting the gallery back on its post-pandemic feet, according to Patricia Wood, director of the Kaneko Gallery, art professor and the art department chair at ARC. 

According to Wood, there has been a gradual increase to meet the current number of eight in-house shows and one scheduled online show this year.  

“We were moving slowly back to in-person shows and trying to reschedule some of the exhibitions that were, unfortunately, canceled due to COVID-19,” Wood said.

The gallery kicked off the school year with the ARC Faculty Art Exhibit, which ran through September 15. ARC and Stanford alumnus, Omar Thor Arason’s exhibition “The Uncertainty Principle” follows. It opened Sept. 19 and runs through Oct. 14. Rounding out the semester, will be the work of award-winning fiber artist and ARC alumna, Penny Hanscom, whose exhibition titled “Hanging on a Thread” runs from Oct. 17 through Nov. 10.  Finally, the gallery will feature the watercolors of Gabriel Garbow, a San Francisco artist.  His show titled “Wreckage and Reveries” will be on display from Nov. 14 through Dec. 15.

Named after James Kaneko, a former ARC ceramics professor, the gallery serves ARC and the wider arts community in a variety of ways.   

“Occasionally, we may have an event or lecture that is part of or tied to the exhibition on display,” Wood said. “Many artist talks and several workshops have been hosted by the exhibiting artists.”

The Art Gallery Management program utilizes the site, giving students practical experience in organizing exhibitions, while student interns prepare online exhibits, update the gallery website and receive guests at the gallery’s front desk. 

One such intern this semester is Ayana Gaines, who says she is interested in pursuing art education. 

“We try to build community here, and art should be fun. I like to share that with people, especially little kids,” Gaines said. “It’s been a pretty positive experience so far.” 

And then there’s the gallery’s quirky cigarette-turned-art vending machine. This purveyor of beauty and refinement accepts $10 tokens, and by the pull of a handle, dispenses miniature, cigarette packet-sized creations by the arts community’s students, faculty and regional artists.  

The former cigarette pack dispenser hails from a hair salon in Memphis, Tenn. and was refurbished by an ARC sculpture professor. 

Wood says the rehabbed relic has been temporarily moved from the main space for repairs—but not to worry, it’s just out back, having a smoke.