Pomo Basket Courtesy of Lake County Courthouse Museum
The Middletown Art Center is thrilled to announce the commencement of Water Basket which opens with a Pomo Basket Design Panel Discussion at Twin Pine Sunday, September 17, 2-3:30pm. Featured artists and culture bearers include Millie Simon, Wanda Quitiquit, Eric Wilder, Patty Ray-Franklin, Corine Pearce, Meyo Marrufo, and Buffy Thomas, with an introduction from Moke Simon. The event is free and open to the public.
Water Basket is a unique and monumental project the scale of which Lake County has not seen. The goal is to paint Middletown’s two water tanks on Rabbit Hill with 360° murals inspired by Pomo Basketry. The mural design will reflect the area’s history, people, and ecology utilizing geometric and organic shapes that are symbolic of animals and plants native to the region.
The project is a collaboration between Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, of California, Pomo artists, Callayomi County Water District, and the Middletown Art Center. It’s funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding from the Middletown Rancheria, the Water District, and public support.
“Our cultural heritage is needed to uplift our people from grief and pain. Traditional aspects must be re-established not as a textbook lesson or an artifact behind glass, but as a living art through practice,” said Middletown Rancheria Tribal Chair, Moke Simon about the project.
An open call for proposals is available at middletownartcenter.org/waterbasket. A series of workshops led by Pomo Cultural artists Corine Pearce, Meyo Marrufo, and Eric Wilder, will support Native and non-Native participants in realizing their artistic vision. Water Basket invites Native people to bring expressions of their innate cultural heritage into public space and non-Native people to learn about Pomo cultural heritage. Individual, collaborative, and intercultural or multi-generational proposals are encouraged. MAC’s intercultural staff will provide artistic and technical support to prepare a 2-D rendering, as well as materials and supplies.
“The tanks hold the water of life. Water Basket honors our people as stewards of the land and the connection that we have to the land and the water,” said Buffy Thomas, Project Coordinator, a member of Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians.
A jury composed of representatives from Middletown Rancheria Tribal Members, regional Cultural Practitioners, Water District board members, Middletown community members, the Middletown Area Merchants Association and Town Hall, and MAC artistic staff will assess proposals and select 2-3 proposals for each tank to move to public input at several Middletown locations. Final selection will be made by the Water District and Middletown Rancheria.
“As a public agency for the community of Middletown, we are seeking to beautify public space and uplift and reflect the unification, regeneration, and revitalization of our community as a whole post-fire, while recognizing the First People and original culture of this land,” said Todd Fiora, General Manager of Callayomi County Water District.
Learn more about the project and the call for proposals, RSVP for the panel discussion and reserve your spot for upcoming workshops at middletownartcenter.org/waterbasket.
Middletown Art Center is a Lake County non-profit dedicated to engaging the public in art making, art education, and art appreciation. Through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and community events, the Art Center provides a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, striving to create an inclusive and accessible space for all.
To learn more and donate to support Water Basket and other MAC programs visit middletownartcenter.org or call 707-809-8118. The MAC is located at 21456 State Hwy 175 in Middletown.