Kevin Heath and Stephanie Woehrmann see the Gilroy Arts Alliance
of Gilroy’s downtown.
Art is the big button that brings people together,
Art is the creator of the community, and community is the
creator of art.
Editor’s note: This story was written collaboratively by three
members of the Leadership Gilroy Class of 2011. Read the story
Editor’s note: This story was written collaboratively by three members of the Leadership Gilroy Class of 2011. The class visited the Dispatch Friday morning to get hands-on experience working as reporters, photographers, videographers, editors and page designers.
Story by Pandora Leininger, Mark Laine and Domingo Payne
Special to the Dispatch
Kevin Heath and Stephanie Woehrmann see the Gilroy Arts Alliance as one “bookend” of Gilroy’s downtown.
“Art is the big button that brings people together,” said Woehrmann. “Art is the creator of the community, and community is the creator of art.”
Heath is the President of the Gilroy Arts Alliance, and Stephanie Woehrmann is the contracted Center Administrator of the Gilroy Arts Alliance, located at 7341 Monterey St. The two have a plethora of goals for the future of the arts community in Gilroy, which includes, “bookending the other side of downtown,” with another arts building.
Heath said that he wants to focus on partnering with businesses to enhance the aesthetic, cohesive feel of downtown.
The center already has a full agenda, facilitating community events such as weekly artist “salons,” giving a space for artists to connect and share work, monthly exhibits featuring local artists, a weekly showcase of musical talent called 5th Street Live downtown on Friday nights, working with El Teatro Campesino, hosting The Limelight Actors Theater, and helping to coordinate the South Valley Open Studios Call to Visual Artists coming up in October.
The artist’s salon occurs at 7 p.m. every Tuesday and is based on Parisian salons of the 1920s. It’s an informational gathering of visual artists, musicians, poets and literary mavens to share ideas, discuss pertinent topics, create art, make music and recite poetry, according to GAA’s website.
All of the GAA’s take place on top of continuously finding ways to connect with the community, attract more visitors, and strengthen ties to local business owners.
Needless to say, they’ve got their hands full.
“We not only want to see the arts downtown, but we also want to improve downtown,” said Woehrmann.
Sitting during a Friday morning round-table conversation with the arts duo, their energy and passion radiated through the dialogue about their vision for the future of arts in Gilroy.
The two rambled off an ambitious set of goals, which includes possibly hosting a yearly art show featuring the works of Gavilan College students, raising an additional 50 percent of the $25 million needed to fund the building of a new arts center, developing an overall aesthetic for downtown, and establishing a sense of identity in the public eye.
Heath says there is ambiguity among Gilroy citizens when it comes to differentiating between different arts organizations, such as, the city-run Arts and Culture Commission and Public Art Committee.
The Gilroy Arts Alliance is not related to the latter two groups; rather it is funded by grants and outside sources, not tax dollars. For example, garlic mogul Don Christopher donated $100,000 for renovations and maintenance of their interim arts center.
One of their looming obstacles is raising enough money to erect a brand new arts building on two acres on Monterey and Seventh Streets.
“We’re nowhere near the total we need,” said Heath, who said the alliance still has a long road to travel before reach their fundraising benchmark.
“We’re not funded by tax dollars,” said Heath, who underscored the idea as a common misconception.
Despite all the challenges facing Gilroy Arts Alliance, both Woehrmann’s and Heath’s attitudes were vibrant and unwavering.
Given more time the two could have elaborated on their to-do list for hours.
“I’m excited for the community to wake-up,’ said Woehrmann. “We’re creating buzz, and being open to neighbors. I want to get to know them. This is their Arts Alliance Center.”
Call to visual arts
– The South Valley Open Studios call to Visual Artists is calling out for visual artists to participate in a new venture for artists residing in Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy. The event is a two-day sale and exhibit of local talent.
– The SVOS will take place October 15 and 16 at various locations such as the Gilroy Interim Center for the Arts at 7341 Monterey St., local wineries, restaurants and the Hoey Ranch at 2480 Hecker Pass Rd. Entry fee for exhibitors is $150. The proceeds will go towards promotions and marketing to ensure the public awareness of various locales in the South Valley on open studios weekend.
– For more information on the event, call (408) 842-6999