Local art groups merge

By From page B14 | December 04, 2013

Tucked into one of Georgetown’s historic buildings, Art on the Divide Gallery Cooperative, 6295 Main St. in Georgetown, has been attracting visitors for a little over three years. This small but vital group has been providing local artists and students with a venue to display their work, as well as offering workshops, demonstrations and art classes to students at the gallery and the Georgetown library.

The gallery was born three years ago thanks to a concept of Jan Rose, who worked to involve a core group of artists in the project. The energy and resources of that group provided the tipping point enabling the doors to open officially on a sunny day in July 2010.

More than 200 visitors enjoyed music by local musicians, food and beverages, door prizes and the work of local artists.

The guests were also impressed with the charm of the wooden floors, bow-front windows and brick walls of the old building combined with new track lighting and handsome wooden pedestals crafted by Golden Sierra High School Regional Occupation Program students.

Unbeknownst to visitors on that July day, they were in what had once been the second floor of the 19th century building.

Down below in a dark and spooky basement, which had been the first floor, were the spider-web covered original iron front doors.

Those doors once opened to the street but were blocked sometime in the gold mining days by an embankment. The embankment had been placed, according to local historians, to prevent the whole town being leveled in the event mining explosives once stored in the building went off.

Unconcerned about long gone explosives, visitors wandered outside to the rear of the building where they enjoyed the historic rose garden, planted by Michael Sebastian to honor his mother, Teresa Lengyel, who was the original librarian in the 19th century brick building that now houses the gallery.

What those casual attendees could not have been aware of was the time and energy expended by that initial core group that made that opening day possible.

Rose had to move on to other things in life, so Susan Polstra agreed to a partnership with Andrea Dodson to get the business part in order, Nettie Fox acted as Secretary, and huge amounts of energy and time were put in by Kristi Kolln, Penny Scribner, Jodi Reed, Doris Gorin, Kay de Lange, Chris McClellan and Criss Raintree, not to mention associated husbands.

A total of eighteen original coop members also paid initiation fees and monthly dues, and shared the work of staffing the gallery, keeping the books, the records and all myriad chores of running an establishment.

Contributions from benefactors with an interest in supporting the arts were also an essential ingredient and some of those who helped significantly in the early days were Rose, Susan Flynn, Betsy Aufdenkamp, Kathy Martin, Tom Gilchrist and Marvin Berman.

Lacking any one of these pieces of the puzzle would have meant that the gallery would never have happened, and one of the corner pieces of that puzzle was provided by the Divide Friends of the Arts and Historical Society and its treasurer, Jackie Morgan.

The group provided sponsorship for a $1,500 grant from the El Dorado Arts Council. That grant covered the paint, cabinets, lighting, etc. needed to get the doors open and provided the necessary financial cushion should membership fees slacken.

So it is appropriate that now the Art on the Divide gallery has obtained full non-profit status under the wing of the Divide Friends of the Arts and Historical Society.

This relationship is additionally appropriate because one of the goal of the friends is to promote the arts and history of the Georgetown area. The friends provides annual scholarships to graduates of Golden Sierra High School who plan to pursue a college major or minor in arts or history.

Funds for the scholarships come from a fall sale of daffodil bulbs. Many of the daffodil bulbs donated to the friends are planted by them to brighten the hills and byways of the Divide.

Long range plans of the Divide friends includes raising funds to enhance an existing savings account to the point where a museum can be built in the park which now includes the stamp mill.

Art on the Divide Gallery Cooperative is grateful to many benefactors, who have been key in maintaining the presence of the gallery on the Divide.

Current donors are Alan Johnston, Jan Rose, Betsy Aufdenkamp and Penny Scribner. Benefactors are recognized by a plaque in the gallery and of course by annual tax documents.

The cozy Gallery is between the fire station and the American River Inn.

For more information call 333-2787(ARTS) or visit the Website at

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