Performing Arts and Visual Arts: It's All Here

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Local First Visual Arts Expositions

Ever wondered about the artists behind the art? Our local artists have captured the sights of life in the 209 and beyond with their brushes, pencils and cameras and we introduce you to the artist behind the art. Read about them in Who's Who & Who's New and learn about what makes them tick (and what makes them ticked). Check out their paintings, their sketches, their photos, their sculpture and their fabric art here on and keep an eye peeled for our upcoming TV and radio show: Local First 209. We are blessed to bring you the best in the west so be our guest.

Artist Spotlight: Chella Gonsalves

Chella Gonsalves is a graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education. She came to California in 1956, and over the past 40 years, while teaching, also exhibited and won many awards with her own work in competitive regional and national art shows. Her works are in many private collections.

Mission: to record the story of a vanishing land

"A family homestead, a tank house, a San Joaquin Valley dairy, a beautiful, majestic eucalyptus tree, or a lovely hillside, all are soon to be destroyed to make way for the construction of business parks, new subdivisions, a parking lot, or a major superstore. As a witness to this urban encroachment and seeing the rich valley soil of our ancestors vanish, my emotions compel me to record visually the landscape of our forefathers. These sights, lights, shadows, sounds, smells, colors, and moods must be preserved. Someone must speak for the land. This is my mission. I am speaking for the land." To see more of Chella's art, click here.

Rhett Owings: One of Turlock's Award-Winning Artists

Rhett Regina Owings paints the California landscape capturing the beauty she sees around her. Her favorite mediums to work in are oils, pastels and acrylics, but she sometimes dabbles with watermedia. Born and raised in California, Rhett graduated from San Francisco State with a major in Art. She taught art in public school for many years before retiring to work at her art. Over the years she has studied with many artists including Susan Sarback, Dean Packer, Chuck Waldman, Gil Dellinger, Reif Erickson, Brian Blood and others. She has won many awards at local shows and her work can be found in private collections around the USA, England and Australia. Rhett Regina Owings is a great example of some of our local talent. To see more of Rhett's paintings, visit her web site by clicking here.

Local Singer/Songwriter Spotlight

No Lookin' Back by local singer/songwriter Joe Gums

Watch and listen to acoustic folk rock singer/songwriter Joe Gums from Lodi as he shares a couple of his original songs from his new CD No Lookin' Back. Video interview by Modesto's Local Rewards and Stan Countz. Edited by Ryan Herd.

Local First encourages local talent in all it's many forms, from performing arts to visual arts and everything in between. Local First plans to create opportunities to display local talent, local artists, local entertainers and local venues. We will feature local talent showcases and art and music shows throughout the 209.

Spotlight Artist: Virginia White

Virginia White has been actively painting, showing and selling her paintings since moving to Modesto in 1972. Her watercolors of architectural themes, especially those of local landmarks and landscapes in Northern California have made her work significant in this area and have attracted many collectors. Virginia is a retired art teacher from the Oakdale public schools and now spends her time as a full time artist and photographer.

Virginia loves to paint special buildings, landmarks and landscapes for people on commission. To ask her about creating an original painting for you, or someone you love, please send her an email, or contact the Mistlin Gallery in Modesto, California at 209 529 3369209 529 3369. Among her many awards in art shows are ten first place ribbons in watercolor and several Best of Shows.

She began her art career by receiving a B.A in Fine Arts and a teaching credential from California State University at Hayward, CA. She has studied with some renowned watercolor instructors, George Post, Robert E. Wood, Alexander Nepote, Rose Eden, Dan Peterson, and “Pop” artist Mel Ramos.

Virginia White's horizons continue to expand as she travels the world as a fine art photographer. She also enjoys plein air painting using oils and acrylics, often going on location with artists from the Valley Sun Catchers. To see more of Virginia's paintings, click here.

Let Local First Promote your Favorite Local Artist

Contact us to find out how Local First can promote your favorite performing or visual artist. Call Stan Countz (Modesto) at 209-596-8869209-596-8869, Dale Torres (West Side) at 209-614-1281209-614-1281 or Jonette Tornquist (Turlock) at 209-485-4120209-485-4120 for details. Shop and search for local talent on

Valley Venues: Activities and Events

Local First will feature local arts and entertainment venues such as the Gallo Arts Center, the State Theatre, the Turlock Community Theatre, Turlock Concert Association, Seasons Multicultural Center, The Denair Gaslight Theatre, Tracy's Grand Theatre, Stockton's Bob Hope Theatre and other cultural venues throughout the San Joaquin valley and foothills of central California.

Artist Profiles

Local First's community resource guide (Who's Who & Who's New) will feature profiles on visual and performing artists from the 209 area code and will introduce you their world. You will be inspired by their stories and encouraged by their spirit.