Last spring, when the gallery “Take Aways: Art to Go!” temporarily closed due to the pandemic, Pajaro Valley Arts (PVA) was unsure what the future held. But this year, at the eighth annual gallery exhibition, PVA has been able to reopen its doors and reunite Santa Cruz residents through art.

“Take Aways: Art to Go!” is an annual fundraiser for PVA that presents and sells the work of numerous local artists.  

“There is a lot to look at and there’s a huge variety. We really tried to get a lot of diverse styles in there,” said co-curator Chris Miroyan. “Many of the people that come to the show as spectators will not necessarily be artists, and they’re not going to necessarily want to get back into their studio. But they will appreciate the beauty of this work.” 

Co-curator Chris Miroyan with artist Joshua Moreno at the Take Aways 2019 art gallery. Photo courtesy of Pajaro Valley Arts.

Poets, painters, singers, actors, and authors were all welcome at the exhibition and given a space to channel their experiences during the pandemic.

Linda Christensen, a local Santa Cruz painter, has gallery pieces that focus on healing your inner child. In her art, Christensen concentrates on recreating the childhood she always wanted. Inspired by the stability of the horizon line, Christensen takes comfort in the Santa Cruz beaches, which appear often in her works.

“The story of the work is based on my emotions, by painting the stance and pose of a feeling person I can experience my own personal feelings,” Christensen said. “The paintings will usually have patterns and to me, this symbolizes stability and predictability.” 

She had been exhibiting her work outside of Santa Cruz for several years before discovering PVA three years ago, which she describes as a support system and a center for arts culture she had been missing in her life. She believes that the gallery provides not just talented artists, but also confidence and fellowship, which she felt a lack of in studios.

Co-curator Jane Gregorius agrees with Christensen and has been working with PVA for the last 20 years. Although PVA produced several shows this past year, in-person attendance was severely limited by COVID-19 protocols. This year, PVA saw only about five percent of their previous annual attendance, but they remain excited to continue their gallery throughout the year and provide artists with a space to display and sell their work.

 Jane Gregorius and friends pose inside of the Take Aways 2019 art gallery. Photo courtesy of Pajaro Valley Arts.

“[The gallery] is very visual, it’s a feast for the eyes. A lot of two-dimensional things, paintings, drawings, printmaking prints,” said Gregorius. “There’ll be some very interesting sculpture, glass, and ceramic, and one person has this filigree paper that does a lot of really exciting kinds of things.”

Gregorius and fellow co-curator Chris Miroyan worked with nearly 76 artists for this exhibition, providing over 719 pieces to sell at the gallery. 

At Take Aways, artists bring four to eight works of art for the exhibition, and their art is taken away the moment it is sold to the gallery viewers. About 70 percent of the selling cost is paid to the artist, and the remaining 30 percent is donated to PVA in order to continue their programming.

Christensen sold more than 17 of her pieces before the show even opened. 

Christensen said that selling her art with the aid of PVA helps her to feel seen, and refers to this as the “other hand clapping.” 

“It’s hard to create and then be appreciated for your unique ideas when there is no audience,” said Christensen. “We are performers to a degree and the making of the art and the selling of the art completes the experience.”

All pieces are $300 or less and PVA also hosts a raffle, with tickets available throughout the show. All raffle pieces are donated and raffle ticket sales go to sustaining PVA and participating local artists. The drawing will be held on the last day of the show, May 23.

If you have the opportunity to attend from April 9 to May 23, the gallery will be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. by appointment only. The gallery is frequently posting on Instagram and Facebook and there will be a virtual walk-through available on their website here.