“THE COURAGE ISN’T THE ABSENCE OF FEAR
IT’S HAVING THE FEAR, MOVING ON, AND STEPPING FORWARD DOING IT.”
In the late 70’s female artists were not afforded respect, they were not taken seriously. “Real” art was something men created, not women. Even the few women who managed to gain respect were still given a back seat to male artists.
The founders of Matrix decided this was unacceptable, they would not merely accept the status quo, nor would they restrict themselves to the established male dominated galleries. They took control and created their own community, their own gallery. They showed that they didn’t need the approval of the male art community to make their voices heard, they showed that “real” art knows no boundaries.
The Matrix Gallery rapidly grew to become one of the most respected galleries in the Sacramento Area, providing a critical outlet for female artists to share their tools, showcase their work, and help each other to get through the difficulties in a male dominant field.
This project showcases many of the founding members of Matrix, where they are today, and provides an example for anyone who is made to feel like an outsider, like they don’t belong. This is a showcase of courage in the face of adversity, and inspiration for all.
Forty years ago a group of Sacramento women artists formed an organization called Matrix Workshop of Women Artists. Their purpose was to provide a network for mutual support and professional development in an era when the art world and galleries were dominated by the work of male artists. Starting with just 15 artists in 1977, membership rose to over 100 by the 1990s. The group disbanded about 20 years ago and most of the women have not seen each other since then. The reunion will provide an opportunity to get re- acquainted and see former colleagues’ work.
For 25 years Matrix maintained a gallery in Sacramento, starting out at 3127 Broadway in the Oak Park area. In 1980 they were among the original tenants at the Sierra 2 Center, where they transformed a decaying building into a modern gallery space. In 1987 the gallery re-located to 1725 I Street and in 1996 moved to 1518 Del Paso Blvd.
Matrix hosted classes, workshops, lectures, a figure studio and a variety of group, themed and juried shows. It fulfilled an important function as a place where women could make their own decisions about what art they wanted to make, and have control over the space where they showed it. In addition to encouragement and networking, members found employment and exhibition opportunities in the arts. Through its many activities over a 25 year existence, Matrix served a a vital cultural stimulus for the local arts community and the city of Sacramento.
(From left to right)
Pam Johnson, Painter, founding member, active in rehab and 1980s, 1st president
Andrea Spark, Painter, founding member, active in rehab and 1980s
Marty Renault, Painter, founding member, active in rehab and 1980s & early 1990s
Maru Hoeber, Sculptor, founding member, active in rehab and 1980s, served as president
Pam Maddock, Painter, founding member, active in rehab and 1980s, retired American River College art teacher
Dixie Laws, Printmaker & Painter, founding member, active in rehab and 1980s, exhibition committee
Julia Stagg, Mixd Media, past president, active 1990s
Rita Barnes Szuszkiewicz, Installation, sculpture, photography, active in 1980s and 1990s
Barbara Milman, Printmaker, book artist, active in 1980s, day job was attorney, served as treasurer
Frankie Hansberry, Ceramic artist, public art projects, active 1990s