Bette Center Reinvigorated
Bette Center Reinvigorated
The Frank Bette Center for the Arts held its first event since its closure in March last Friday, Aug. 12, with a reception for its annual Plein Air Paintout exhibition.
Paintings featured in the exhibit captured various scenery throughout Alameda. Awards were given out at the ceremony to artists for their work, which was mandated by exhibit rules to be created between Aug. 1 and 6.
Anette Power won the Best of Show award for her painting “Peachy Parking.” Justin Pastores won the Frank Bette award for his “Webster and Santa Clara” painting. Chuck Kovacic won the Alameda Award for “5 o’clock Shadow.” Other winners included Yvonne Lee (Island Award), Paul Feinberg (PaPo Award) and Pastores again (Quick Draw Artists’ Choice Award). The works of art will remain on display until October.
The event went smoothly, according to Margaret Fago, president of Frank Bette Center’s board of directors. What made the night more special was that it served as the de facto grand reopening of the center. The Frank Bette Center for the Arts, located at 1601 Paru St., was closed on March 11 by the city of Alameda. The city closed the center down because they failed several code violations, according to Fago.
“We had several issues with the building,” said Fago. “This was definitely not the city’s fault.”
Fago said the building did not meet the city’s code due to electrical issues, problems with the outside stairs, plumbing, ventilation and other violations.
The center’s board estimated the building needed $25,000 worth of renovations to make the fixes needed to be up to code. So the board started fundraising.
“We took a three-pronged approach,” said Fago. “We started a Gofundme, we contacted people in the community to donate and we accepted donations on our website and social media.”
The fundraising effort paid off as the center received about $35,000 in donations. The board used the funds to fix the electrical work, the upper outside deck, the outside stairs and buy a new water heater among other things.
“We also used the money to pay for expenses,” said Fago. “We had to pay the mortgage, the insurance and Comcast.”
Fago said the board was able to find locations for most of the planned exhibits, but two group shows had to be canceled.
“We had to cancel some art classes as well,” she said. “We were concerned some shows wouldn’t come back to the center.”
Nonetheless, the reopening of the center has put the board at ease for now.
“It’s a sense of relief,” said Fago. “We kept expecting it to happen and it finally did. It still feels like (the reopening) didn’t happen.”
Fago said she is thankful for the showing of support from the community during the center’s hiatus.
“That was the one silver lining,” she said “Getting that sense of support from the community.”
Drawing, watercolor and oil painting classes, as well as poetry readings and other regular events are scheduled to begin next week.
Frank Bette, a native of Germany who came to the United States in 1927, lived in the Victorian home turned art center. Bette studied painting and sculpture before he enlisted in World War II. After the war he moved around and settled in Alameda in 1950.
Bette lived in the Victorian and operated it as a gallery.