Old Time Revival

Downtown Yreka’s Artistic Side

A rich blend of frontier history and the great outdoors has long been one of the main draws to Yreka. But as more art spaces and events are establishing themselves downtown, they also deserve time and exploration when travel is once again allowed. “The arts share creativity and offer an invitation to participate in exploration, freedom and wonder,” explains Kim Presley, president of the Liberty Arts Gallery on historic Miner Street, which has produced more than 100 original exhibitions over the last five years and has become an important beacon in the community. “Art can touch everyone because there are so many different facets of it. Maybe you don’t like one kind of art, but you can get onboard with another kind of art,” explains

Talya Nicholson, owner of Bella Art Works Creative Café

in Yreka.

For those inclined to skip a fine arts gallery or museum, Bella Art Works offers family-friendly experiences and events on a daily basis throughout the year – even on Sundays. “We’ve got glass, we’ve got ceramic, we’ve got canvas and we’ve got clay for all different age groups, so anybody can take part whether you’re a great painter or just a kid finger painting,” says Nicholson. She bills the “creative café” as a fun mash up of retro soda fountain and paint-your-own-pottery or canvas studio with changing monthly events and classes. “I like to say I’m a facilitator of fun. I provide the environment, inspiration, materials and encouragement. And then of course there’s always the food and ice cream – which makes everything better,” Nicholson says with a smile. 

Nicholson bought the business from two friends in 2016, and runs it side by side with her mother, helping create the family-friendly atmosphere. “We have things you can paint from $2 up to $60 because it’s really important to me that a family of four can come in and enjoy an ice cream and paint something and spend some time together not on their phones. Even the dads who get dragged in, you can’t pry them away they get so into it. It’s fun to watch.” Nicholson also typically loves May at Bella Art Works because of Mother’s Day. “Mother’s Day is my most favorite day of the year because as my Mother’s Day gift, both of my daughters come work with me and my mom, so we put on a Mother’s Day paint brunch and lunch. The four of us are back there bouncing off of each other, and it’s great energy.” With all of the closures from COVID-19, Nicholson is hopeful the shop will be reopened by then, but in the meantime has continued to feed the artistic needs of her customers by getting creative with numerous “to-go” art and party packages.

Another experiential draw is Shoppe Serendipity, located just around the corner on Main Street. The gallery has been a stick-and-mortar cornerstone of Yreka’s art scene for more than a decade, a “one-stop shop” that features works for purchase by local artisans, as well as ongoing music and art classes. Like Bella Art Works, Shoppe Serendipity has been keeping Yreka’s art scene going this spring with canvases to go and online paint and sips. Over the years, owner Kris Taylor has also been instrumental in organizing and facilitating multiple arts-related events, including the ever-popular and expanding Art Hops, a downtown art series that traditionally runs from May through October and features local and celebrity guest artists that will return bigger and better in the 2021 season. “Yreka’s art scene has grown substantially,” explains Taylor. “We’re offering more in the way of the arts and exposure to different genres of art, and businesses are working together to help each other succeed and make events top-notch attractions.”

Presley, Taylor and Nicholson all like where they see the arts heading in Siskiyou. “I feel an optimism for the future, as we are collaborating with other artists and organizations with the goal of creating larger events through synergy and combining and sharing resources,” explains Presley, who along with Taylor and several others are helping spearhead a 10-day celebration of arts and culture throughout the county that will take place September 11-20, 2020. Called “X Days,” the festival’s long-term goal is to transform Siskiyou into a September destination for the arts, creating fresh events as well as highlighting the number of events already happening at that time, like the McCloud Mountain Bluegrass Festival and the Jefferson State Flixx Festival in Fort Jones. Nicholson agrees that people just need to get out of their houses and enjoy the local arts economy for themselves. “This county has so much to offer. Any given weekend there’s something going on. You just have to look for it.”

Bella Art Works and Creative Café 

117 W Miner St., Yreka

(530) 842-5411

Liberty Arts Gallery

108 W. Miner St., Yreka

Yreka Art Hops

Music by the Creek

Shoppe Serendipity Gallery

404 S. Main St., Yreka

(530) 598-0075

Photo courtesy of Bella Art Works

About Megan Peterson

Megan Peterson is a freelance storyteller who loves her family, her pets, and Northern California. Her favorite part of writing is finding flow, and she always relishes a touching human story. Aside from Enjoy, she’s typically busy writing and producing for television, having created more than 220 hours of on-air content on networks ranging from National Geographic to Netflix.

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