A number of artists’ groups form a relationship with just one cause and one charity, and build on this dynamic. It works well. But Mendocino Eco Arts finds that it benefits from embracing several area groups working for great causes.
MEA member Deborah Nord painting on location
It’s not the only way this group is different from most conservation-minded artist groups. Mendocino Eco Arts (MEA) has abstract painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, and even neon artists on its roster. The common denominator is that they all love nature and want to protect it in their area. And this catholic attitude is exemplified by the group’s leader, Maeve Croghan. “I begin my paintings outdoors, then finish them in the studio,” she says. “We have watercolorists, photographers. We have sculptors in the group, which makes for nice variety in visual impact. All our members are excited and proud to be a part of the group.”
“Favorite Walk,” by Maeve Croghan
“Mt. Vision Glow,” by Maeve Croghan
The area around Mendocino, California, is picturesque, and a passion for this land is what unites MEA’s members. “My idea for doing this was inspired by my love of nature. I chose to live close to a big natural area,” says Croghan. “My paintings are of nature and I wanted to give back to that. Other artists felt the same way; we wanted to do something about it, we wanted to put money into saving natural spaces. It started when funding for local state parks was being cut drastically. A lot of parks were in danger of closing. We’ve given thousands of dollars since we began in 2010.”
Maeve Croghan painting on location
These last four years have been busy ones for MEA. They work with four local groups that help protect nature: the Mendocino Area Park Association, the Salmon Restoration Association, the Mendocino Land Trust, and the Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. In essence, MEA’s involvement with several groups is simply an effort to “share the love.”
Juriaan Blok painting near Big River
“We’re working in a small community, so people know each other,” says Croghan. “We’re not being selective in working with just one group. We are reaching out to as many organizations as possible in our support, and not hurting anybody’s feelings. We want them to realize we think they are all doing really good work.”
Nobody feels slighted, nobody gets burned out.
Suzi Long’s effort at Spring Ranch in Little River, California
“Each group has its own board, staff, and work that does its own thing, so it’s a different group of supporters with each organization,” explains Croghan. “I don’t think any of our groups is held up more than the others. The environmental groups know that and appreciate that we do it this way. We never get tired of them, or them of us, so we can put a lot of effort into each event.”
John Hewitt painting on location
The events in which MEA participates range from salmon barbecues to gala affairs at resorts. MEA members help market the events, and they donate a portion of sales to the environmental group. Artists get a higher profile, land is protected, and much good gets done.
“Winding Winter River,” by Deborah Nord
“We bring the environmental groups publicity and the space in the art world, and we sell paintings,” says Croghan. “They are nice evenings that incorporate people who support arts and love nature.”