Home » Nostalgia for a different time in Sacrament’s art scene: Belmonte Gallery panel at Time Tested Books
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Nostalgia for a different time in Sacrament’s art scene: Belmonte Gallery panel at Time Tested Books

Peter Vandenberge, Kurt Fishback, Irving Marcus and Tim Foster. Masako Yniguez, not pictured (apologies) was also on the panel.

An avant-garde art movement swept the art world in the 1960s, and its unofficial headquarters in Sacramento was the Belmonte Gallery, which was opened by Sal and Masako Yniguez in 1962.

On Sunday, The Sacramento Living Library’s Tim Foster hosted a panel discussion on the Belmonte at Time Tested Books, featuring Masako Yniguez and three artists whose work was displayed the gallery, Irving Marcus, Peter Vandenberge and Kurt Fishback.

Fishback, who is now known principally as a photographer but at the time was also a sculptor, discussed his memories of the gallery and his nostalgia for what he said was an exciting and headier time in Sacramento’s art scene.

The following is a selection of what he had to say:

"It was funny. Everything outside of us tried to pin us into pigeonholes, but all we were doing was enjoying our connection with Sal and (Masako) and making art.

"In those days, there were four art critics in Sacramento. Two newspapers and four art critics that any artists could call on the phone and say, ‘Would you like to look at my show?’ Remember? There was just all these people that were open to talking about art. I got lots of reviews by just calling people.

"There was an openness that doesn’t really exist anymore. There doesn’t seem to be real interest in local art in the Bee anymore. It doesn’t sell papers and, of course, papers are hard to sell anyway, right?

"It was a time when it was necessary to have an open space that would allow you to be yourself, and that was the Belmonte Gallery. That’s its biggest legacy, and I’ve been hungry for that kind of energy and thought, and watching gallery after gallery close in this town, there’s just no real support for art. In fact, a friend of mine (who runs a gallery) was at my house Friday morning, and he said somebody actually called the day of a Second Saturday opening to ask if he was serving wine, and that was that the determinate as to whether they were going to come to the show. I mean, it used to be that if you didn’t have cheap wine there wasn’t much of a turnout, but that wasn’t at least spoken quite that bluntly.

"I miss the ’60s for many reasons, and one of the biggest is the Belmonte, and what happened — the freedom, the love, the caring, this passion, this passion for art, for making it or discussing it or sharing it.

‘It was a different time. It was a time that will never happen again, I don’t think." 

To learn more about the Belmonte Gallery, read Tim Foster’s article in the Feb. 2010 edition of Midtown Monthly, Memories of Belmonte.

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