ArtBeat – Big MACC

By Ed Goldman


History and art make companionable bedfellows for the next few weeks at the Mills Station Arts & Culture Center  (MACC) in Rancho Cordova, about 15 minutes from downtown Sacramento.

Curated by Cheryl Gleason, two shows are on separate floors of the long-ago grocery store, which was transplanted years ago and now neighbors the city’s Park & Ride Station. The genial and knowledgable Gleason, an artist herself, has been with the center since what she calls its “soft opening” in November 2018, and is its only paid employee. Eager volunteers fill out the roster.

The exhibit on the MACC’s spacious first floor is  “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans & WWII,” a Smithsonian traveling exhibit that shows— through evocatively revealing photography, books and documents—the faces, storefronts and memorabilia of one of this country’s most racist, politically haphazard periods. Included is President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s letter authorizing the establishment of the Japanese internment camps; in it, he seems to deliberately omit any mention of the targeted soon-to-be prisoner population: Japanese Americans, whether Asia- or America-born.

(You probably know that current Sacramento-area Congresswoman Doris Matsui and her late husband, Congressman Robert Matsui, were among those who were incarcerated in plain sight as children. They met and married years later.}

An especially heart-rending photo is in the window of a Japanese-American-owned store advertising an “evacuation sale”—and also defiantly asserting the owner’s statement, “I Am An American.” 

One flight up at the MACC,  the work of artist Joyce Campbell is spotlighted (and for sale) in her show, “The Amazing Gourd,” a delightful ensemble of painted and themed gourds (cucurbitaceae, if you’re a horticulturist or simply showing off for your date). Gourds are among our oldest cultivated plants. As Robin Sweetser writes for, they were “the early water bottles of the Egyptians (2200 or 2400 B.C.), and were traditionally used as utensils, storage containers, and dippers by indigenous peoples in North America.

“Today,” she continues, “these garden novelties can be used for many reasons from ornamental displays in autumn … to birdhouses to luffa sponges in the bath (yes, luffas are gourds!). Gourds can also be used as musical instruments (shakes, maracas, drums), vases, and bowls.”

In Campbell’s show, the gourds are simply beautiful objets d’art (see the pix), brightened with alcohol oil, cold wax and other media, and given lighthearted names by the artist, who’s been working in the field for 30 years and teaches art in her home in nearby El Dorado Hills. 

The Mills Station Building was built 112 years ago as a gathering-place for farmers and a way station place for travelers.  The MACC is open Thursdays and Fridays from 2-7 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and by appointment (call or text Gleason at 916-225-7800). The facility also hosts community events, lectures and art workshops. 

For the center’s schedule, visit its website (—and by all means, check out its newest art show before it runs out of its gourds.


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