The Rose Experiment Unlocks Creativity
By Claudia Mosby
by Claudia Mosby
Photo: Erin Claassen
Neither a horticultural investigation nor involving actual flowers, The Rose Experiment instead seeks to sew and reap creativity throughout the community.
“We spent quite a bit of time testing different names,” says Assistant Director Julie Olson, whose sister, Bobbie Valdez, is creative director of the Redding-based nonprofit organization. “Like a rose, Bobbie is a nurturer. She wants to see things grow. As artists, we like to push boundaries, and art itself is very experimental.”
When the two discovered American violinist and composer Lindsey Stirling was to perform in a small café in San Luis Obispo, Olson says, “We realized we have not seen an artist of her stature come to Redding to play in a smaller venue. We wanted that experience here and at first thought about just creating a small-scale art and music lounge.”
They soon discovered other local artists who felt as they did about art’s significant impact on community wellbeing, and their new end goal quickly became the construction of a multipurpose arts center in the North State. “We want to create a place equally good for a date night or girls’ night out,” says Olson, “the type of venue that you would see in San Francisco or in Portland.”
Olson describes the future Rose Arts Center as “holistic,” a joining place for “all art forms and all styles. You’ll see sculpture and paintings in the gallery but we will have entertainment as well—poetry readings, music and dance.”
Currently a core team of six creatives, known as The Rose Experiment Arts Team, delivers mixed media arts presentations throughout Shasta County. Last year, the team made its public debut at Redding’s 4th of July Freedom Festival Celebration. “Instead of ‘flash mobs,’ we do ‘art mobs’ anywhere,” Olson says.
“Anywhere” encompasses an array of venues with collaborating partners on a variety of creative themes. The Rose Experiment’s Thrift Shop Fashion Show, held in May at Redding School of the Arts, featured a Project Runway-esque fundraiser with a powerful ripple effect.
“Models and artists teamed up,” says Olson. “The designers created two outfits out of materials they purchased only at thrift stores. The goal was to showcase sustainable clothing and bring attention to the non-profit thrift stores in our community while raising funds for The Rose Experiment.”
The especially creative caveat: “Artists were invited to include visual and audio components in their runway show to illustrate the artistic inspiration for their designs and to highlight the particular charity. We wanted it to be very interactive, so we encouraged live musicians or poetry readings.”
This month, The Rose Experiment launches a weekly art class series based on the work of Robert Norman “Bob” Ross, the American painter, art instructor and host of the popular PBS program, “The Joy of Painting.”
“The ‘teach and practice’ style is a fun way to learn,” says Olson. “Several people I’ve talked with have mentioned that they want something more interactive. In a group, you have access to the artist facilitating and also the other participants.”
The painting series is the latest offering in the organization’s Operation Wellness program, begun when The Rose Experiment partnered with Northern Valley Catholic Social Service to take art projects into some of the NVCSS housing communities for special needs tenants.
“The Rose Experiment’s artists provide an opportunity to unlock creativity in our folks who struggle with daily challenges,” says Jeff Dunaj, NVCSS property manager. “We appreciate them.”
The Rose Experiment believes art is at the center of a healthy community.
“It can break down any barriers,” says Olson. “We want to use art to help heal