Blue Line Arts unveils itself to community

Formerly known as Roseville Arts, nonprofit continues to grow
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Blue Line Arts launch party

What: An evening of art, music, wine and hors d’oeuvres celebrating the re-launch of the nonprofit and gallery’s fifth anniversary

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1

Where: Blue Line Gallery, 405 Vernon St. in Roseville

Cost: Free

Info: RSVP by Jan. 30 at (916) 783-2339 or


Blue Line Arts through the years …

1969: Roseville Community Projects Association opens (in an old bank) with David Fiddyment as president

1982: Inaugural High School Emerging Artists Showcase opens

2005: Inaugural Membership Show opens

2008: Blue Line Gallery opens at 405 Vernon St. First exhibit: Art & Illusion: Selections from the Fredrick Weisman Art Foundation

2009: Inaugural Lottery for the Arts fundraiser held to raise much-needed funds

2010: Julie Hirota joins the staff and later becomes CEO

2011: After 12 years with Roseville Arts, curator Beth Rohfles is laid off due economic woes

2011: Year-round youth programming becomes available

2011: Inaugural Beach Bash fundraiser launched

2011: Nationally known ceramic artist Tony Natsoulas becomes a consultant curator for the gallery

2012: Blue Line hosts prestigious Crocker-Kingsley biannual competition and exhibit

2013: Roseville Arts/Blue Line Gallery rebrands itself as Blue Line Arts

Source: Kathleen Mazzei, operations manager, Blue Line Arts


Origin of the “Blue Line” name …

One day several years ago, as Loomis-based photographer Jim Hirschinger flew into Sacramento at night, he noticed the big blue light that illuminates from the Esquire Building downtown. The line was so simple and easy to spot — and he thought it would make the perfect name and design concept for Roseville Arts’ soon-to-open gallery on Vernon Street. Hirschinger served on the organization’s design committee.

The concept wasn’t immediately accepted, especially be some city officials. They wanted something more “frilly or frumpy” he said, reflecting on the process more than five years later. 

“But we wanted something clean and contemporary and modern so that all art looks good,” he said.

Eventually, the name “Blue Line” was accepted, and visitors can now see the concept’s implementation running up along the side of the building, beckoning visitors inside.

~ Sena Christian


On Feb. 1, in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of Blue Line Gallery opening on Vernon Street, the nonprofit organization Roseville Arts, which runs the space, will re-launch itself as Blue Line Arts and usher in a new era of cultural arts.

The gallery has continued to evolve and grow since 2008, with 20,000 people visiting the space last year alone. The Press Tribune sat down with Blue Line Arts CEO Julie Hirota, who joined the nonprofit in 2010, to talk about its rebranding.

How was 2012 for the gallery and organization?

Fantastic. Certainly, it was the best year since I’ve been here. We exceeded our budget (projection) by 38 percent, so fiscally it was great and we added additional staff and we’re recognized as a regional presence with stellar art shows.

Our visitation grew from previous years significantly. Visitation was up 40 percent. We have more children coming in all the time and more adults. Our crowning moment was the partnership with the Crocker-Kingsley competition and exhibit — between 600 and 700 people came to that (opening) reception.

So, why the name change?

Roseville Arts has a strong history in the community. First it was the Roseville Community Projects, then Roseville Arts Center, then Roseville Arts and then the opening of the Blue Line Gallery. (Our name) is unclear to the whole community. To people outside, we are the Blue Line. To people inside, we are Roseville Arts Blue Line Gallery. We needed to solidify the identity.

Taber Creative Group — Kirk Taber used to be on the board — did a lot of the labor (on the rebranding). We did several focus groups: What are we and what are we going to be? Blue Line Arts is the merging of the old and the new. It’s not like we’re moving from product A to product Z.

What’s the vision for Blue Line Arts?

We want to continue offering high-quality exhibits, young engagement and now incorporate music into (our) portfolio of what the arts are. Our intention is to be an arts organization. I’m doing studies looking at different arts organizations throughout the region — in Sacramento, in Folsom — what they do, what can we do and what can we do well? We know that people want an intimate environment that provides high-quality music. So we’re going to partner to use Roseville Theater and do some outdoor music. We’re modeling ourselves after the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

How does this fit into downtown redevelopment?

We are uniquely situated. We already have this great space that’s an anchor when it comes to cultural arts on Vernon Street. We want to be a significant piece of redevelopment downtown. Arts are part of any vibrant downtown. We want to work with the city of Roseville and do what we can to help.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Yes. I think the success of the organization is due to our strong volunteer support. At any given time, we have 40 to 120 volunteers. We also have a fantastic board of directors. They’re the keystone to making Blue Line so successful.


Five Blue Line shows to watch for in 2013

1. Landscape Interpretations by Gregory Kondos and Mya Louw

The artwork of landscape painters Gregory Kondos and Mya Louw will be displayed Feb. 21 to April 13, with the 3rd Saturday Art Walk reception 7-9 p.m. Saturday, March 16. Kondos is known for his paintings of Yosemite, the Sacramento River Delta, Pacific coastline, France, the southwest and islands of Greece — his parents’ homeland. Oil and pastel painter Louw was born in Holland and now lives in Granite Bay.

2. Totems, Plates and Teapots

The third annual Totems, Plates and Teapots ceramic exhibit and competition runs from April 20 to June 1, with an opening reception from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, April 20. The show will feature works of northern California artists who present traditional art forms in nontraditional ways, such as plates as paintings, totems as sculpture and teapots as sources of conversation.

3. Art Deco Reimagined

The Sacramento Art Deco Society and Blue Line will present a show of contemporary art inspired by the Art Deco period from June 6 to July 13. The 3r d Saturday Art Walk is 7-9 p.m. Saturday, June 15. The show will include pieces that reflect the myriad of styles from the Art Deco period, and vintage artifacts such as pottery, clothing, house wares and furniture.

4. Site 2801/Gong Yuebin & Paintings by Diana Jahns

The artwork of Diana Jahns and Gong Yuebin will run from Oct. 17 to Nov. 9, with an opening reception 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. Yuebin’s childhood in rural China informs his art, and his exploration of humanity’s past and present. Sacramento resident Jahns is deeply influenced by her Japanese heritage. She creates abstract painting and collage, and digitally generated mixed media.

5. The Music Within

A group juried show of artwork in all media inspired by music takes place Oct. 17 to Nov. 9 with an opening reception 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.