For 25 years, Joyce Gatto has worked tirelessly to make Lathrop – the onetime sleepy little town that lived in the shadow of its larger neighbors – a destination for artists from throughout Northern California.
And she’s worked just as hard to make it a place where artists want to live and work – a place where those who find the inspiration have a welcoming community of fellow artists to support them in their endeavors.
If her work in thinking up and putting together the annual Mayors Art Show – which averages 160 submissions every year from seven different counties – is any indication, her work hasn’t been in vain.
The longtime Lathrop resident and artist is currently working to put something special together for the silver anniversary of the event that has been such a big part of her life. From meetings with the committee putting everything together to solidifying the team of volunteers that makes the annual event a reality, Gatto has high hopes that the milestone year for the event – which will begin accepting submissions on April 27 and open for a nearly two-week from April 30 through May 11 – will be the best one yet.
“What makes me feel good about doing this is knowing that the first year we didn’t have any submissions from Lathrop, and now we have Lathrop artists that have blossomed out to do this full time and make a living from it,” Gatto said. “It’s great to have people bring their art from out of town – we have people from as far south as Chowchilla and west to Santa Cruz all the way up to Sacramento and nearly every foothill town there is come every year – but I love seeing our Lathrop artists doing well.
“It’s something that people look forward to, and we want to make this year the most memorable one yet.”
While Gatto admitted that part of her drive in staying involved after so many years is to make sure that the event continues on, she doesn’t’ ever have to worry about her influence not being remembered by the people of Lathrop.
As part of the new city hall building that was constructed on the west side of I-5, staff felt it prudent to include an art gallery as part of the building and the decision was made to name it after Gatto for her work in the field and her tireless dedication to advancing the arts.
To date, there are almost 30 art pieces hanging inside of that gallery, most of which have been purchased by the City of Lathrop through the mayors that have helped steer the city towards its currently thriving position – choosing one submission, every year, that will be retained for the residents to enjoy for years to come.
While Gatto enjoys the fact that there are artists now in Lathrop, she loves the fact that there are now people who collect art both from the show and elsewhere – a testament to the embrace of the community after 25 years of presenting them something close to her.
“We have people former mayor Gloryanna Rhodes who collects things, and Susan Dell’Osso makes sure that she picks something up every year,” Gatto said. “It’s just come such a long way from where we started, and we’re excited about this next year and where it is going.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.