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Manteca Artist Guild work on display
Council chambers showcase art of its membership
Jean Ramey, events coordinator for the Manteca Artists Guild, is pictured with her oil paintings on exhibit at Manteca City Hall.

The Manteca Artist Guild has been a part of the area’s aesthetic landscape for more than three decades.

At one point during the mid-1980s, the guild’s reputation attracted even the attention of the then-San Joaquin County Arts Council. Through the art council’s sponsorship and participation, a tour featuring the working studios of the guilds’ members was held. The art studios of more than two-dozen Manteca Artist Guild members were highlighted complete with newspaper coverage and a brochure which featured each participating artist.

Like many service clubs and organizations, the guild has gone through membership ups and downs. Dan Voller, who took over the Artist Guild helm just two months ago, said that the current membership is down to just about a dozen. Average attendance at their monthly meetings is usually around half of that number, maybe eight, he said.

“We are looking for new members,” said the art guild’s immediate past president and self-described events coordinator of the group, Jean Ramey.
Drumming up new members is part of the reason Voller, Ramey and five other members of the guild including founder and charter member Tom Olson, are displaying some of their works in the Council Chambers at Manteca City Hall, 1001 West Center Street.

The other participating artists are Gary Wilson, Rosemarie Mauer, and Olson’s multi-talented daughters Doreen Heath and Glenda Burns. Heath, in fact, is the art guild’s current vice president.

Voller said anyone interested in joining the guild is invited to come to any of their meetings held every first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Manteca Senior Center on Cherry Lane just behind the Police Department building. The meetings are “very informal and comfortable,” Voller said. Sometimes, they also have “potlucks and parties” as well as opportunities to critique their works.

The meetings provide an excellent opportunity for “people to get together and talk about art ideas and share information,” Voller said.
Membership fee for the Manteca Artist Guild is just $10 a year. The Artist Guild is also a part of the Mayor’s Committee on the Arts.

The guild’s exhibit at City Hall is open to the public for viewing during regular business hours. The exhibit will run for the next several months.
Below are the featured guild artists with their biographies in a nutshell:

GARY WILSON started his art training early on, beginning with drawing at age 5 and oil painting at age 11. He received his first formal training from his aunt. He won his first award at a high school art show. He continued painting even after he enlisted in the Army to beat the draft and was stationed in Germany in 1971. At the end of his military stint, he took a “European out” to marry his German sweetheart, Liesl. He sold all of his paintings in Bavaria before returning to the United States in 1974, settling in California where he has resided since. He and his wife are avid travelers and have spent time in Canada, Hawaii, Ireland, Scotland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy where he accumulated enough photographs and memories to inspire a lifetime of art.

DAN VOLLER, who took over the helm as president of the Manteca Artist Guild two months ago, is an award-winning self-taught artist who grew up in California’s Central Valley. He started painting in 1984 using reference photographs and color sketches to create his varied artistic subject matter.

However, he is “anxious” to increase his plein air painting experience. Coastal getaways, mountain fishing or hiking trips, and even the rich valley farmland that he sees when he drives to and from work at the Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy where he is a supervisor, inspire his artistic imagination which has produced quite a number of award-winning paintings, many of which have been shown and sold at various area art shows. Voller works primarily in oil.

JEAN RAMEY worked for 20 years in the field of advertising, marketing and design, doing mostly   computer-generated production art. In the last few years, however, she has devoted her time to the “fine arts” of watercolor and oil painting with close-up portraiture of people, flowers and automotive subjects as her passion.

A graduate of California State University, San Jose where she received a degree in graphic design, Ramey has shown in a number of local art shows and has won several awards. Ramey grew up in Colorado, Connecticut and Indiana before moving to California to pursue her education. In addition to the exhibit at the City Hall Council Chambers in Manteca, some of Ramey’s paintings also currently grace the walls of Freedom Coffee at Spreckels Park shopping center on East Yosemite Avenue, and Frugal Frames at Marketplace shopping center on West Yosemite and Union Road in Manteca.

TOM OLSON is the recognized venerable dean of barn painters in the Manteca and surrounding areas, in addition to being a founding and charter member of the Manteca Artist Guild.

His story is a familiar one to many in the art community, whether they are artists, art collectors or supporters of the art. Olson turned his back on a thriving, lucrative career as a registered sanitarian with the San Joaquin Local health District in 1977 when he made the decision to quit his job to devote himself into earning a living as a full-time artist to support his wife and five children.

Born in Oakland, Olson grew up in Alameda and later received his Bachelor of Science degree fromCal-Poly, San Luis Obispo. After graduation, he settled in the San Joaquin Valley. He is a self-taught artist and started developing his talent since early childhood. He enjoys working in oils, watercolor and pen and ink. He gets his inspiration from nature by going on sketching trips and traveling the back roads for interesting subjects. Many of these sketching trips were taken with his daughter Doreen Heath, one of his two daughters whose works are part of the exhibit at City Hall. The other daughter is Glenda Burns. Olson’s paintings are prized by many of his admirers for their “unique style, peaceful moods and clear soft colors.”

DOREEN HEATH, currently vice president of the Artist Guild, was raised in Manteca and currentlylives in Modesto. A long-time painter and sculptress, Heath has won numerous awards in shows throughout California for her paintings and sculptures. She has a bachelor’s degree in Art and has taught art for several years in Manteca. Her two paintings in the Council Chambers exhibit were painted on location at Caswell Memorial Regional Park.

GLENDA BURNS, Heath’s sister, spent her teen years in Manteca and currently lives in Stockton. A multi-talented multi-media artist, her main interest is in using bright and dramatic colors in her pottery, paintings and wearable fabric art pieces.

 Like her sister, she has taught art for many years. She has been painting for 15 years and enjoys painting both abstract and representational works.

ROSEMARIE MAUER works in a variety of mediums ranging from florals to landscapes to whatever catches her fancy.

She has taken art classes and studied art from various teachers over the years. She says she enjoys discovering the different approaches each teacher takes and then her own style through that. “I’m blessed in being able to enjoy art,” she says.

To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail or call (209) 249-3536.