Cultural opportunities abound in Madera County from the valley floor to higher elevations. Many artists reside in the county inspired by the visual grandeur of the Sierras and Yosemite National Park.
The City of Madera, and seat of Madera County government, has a beautiful art gallery called the Circle Gallery located at 1653 North Schnoor Avenue, Suite 113, that displays and sells the works of over 40 professional artists and houses the MADERA COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL, a non-profit arts organization that provides residents and visitors access to art and culture through diverse programs and services, including an extensive visiting-artist in the schools program. The gallery hosts an annual fine art competition entitled “Celebrate Agriculture with the Arts” in September attracting artists from all over California. In November, they host the Holiday Art Affair, a pre-holiday art festival, including arts and crafts by many area artists. For more information or to check local listings for dates and exhibits, visit their WEBSITE.
Each summer the Madera County Arts Council and the City of Madera Parks and Community Services Department organize a free Summer Concert Series at Lions Town and Country Park. Concerts take place at 7:00 p.m. on alternate Sunday evenings. These concerts are funded by the generosity of local businesses and regularly include Jazz music, Rock music, Military Bands, Big Band Sounds, and Latin music. Check the Community Calendar in the Madera Tribune for exact dates and times.
QUADY WINERY located at 13181 Road 24, organizes an annual art exhibition called the “Revillier Art Exhibition” in mid-February, displaying contemporary fine art, photography and sculptural installations. The high quality of the show and the added benefit of tasting wine while viewing the work is lots of fun!
The Madera County Historical Society Museum located at 210 West Yosemite Avenue is a storehouse of artifacts ranging from farm implements to important papers and paintings from the personal collections of Madera County’s earliest residents. The museum is open Tuesdays and by appointment. The first Sunday in December, they host an open house fundraiser showcasing beautifully decorated rooms filled with antiques from their permanent collection.
The first weekend in October in Courthouse Park, next to the Historical Society, there is an annual “Fiesta in the Park” sponsored by Latinas Unidas. This event includes a day of music, cultural foods and craft booths.
Down the road in Fairmead, next to the landfill, lies the archeological dig and home of the SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY PALEONTOLOGY FOUNDATION. The site now houses the FOSSIL DISCOVERY CENTER, that contains a huge amount of interesting animal skeletons including mastodons. Tours are available by appointment, for more information call (559) 665-7107.
The Art Guild in Chowchilla organizes an Art Exhibition during the Madera County Fair each spring. Also, don’t miss the artwork on display at Koffee Kat on Robertson Boulevard.
The community also has a well-respected Summer Theater. Ticket information is available on the CHOWCHILLA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE WEBSITE.
Oakhurst has a non-profit arts agency, Vision Academy, which provides summer art classes in everything from painting classes in Yosemite to dancing and playing the flute. For more information, contact Jackie Byers at (559) 683-7071.
There is no shortage of cultural heritage in Oakhurst beginning with the Fresno Flats Historical Park on Road 427. It preserves and displays a home, printing press, barn, schoolhouse, and a blacksmith shop from 100 years ago. It is open Monday thru Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Guided tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information call (559) 683-6570.
The Children’s Museum of the Sierras on Golden Oak Drive offers hands-on exhibits for school children ranging from old telephone switchboards to archeology. Hours vary, for more information call (559) 658-5656.
Don’t forget the Thornberry Museum Sugar Pine Railroad on Highway 41 north of Oakhurst providing authentic train rides, for more information call (559) 683-7273.
Sierra Art Trails is a 501C-4 non-profit corporation run by volunteers. Their mission is to support and promote working artists in the mountain communities, while developing the area as an art destination. They raise money for scholarships and community art projects. Purchasing as Art Trails Catalogue enables you to enjoy three days of visiting local artist studios during their Open Studios Tour in mid-October. For more information visit their WEBSITE.
There are also many art galleries in Oakhurst where you can meet the local artists during the Sierra Art Hop on the second Saturday of every month from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., for more information about call (559) 683-0611.
Art Galleries in Oakhurst
The performing arts thrive in the mountains as well at the Golden Chain Theater on Highway 41 during the Summer Melodramas. For more information visit their WEBSITE
The Sierra Chamber Singers provide seasonal concerts and a Fine Art Program for Children takes place each summer. For more information on dates, contact Jackie Byers at (559) 683-7071. The Mountain Arts Chorale provides spring and fall concerts, for more information call (559) 658-7376. Moreover, do not forget about the Sierra Starlight Theater presenting Broadway Musicals on the second weekend of August and the Children’s Summer Musical Theater. For dates and times, call (559) 642-4329.
All summer long you can drive in your car or your boat and listen to Jazz on the Lake at Ducey’s at THE PINES RESORT on Bass Lake every Friday evening, May through September. The resort also has an art and antiques gallery call Good Ol’ Daze displaying the art of local artists.
In the northeast corner of Madera County along Highway 49, in Ahwahnee, you can visit one of only three authentic Ceremonial Roundhouses in California, maintained by members of the Miwok Tribe. Tours are available by appointment (559) 683-8194.
The Coarsegold Historic Museum in the original Picayune Schoolhouse displays historic farm and mining equipment. It is located along Highway 41 and open by appointment only by calling (559) 642-4488. In June, they host “Art in the Meadow” featuring music and dinner in the meadow. Artists and photographers show their art in the schoolhouse. A People’s Choice award is given out each year. Applications are due by May 1.
Inanna’s Gift Studio and Galleryhas fine arts and jewelry, classes and healing gardens located at 35572 Highway 41, (559) 673-7529
Visit the Sierra Mono Museum on Road 225 that houses a fine display of Native American basketwork. It is open Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
While you are there, stop by the Community Art Gallery, located at the old sawmill site on Road 225, open spring through October each year. For more information call (559) 877-2487.
You can find other events in North Fork too, such as seasonal performances at the Squirrel Cage Theater. For additional information about dates and times, call (559) 877-2431. Additional annual events include Poetry Reading in May at the North Fork Library (559) 877-4195, Art in the Garden in June, the Sunset Pow Wow in September (559) 855-4833, and the Fall Festival Art Show in October (559) 877-4195.