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“So it’s six o’clock. We’re gonna sing,” Connie Rohde chimes to the visitors in her C Gallery in Los Alamos on Oct. 18. She powers up the laptop, begins the karaoke music and leads the group:

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise. …”

The two dozen people in the room joined in, but no one would volunteer to sing a solo, even to win a prize. The song and the art show "All Kinds of Blackbirds" was part of the Los Alamos 3rd Saturdays celebrations in the historic town just south of Santa Maria.

Sharon Tate Kline teaches an art class at the gallery. She and three of her students attended the event and showed the birds they’d created just for the event.

“We have a wonderful arts community here. We just love it,” Kline said. “We have as much fun painting as we do chatting, getting to know each other.”

Doing art can help release tension.

“It’s amazing when you paint, a lot of your angst goes away. You’re into another thing. You use the right side of your brain,” Klein said.

Klein moved to Los Alamos from the Los Angeles area where she was in the garment business. She has spent 27 years in Los Alamos, at first just part of the time until she retired five years ago and found Rohde. She started by taking lessons from her and ended up teaching painting.

Laurasusan Thomas moved to Orcutt 18 years ago. She had worked as an imagineer with Disney. She joined the Thursday morning painting class a couple of years ago.

Katie Klock lives in Orcutt. She taught children’s art through an arts outreach program as well as private lessons. She also worked for the federal government.

Kelly Dixon is the newcomer in the class. She started about six weeks ago. She used to train quarter horses in Los Alamitos.

“I’ve drawn the same horse head since I was four years old,” Dixon said. “This is a whole new thing for me, and I love it. They all inspire me … Everybody comes from different places, but everybody’s the same when they get here.”

Rohde opened the gallery more than six years ago because she is inspired by art.

“Art is everywhere,” she said. “Image what it would feel like to live without art or creativity. When I spiral, get dark, making art gives me back my life force. I take that flatness, and it pumps me up. It infuses me with being alive again. I guess you could call it creation.”

She had been an art teacher at Santa Ynez High School.

“It was a fantastic chapter in my life,” Rohde said. “A couple of years after my mom died, I wanted to do something a little bit quieter.”

She teaches basic drawing and various art skills at the gallery on Wednesday mornings.

Wondering why it’s called the C Gallery? Rohde explained she had reflected on words that began with the first letter of her name. Contemporary art resonated with her, thus C Gallery.

The blackbird show was from Oct. 15-19. The “What if? … all about texture” show at the gallery at 466 Bell St. will remain until Nov. 13. The show features artwork made from packing paper, cardboard, shredded paper, torn paper and wood shavings. The next show will feature artwork made with fibers.

For more information, visit www.thecgallery.com or email connie@thecgallery.com.

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Jeanne Sparks is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. For information, call 739-1836; email jeanne@jeannesparks.com; visit www.jeannesparks.com; or write to her at P.O. Box 6437, Santa Maria CA 93456-6437.

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