During the early days of the pandemic when residents were asked to shelter in place, many people turned to artistic expression to help them fight the boredom and uncertainty that was so prevalent; however, one outlet that was a haven for so many closed temporarily.
Arts Council Menifee was established in 2010 to give local artists of all kinds a chance to showcase and share their talents with others. Members of the nonprofit work to fulfill its mission of bringing the arts to Menifee and local artists to the public through advocacy, enrichment and opportunity.
John M. Tribelhorn, president of the board of trustees, and his wife Lynda, who serves as secretary, have lived in Menifee since 1991. The couple, whose love for the arts attracted them to many ACM events, said they contributed what they could before becoming members in 2016.
“Neither Lynda nor I are artists of any type, but we have supported music in Menifee since our son (John J. Tribelhorn) was young,” Tribelhorn said. “He grew up in Menifee from the age of five and was involved in music here from elementary school through high school and now as department chair of music at MSJC. We do enjoy art, plays, literature and music and have traveled to museums and events throughout Southern California.”
The nonprofit organization met in the north annex of the city’s Kay Ceniceros Senior Center for its monthly meetings and other events and used the main building for art receptions. Then the entire community center was closed in mid-March to all classes, meetings and events due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It wasn’t difficult to see the writing on the wall given all the news coverage,” Tribelhorn said. “The main warning came when April’s Menifee Music and Arts Festival, which we were a part of, was canceled.”
Having to call off popular events they were organizing was a true disappointment, according to the couple.
“We were getting ready for our spring art reception which involves hanging new paintings in the community center and organizing artists to display their art,” Tribelhorn said. “Our summer event also was canceled, and quite frankly it is hard to know right now when we may be able to have one as they are held in the community center.”
Menifee’s Got Talent and the annual Menifee Arts Showcase were also canceled. Menifee’s Got Talent is one of the few ACM events that has an admission charge. It features many musical acts, dance troupes and spoken word. The arts showcase was scheduled to be held at the Countryside Marketplace, featuring an art walk and three performing stages.
Even before the shutdown, Dawn Smith at the Menifee Valley Community Cupboard, proposed an idea of a shared space with ACM. Tribelhorn said the center had additional space available most of the year.
“Her proposal was for ACM and MVCC to partner to use the space, so we now have the Menifee Art & Boutique featuring art, jewelry and crafts from our members and also fine art from the MVCC (thrift) store down the way,” he said. “(ACM members) Kathleen Crain and Mary Carnes coordinated with Dawn and Cheryl Hussey to create the space and operate it. Dawn is a current board member of ACM and one of the founders and Cheryl runs the MVCC Thrift Store.”
From October through December, MVCC uses most of the space for its holiday store, but ACM will maintain a presence there with art that reflects the holidays as well as provide volunteers to work in the collaborative space.
“Extending our memberships (by four months) created goodwill and opening the boutique in August even brought in a few new members,” Tribelhorn said. “A few annual events bring in a small amount of income, but memberships are our key to survival. There are multiple levels of membership from $25 to $1,000. The $40 membership is for displaying artists. All the others are for providing support for all our events because even if it’s free to get in, it’s not free to put it on.”
ACM conducts its monthly board meetings on the third Tuesday of each month at the boutique, while practicing social distancing and wearing facial coverings.
“We have no expectations of when we could do anything in person other than the boutique, especially considering a large percentage of our members and supporters are in the high-risk category,” Tribelhorn said. “Given the circumstances we face due to COVID-19 restrictions, we can’t have our usual events. I don’t know that a small organization like ours can do anything but ride out the pandemic until large gatherings become safer.”
“Seeing people coming together for the Menifee Art & Boutique has been great. I think it’s a giant leap of faith to open during the pandemic,” Tribelhorn said. “We try and publish everything we are doing on social media and our website to attract attention, but it can feel like whispers in a crowd.”
He said the group welcomes input that would be of benefit to the community and Arts Council Menifee.
“We are constantly looking for ideas that would bring in money to ACM while also helping local artists,” he said.
The Menifee Art and Boutique, 26928 Cherry Hills Blvd., in Menifee is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing are required upon entrance.
For more information, call 951-290-2781 or visit http://www.artscouncilmenifee.org.