New Exhibit Brings 1960s Art Movement to Chico – Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO – An art movement that came to life in San Francisco in the 1960s and early 1970s is taking center stage with a new exhibit at the Chico Art Center. The works featured in the exhibition titled “Visionary Art Legacy” are described as being inspired by the psychedelic era, spiritual awakenings and the search for deeper meanings in life.

The show started on August 21 and will be open until September 19. Co-produced by husband and wife, Nicolai and Marion Larsen, with the Chico Art Center, the show features the work of 10 Northern California artists.

Nicolai Larsen, whose work is also featured in the exhibition, said the exhibition was originally planned for 2019 but ended up being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the show was canceled and the art center temporarily closed, Larsen said the show continued to evolve.

“The works leaned towards a kind of color vibration,” said Nicolai Larsen. “We wanted it to be uplifting because there’s so much going on now. Through the show, we can bring happiness to the community and so far it has been very well received.

Marion Larsen added that with the ongoing disasters, especially the Dixie Fire, she thinks art can be a great way to heal.

The work of Gary Graham and Susan Kelk Cervantes is on display Tuesday, August 31, 2021. Graham and Cervantes are two of 10 artists featured in the Visionary Art Legacy exhibit at the Chico Art Center in Chico, CA. (Riley Blake/Enterprise-Record)

“One of the things we’ve seen with the ongoing disasters around us is the impact and the level of anxiety it creates for all of us,” Marion Larsen said. “This show is a healing force that can help, especially if you spend time and sit there with just one or two paintings and receive that within you. It really helps. You come out feeling stronger.

Artists featured in the show include Susan Cervantes, Geoffrey Chandler, Margaret Daley, Ann Erpino, Gary Graham, Mark Henson, Nicolai Larsen, Garret Moore, Paul Nicholson and Mark Roland.

All of the performers on the show met while living in San Francisco before individually moving to Northern California. With the selection made up of various forms of classical painting, Marion Larsen said one of the highlights of the showcase is seeing the traditional forms of classical paintings mingling with the visionary art style.

“Artists either went to their own personal art school as in the case of Paul Nicholson, or they went to study with a specific master from previous generations of artists,” said Marion Larsen. “It shows in the work. The technical ability of each is quite amazing.

Nicolai Larsen said that while the style emerged from San Francisco in the late 1960s, its influence can be seen across art history, pointing to the 15th century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch.

“This style has been around for generations. You can go back to Hieronymus Bosch who was a surrealist but he was also a visionary with ideas that no one had ever seen before. When you think of a visionary, you think of someone like Einstein. He was a visionary,” said Nicolai Larsen. “I would never consider myself a visionary, but I consider it a school – a style of art. I’m a landscape artist, but I also like to incorporate weird, dreamlike things – fish flying in the sky .Things that are fantasy.

A talk has already taken place in support of the show with artists Mark Henson and Mark Roland and is available to view via the Chico Art Center website.

A second talk with Garret Moore and Gary Graham on the importance of being an artist these days will take place September 12 at 4 p.m. and can be viewed via Zoom or join us by visiting the Chico Art Center website.

The Visionary Art Legacy show will be open until Sunday, September 19 at the Chico Art Center located at 450 Orange St., Suite 6, Chico. Hours of operation are Tuesday-Friday 12-4 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

For more information on the Visionary Art Legacy exhibit or the Chico Art Center, call 895-8726 or visit

Norma D. Ross