NIAD unveils trio of innovative new exhibits


By Zach Chouteau

One of the coolest aspects of the vital NIAD art center on 23rd Street is its approach of presenting brand-new exhibits every month—always kicked off by a free reception with music and refreshments.

November was no exception, and the ‘Rich Life’ segment dropped by to discover they might have taken things to new heights with ‘The Witnesses,’ a fascinating and eclectic display inspired by the surrealist Menil Collection in Houston. Organized by San Francisco artists Cliff Hengst and Scott Hewicker, the exhibit blends the works of 10 seasoned Bay Area artists with works by NIAD artists. Blue wall paint and partitions were even added, giving the exhibit an eye-catching new look that really makes the displayed artwork pop more than ever.

This reporter also had the chance to meet the charismatic Dorrie Reid, among the NIAD artists included in ‘The Witnesses.’ In addition to her creative talents, which include painting and sewing, Reid is the daughter of Richmond legend Betty Reid-Soskin, the 96-year-old park ranger stationed at the city’s Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park.

NIAD also unveiled two smaller but equally worthwhile exhibits, including a unique creation by Mendocino-based artist Anne Beck known as ‘Landlooker!’ The wall-based collage offers a compelling mix of images that provide a perspective on nationwide land use—and misuse—by society over the past decade.

‘Animals A to Z’ lifted the curtain on a marvelous menagerie of alphabetic animal linocut prints created by NIAD artist Rebecca Jantzen, whom the Standard profiled several months ago. These charming works are further enhanced by Jantzen’s whimsical selection of animals to match each letter, such as C being represented by Chipmunk, N standing for Nutria, and so on.

If you’re in the dark about NIAD, it stands for Nurturing Independence through Artistic Development, and is focused on boosting the success of artists with developmental disabilities. The current trio of exhibits is on display through November 24.

Find out more about NIAD at; the venue is located at 551 23rd St., just off of Barrett Ave.

Zach Chouteau is a longtime travel writer and editor, and currently blogs about group and family getaways at Pineapple Go.