Mendocino Art Center: The Heart of Art

Mendocino Art Center:

The Heart of Art

Written by Nathan Butler | Photo Contribution by the Mendocino Art Center

Drawing with Peggy Magovern - Larry Wagner Photo


John F. Kennedy once said “if art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” As a society how do we go about setting our artists free? Where are some of the places that vision takes them? The Mendocino Art Center answers both of these with beauty and aplomb. Perched like a lighthouse shining a beacon of creativity out over the coastline of the town of Mendocino, the idyllic Mendocino Art Center or M.A.C. is a bastion of beauty and soul cleansing tranquility. Founded in  the late 1950’s on property that was once the Preston Mansion. Conflagration brought the mansion down. Prior to this, it was best known for its appearance in the film “East of Eden”. Bill and Jennie Zacha purchased the property with only $500 down. M.A.C. has since steadily grown from a carriage house and a few animal sheds into the heart of an art movement that has spared the village of Mendocino the fate that has befallen so many former logging towns.

M.A.C. has not only cultivated a park like atmosphere with its tiled courtyards, sculptures and assorted native plants, but also hosts classrooms, apartments, studios, a theater and hundreds of workshops that specialize in everything from drawing to jewelry. Whether you have never touched a canvas before or you are the descendant of Vincent Van Gogh, there are 150 classes and retreat style workshops for any level.

M.A.C. is home to an ever evolving list of great artists from around the world. Once such artist Lizzie Helbig, from New Jersey,  is using her time at the center to let the exotic local flora designs influence her ceramic art designs.


Four galleries provide an opportunity to showcase not only the local artists, but national artists as well. Silent auctions and receptions are held frequently. The Mendocino Art Center also has a gift shop and many items can be purchased through their website online.


For weddings and assorted occasions, facilities on the M.A.C. property can be rented.


It would be safe to say that William Zacha’s dream of creating an incubator and spotlight for creativity and culture is alive and well. It is truly rare that so self-less and humanitarian a dream could see such uninhibited success. It is an important reminder for society that art is itself a living thing. If you do not nurture it and afford it a place to grow it will whither and decay. If we allow the roots of our culture to whither and decay where does that leave us? William Zacha’s dream brought him to Mendocino and because of that dream so many more talented artists and thinkers came as well.


You can contact The Mendocino Art Center about reservations, donations, exhibits and auctions via their website You can reach them by phone at 1-800-653-3328 or 707-937-5818. The physical address is Mendocino Art Center 45200 Little Lake Street at Kasten Street P.O. Box 765 Mendocino, CA 95460.

Emerald contributor since March 2012


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