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Endings and beginnings

On the Bright Side

Usually when we put up new calendars I like to write a rah-rah sis-boom-bah column about the joys of starting a brand new year. Endings and beginnings! Out with the old! In with the new! Look ahead! Start over! Clean slate!

Well, not so much this year.

Like many of us, after a few years of being absolutely hopeful that the new year was going to be better than the last one, I find myself tiptoeing up to 2022 in order to peek around some corners and keep my fingers crossed and my hooded, wary eyes on the horizon.

Beside the pandemic and the ongoing challenges with new variants and the division over masks and vaccines and a variety of other issues, not to mention the general lack of common sense and decency we've witnessed of late and in general, I have some very personal ending and beginning changes to deal with.

Looking back a little: I opened Tehachapi Art Center in 2004. I wanted a place where everyone could discover their inner creative side; where we supported each other and our individual efforts; where all the arts and all levels of skills were welcome and encouraged.

In 2005 I also opened CrossRoads Gallery, which featured more experienced artists, and which started Tehachapi's First Friday celebrations. The Art Center had found a wonderful community of creative types and CrossRoads added to that. The fun and energy we had in both places meant so much to all of us and to so many in Tehachapi in general.

Then in 2012 I closed both the center and the gallery and combined them into a new, bigger enterprise that I opened with three partners (Susanna, Janet and Sandi): Tehachapi Treasure Trove. Our new location was a larger space and we grew exponentially. Partners and volunteers made it especially worthwhile for me and I loved what we were building.

The experiences over the years have been great, and the friendships I've made are invaluable. But change is inevitable, as they say, and we went through many of them. Partners came and went, and a couple of years ago Susanna and I were the only partners left standing. Then the pandemic hit, and last year Susanna moved to Las Vegas and I was hospitalized with COVID. Like many businesses, we've struggled since then.

This fall I made the difficult decision that I couldn't handle the Treasure Trove as the only owner any longer, due to lingering COVID effects and my age (can't keep up the pace anymore!). I thought about closing altogether but first asked my loyal volunteers if they would consider making the store a workers' cooperative. After much discussion and research, they said yes.

Enough interested artists and supporters signed up and bought in and the co-op became a reality, albeit a different one than I had imagined. My personal hope was that the Treasure Trove would go on, but the new co-operative members, not surprisingly, have decided to change the name and do some rearranging as well. Other changes are being discussed and will be determined later. The new name will be Tehachapi Arts Center, which I like as in some small way it seems like coming full circle from what I opened in 2004 to its soon-to-be new status.

And so with the ending of one year and the beginning of another, I am dealing with endings and beginnings in a very personal way. Tehachapi Treasure Trove closed on December 31, 2021, and Tehachapi Arts Center will open in mid-January, 2022. I'm sorry to see the end of the Treasure Trove, but I'm happy for the beginning of a new, less stressful life for myself. I'm happy that local artists and residents may have more resources that the new Arts Center will offer, and I'm sad that my part in it all will be much smaller. And while I'm sad to see the ending of my dream, I'm also excited to see what new energy and ideas will be put forth in the new Tehachapi Arts Center.

It's all a bit overwhelming, and much bigger and more profound changes than I usually experience with the coming of a new year. But it's here, it's happening, and my choice is to ultimately find joy in anticipation and some rah-rah sis-boom-bah about it all. I can do that, and I will do that because how I look at it is all up to me.

Happy New Year! And may you all find the joy in whatever changes 2022 brings you!

© 2022 Marilda Mel White. Mel White, local photographer/writer, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at [email protected].