Staffs' Talents at the Vargas Gallery

“Creative Mission” Showcases Art of Mission College Associates
by Cynthia Cheng, Santa Clara Weekly

Don Houston, Mission College’s Director of Facilities and Maintenance, explained that his art “Maia Mother of Hermes,” came from a comic book project he is putting together. The striking image features Hermes’s mother with a worried expression as she pleads for help. The ink jet print, made from giclee printing, was produced through an elaborate work process ending with the printing of art onto canvas with a large ink jet printer. This and other pieces by Houston and seven other artists associated with Mission College were part of the exhibit “Creative Mission,” on view at Mission College’s Vargas Gallery through Oct. 30.

“This exhibit showcases the hidden talents of people who work to keep Mission College going,” said Lynne Todaro, art instructor and Director of the Vargas Gallery. “Some of them are administrative assistants, facility workers and other staff members. It wasn’t juried so I took all the pieces that came in and they all turned out to be great.”

Todaro was especially excited that one of the artists exhibiting work is Dr. Jack Lucas, a trustee of the West Valley-Mission Community College District. According to Lucas, no other trustee in the district had exhibited work in the art galleries of Mission College or West Valley College before. There were 15 of Lucas’s cartoon illustrations that appeared in the 1991 Los Gatos High School Student Handbook on the wall of Vargas Gallery. Done in pen and ink, these images spotlight a lively wildcat immersed in academia.

“I was the dean of students at Los Gatos High School then,” Lucas said. “When school let out for the summer, my responsibilities went down. Somebody asked me to illustrate the student handbook because [we were nicknamed] the Los Gatos High School Wildcats. You see the wildcat there—he’s a scholar, he’s singing the alma mater song, he’s active in student activities and he’s graduating.”

For a span of 18 years, Lucas also served as mayor for five terms on the City Council in the City of Monte Sereno. Even while holding public office, Lucas put his creative juices to work.

“I decorated the walls of our City Hall and I designed the permanent dais for the Council—it’s a long table where members of the City Council sat,” he said.

Shoba Singh, administrative specialist at Mission College’s Marketing and Public Relations Department, contributed two works of watercolor: “Summer Delight” depicts a slice of juicy watermelon with light and dark shadows. “Henna Mandala,” shown on a triptych (a work of art displayed on three panels), brightened the wall with its swirly floral designs.

“A mandala means a circle or an enclosure; that enclosure is made of several pieces,” Singh said. “In a world of many components, you can have everything coming together in unity. That’s a mandala. Usually I paint for a month on a painting. ‘Henna Mandala’ was done in one day. In the western world, this design would be called ‘paisley.’ In India, the main design in the center painting (the middle panel) would be what is called the mango design.”

The Vargas Gallery is located inside the Gillmor Center at Mission College. Mission College is located at 3000 Mission College Blvd.