Art Coach

A detail of Shelby Graham’s “The Butterfly Effect,” a scroll that measures 17 inches wide by nearly 8 feet tall, with photographs of the California dogface butterfly.

Shelby Graham from Santa Cruz has done conceptual photography. She’s run creativity workshops. She’s written and spoken about art, and taught art for 30 years. She’s collaborated, coached and consulted on art. For the last 17 years, she’s been the curator at UC Santa Cruz’s Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery. She’s done things for which she had no roadmap.

Now she’s on the board of trustees at the Center for Photographic Art where, she says, “I’m helping bring in interesting exhibitions.” But first, “I’m learning about Carmel and Monterey communities.”

Her talk at the Pacific Street branch of the Monterey Museum of Art should help. It’s titled “Curating a creative life” and in it she hopes to invite people to find a space in their lives for creativity.

“An art coach helps [people] find and explore their creative domain,” she says. “The studio, kitchen, garden, office: where you have creative energy.”

She’ll show slides of her own work, including art shows she’s curated.

“My creative practice helps tie it all together,” she says.

And she’ll try to demystify art, which can prove a challenge for regular folks not hip to its language. She says a gallery or museum show should engage audiences with a narrative arc, like a film or a novel. She compares art practice to the sports ethic of Steph Curry: “You can bring creativity to all disciplines. You have to put the time in.”

Everyone can relate to dinner parties, she surmises, so she may talk about Judy Chicago’s infamous installation work “The Dinner Party.”

She was invited by CPA Chair Brooks Chesney to talk about whatever she wanted to, and so is set to try something new in this lecture, no roadmap.

SHELBY GRAHAM speaks 6-7pm Friday at Monterey Museum of Art-Pacific, 559 Pacific St., Monterey. Free with museum admission. 372-5477,

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