Thursday, March 3, 2011


Lion or lamb, March has snuck in while we weren't looking, and that means it's already time for another First Friday Art Tour. As always, there are venues as far afield as Harvey West (the Michaelangelo Gallery, featuring printmaker Robynn Smith), UCSC ( a closing night reception for the retrospective of the work of painter/printmaker Geoff Morten at the Porter Faculty Gallery, and Chip Lord's "Public Spaces" exhibit at the Sesnon), and the Davenport Gallery (the collective, mixed-media show, "Our Oceans").

But now that the days are getting perceptively longer (she says hopefully), FFAT is a great opportunity for local artists, art lovers, and schmoozers to reconnect with our downtown and see what's new. Local favorites showing downtown this month include James Aschbacher (aka Art Boy), showing his folk art-inspired mixed media on wood paintings at Artisans Gallery (above), Jane Gregorius, with a series of mixed-media monoprints from her "Church Series" at Lulu Carpenter, and Coeleen Kiebert's expressive clay sculpture at Felix Kulpa. This is also the last week to catch the excellent Clay and Glass show at the MAH.

What's extra fresh for this month? How about local childrens' art on view at two downtown locations. Over at L'Atelier Salon, on the corner of Pearl Alley, check out mixed media artwork from the students at Westlake Elementary K-12. The piece above is uncredited, but boy, do I love it! There's nothing like a kid with a paintbrush (or some torn colored paper) to capture the pure joy of self expression.

Then take a short stroll down to Louden Nelson Center to see work from the students at Mission Hill Middle School. Teacher, artist, activist, and one-woman dynamo Kathleen Crocetti presides over the art department at Mission Hill, and she's always dreaming up exciting new things for her students to do. This show is called Machines of Memory Boxes, featuring student artwork inspired by the work of Joseph Zirker, which was shown at the MAH last fall.

Finally, the new downtown offices of Cruzio (in the building formerly known as the Sentinel) is open for business and participating in FFAT for the first time. Five artists affiliated with the UCSC Digital Arts and New Media MFA program are staging a tech-based installation (sound, light, video and sculpture) in the Cruzio workshop for a First Night "interactive artistic experience." Okay, fine, but if you're like me, you just want to know what's been going on in that space for the last two years. Will some vestigial spirit of the old Sentinel printing press come thrumming through the fiberoptics into the new media? Drop in 5-9 pm Friday night and pick up the vibe.

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