Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Looks like gorgeous weather in store for this month's First Friday Art Tour. Downtown art venues will be hopping, as usual, from the Elijah Pfotenhauer show at Motiv to the Charles Prentiss exhibit at Artisans (those are Charles' luscious aloes, on the left); from paintings by Russel Brutsché at India Joze, to the Barbara Lawrence exhibit at Michaelangelo Gallery, to the multi-artist, mixed media LGBT Community Art & Pride show at Louden Nelson Center.

For something a little off the well-trodden art path, check out the art installation at Saffron & Genevieve by book artist Jody Alexander. Titled "The Odd Volumes of Ruby B.," the installation at the back of the store purports to be "the living and working space of fictional character Ruby B.," and features a variety of reconstituted books, wall hangings and various objets d'art crafted from textile, thread, and photo collages.

This month, there's even an opportunity to make your own 3-minute First Friday movie, the top three of which will be screened next week at the Santa Cruz Film Festival (details here).

And if you haven't already seen it (or even if you have; I'm planning to go again) don't miss the Big Creek Pottery show, going into its second month at the Museum of Art & History. Not only is this exhibit bursting with functional ceramics—vivid, playful, witty, and unique—from students and masters alike (that's a saucy little 1977 pitcher from Maestro John Glick, above), the show is also a time capsule of Santa Cruz cultural life in the 1970s, featuring 140 vintage photos from the heyday of Bruce and Marcia McDougal's fabled Big Creek Pottery School up Swanton Road. Drop in around 5:30 pm, and meet the MAH's brand spanking new Executive Director, Nina Simon.

But there's also some extra cool First Friday stuff going on on the west side. The R. Blitzer Gallery in the old Wrigley Building is hosting a massive show called EDGE: Art on the Westside. Curated by bronze sculptor Lila Klapman, the show features 16 local artists, all of whom live and work on the westside of town, including Barbara Downs, Andrea Rich, Jamie Abbott, Hildy Bernstein, Gloria Alford, Roy Holmberg, Andrew Purchin, and Susana Arias, among many others. Work includes painting, ceramics, steel sculpture, woodcuts, and various mixed-media, so there'll be plenty to see!

Then hike around to the other side of the Wrigley Building and trot upstairs to the Digital Media Factory, for the World Premiere of the pilot episode of Junk Art Scramble. Five weeks in the making, and countless hours of video footage later, Santa Cruz's own home-grown reality show, art competition, and experiment in creative green ecology is ready to be unveiled. (Read all about it here.) Will Team Cabrillo or Team Tannery walk away with the prize? Find out when highlights from the pilot episode air at 6 p.m., and at 8 p.m., Friday evening at the DMF. As an extra bonus, the art structures created by these two enormously talented teams will be on display as well, so prepare to be amazed. (And while you're there, check out the cool DMF facility itself, the best-kept secret in Santa Cruz.)

Need more of an art fix than even First Friday can provide? Come to beautiful midtown Live Oak this Mother's Day weekend, for the fourth annual Art & Chocolate Art Studio Tour. 12 neighborhood artists in nine venues will open their studios to the public 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, for this free event. What's the best part? Free chocolate will be available at every single venue on the tour!
Participating artists include abstract painter Beth Shields, figurative painter Richard Bennett, ceramic sculptors Geoffrey Nicastro and Carole DePalma, landscape painters Maggie Renner Hellman, Lou Renner, Amy Stark, and Paul Rodrigues, stone sculptor Mike McClellan, painter/collagist Myra Eastman, Janet Ferraro, painter of horses, and James Aschbacher, aka Art Boy. (Um, we haven't figured out what his painting style is called, but "fun" and "whimsical" most often spring to mind, as you can see by his "Cat Juggling," above.)
All nine studios are within a mile of each other here in Live Oak, for your viewing and sampling pleasure. So treat your mom, your kids, your sweetie, your BFF, or anyone else (including yourself) to an afternoon of dynamic art and tasty chocolate to satisfy your deepest inner cravings. (Click here for maps and info.)

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