Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It can't possibly be March already, but the next First Friday Art Tour is right around the corner.

All the usual suspects and venues will be participating in this Friday's event. You can start at the Felix Kulpa Gallery, at the south end of downtown, with a group exhibit of ceramic sculpture featuring the masterful work of Coeleen Kiebert and a selection of her students and disciples, among them Sharon Bosley, Kathleen Pouls, Bill Scoble, and Peggy Snider.

Pop into Hula's Island Grill for the witty graphic art of recent Gail Rich Award winner Steve Hosmer. (Here's one of his many cool Boardwalk images.)

 Visit Chris Miroyan's fanciful, colorful neo-folk paintings with a sophisticated twist in her "Put A Bird On It" show at Artisans Gallery. (That's her piece, "Tweet," above.) Then work your way to the north end of town to Art DuJour for an exhibit of book-inspired work by artist Mary Atkinson and famed book artist Felicia Rice, proprietor of the amazing  Moving Parts Press.

And speaking of books, plan to stop in at the Museum of Art and History between 5 and 6 pm for a "live launch" of a new literary venture. "phren-Z" is a quarterly online e-zine created as a venue for the work of local writers. The first issue is up online as we speak, featuring essays, poetry and fiction by the likes of Gary Young, Carolyn Burke, Paul Skenazy, and Wallace Baine, among others.

The e-mag is the opening salvo from the newly-minted Santa Cruz Writes. Founded by local writers Julia Chiapella, Karen Ackland, and Jory Post, the group hopes to foster a sense of community among the many and varied literary types who call Santa Cruz home.

Another way to get the word out about SCW is what they call the Floodlight Feature, a combined real and virtual "illumination" of a local writer, event or topic of interest to the writing community. At the MAH this Friday, the Floodlight will shine on the late poet Morton Marcus, his work and legacy.

As part of the phren-Z launch, local poets and readers will be reading from Marcus' poems. And get this: as an extra bonus, every single person who shows up at the event will receive a FREE copy of Mort's engrossing memoir, Striking Through the Masks, through the generosity of the Capitola Book Company and Ow Family Properties. A specially created broadside of Mort's poem, "That's What You Write About," from C&C Press, will also be given away as a door prize.

Arts, letters, and free books—what's not to love?

Monday, February 27, 2012


Hey, I was 13 for 14 in my Oscar predictions this year!

I wish I could chalk it up to my keen analytical powers, but, really, it's not rocket science. If you follow the trends throughout the pre-Oscar awards season—and who's doing the voting—it's like a giant red arrow pointing to the likeliest winners.

Take the effervescent Jean Dujardin in The Artist. In the last month alone he's won the Best Actor prize at the Golden Globes, the British BAFTA, the SAG Awards AND the Independent Spirit Awards (which usually recognize movies Oscar has barely even heard of). Not to mention his first Best Actor award at Cannes last spring. All things considered, then, his Oscar win last night is not exactly a surprise. So what if he was up against George and Brad? Follow the momentum, says I.

Sure, it's tempting to spin elaborate scenarios about How Hollywood Works, and which actor/actress/director's "turn" it is in forecasting the Oscars. I used to do this all the time, which is why I almost always lost out at our annual Oscar party pool. Now that we don't do the pool anymore, when we watch the Oscarcast for fun, not profit, I finally get a clue. D'oh!

(I just love this photo of Dujardin from Getty Images. Any minute, he'll burst into "Singin' In the Rain"...)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


They're ba-ack!

In response to extreme public demand (okay, three people), I present the 2012 Academy Award Best Actress nominees, Barbie-style.

This was a challenging year. Among the five nominees are a middle-aged woman passing as a man (Albert Nobbs), a severely pierced and tattooed Goth (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and Margaret Thatcher (The Iron Lady).

One of the self-imposed rules of Oscar Barbies is I never permanently alter or deface any of my dolls for their one night of glory on the Red Carpet. Another rule is, I never go out and buy clothes or accouterments; I either Frankenstein together what I have on hand, or make new stuff.

So let's start with the easy ones. Dress a Barbie to look like Marilyn Monroe; ie: Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn? No problem! I have plenty of blonde Barbies, the doll is anatomically correct for the part (for once), and this vintage dress and accessories from my childhood collection are exactly the right period.

(I did break down and cut her hair, however. But I do have a surplus of long-haired blonde dolls that have been donated to me over the years, so I figured I could give this one a trim. Besides, willowy, long-haired blondes rarely become Best Actress nominees.)

And dressing a doll to look like a middle-aged Southern maid, the Viola Davis character in The Help, wasn't impossible. I have a black Barbie, and I even found a blue dress with a white Peter Pan collar, and an apron, in my collection, although I had to frump it up a bit with a sweater.

Of course, the hair is ridiculous. Barbie dolls have more hair than Rapunzel, but I like this doll's long hair most of the time, so I gave her a ponytail and a Trump-worthy comb-over in front for the look of a black woman in the early '60s who has to straighten her hair into a bouffant for work. Not entirely successful, but you get the general idea.

 For Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, the hair was the easiest part.  This vintage doll comes with short, painted-on hair and three wigs, so I put her red wig on sideways to get that extreme, Thatcher-esque sweep off to the side. I also had this tweed business suit and pearls on hand. Couldn't do anything to de-glamorize her face, though.

As for Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs, I totally lucked out finding this male doll's dress suit and black jacket  stuffed in one of my doll trunks. (The character is a mature woman passing as a male waiter in an Irish hotel, ca. 1900.) I taped up the pants cuffs, made a tea towel out of an old T-shirt scrap, and gave her a pair of vintage white gloves.

 But the piece de resistance  is the bowler hat.  Kudos to Art Boy for suggesting the pliable lead sheath that covers the top of a champagne bottle for the crown. I cut off  some of the the selvage and rolled what was left up into the brim, Art Boy spray-painted it black, and voila! Of course, in "real" life, a waiter would never wear a bowler hat while serving, but in Oscar Barbie World, it's all about the props.

(I'm also fortunate to have this doll head with the short-short hair that my friend Faye Augustine found for me years ago in some hidden cranny of her assemblage art studio. Then I needed it to dress up a doll like cross-dressing Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, and it's come in handy many times since then. Last year, this doll was Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right.)

At last, we come to Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. For this one, I broke my "no shopping" rule & went hunting for a cheap, used doll I could mess up.  I found a large bin of discarded Barbies and Bratz dolls way in the back of that junk store on Front street, next to the New Leaf parking lot, but, typically, dark-haired dolls were in short supply. (I found one Bratz doll whose black hair was already mostly chopped off, but she wouldn't have fit in any of my Barbie clothes.)

 Finally I chose this one. Her expression is more serious, her lips are less red, and she doesn't have that mindless, toothy Barbie grin. She already had dangly faux-metal earrings, and some child had already cut severely short bangs above her forehead. All I'd have to do was give her an asymmetrical haircut (long in front on one side; boyishly short on the other), and put her in the "leather" jacket and black boots I have on hand

She is also, as you'll notice, a doll of color—not quite black, but the "silver" earrings suggest some sort of Native American. But because so much of her hair had already been lopped of, I thought it would be easier to repaint her complexion to emulate a fair-skinned Swede than buy a Caucasian doll and try to color her (almost always) blonde hair. At least her eyes are brown, not typical Barbie blue.

But once I paid my buck-sixty-two, got her home, and cut her hair, I liked her too much to alter her skin. I took an eyebrow pencil to give her the giant Goth raccoon eyes, and added a few facial "studs" and "rings" with a silver gel pen. Then I gave her neck chains and a razor blade pendant I cut out of a tea light candle holder.  The finishing touch: a black laptop under her arm,  for any hacking emergency that might arise.

Okay, so she's not strictly the right color. (Although I could argue that Lisabeth Salander would be black if she could!) But she's definitely true to the spirit of the character—and that what Oscar Barbies are all about.

(For a peek at some Oscar Barbies from years past, click here and here.)

Also, check out my Oscar predictions in this week's Good Times, or online.

Monday, February 20, 2012


And speaking of Oscar, remember the FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising)? Its a design school in So Cal that every years hosts a gallery exhibit of the year's best movie costumes (including all five Academy Award-nominees) up close and personal. I raved about them last year around this time when I discovered their website with its great online archive of past costume exhibits.

Well, sadly, the FIDM website has recently suffered an upgrade in which the entire online archive has been wiped out. (Or at least a low-tech person such as moi can no longer find it.) What we get instead is a list of their 19 previous movie costume exhibits (this year's exhibit is their 20th annual), with a tantalizing detail of a costume image for each listing, but no more comprehensive archive. Arrrgh!  So typical of technology (or maybe it's sheer bureaucracy): something that's actually useful is created, only to be "improved" out of existence.

However, I did find this fun video about the FIDM's current costume exhibit, which takes a peek at all five of this year's Oscar costume nominees. It also features commentary by FIDM spokesperson and fashion gadfly, Nick Verreos, as well as a few remarks from Santa Cruz hometown girl, Arianne Phillips, whose period costumes for the Madonna-directed film, W.E., have earner her her second Oscar nomination. (Her first was for Walk the Line in 2006) 

W.E. hasn't opened yet in Santa Cruz, but here are a couple of Arianne's luscious '30s-inspired costumes. It's the story of Edward VIII—older brother of Colin Firth's character in The King's Speech—who gives up the throne of England to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. (Photo credit: Peter Winterstellar/abimages)

Arianne faces tough competition this year from Anonymous, The Artist, Hugo,  and Jane Eyre, all of which are glimpsed in this video. It's funny when Verreos mentions how surprised visitors are to find out the costumes for The Artist (above) are in color!

Check out Verreos' blog for excellent photos of the five nominees in the FIDM exhibit.

If you're headed south anytime soon, the exhibit runs through April 28, and it's free, free, free!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Here we go again.

For, lo, these many moons, Bruce Bratton, Wallace Baine, and I have commandeered the Nicklelodeon about this time every year to hold forth on who we like (or not) in the upcoming Academy Awards showdown. 

We'll be at it again this Sunday, February 19, at the ungodly hour of 10 am, in the newly revamped and refurbished Nickelodeon. Admission is FREE! (And while you're there don't forget to check out the new auditorium carpets and newly repainted lobby!)

The whole thing began years ago as an outgrowth of Morton Marcus' bi-monthly Saturday morning film discussion groups at the Nick. Mort attracted such a large, loyal following of passionate local movie fans that one year, he invited Bruce, Wallace, and me to participate in one of his early January discussions to talk about our favorite films of the previous year.

Turned out the audience loved having not one, but four local critics in its collective sites with whom to spar over best and worst movies of the year. Mort invited us all back in March, a week before the Academy Awards broadcast, to talk about all things Oscar, and a tradition was spawned.

Sadly, Mort is no longer here to chime in with his colorful opinions (although his wife, Donna Mekis, tells me she's pretty sure he would have loved Hugo). And now that the Oscar show comes so soon in February, instead of  mid-Spring, my fellow filmies and I have downsized to a single free-for-all— oops, I mean event—in which we duke it out over then best and worst films of the year AND the upcoming Oscar contest.

But nobody wants to listen to the critics blather on and on. The success of this event depends on you, The Public, telling us your opinion of the films of 2011. It's always audience participation that makes for a lively discussion, so come join us at the Nick this Sunday, 10 am, and let the critics know what YOU think!

(Big thanks to Maurice Peel at the Nick for mocking up the very cool flyer, above.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


If Art Boy and I were still throwing lavish Oscar parties, think of the fun we could have this year!  The nominated films are so atmospherically rich, there are plenty of "theme" elements to throw into the party planning.

How about bowls of black and white jelly beans to honor The Artist,  or wind-up clockwork Hugo-style table decorations (they must have some at the dollar store). Guests can come dressed in Hawaiian shirts, a la The Descendants, or '60s bouffant-chic for The Help, or even WWI-era Army fatigues in homage to War Horse.

Or invite everyone to come as their favorite Midnight In Paris '20s-era artiste; just imagine a roomful of wannabe Hemingways, Steins, flappers and Dalis, swilling champagne and exchanging bon mots!

Not that an Oscar party has to have a theme, much less a dress code. We always used to invite guests to either dress up in their Red Carpet finest, or wear jammies that would stay comfy during the endurance test of the broadcast. (Jammies were by far the most popular!)

But we did have fun working thematic elements into our invitations each year, based on the top nominated films.

That's our first invitation up top; Oscar Classic.

In time, we got more elaborate: the light blue one is an homage to Schindler's List, in 1994.

 The hot pink one is our tribute to the gender-bending The Crying Game in 1993.

In 1999, when it was a showdown between Shakespeare In Love and Saving Private Ryan, we distilled the contest to an essential Love vs War image.

And, hey, look at this lilac invite, a pre-Hugo homage to George Melies' A Trip To the Moon! Ah, we were so ahead of our time! This one isn't thematically connected to any of the year's nominees; it's based on the vintage horror horror movie posters Art Boy collects. (Notice the ploy of sensational mini-images on the side to let eager viewers know what thrills await them!)

But these are just some of our goofy ideas. With nine Best Picture nominees to choose from, let your own inner party-planner run riot!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Hey, check this out!

One of Santa Cruz's most entertaining and prolific artists, Beth Allison Gripenstraw,  was interviewed a few months ago for the KQED TV arts magazine This Is Us. I missed the original air date, but now Beth's five-minute segment is up on You Tube.

Here's what happened: somebody connected with the show was in Santa Cruz last October, visiting Open Studios artists. She was so taken with Beth's "My Africa" display (from a jeep, a safari tent, and life-sized zebras in the yard, to a trading post—full of Beth's jewelery, ceramics and paintings—and "Dr. Livingston's Study" inside), that Beth was invited to be on the show on the spot. The film crew came back to shoot her segment a couple of weeks later.

Beth doesn't just make and show art, she creates entire environments for visitors to get happily lost in. if you've never visited her Open Studio before, or you're not familiar with her work, watch the clip and see what you've been missing!

Btw, if you happened to visit the new Scotts Valley Library last month, you probably saw three of Beth's life-sized papier maché cheetahs sprawling and stretching atop the bookcases, guarding the front lobby. They were such a hit with library patrons that Beth has been commissioned to make more animals for a permanent display at the library. She's come up with an endangered species theme and was last seen doing preliminary research on crocodiles, polar bears, and the Iberian Lynx. Stay tuned for further details...

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Still don't know what to give your sweetie—or yourself—this Valentine's Day? Don't forget, there are still some fabulous deals to be had on small treasures of original art at the Artisans Gallery's ongoing Hearts For the Arts silent auction.

With all proceeds to go to the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County, to benefit art education programs for local children, the gallery show features a dazzling array of quilt-sized, 10" x 10" pieces, all with a heart motif, from 20 renowned local artists. Work by Marie Gabrielle, Paul Fortis, Beth Purcell, Doug Ross, Maggie Renner Hellmann, and James Aschbacher, among many others, is going for a song as we speak. (Here's a link to one of my favorite pieces, Doug Ross' "Heart-Seal.")

An additional couple of dozen pieces by area children and their art teachers are also available for bidding.  It's worth it to drop by just to see how many imaginative variations are possible on the theme of "hearts."

The show will be up through next Tuesday, Valentine's Day, Feb 14, when the bidding will be closed. So pop in soon and put a bid on the heart-work of your dreams.


Choreographer Bausch celebrated in wildly invigorating 'Pina'

The late, legendary German dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch is the subject of Pina, an utterly thrilling cinematic tribute by Wim Wenders. "You always felt more than just human, working with Pina," recalls one of her dancers, and this is more than just a documentary, or a dance film, or a memorial. Wenders crafts an extraordinary plunge into the mystery of the creative process, a visionary concept film that reinvents the way dance is viewed onscreen, and a wildly invigorating expedition into the soul of an artist.

It may be part documentary, part concert film in format, but Wenders tweaks everything we think we know about these genres. Members of Bausch's acclaimed, multinational Tanztheater Wuppertal dance company speak of their friend and mentor, but there are no talking heads; the dancers gaze enigmatically into the camera while their remarks are heard in voice-over. Bausch herself is seen in archive footage, dancing onstage or working with her dancers in the rehearsal room, but there's no conventional third-person narration. Everything we learn about her we glean from her own words, or from the power of her work. (Read more)

Monday, February 6, 2012


(Dickens' Dream, unfinished watercolor by Robert William Buss, 1875.)

Let's all raise a glass of something festive to my favorite author, Charles Dickens, on the occasion of his 200th birthday (Tuesday, Feb 7). Funny, he doesn't look a day over 58, the age he was at his untimely death—a tad younger than I am now. I feel like SUCH a slacker!

Check out this website, Dickens 2012, devoted to the year-long celebrations being held in his honor, not only in London and Portsmouth (his birthplace), but all over the world. Not bad for the son of an impecunious Naval Office clerk who spent time in debtor's prison while 12-year-old Charles was taken out of school to work in a draconian blacking (shoe polish) factory—a bitter experience that informed his novels and his sense of justice for the rest of his life.

This acute sense of moral outrage, coupled with his first-hand experience of the vast gulf between the 1% and the other 99 makes his work as relevant today as it ever was. And yet, some modern pundits question whether Dickens is "too hard" to be read at all in the texting and twittering age. (Dickens can't even complete a chapter heading in 144 characters.) To these people, I say: get over yourselves and plunge in. The sheer richness of his alien world is the whole point; getting lost in one of his humongous, vital, character-driven, immensely humane, heartbreaking, savage and hilarious novels is the reason God invented reading.

I can't claim to have read all of Dickens' work; not even close. But certain of his books have been the highlights of my reading life. A Christmas Carol remains my ideal of the perfect book, a simple but ingenious construction that confines the story to a single night, yet expands to include an entire lifetime, indeed, an entire historical era of experience—all with a nifty Gothic ghost story element that's the forerunner of what we now call magic realism. In a word: bravo!

I devoured David Copperfield at age 18 (working for minimum wage at a summer job that was my own "blacking factory," a commercial pottery factory in Manhattan Beach, whose owner bore the Scrooge-like initials "ES"), and the other great coming-of-age saga, Great Expectations. Funny, the books I "had" to read in school—A Tale Of Two Cities; Hard Times—I remember with somewhat less affection than those I discovered on my own. After watching The Royal Shakespeare Company's intense, nine-hour stage production of The Life And Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby on TV, I went on a Dickens binge, polishing off Nickleby, Bleak House, and the sensational Our Mutual Friend (with its  brilliant recurring motif of the sinister, powerful, indifferent, and yet lifegiving River Thames) in short order. Okay, it took me a few months, but it was time well spent.

Certainly not as an alternative to actually reading Dickens, but because so many of my own forays into literature have been prompted by seeing a screen adaptation, I offer my Top 5 Favorite Dickens productions:

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) Accept no substitutes! The incomparable Alistair Sim is the Scroogiest possible Scrooge in this spare, spooky, and foreboding British classic. (Note: It was called Scrooge in its initial theatrical release, but don't mistake it for the 1970 Albert Finney musical version.)

THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY (1982) This immense video capture of The Royal Shakespeare Company's epic stage event overflows with good and evil, high life, lowlife, and every variety of life in between. By turns eloquent and riotously funny, it also offers a pre-Carol take on the Scrooge character in cold, miserly Ralph Nickleby (John Woodvine) doing his utmost to crush the spirit of his resilient nephew, Nicholas (the inexhaustible Roger Rees). A knockout!

DAVID COPPERFIELD (1935) This classic Hollywood Golden Age production unleashed the entire arsenal of MGM stars on one of Dickens' most venerable and popular novels—led by the inimitable W. C. Fields as the lovable, but impoverished Micawber (based on Dickens' own father). Edna May Oliver is a delicious Aunt Betsey, Basil Rathbone oozes evil as the hateful Murdstone, and Freddie Bartholomew plays the young David. (I never saw the more recent TV version with little Danielle Radcliffe as young David; maybe I'll catch up with it some day!)

OLIVER TWIST (1948) Another eerie black-and-white mood piece, this British production is an early film by the great David Lean. Alec Guinness is a sly, larcenous father-figure Fagin, shepherding his team of child pickpockets through the teeming streets of London. A teenage Anthony Newley is the Artful Dodger, and look out for Robert Newton as the murderous, dangerous Bill Sykes (he would play Long John Silver in Treasure Island two years later).

MR. MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (1962) Sorry, but I first saw this at an impressionable age and I still adore it! If you must apply songs to a Dickens story, get Jule Styne and Bob Merrill to write them. I've rhapsodized about this one before in this blog; here's what I love about it.

And speaking of Dickens, take a peek at this fabulous art project by Cardiff School of Art and Design student Rachel Walsh, called "Explaining the Kindle to Charles Dickens." It's great to know that books continue to inspire creative thought, one way or another!

(Above, right: Scrooge confronts the restless, moaning phantoms, unable to rest in peace. Arthur Rackham illustration for A Christmas Carol, 1915.)

(Above, left: I drew this cartoon to illustrate my review of the TV production of Nicholas Nickleby for the fanzine Movie Collector's World. "Bonet" was the joint nom de plume under which Art Boy and I perpetrated a cartooning career years ago.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012


An odd mix of quaint and edgy, Albert Nobbs has a plot that often smacks of the creakiest kind of Victorian melodrama. Yet at other times, the story feels startlingly modern, with its insights into gender confusion and sexual identity in turn-of-the-century Ireland. Filming this tale of a middle-aged woman who has lived her entire adult life as a man has been a labor of love for executive producer and star, Glenn Close; she also co-wrote the script and provided lyrics for the closing-credits theme song.

What may surprise viewers is that the film is adapted from a novella first published in 1918 by Anglo-Irish, Victorian/Edwardian author and critic George Moore. Some tired fictional conventions from the era in which the story was written linger in Rodrigo García's film version. But the filmmakers come up with some other alterations to make the tale more intriguing for modern sensibilities, while retaining Moore's twin moods of gentle pathos and social satire.

At the center of the tale is Albert Nobbs (Close), a fastidious veteran waiter at a Dublin hotel called Morrison's, ca. 1898. An outcast orphan who adopted a male persona to survive as a lone teenage girl, Albert has identified as male for so long, she no longer has any other sense of herself. It's not like she takes off her disguise in her room at night; she is her disguise.Close captures this essence of Albert, his innocence and ignorance, with heartbreaking rigor.

But Janet McTeer is absolutely extraordinary as a lesbian who cross-dresses as a man to live openly with her wife. Bluff, cheeky, and wryly self-possessed, McTeer gives what might be the performance of the year. Don't miss it! (Read full review.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Get ready to reconnect with some favorite artists and get inspired by some exciting new ideas pinging around out there at this week's First Friday Art Tour. Looks like our mild winter weather will continue for this second FFAT of the new year, and with the days getting longer, there are plenty of reasons to get out and see what's new on the local art scene.

Here are a few events that look interesting to me. Be sure to visit the FFAT website and design your own tour.

At the County Government Center, you'll find luscious and mysterious watercolor abstracts by Isobel George (above), along with David Fleming's narrative oils with a twist, Laurie Longnecker's precise, photorealistic paintings of iconic local sites, Sandra Cherk's vivid pastel and watercolor landscapes, and the ceramic art of Maren Sinclair Hurn.

The Zen-like meditative quality of repetition is the theme for the new show, REPEAT! at the Santa Cruz County Bank. Parceled out between its five countywide branches, you'll find work from the encaustic mantra series by Fanne Fernow. Other artists whose work plays with the idea of visual repetition include Angela Gleason, Jane Gregorius, Charlotte Kruk, Dotti Cichon, and Daniella Woolf.

Then cruise down to the Rittenhouse Building on Pacifc Avenue for what may be the coolest show of the event, Wet Art 2012. Old wetsuits have been donated by 36 local surfers to 36 local artists to create a gallery show and auction to benefit Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz County.

Participating artists include Charles Prentiss, Ann Morehauser, Coeleen Kiebert, D Hooker, Jimbo Phillips, Robynn Smith, Rose Sellery, even The Great Morgani—to name just a few! (That's Fran Battendieri's funky-chic mermaid gown, at right.)

Some of their pieces are figurative, some are fashionable (flirty to steampunk), some are alien life forms, some are deconstructed art pieces in their own right, but all are, in a word, awesome! A partial display of the work will up for FFAT at the Ritt from 5-10 pm. (The complete show will be up in time for the reception and auction, Saturday, February 18. There will also be pre-auction visiting hours 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, Feb 4-5 and 11-12.)

But in the meantime, check out the website, and prepare to be stoked.

Down the road, stop in at Artisans Gallery for this year's Hearts for the Arts exhibition. In her annual homage to the venerable Hearts for the Arts benefit art auction of yore, Artisans owner Linnea Holgers has come up with a new wrinkle: a "Wall of Hearts" featuring a quilt-like display of 10" x 10" square heart-inspired art pieces from local artists.

In addition to James Aschbacher's "Love Is In the Air," artwork includes an original small heart-shaped watercolor landscape by Marie Gabrielle, a Judy Miller ceramic plate, a pique-assiette wall piece from Beth Purcell, a clever collage of hearts by painter Paul Fortis, and just about the most adorable and impudent painted sea lion, ever, from printmaker Doug Ross (working in acrylics for only the second time).

Al in all, over 20 pieces by these local artists will be on display, along with work by students and teachers from the Mariposa Art Project. All these artworks are available for viewing and bidding in a silent auction from Friday through Valentine's Day, Feb 14, so be sure to stop in and bid on your favorite! All proceeds to go art education programs for local children.

On the Westside, the R Blitzer Gallery hosts A Figurative Affair. In addition to the work of curators Sefla Joseph and Susan Hancey, the exhibition includes new work by the fiercely creative Carol Bowie, who is always coming up with exciting new ideas in new media. Look for other renowned artists Barbara Downs, Stephanie Heit, David Fleming, Marvin Plummer, and Andrew Purchin, among many others in the show.

And these are just a smattering of the many venues in SC and Capitola participating in this month's event. So—on your marks, get set — FFAT!