Art the Theme of McKinley Village

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Alan and Helen Post Park graces the entrance.

I have passed through McKinley Village several times as it has developed. For years I drove by the triangular fruit orchard along the business 80 freeway just this side of the American River. Then Phil Angelides purchased the property to develop for housing. It took many, many years to gain the permits and now far more homes than one might have thought possible are being built. The streets and parks are named for prominent Sacramento artists and art patrons.

The Village is bounded by the railway on two sides and the freeway on the third, yet it peaceful on a Sunday afternoon. The townhomes, clubhouse and many large single family homes have been completed and many are occupied. The City of Sacramento parks are already complete and available for anyone in the public to enjoy. In addition to the artist tributes in the way of street names, there are many public sculptures to enjoy.

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Clearing by Gina Werfel

The Sacramento Metro Arts Council website provides biographies of each of the artists spotlighted in McKinley Village. Briefly they are listed here:

  • Pat Dullanty, painter, and long-time art professor at Cosumnes River College.
  • Michael Himovitz brought attention to Sacramento art scene through exhibits at his Himovitz Salomon Gallery and later to the Himovitz gallery.
  • Amalia Fischbacher, long time Sacramento City College art instructor. City College recognized her by naming the art department building in her honor.
  • Don Birrell served as the Crocker Art Museum director from 1951-53 and then the design director at the Nut Tree for almost 40 years. He was both a painter and graphic artist.
  • Roy DeForest taught at UC Davis and worked as sculptor, printmaker and fabric designer.
  • Harry Fonseca is best known for a series of work he began in 1979 that depicted coyotes in non-traditional settings. His work is held in collections in museums throughout the USA.
  • Larry Weldon painted in watercolor and acryllic and taught at Sacramento City College for 25 years.
  • Darrell Forney was a multimedia artist and long time teacher at Sacramento City College.
  • Troy Dalton taught painting and figure drawing at numerous area colleges after earning his master of fine arts at UC Davis.
  • Alan & Helen Post may be the most fascinating of all the artists. Alan Post served as California’s Legislative Analyst for almost 30 years and was also an accomplished painter. Helen was an active civic leader and a sculptor. Her bronze sculptures are mounted on columns located within a grove of trees.
  • Fred Uhl Ball graduated from Sacramento State University and developed new techniques in enameling.
  • Don Reich, a prolific painter, his work encompassed figures, surrealist fantasies, and non-objective images and later into color abstraction.
  • R. Burnett Miller, former Mayor of Sacramento, was a philanthropist who supported a life long passion for the arts.
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When Your Hometown Becomes a Destination

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Before Sactown was the Farm to Fork Capitol we were (and still are) the City of Trees. The trees lend elegance to our neighborhoods and lower the temperatures by at least 10 degrees.

I’ve lived in Sacramento most of my life. For the first 25 years everyone was content with being the Capitol and a rapidly growing suburban county. As Sacramento-native Joan Didion called it, people had a more mid-western sensibility about their wealth and well-being. Our problems were hidden. The community was segregated with waves of white flight out of South Sacramento to the burgeoning suburbs.

Our claim to fame was that we were “close to everything.” It was a great place to stop if you were on your way to Tahoe, or Napa, or San Francisco or Yosemite. Sacramento is at the confluence of two great rivers–the Sacramento and American–and a gateway to the Delta, but it’s attraction for the longest time was it was at the confluence of two great highways–Interstate Highways 5 and 80.

People in the community liked that it was a less expensive, quieter place to raise children. People would complain about “the traffic” that wouldn’t register on the Los Angeles traffic meter. We also don’t have to worry about earthquakes and our floods appear to be managed for now.

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Local artists Suzanne Adan and Michael Stevens created Kit & Kaboodle, an exhibit for kids at the Crocker Art Museum. The Crocker is very kid friendly, and has a great cafe for adults.

The developers who ran local politics began to beat the drum for putting Sacramento on the map and making it a world class city. In the mid-eighties they had a lot of new houses to sell in Natomas, so land speculators and builders began the dubious proposition of making Sacramento famous by bringing a professional sports team to town. The Kansas City Kings basketball team arrived in 1985 to great fanfare and a new stadium in Natomas. It did raise Sacramento’s profile but it also gave other cities opportunity to mock us for being a Cowtown.

Periodically ever since, someone–a mayor or other city booster–declares Sacramento a destination. Self-declaration doesn’t count. In the travel world you have to be anointed a destination by the Conde Nast magazines. Or the New York Times travel editor. Preferably both.

At last, thanks in large part to the spotlight that Sacramento-native Greta Gerwig shone on our fair city, Sacramento is getting the attention that some would say is long overdue. The New York Times just released “36 Hours in Sacramento“!  It is so weird to read about the places you eat or shop regularly as destinations. Lovely too.

Once in my first professional job after grad school, the National Geographic hired our little think tank at UC Davis to review an article they were doing on the Great Central Valley. We looked at their map and shook our heads. They had Gilroy on the west side of the Valley. There were other errors as well and they didn’t correct all of the mistakes we identified for them. It made me skeptically at National Geographic maps ever since.

I love the 36 Hours series, but now having read the writer’s suggestions that would have you crisscrossing all over Sactown, I am going to refer to the 36 Hour recommendations but take the schedules with a grain of salt.  Thanks for the shout outs for local favorite restaurants and shopping destinations. We have always had a vibrant arts community and now more people are taking notice.

Sacramento has also been in the news lately because of the police shooting of an unarmed black man. Stephon Clark’s death has tested our community and revealed some problems many would rather ignore. Hopefully we will all learn from and begin to reform the inequities so we can truly achieve “great” status.

 

New Urban Wood Recycling Center

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Today the Sacramento Tree Foundation celebrated the grand opening of the Urban Wood Center. Sacramento, as the City of Trees, has many mature hardwood trees and some of them have to be removed at the end of their lifespan. These ash, london planes (sycamores), redwoods and oaks can be a tremendous source of high quality wood for artisans and woodworkers. Affordable too.

The Tree Foundation created this venture to divert these logs from the waste stream and repurpose the wood to a higher and better use. All of the proceeds go to support the mission of The Sacramento Tree Foundation. There are wood slabs, dimensional cut boards, and ready made planters.

You can find the products and prices on the webpage, or you can visit the site at The Depot Thursdays 11:00 – 3:00; Friday 11:00- 3:00; Saturday 9:00 – 4:00 or by appointment Monday – Wednesday.

 

 

Nutria, the Godzilla of Rodents!

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Coming to a Delta slough near you??! Nutria, once eradicated in California, are making a comeback.

They are kind of cute, except for their ability to eat through a wetlands in record speed, or their penchant for burrowing and destabilizing levees.

These South American rodents usually weigh 20 pounds and outcompete the native muskrat and beaver for food. Plus they are champion breeders. You can identify them by their white whiskers.

The Delta Conservancy just gave CDFW a $1M+ grant for surveillance and eradication efforts to keep them out of the Delta. If you see them anywhere in the state, please report them to:

Suspected observations or potential signs of nutria in California should be photographed and immediately reported to CDFW ONLINE, by email to Invasives@wildlife.ca.gov, or by calling (866) 440-9530. Observations on state or federal lands should be immediately reported to local agency staff. If this species is captured, do not release it, immediately contact your local CDFW office or County Agricultural Commissioner.

Not Every Adventure Needs to Be Big

 

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At least once a week I go on an adventure with my grandson Calvin who is 16 months old. He reminds me of the joy and wonder of noticing the things we adults often overlook. Like the inlaid wood and carving at the Crocker Museum. Or the joy of going to the nursery in springtime.

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Where is Gramma J?

Today we went to the Plant Foundry in Oak Park, Sacramento, California.

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The challenge is getting plants whilst enjoying it from a wee man’s perspective. So glad my daughter was along to help out this time.

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In a recently published book, 1001 Things to Do with Kids in Sacramento by Sabrina Nishijima, there are many ideas for kids of all ages. I have been looking for more ideas so I plonked down my debit card to buy this from Time Tested Books on 21st Street near K. Just remember, sometimes you can keep it simple and have a great adventure, like the time we never made it into the Railroad Museum because the wooden sidewalks and rocky paths were so fascinating.

 

*Post originally appeared in Adventures of American Julie on March 11, 2018.

Celebrate Greek Culture this Weekend!

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Multiple generations team up to cook lamb for Lamb Pops!

My friend Scott and I dropped in on the Sacramento Greek Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Alhambra and F Streets. With a $5 per person admission we entered a celebration of all things Greek. From fried cheese to a raffle for an original Gregory Kondos painting.

We started with appetizers including fried cheese and pita bread, spanakopita and skewered pork with yogurt sauce. Even sharing these dishes we hit “Tilt!” with yummy food. We needed to walk and digest. We discovered the gyro cafe across the plaza and a dinner buffet inside the hall.

We walked through the markets where you can buy a Greek pride t-shirt, Tupperware, jewelry or an icon. The kids zone offers an outlet for children to play. There is a full bar and a wonderfully slow coffee bar. Kathy cooked my coffee in a pan full of sand, guessing my nationality and keep us entertained until my very hot coffee was ready.

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We had bought baklava and baklava cheesecake at the desserts booth inside the hall. We scored an outside table and listened to trad Greek music by Mythos and watched dance lessons and more accomplished Greek dancers. The baklava was just the right balance of walnuts and honey and phyllo. Even with the delicious coffee we couldn’t finish the dessert, so Scott took one for the team and offered to take it home.

This is 54th festival but the first in a few years back in the courtyard of the newly expanded Greek Orthodox church. Church tours are available, check the program.

We live in Midtown so it was easy to walk to the Festival. There’s also parking at Sutter Middle School. The Festival continues through Sunday, October 8. Don’t just sit there–Go!

 

Farm to Fork at Hook & Ladder

We took advantage of the tail end of Farm to Fork Sacramento’s restaurant week at Hook & Ladder. My friends were visiting from out of town and they are adventurous eaters. I wanted to try someplace none of us had been. The menu offered two choices of an entree, plus two choices of main, plus two choices of dessert. My friend and I made sure we tried it all–3 dishes each for $35 per person. Our other friend ordered the peach and pesto pizza.

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It started with a craftsman cocktail with a clever name. So clever the gin blotted it from memory.

We enjoyed the very competent service and ordered our drinks. I decided to splurge and try the cocktail. This is about twice what I normally drink. Actually, I rarely drink so how to measure? It was tasty and had a fun name I can’t remember. Sign of a good drink.

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Corn soup (cold)

We dug into our fun appetizers and agreed that we’d like more of both. But wait, we have entrees coming and a huge pizza for Nora.

We were comfortably digesting when our desserts arrived. Our server brought plenty of forks without asking. Yummy.

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Hook & Ladder is at S Street near 16th Street in downtown Sacramento. You can make reservations on Open Table. This is a good idea on the weekends. The atmosphere is not fussy, but not overly casual. And with cocktails $10 and over and a main in the high $20s, it is a good date spot or place to gather with well-heeled friends.