Art the Theme of McKinley Village


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.


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.

When Your Hometown Becomes a Destination


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.


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


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.



Not Every Adventure Needs to Be Big



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.


Where is Gramma J?

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


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.



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.

Finally Watched the Bats on Yolo Causeway

IMG_2627Most of us are afraid of bats at an almost instinctual level. Unlike snakes and spiders though, I am hardpressed to name a species of bat. The other night I learned there are more species of bat of any other type of mammal except rodents. I might have known at one time in Jr High biology that bats are mammals, but it was good to be reminded.

I wasn’t prepared for the bat expert, Corky Quirk, to have live bats on display in small plastic carriers. They were fascinating to look at up close and watch as they stretched a wing or moved about. However, I was still pretty creeped out. Corky gives a great presentation including playing a rap on echolocation. She uses a camera to give us an larger than life view of the bats eating.

After a quick last bathroom break and a chance to buy a t-shirt, we piled into the van and our cars and drove out to the public entrance to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and drove the loop until we needed to turn off onto some farm roads to reach where the bats live during the day. You cannot go there without the Foundation volunteers, although you can watch a smaller colony of 15,000 bats fly out from the first parking lot.

IMG_2629The best time to see them leave is about 30 minutes before sundown. The sun had already mostly gone down when the ribbon of bats started exiting from under the Yolo Causeway. It was impressive. The colony we watched fly out to eat insects all night under the Yolo County sky was a mix of mothers and adolescent pups. Bats do us a great service by eating their weight in insects every night (and twice that when moms are nursing). I was happy to learn so much about this small but mighty member of our ecosystem.

C715A256-2067-4134-87D6-DE8AA07FA297I’ve been a supporter of the Yolo Basin Foundation for 5 years and have heard various people extol the niftiness of watching the bats leave their “cave” under the Yolo Causeway. Finally I helped to organize a group of colleagues so I participate in one of the Bat Talk and Walks. You can sign up for a public Bat Talk and Walk on the Foundation’s website. Or you can contact Corky and arrange a private tour for your group, $12 per adult and a minimum $240 donation. You must have at least 12 and they can accommodate up to 60 people.


Now On-line: California Delta Tourism Website

The Delta Marketing Taskforce has quietly been working away behind the scenes to develop a 5 year strategy and build a website that promotes California Delta Tourism. As someone who remembers the battle over the logo a few years ago, I find this remarkable. It is a beautiful site.

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On places to eat there are over 40 restaurants. Other sections are yet to be filled out. It is a promising start. Check it out.

Batty for Bats on the Bypass!

The Yolo Basin Foundation released the new dates for Bat Walks and Talks on the Yolo Basin Wildlife Area. You must buy tickets in advance and the dates can fill up fast. If you want to see this fascinating phenomenon of the bats flying out from underneath the Yolo Causeway to feast on night insects, and learn how bats benefit us, then sign up now. $12 per adult

From the website: Following a 45 minute indoor presentation on bat natural history, the group will carpool out to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area to watch the “flyout” of the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California. The bats emerge in long ribbons as they head out to hunt for insects for the night. To get to the viewing site, the group will caravan through wetlands and rice fields to an area not open to the public.

The whole experience takes about 3 hours. This is a family friendly event! There is a small amount of walking. Those in wheelchairs or unable to walk may view the bats by car. Please let us know if you have special needs.