A Fresh Start
The Weekly’s new arts editor welcomes a new season.
Thursday, September 7, 2006
I get it, the feeling of exhilaration combined with blind fear that a surfer must feel after paddling out and instantly meeting a skyscraper of wave that was, gulp, just what she wanted. I don’t even have my phone mailbox programmed with a message yet, but here it is, the Fall Arts Preview—and the agenda for the next three months for most of us here at the Weekly.
I have to grin when I write that. It’s still so new to be
on this side of the phone/e-mail communications, with arts
organizations pitching stories on the other. I’ve been so long
on the other side—as director of an arts council, an art
school, an art museum, curator of galleries and organizer of
festivals and arts-in-schools, presenter of music and literary
events and advocate for the arts. Now I’m being phased in like
a new flavor that’s kind of peculiar until you get used to it,
and on this tilted runway of a learning curve I’m responsible
for visual arts, jazz, classical music, dance and, of course,
the exciting world of uncategorizable arts and culture. As you
see from this Fall Preview, it’s going to be busy around
~ ~ ~
This first September weekend was a preview of what’s to come, beginning with a Friday morning Monterey Community Foundation gathering of arts leaders and arts journalists, and an evening at the Steinbeck Museum opening of La Lotería (with artist Teresa Villegas explaining the fascinating history of this Mexican game of chance) followed by tour of Salinas galleries (the Valley Art Gallery is celebrating its 30th year as an artist co-op—clear evidence of an arts community with peace in its heart). Saturday, after showing my trusty San Franciscan sidekick Andrew the gorgeous paintings of SF streets by Barry Masteller at the Monterey Museum of Art, we adjourned to the Greek Festival—where dancing was irresistible and the music, food, fun and sun conjured Never on Sunday (a never-fail antidote to the blues when you don’t have an actual Greek Festival)—without the hookers with hearts of gold, of course.
We had planned to see what promised to be a rollicking
Recycled Art fashion show at the Nido Gallery with music by
Vermillion Lies—whom my colleagues here opine will be the next
BIG group to come out of this county—but because of the
Highway 1 Labor Day traffic jam, we pushed on to Carmel,
strolled the galleries and, filled with moussaka and
spanakopita, delayed dining and enjoyed a glass of good wine
at Giovanni Bistro before landing at the Jazz & Blues
Company to hear Along Came Betty. In this intimate setting the
high energy interplay of masterful musicians performing
intelligent original works by pianist Biff Smith was nothing
short of bliss. Oooh, this is going to be good. Was it Mark
Twain who said “if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing
too much of?”
~ ~ ~
OK, come with me on this crazy trip. We can get a fast start this weekend when Pacific Grove stays open all night for Artwalk. The showstopper is likely to be at Pacific Grove Art Center, where our local Artists Equity is showing and also hosting displaced artists from New Orleans Artists Equity in a Katrina Blues exhibit. Blues is, of course, walking right in behind them, as Friday’s opening will feature the Mississippi to Monterey Blues Project.
Also opening in Pacific Grove at the Lisa Coscino Gallery is what looks like a primer for photographers, Varieties of the Photographic Experience. Meet the artists, including Brian Taylor, whose work is pictured on page 18, and quiz them about their use of antique or unconventional printing techniques that imbue seemingly mundane images with that je ne sais quoi that implies a heftier content.
Jazz is omnipresent the next weekend as the world converges on the Monterey Fairgrounds for the most famous jazz festival of all. I wanna go Friday night to hear that sweet smooth sound of Richard Bona, to see what happens when you plug Roy Hargrove into Kurt Elling and the Yellowjackets, and then test my theory that Hargrove and RH Factor can change the rhythm of my heartbeat. S’possible.
Saturday, to hear Bonnie Raitt’s husky storytelling in a jazz context in the afternoon, and in the evening, the coolest of the cool dudes, McCoy Tyner, Hargrove and Bobby Hutcherson—I know I won’t stop grinning for a week. Sunday, Dave Brubeck, the object of my first obsessive compulsive playing of a jazz record—I know I’m not alone in that (compounded by jazz drummer boyfriend’s determination to explain every twitch of Joe Morello’s fingers)—debuting his Cannery Row Suite. Then we can offer our obeisances to Oscar Peterson, who broke all the rules even before Brubeck broke them. I’m exhausted so good. And it’s still September.
Soon it will be the season for chamber music and a chance to witness a different form of intertwining instrumentation demonstrated by masters: Trio Solisti, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble and the Fine Arts Quartet. The Monterey Symphony season will take us on a journey from Sondheim to Shostakovich—I have the highest expectations. CSMB’s world music concerts promise to enrich and enthrall, and Momix dance company will bring a new twist—or two—to Halloween. As I look at the season, and look over Ryan Masters’ shoulder at the theater lineup for fall, I am preparing to begin a new program of my own. Vitamins. And six hours sleep every night and no writing under the covers. See you around!