Extensive events at Chautauqua Days and Art in the Adobes enter the art ring this weekend.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
The collision of overlapping big events happens a lot in Monterey County, especially during the festival-prone summertime. It just happened two weeks ago, with the Monterey Jazz Festival and the American LeMans Series making noise the same weekend. Philip Glass and company maneuvered their inaugural Days & Nights Festival away from the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Carmel Bach Festival, but got caught in Car Week traffic.
Festival overlap. It happens. And it’s happening again, with two similarly giant art-centric events this weekend. Old Monterey’s inaugural Art in the Adobes will display rarely seen historic Monterey region and California and abroad paintings in several downtown adobes including Larkin House, Casa Serrano and Cooper-Molera, the Monterey Library, Monterey Museum of Art (not so novel there, but… ) and Colton Hall, with lectures at Monterey City Council chambers and affiliated events at Fisherman’s Wharf, Youth Arts Collective and MY Museum. Pacific Grove’s Chautauqua Days is a diverse assemblage of annually occurring events at Pacific Grove Art Center, Chautauqua Hall, the Museum of Natural History and elsewhere, including the Butterfly Parade, the Historic Home Tour, lectures, dances and big art shows including Artists in Chautauqua.
Parties from each event say the head-to-head scheduling is coincidental.
“We chose that date back in February,” says James Bryant, an Art in the Adobes organizer and president of the Old Monterey Business Association. “We looked at [calendars] and tried to choose a date where we wouldn’t conflict with anyone… we did not know about the Chautauqua event.”
Adrianne M. Jonson, owner of Artisana Gallery, a Chautauqua Days co-sponsor, explains their choice of dates:
“It happens every year, the first weekend in October,” she says. “The events that coincide with it – the historical homes tour, lectures, dances – have been going on for 72 years. Artists in Chautauqua’s been going on for nine years. I think the city of Pacific Grove knew about [Art in the Adobes] but it’s not going to change an annual event, even though it may conflict. I think [the two events] can be complementary.”
So, no rivalry, nothing personal. But let’s pretend there is a rivalry and it is personal: Here’s a look at the tale of the tape to see how these two contenders (for the patronage of art lovers) stack up.
Name. Chautauqua Days conjures a curiously Native American vibe and may sound like a prequel to the Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights, but the origin of the name comes from the 137-year-old Chautauqua Institution – which founded the P.G. venue Chautauqua Hall 130 years ago – that sought to sow art, science and religion in poor and remote communities. That nonprofit is named for its summer home on Chautauqua Lake in Southwestern New York state.
Art in the Adobes is as literal as a lecture title; say, “Women’s Work in the Early Central Coast Art Scene,” which is an actual lecture proffered in Art in the Adobes’ cultural sprawl. The name is evocative and alliterative, which gives it a certain poetry, but Chautauqua Days edges it out in linguistic dexterity.
Age. This weekend is the first Art in the Adobes, while it’s Pacific Grove’s 130th Chautauqua Days. In arts and culture festivals, unlike Hollywood actresses, aging is a desirable trait, seen as a mark of endurance and respectability. But wait, says Teresa Del Piero, co-chair of Art in the Adobes and chairperson of the Monterey Museum of Art Collector’s Guild: “I’m not familiar with [Chautauqua Days]… I know it’s things that have happened before. Ours is new.”
But Jonson, from the Chautauqua camp, is brazen: “This year is our 130th anniversary, it ends in a zero.” Whereas, one can imagine she’s thinking, Art in the Adobes is a zero. Oooohh.
Record. The Chautauqua team boasts artist Ray Troll, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow who turned the NOAA building near Point Pinos Lighthouse into a work of marine art, and his beautiful, graphical series of large, colorful ocean life drawings at the P.G. Museum of Natural History (5pm Sat opening). They’ve got holdovers from each of the 62 artists of the Monterey County Artists Studio Tour at Pacific Grove Art Center (noon Fri-Sat). They’ve got a slew of Central Coast artists, including Marcia Stearns, Claire Metzler, Peter Silzer and Carol Pavesi, showing at Chautauqua Hall (10am-4pm Sun).
But Art in the Adobes brags of knockout prestige in its roster of artists: Charles Rollo Peters, Jo Mora, E. Charlton Fortune, Gottardo Piazzoni, M. Evelyn McCormick, Armin Hansen.
But Jonson counters: “Many of the artists [at Artists in Chautauqua] will be present.” Meaning: many of your artists, Art in the Adobes, are dead. Ouch.
Theme. Both contenders are strong in history. Though Art on the Wharf at Fisherman’s Wharf is made up of currently working artists, its big sister, Art in the Adobes, pulled “hidden treasures” from surprisingly deep collections from the city of Monterey, California State Parks and Monterey History & Art Association. And they pull off a one-two thematic combo by placing historic paintings inside historic buildings. Chautauqua Days is more all over the map: The marine life of Troll’s work, myriad mediums of Artists at Chautauqua, and a medley of contemporary stuff at PGAC. P.G. wields a diverse arsenal, while Monterey is focused.
Accessibility. The many events of Chautauqua Days are well-coordinated: “We made sure the events didn’t overlap,” says Jonson, “because sometimes [multi-pronged events] are a free-for-all.” (Like Art in the Adobes, Jonson? Is that what I’m hearing?) What a gameplan. One can literally move from venue to venue and catch every single Chautauqua event – except for a little infighting skirmish between artist Ray Troll’s lecture and the wee ones of the Itty Bitty Variety Show, both colliding 3pm Saturday. Many events are free; the highest ticket is Sunday’s $20, docent-lead Historic Homes Tour and most everything else clocks in at $5-$10.
The $75 all-access weekend pass or the $30 one-day pass for Art in the Adobes can knock the wind out of regular folks’ wallets (and the events come in packages, rather than piecemeal). But they drop their guard: $15 Sunday specials for locals, students with ID, military and seniors; a family package at $35; and family fare. “Hey,” I hear Pacific Grove calling out, “we’ve got family fare, too. The Butterfly Parade! A puppet show!” Back to your corner, P.G.
Surprises. Mary Alice, who heads the Wharf effort, nonchalantly dropped a doozy: “We’ve got chalk art, poster art, painting on real squid and fish. They’re dead.” Wow. Top that, P.G. But America’s Last Hometown is staggered, thinking, “Painting on dead squid and fish… ”
Secret Weapon. The Adobe camp’s first of four lectures (10am Sat) is a powerhouse in Scott Shields, who, just a few years ago, wrote what is “already considered the classic text on California artists between 1875 and 1907,” says Bryant. But those in the Chautauqua camp are no chumps. In addition to artist Ray Troll, who says he used to swim in Lake Chautauqua as a kid, P.G.’s bringing out lectures by their poet-in-residence (and, apparently, a comedienne) Dr. Barbara Mossberg (7pm Fri) and writer Neal Hotelling on the history of the Chautauqua Movement (1pm Sat). Mmm. Tough call.
Winner? After scoring the preparation and all the weighing in, who looks favored to come out on top of this collision of culture, this Pugilism on the Peninsula? You, dear reader. You win.
ART IN THE ADOBES opens 5-7pm Friday, and runs 10am-5pm Saturday and Sunday (10am-7pm Saturday for Art on the Wharf) in downtown Monterey (get tickets at MMA-Pacific). www.ArtInTheAdobes.org, 612-9200.
CHAUTAUQUA DAYS runs noon-10pm Friday, 9:30am-9pm Saturday, 10am-4pm Sunday in Pacific Grove. www.ci.pg.ca.us, 373-3304.