This article was originally published on SactownMag.com on Aug. 4, 2016.
Mural festivals have been elevating public art scenes in cities like Los Angeles, Portland and Atlanta for years, and Sacramento will soon be joining in the wall-to-wall fun, with the inaugural Sacramento Mural Festival taking place Aug. 20-27.
During the eight-day event, 12 artists will transform the exteriors of 12 buildings in the capital city into larger-than-life masterpieces. Sterling Transportation and In the Sac, a local travel guide app, will join forces with the nonprofit Friends of Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, the festival’s main sponsor, to shepherd the public from one mural to another to watch the artists at work, as well as provide transportation or directions to art-related lectures and panel discussions. The murals will primarily be painted on walls of downtown and midtown places like Faces Nightclub and Mogavero Architects at 20th and K streets.
David Sobon of midtown-based David Sobon Auctions collaborated with Beau Basse of LeBasse Projects, a renowned Los Angeles-based public art consulting agency, to curate this soon-to-be annual festival. Sobon and Basse hope to unite regional and non-local muralists and showcase the city’s art community on a broader scale. “[Artists] will have an opportunity to paint on a grand stage and to make our city even more beautiful,” says Sobon.
Four local artists will take part in this year’s festival: muralist Jake Castro, whose bold work graced the surface of the popular Art Hotel earlier this year, graphic designer Alicia Paleny, painter David Fiveash and muralist Irubiel Moreno. Other participants include Los Angeles graffiti artist Kelly Graval and Portugal-based muralist Diogo Machado. In addition to a $2,500 commission fee, each artist will be provided with a designated wall and a supply of paints, spray paints and brushes. “I think that the [Sacramento Mural Festival] will put street artists and muralists like me on the map,” says Castro. “This is a unique opportunity to show the world what the art scene here is about.”
Closing out the festival with a rooftop party will be the second annual Art Jam (whose mission is to raise money for art education in public schools), which will take place above the parking structure at 2015 L Street on Aug. 27 from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets for Art Jam are on sale now for $100 per person.
This article was originally published on SactownMag.com on July 20, 2016.
Move aside, Pokémon Go. Free Art Friday—the latest neighborhood hide-and-seek hunt that has popped up in cities like Miami, Brooklyn and Toronto—has found its way to Sacramento.
Every Friday, local art lovers can take to the streets of downtown, midtown and other parts of the capital city, using their cell phones to search not for digital pets, but for original paintings, photographs, essays, novels, poems or CDs, all the work of participating local artists.
You don’t even need to download a new app to join in. Anyone can take part in this culturally enlightened version of a scavenger hunt by looking up the hashtag #FreeArtFridaySacramento on Instagram to find clever clues about locations, left by the artists themselves. The best part? When you stumble across a trove of treasure, it’s yours to keep.
West Sacramento-based artist Alden Knight launched the Sacramento edition of Free Art Friday on July 1, after seeing how successful the movement had become in Santa Rosa, where his friend had started a series. He hopes to use the power of Instagram to connect regional artists with the public, including art aficionados who may not be able to afford original pieces.
“I noticed that there is not really anything like [Free Art Friday] in Sacramento and there are [many] talented and creative people here, so I think that this city is a perfect place to do it,” says Knight, who also owns Odd Petals, a screen-printing and art studio in West Sacramento. “This project should encourage people to be creative as well to explore the city [by] looking for art.”
A simple stroll down the street may lead some enthusiasts to stumble upon pieces like colorful paintings on stretched canvas by local artist Caitlyn Oleykowski or ink line drawings by Sacramento writer Lauren Lavin, both of whom have participated in Free Art Friday in the past and plan to give more pieces away on future hunts.
“I love how Free Art Friday is helping folks connect with each other through art and the actual finding and sharing of it, both in person and via social media,” says Lavin. “It’s definitely helping us [as artists] engage with our own community in an entirely new way.”
Clues for the scavenger hunt will be posted on Free Art Friday Sacramento’s official Instagram account every Friday (times for postings aren’t set in advance) and each hunt can last up to 24 hours (Fair warning: It pays to be fast, as art seekers have found most pieces within a few hours of posting thus far). Happy hunting, Sacramento!
This article was originally published on SactownMag.com on Aug. 17, 2016.
Picture an elevated sand dune reminiscent of the beach, a conch-shaped sculpture that makes musical notes with ear trumpets, a Zen garden with palm trees, beach chairs and driftwood, and a gaming station with Pac-Man and street racing—all smack dab in the middle of downtown.
You won’t be able to park your jalopy on 9th Street between J and K on Sept. 16, when Sacramento United Park(ing) Day returns from a one-year hiatus, transforming metered parking spaces into pop-up parklets inspired by the theme “Play.” On the other hand, you won’t get a ticket for lingering in any of these fantastical oases.
A total of 15 local groups of architects and design firms will participate in this year’s showcase, including Stafford King Wiese Architects, Lionakis and Stantec. Each group will receive a designated 9-by-22-foot stall in front of 9th Street establishments like Estelle’s Patisserie, Temple Coffee and Blackbird, the latter of which is planning to construct a permanent parklet in the future.
Beginning at 9 a.m., passersby can watch construction and converse with designers, then explore the finished products until 7 p.m., engaging with interactive displays like Hogue & Associates’ mini-carnival parklet under a fabric circus tent, with concession stands and prizes for fair-themed games like balloon darts and ring toss.
Kimberly Garza and Dalton LaVoie, members of the California Sierra Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the event’s main sponsor, are excited to organize this year’s exhibits in a lively part of downtown Sacramento.
“We hope that not only will [Park(ing) Day] bring awareness to what’s possible on our streets, but it will also get people more involved with the city and feel enriched by it through designs and art,” Garza says.
In 2005, the first United Park(ing) Day launched in San Francisco when art and design studio Rebar transformed a typical downtown parking space into a temporary public park with wooden benches and trees. Since then, the event has became a global movement with groups in countries like the United Kingdom, Germany and Singapore hosting their own versions of the event.
LaVoie and friends hope Park(ing) Day will demonstrate how Sacramento’s bustling streets can be activated artistically and inspire future events and installations.
For those who want to get their “turkey day” started early, the International House Davis is hosting its annual Thanksgiving dinner at 10 College Park. At the dinner, community members will be joined by international visitors, scholars and international students to enjoy one of the most traditional American holidays of the year.
10 College Park, Davis, CA, 95616
Nov. 19, 6 p.m.
Rosevillians have been celebrating Thanksgiving with a parade downtown for the past 55 years and this year is no different. The parade starts at the Vernon Street Town Square and features performances by local music groups, and floats from local businesses.
Vernon Street Town Square
311 Vernon Street, Roseville, CA 95678
Nov. 19, 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Clement Clarke Moore’s classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas” will come to life on the balconies of Old Sacramento at K Street and Front between the day before Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.This 8th annual colorful storytelling spectacular, produced by Stage Nine Exhibitions,will feature Emmy-nominated voice actor Bill Farmer and the voice of Disney’s Goofy.
1002 2nd Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
Nov. 23-Dec. 24, show times vary by day
More than 20,000 participants are expected to gather at the Sacramento State campus for the 22nd annual Run to Feed the Hungry. Donations from this fundraiser will go to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services and support other families in need. Join the fun or cheer on the runners. You can support Capital Public Radio’s team by signing up to join the group.
6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819
Nov. 24, 8 a.m.
The Herald Community Center will host a 5K run/walk to raise money for the Strong-as-Steele Children’s Cancer Foundation. Participants can pick up a T-shirts, swag bag, coffee, hot cocoa and other prizes.
Herald Community Center
Ivie Road, Herald, CA 95638
Nov. 24, 8 a.m.-10 a.m.
The Yoga Seed Collective will host a Slow Flow yoga class Thanksgiving Day morning at its location on E Street. The class was designed to celebrate the holiday by allowing participants to find what they’re thankful for through movement, chanting and meditation.
The Yoga Seed Collective
1400 E Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
Nov. 24, 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.
If running isn’t your thing but you still want to use your holiday to do good, then Sit to Feed the Hungry may just be the perfect alternative for you. The event is hosted by Blacktop Comedy on Sunset Boulevard in Rocklin, and proceeds go the Placer Food Bank. Activities include playing board games, video games and improvisational comedy games before heading home to celebrate the holiday with family and friends.
The city of Folsom’s Capitol Adventure will host its own Thanksgiving morning run with a 5K and 10K courses that were designed to take participants through numerous streets, trails and bridges of the city. The run starts at the Folsom City Lions Park. There will be a food and clothing drive for the Twin Lakes Food Bank.
Folsom City Lions Park
403 Stafford Street, Folsom, CA 95630
Nov. 24, 8:50 a.m.
The local LGBT center is inviting the community to its friendsgiving feast on Thanksgiving afternoon. Attendees of all ages and genders will be welcomed at the gathering and they can also bring food and drinks to contribute.
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center
1927 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95811
Nov. 24, 1-4 p.m.
This 12th annual festival will be hosted at Cal Expo where numerous booths and vendors will entertain and peddle food and drinks to attendees, who are encouraged to wear their favorite Hmong outfits, as they walk through the fairgrounds with friends and family.
Cal Expo Fairground
1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815
Nov. 24-27, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
Bring a canned good, earn a free admission —that is the offer at this year’s event by Fairytale Town to celebrate the day after Thanksgiving. The event will have free puppet shows and free arts and craft activities. Proceeds and all goods collected will go toward the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services.
3901 Land Park Dr., Sacramento, CA 95822
Nov. 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
A total of 116 out of California’s 280 state parks will offer free vehicle day-use passes to the public on Friday after Thanksgiving. Parks like Big Basin Redwoods in Santa Cruz, Mount Diablo in East Bay and Butano in Pescadero will participate in this year’s program. Visit www.greenfriday.org for a full list of participating state parks. If you want to hike off the calories from the turkey and mashed potatoes you noshed on Thursday, then CapRadio recommends this list of five trails you should consider visiting.
The Crest Theatre on K Street will show five featured Japanese animations during Thanksgiving weekend. Hardcore anime fans will get to relive popular moments from films like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Steamboy and Castle in the Sky.
1013 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
Nov. 26-27, 1 p.m.
This event is held every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving along Elk Grove Boulevard. Over 150 food, drinks, arts and craft vendors from the community will gather throughout the area. The event will also have free music performances, free photo shoots with Santa Claus, Christmas carolers and free craft corners for the youngsters.
This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on April 25, 2016.
When in search of an apartment to rent on Craigslist in 2015, Nick Bretz stumbled upon a listing from Minh Le and Chandler Hale. After moving in, the three realized that there was one bigger connection than the apartment they share together: music.
At that time, Le and Hale had already been in a four-piece band with Carlos Gutierrez and Cory Phillips since 2013. When Bretz was invited to join, the band became the five-piece Epsilona that it is today.
On Wednesday, April 27, Epsilona will jam it out on the Sacramento State stage at the University Union Serna Plaza as UNIQUE Programs’ second-to-last Nooner concert of the spring semester. (Story continues below tweets)
The Sacramento-based indie-alternative, psychedelic rock group consists of Le as vocalist, Hale as guitarist, Gutierrez as drummer, Phillips as bassist and Bretz as keyboardist.
Epsilona got its name from the intention of being different and one of a king – especially when someone does a Google search of it.
“We wanted to come up with a name that’s like a word that doesn’t exist,” Le said. “So when you Google us, it’ll just be us. And it has been working out pretty well so far. That’s the benefit of having such a memorable word.”
Epsilona said the biggest influences of its music are Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala, Toro Y Moi, John Mayer and each member’s personal musical preferences joined forces to give the band a more collective sound.
“We all like the same kind of music but, at the same time, different,” Phillips said. “I like indie rock. Carlos [Gutierrez] is into metal and punk. Minh [Le] grew up with soul and R&B. So that kind of brings all of the different things to the table.”
Bretz said he has seen a slight change in the band’s sound since he joined it in late 2015. Several months ago, Epsilona’s music, according to Bretz, was more “muddy, and everyone does what they want,” yet it retained a polished focus.
This just shows that the members of Epsilona are not afraid to show off their unique personalities when it comes to music.
Le, a senior biological sciences major at Sac State and the one who has written most of Epsilona’s songs, he said he now focuses more on stronger melody and more “listenable” and psychedelic tunes.
“Our music is good and catchy and easy to the ears,” Le said. “Nothing complicated, because I think when things get too complicated, people who aren’t music lovers would tend to over-stimulate.”
Last November, Epsilona released a six-track EP, “Thinkers,” that compiles the six songs the band believed were ready for the public to listen to. Phillips said that even though “Thinkers” was the band’s first product together, it was not as cohesive as it could have been since it was formed based on each song’s readiness, rather than a common theme that would tell the world who Epsilona truly is.
“You first release will always tend to be like a result of choosing songs you first wrote as a band,” Le said. “So they’re all really early stuff. But the advantage in that, as you start going on, is that you get a chance to really refine your sound. You’re no longer picking those first songs you happened to write. Now, you get to really think about it.
“Thinkers” includes a prelude track that serves as an introduction to the band and its music by giving a live experience.
“We usually start our shows with the song of the prelude,” Hale said. “The album actually starts with Minh [Le] plugging in his guitar, so it’s relatively live-esque. [The EP] is pretty similar to what our shows would be.”
In the meantime, Epsilona is working on new material to be released as singles throughout this year before a new album sets to come out late-2016 and early-2017. This June, the band will also headline a liquid light show at the second annual First Festival in Southside Park of Downtown Sacramento.
“We’re in the right place at the right time,” Phillips said of his band’s current local status. “Even though Sacramento does not have a big music scene, the city has been very receptive t our music, and we get a lot of support from people here.”
This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on May 3, 2016.
For being only four years old, City of Trees Brass Band has already garnered widespread attention across Sacramento for being able to infuse the local music scene with its mixture of traditional New Orleans funk and West Coast contemporary sound that is played by seasoned musicians.
City of Trees Brass Bands performance at Sacramento State on Wednesday, May 4 marks the last Nooner concert of the spring semester to be hosted by UNIQUE Programs.
The concert will once again be held at the University Union Serna Plaza.
Formerly known as the Brasstronauts, City of Trees Brass Band was formed by Ben Hillier in 2013 and is currently one of the only two well-known brass bands in the city of Sacramento.
The other band, Element Brass Band, has also performed at Sac State in the past.
Michelle Gunvordahl, operation manager and photographer of City of Trees Brass Band, said that the band has become this established today because of Hillier’s ability to lead the group as well as his knowledge in how to spotlight the band at the right moment and time.
“Since the beginning, Ben [Hillier] knows that producing good music isn’t enough to make it in the scene,” Gunvordahl said. “You have to network with other musicians and bands and advertise in effective ways. Ben [Hillier] knows how to recruit great players but is also a great support staff who makes sure that our name gets out there.”
One factor that makes City of Trees Brass Band different is its line-up.
Hillier said the band constantly changes its line-up, though not based on preferences of who is good and who is not, but rather because of each member’s availability.
Currently, some of the core members of City of Trees Brass Band are Hillier on the sousaphone, Jon Vento and Matt Vollmer on trumpets, and Bill Bua and Isaac Negrete on saxophones.
For Hillier, line-up changes do not hinder the band’s performance or its chemistry one bit.
“That’s one of the exciting things about this band,” Hillier said. “Every time you see our shows, it could be a totally different composition of players.”
Hillier said the sound that makes the band distinctive is not about who plays in the gig but more on how the music is played.
“It’s more the way that we play the music,” Hillier said. “We are a collective of people who study second-line funk and apply it to this modern, West Coast party band sound.”
Beside the authentic New Orleans’ second-line scene, City of Trees Brass Band is also influenced by the more popular and contemporary sound – especially hip-hop, with influences pulled from the likes of Snoop Doog and Fat Domino. The band also mixes New Orleans funk with video game and cartoon soundtracks such as “Zelda” and “Pokemon.”
“We’re just trying to get people to dance,” Hillier said.
City of Trees also developed its own education outreach where, for one to two days a week, core members host musical clinics at grade schools in local impoverished areas to encourage students to approach music from a more natural point of view.
“[The outreach program] is basically our baby, really,” Bua said. “Teaching young people how to play music and exposing them to music are not only gratifying, but it’s also helping us ensure the survival of the music, because who would come after us if we don’t expose these kids to our music.”
Hillier said the purpose of City of Trees’ visits to classrooms is to enrich each student’s knowledge on what it’s truly like to be a musician.
“As the kids come in to their classrooms and sit down, the brass band begins playing,’ Hillier said of how a typical musical clinic goes. “Then, they can get that experience of what it’s like for people walking by on the street and see us play. It’s the experience of discovering a band in a place that they didn’t expect.”
City of Trees is most known in the area for its street performances. Hillier said the band earns more money from busking in Downtown Sacramento and Midtown than in bar gigs.
The band also travels to nearby cities to busk, not only to promote its music but also to bring an awareness to the free-willed musical cause that it is doing to serve the community.
As much as he appreciates the spontaneity of busking, Bua, unlike Hillier, said he prefers club gigs.
“I love the street gigs, I truly do,” Bua said, “but the club gigs are more gratifying in the sense that you are reaching the audience who are there to hear you, rather than just passing by to watch you play briefly.”
In the meantime, City of Trees Brass Band is recording a few tracks in the studio, even if Hillier would rather stick to the more live and spontaneous feel the band has been known for all these years.
However, Hillier promises that the band will never lose its authentic aesthetic, which is rooted in the marriage between New Orleans class and West Coast sass.
“We think of music as language,” Hillier said. “The more you talk to somebody and the more you converse with them, the better the conversations flow.”
This article was originally published on StateHornet.com on May 24, 2016.
Former President Bill Clinton made a campaign stop at Sacramento State’s University Union Ballroom on Monday, May 23 as part of his California trip to fundraise and promote his wife’s, Secretary Hillary Clinton, presidential run.
In his 30-minute speech at the rally, Clinton gave accounts of how his wife’s experienced past as First Lady and Secretary of State would be helpful if she became the next president of the United States.
The former president also talked about education, immigration reforms, tax credits for child adoptions, Donald Trump and the continuous discrimination shown towards the LGBT community.
“A college loan is the only loan in the United States you cannot refinance when the interest rates go down, and that is wrong,” the former president said.
He also said that as much progress as the U.S. has made with LGBT reforms, “you can get married on Friday and fired on Monday.”
When he mentioned the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, the crowd’s boos and hisses grew so loud that most of what Clinton said became inaudible.
Clinton made a different stop in Stockton, California before arriving at the Sac State campus. Afterward, he attended a private fundraising event at the Land Park home of former state Treasurer Phil Angelides.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Bill Clinton was 90 minutes late to the Sac State event due to an unscheduled meeting with California Governor Jerry Brown.
The Monday event was open to the public and organized by the Hillary for America campaign and the Sac State College Democrats organization.
Tim Sullivan, president of Sac State College Democrats, said the campaign approached his organization to host the event on Thursday.
“We acted as a go-between between event services and the campaign and just facilitating and help streamline the process,” Sullivan said. “Working with a campus organization makes putting on an event like this much easier for an outside party.”
In attendance at the event at Sac State were special guest speakers hailing from around California and hundreds of other Hillary Clinton supporters who came with hats, buttons, and signs to show support for the candidate.
The list of guests who spoke before former President Clinton to rally up the crowd were: Assemblyman of District 30, Luis Alejo; Senator Isadore Hall III; Senator Kevin De Leon; and Jordan Hunter, a high school senior from Jesuit High School, who said he will cast his first vote as a registered voter for Hillary Clinton.
The line of attendees waiting to get into the ballroom stretched from the check-in counter to the outside of the University Union building.
Some attendees were in line for three hours to get in to the Union Ballroom to see the former president speak in-person.
“It was really cool to have … the former president come to Sac State instead of like UC Davis, and be right here in our backyard,” said Sac State alumna Paris Ryan who, despite showing enthusiasm for seeing a former president, also wished the event could have been better organized.
Fely Sita-Makaba, a volunteer for the Hillary for America campaign and a Sac State alumna, said she found out about the event the day before but was still excited to show up to shake hands with the former President.
“My boyfriend met [former President Bill Clinton] and shook his hand before and I was like one day, I’ll get to do that too,” Sita-Makaba said. “And I did today. Twice, and I have selfie pictures to prove.”
Sheri Jennings, who graduated from Sac State in the 80’s, echoed the former president’s call-to-action by saying that she wants to see Secretary Hillary Clinton in the White House as president.
“We’re too whiney,” Jennings said. “We’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. I want people to go out there and vote.”
The last day to register to vote in the primary was Monday, May 23. The California Presidential Primary Election will be on Tuesday, June 7.