Archive for October, 2010

Sacramento Press Turns 2!

Sacramento Press, the ‘online newspaper’ that brought citizen journalism to town in a big way, celebrates its second anniversary today.

It’s hard to believe how far SacPress has come in two short years.  I was introduced to the site  very shortly after their launch by MM’s old business director, Brian Fischer, who told me to take a look at the ‘future of journalism.’  There were a few articles, a few editorials, and a couple of pictures.  To put it bluntly, I was unimpressed.

Cut to a month later when they had started an incredibly suave  awareness campaign (including, full disclosure, some MM ads) and a distinct buzz was starting around the project.  I checked back in on the site, and whoa, there was something there!  Almost from the beginning, SacPress garnered a devoted following of volunteer contributors who filled the site with a wide variety of content.  To their credit, SacPress founders Ben Ilfield and Geoff Samek had tapped into the zeitgeist that propelled sites like MySpace and YouTube to such success and applied the same user-driven concepts to the community newspaper.  The nearly instant transformation from empty site to thriving community was pretty amazing. 

My one complaint about SacPress 1.0 was that there was no editorial vetting of contributors or their information.  An early fluff-up ocurred when it was revealed that a pro-KJ article had been posted by Johnson’s own brother- with no revelation that he had any relationship (the two have different last names) with Johnson.  I read a few SacPress articles about arts or creative stuff that turned out to be written by the people who were also the subject of the articles!  The plan was that the site would be self-regulating, and truth is that the SacPress community (often in the form of the indefatigable Bill Burg) usually responded quickly, filling out or correcting information.

As the site grew and added more editorial staff (including  well known former Bee staffer David Watts Barton), the decision was made to add more oversight and accountability to the contribution process.  This single change (to my mind, anyway) improved the site immeasurably; the overall quality of the posts skyrocketed.

Two years in, and Sacramento Press has become a vital part of the city’s public dialogue.  Congratulations to Ben and Geoff (and all the folks over there) on adding a voice to the Sacramento mediascape, and for succeeding in one of the darkest times for media companies, and the economy at large.  They have done something very difficult, and they’ve done it very well.  

Happy Birthday!

Movie night at The Verge

Liv Moe and I will be hosting the new, slightly improved, MidMoMoNi (MidMo Movie Night) at the Verge Gallery, this upcoming Tuesday night (October 19th). We’ll be showing the creeptastic and beardful classic: John Carpenter’s The Thing, starring that hunk of dude, Captain Ron himself, Kurt Russell.

Tuesday, October 19th
7:30 pm
Donation goes to The Verge Gallery (625 S st.)
beer for sale and popcorn FREE

He Never Went Into the River

A tale of drunkenness and mystery at 28th and B.  From Spotcrime, via the Skipper:

Revisit Sacramento in 1966 – Sunday, 10/17 at the Living Library

In 1966, young filmmaker Richard Simpson took his 16MM camera down to Sacramento’s waterfront district just as wrecking crews descended on everything west of Second Street.  Documenting the end of an era, Simpson interviewed the down and outers who filled what has been called ‘the worst slum west of the Mississipi’ as the jackhammers and wrecking balls sound around them.   The resulting half hour film, Marshes of 2 Street, premiered on KVIE and showed extensively on public TV stations across the country.  Simpson will screen the film (its first public showing in decades) and will discuss the making of the documentary, its reception, and the long-lost Sacramento world it depicts.

Sacramento Living Library
Richard Simpson
7PM, All Ages, Free,
Time Tested Books, 1114 21st Street

Coz the Ballot is too darn long

Kim Alexander of got together with some her musician friends last Saturday at Barber’s Alfa Romeo Shop to record her breakdown of the 2010 California state propositions. This may help clear things up a bit. Although with subject matter this challenging, you may have to watch it twice.

The Wild and Wonderful Whites Are Coming!

I haven’t been this excited about a film screening since The Crest showed a mint print of The Bicycle Thief a decade or so ago… although mentioning the Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia in the same breath as Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece would likely annoy both the Italian director and the White family.

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia is a documentary that captures West Virginia’s notorious outlaw White family in all their unfettered glory.  A sequel of sorts to the 1991 cult hit Dancing Outlaw, Wild Whites checks in with the rambunctious family two decades later.  Director Julien Nitzberg (who ‘discovered’ the Whites in the ’80s while shooting a documentary on outsider musician Hasil Adkins) spent a year in Boone County West Virginia, filming the parties, fights, births, deaths, weddings and arrests of the clan.  The finished film has wowed film festival audiences and received rave reviews, including a nice write up in the New York Times.

The film will show on Thursday October 28 at the Crest, and Nitzberg will be on hand to speak about the film and answer questions from the audience.  Don’t Miss this!

Art Picks: October 2010

Crocker Art Museum
Grand Opening: Teel Family Pavilion
October 10

The impending Grand Opening of the new 125,000 square-foot Teel Family Pavilion (and reopening of the rest of the Crocker) has all but sucked the air out of the Sacramento art scene Read more »

Crocker 3.0

It’s coming! 10.10.10 or for those of us who are members, 10.09.10.

Some 3 years ago now, when I ventured into the Brutalist Harold Wing for the last time, 10.10.10 seemed ages away. Looking back it seems like the time has almost flown.

Last week I got to tour the expansion for what would be my third time, though this was my first tour with the art close to fully installed. It proved to be far more than one can possibly take in, in a day, let alone an afternoon.

The exuberance for the collection and the space itself is apparent in the installation of the work. Each gallery is teeming with art that is literally hung floor to ceiling in some cases.

As our regular readers know, Midmo has already covered the bones of the expansion. Previous posts and articles have detailed the architecture, and what lead us to this momentous date. With that said the following should serve as a highlights reel of sorts and is in no way a complete representation of what the new Crocker will offer.

A Pioneering Collection: Master Drawings from the Crocker Art Museum is perhaps my favorite of the new galleries currently installed. The low ceilings and low light create an intimate environment for viewing works by masters like Vittore Carpaccio, Fragonard and Ingres, and Anthony van Dyck.

This was one of the few spaces I didn’t attempt a photo as a result of the low lighting designed to preserve these delicate works. In hindsight I wish magnifying glasses were provided similar to the Rembrandt show I attended at The Hammer Museum earlier this year. Many of the works are small and highly detailed, like Carpaccio’s Meeting of the Doge and Pope at Ancona. Finding yourself in this room is like discovering a treasure chest.

Lial Jones, Director of the museum leads us into the Thiebaud gallery.

Next door to the Master Drawing Collection is Wayne Thiebaud: Homecoming. Thiebaud is getting a lot of attention these days – last week he was featured both in the New York Times and in Google’s Masthead. It may seem ridiculous that I would liken the two, however, earning oneself a spot in the Google masthead suggests that one’s work is recognizable enough to warrant such high profile web real estate.

Wayne Thiebaud, "Five Seated Figures," 1965

Much like the subjects Thiebaud often represents, his paintings grant the viewer the immediate intense pleasure that comes as a result of consuming sweets. The compositions are like neurological candy, bright, masterful, and engaging. Similar to sweets Thiebaud’s work is a sure crowd pleaser.

Head upstairs from these two exhibitions and you will find yourself confronted by Tomorrow’s Legacies: Gifts Celebrating the Next 125 Years across from California and American Art, spanning from impressionism to the present day.

On the California and American Art side I was most impressed by the way the impressionist work was hung. The wall colors from room to room created the mood and feeling of a Victorian salon and lent themselves beautifully to the rich works on display.

Arthur Mathews, "Vision of Saint Francis," 1911

Rounding the corner into the exhibit from the contemporary galleries, Vision of Saint Francis, by Arthur Mathews, will stop you in your tracks. The work’s tonal qualities creates a flatness of color and form which causes this piece to feel almost atmospheric.

Salon style hanging is kept to a minimum in the new wing which I must admit I very much enjoy. In the areas where the salon style is employed it works in a way far more conducive to viewing art than was the case in the historic mansion. Though the salon style is more appropriate for the time period it doesn’t lend itself well to the act of viewing art.

Ning Hou, "Salt of the Earth," 1996

Taking a chronological journey up the breezeway will spirit you on to contemporary California cruising past multiple works along the way. The real standout among them is this gorgeous piece by delta painter Ning Hou. Salt of the Earth is distinctly different from all other works I have seen by this artist. The subject matter is arresting, depicted with a clarity and beauty befitting a photograph.

After popping into one of the contemporary galleries I happened upon Charles Simonds, Dwelling, from 1982. Much like viewing the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings themselves, the miniature nature of this installation gives the viewer the same distance one feels in visiting the actual location.

What’s this!?!?!? Is that KVIE’s own Rob Stewart aka Rob on the Road checking out those cliff dwellings?

Gerald Silva, "Steamy Window Series: J Street View," 1990

The other pieces worth checking out in this collection include one of Gerald Silva’s masterful steamy window paintings.

Robert Bechtle, "French Doors II," 1966

French Doors II, by Robert Bechtle follows a similar vein with a distinct bent toward the more voyeuristic.

Daniel Douke, "Widescreen," 2009

This piece was no big deal. Just an empty Mac box displayed in a vitrine… or is it?!

As I continue writing this piece I realize that a brief highlights reel is fast become a full blown article. No surprise really given the breadth and depth of works on display in our new and improved institution. Before I draw this all to a close I want to direct your attention to the next best thing about the new Crocker after the art and architecture.

Patrick and Bobbin Mulvaney will be overseeing the cafe and catering in the new space! This is huge on so many levels. First off for those of us who need several hours to tour a museum, quality sustenance is a like a drink of cool water in the desert. Second the cafe will be open to the public whether or not you plan on visiting the whole museum. Third and last, I am delighted to see such a major contract go to a local operator.

In total the new and improved Crocker is on track to elevate our regional dialogue to new heights. What’s more, the company I found myself traveling in last week from Christopher Knight of the LA Times to Glen Helfand of Art Forum, left me to realize the real impact the new Crocker will have on a national stage.

In short this is perhaps a much bigger deal than any of us could have imagined.

Oto’s Annual Market Place

In my travels today I stumbled upon Oto’s annual outdoor marketplace! Today (Sunday, October 3) only swing by Oto’s parking lot for some tasty bites of food, produce, and recipes. I just took home some curry and yummy toasted seaweed.

A trip to Oto’s parking lot this afternoon will score you dinner tonight and if you’ve never checked this place out, today would be a great time to start!

Oto’s Market
5770 Freeport Blvd.
DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!