Archive for the 'Blog' Category

Je Suis Charlie

Cartoon by Magnus Shaw.

Cartoon by Magnus Shaw.

The horrible news out of France this morning hits close to home for me – on multiple levels.

As a sometime journalist who runs a news/media organization, I empathize with my colleagues across the Atlantic. I’ve published controversial stories (although, to be sure, nothing remotely as dangerous as the satire of Islam that Charlie Hebdo was known for) but I have never feared for my safety because of it. That they refused to back down in the face of clear and evident danger is a testament to their dedication to the ideals of freedom of speech and of the press.

I also empathize as a fellow cartoonist.  I began my career as a comic book artist, later doing comic strips which were published in the Davis Aggie and Alive and Kicking newspaper. I was named one the country’s top 10 college cartoonists when I was at UC Davis, and for years I hoped to make cartooning a full time gig again. While I haven’t done comics in years, cartooning remains my first love, and to see these artists killed over their work is truly heartbreaking.

Through my love of comics I made one of my best friends: a Parisian comics nut named Nikola Acin. Nikola and I met at the San Diego Comic Con in the early nineties and bonded instantly over a shared love of EC Comics and old newspaper strips. I visited Nikola in Paris several times, spending many hours hanging out in his favorite bars with a coterie of cartoonists and comics-obsessed friends. Comic shops were everywhere, and unlike in the states, it seemed like everyone – not just pimply teenaged boys – read comics. My time there was a revelation – Nikola and his friends were savvy, saucy bon vivants for whom comics were an essential part of a well-lived life.

I can only imagine their horror today.

Yesterday’s attack was the act of cowards, afraid of the modern world. Afraid of freedom of thought. Of freedom of religion. Afraid of homosexuality. Afraid of women being treated equal to men. Afraid that their god is so weak that he can be brought low by mere humans – by cartoonists, no less.

To the slain cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo – editor Stephane Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut and Bernard Velhac: I salute you .  Je Suis Charlie.



Skinner Howard Gallery is Closing

After seven years, gallerists Pamela Skinner and Gwenna Howard have announced that they will be closing their gallery space at the end of June.

While the retail space will be closing, the pair say that they will be exploring alternative ways to sell and show art.  As they put it in their closing announcement, “It is not ‘business-as-usual’ and we have to find a better way going forward .”

Skinner Howard tended to be one of the bright spots on a sometimes dull Sacto contemporary art calendar.  The gallery boasted a number of exemplary artists in their stable (John Yoyogi Fortes immediately comes to mind) and their willingness to showcase emerging artists (like former UCD student Mathew Zefeldt, whom we profiled here) meant that a visit to the gallery could offer happy surprises unlikely to be found elsewhere in the city.  At one point, Skinner Howard was the only commercial gallery in the city that rivaled JAYJAY for cultural literacy.

The loss comes as Sacramento’s contemporary art scene is in a major state of flux: Milk Gallery, a promising ‘new kid on the block,’ announced last month that they would be shuttering their Alkali Flat space after June; a pale shadow of the once-esteemed Solomon-Dubnick Gallery collapsed in scandal months ago; Tangent Gallery is slated to end their five year run at the end of summer; the Verge Gallery (full disclosure: run by my wife Liv Moe) has yet to open a new gallery to replace the 19th Street space they left two years ago;  and, rumor has it that another major Midtown gallery is about to shut its doors.  On the plus side, Bows and Arrows continues to mount ambitious, priced-to-move shows at their multi-use space on 19th, and Elliot Fouts has just relocated his eponymous gallery to 19th and P, across from CCAS and Axis.  Couple these changes with the decline of Second Saturday and it’s easy to say that things are wildly shifting for contemporary art on the Grid.

This month will be your last chance to see Skinner Howard’s exceptional space at 723 S Street.  Stop by on Second Saturday and wish Pamela and Gwenna luck.

Announcement below:


Dear Art Patrons, Collectors, Family and Friends

For the past 7 years we have been filling a 5000 square feet space with around 80 ART shows accommodating the art of approximately 200 artists…!  A lot of effort and work and we have done this with fervor and passion. It just what we do and what we like. However, the monthly pressure of maintaining a large space is something we can do without and we’re looking for different ways to show/sell art. It is not “business-as-usual” and we have to find a better way going forward .

We have decided to close the current gallery, take some time out, recharge, redirect, and find a business model that will work for both of us. It is a bitter-sweet decision, since the gallery space we created is one-of-a-kind and we will miss it a lot. We will miss you and wanted to thank you so much for your great support, patronage and being part of the Skinner Howard Contemporary Gallery.

We will maintain and keep our website current. We will still represent our artists.

We are still art brokers/dealers and will be available to be of service to you.

We have one more (last!) show in June, opening this Thursday with a preview from 5 – 7pm and then the Second Saturday reception. Hope you can stop by.

This is not Goodbye but “See you soon, we’ll be in touch!”

Best wishes to you,

With great appreciation,

Gwenna and Pamela


Skinner Howard Contemporary Art
723 S Street
Downtown Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 446-1786


“A Night At The Zanzibar” Tuesday March 27

Sacramento County Historical Society’s 2012 awards dinner and fundraiser is themed “A Night at the Zanzibar,” featuring dinner by the Dante Club, a talk by historians Keith Burns and Clarence Caesar about the Zanzibar Club, one of the most legendary of Sacramento’s long-lost West End jazz nightclubs of the 1940s, and a live performance by the Harley White Jr. Orchestra performing big-band jazz from the era of the Zanzibar. SCHS will also present its annual awards for publication, education and historic preservation.

Hear the Harley White Jr. Orchestra here:

Read more about the West End jazz clubs here

Members of Sacramento County Historical Society and event sponsor Sacramento Old City Association may purchase tickets at discounted prices for themselves and their families. Member-priced ticket purchases will be compared against member lists; non-members will be required to pay the balance at the door, or join SCHS.

SCHS Presents: “A Night At The Zanzibar” 2012 Awards Dinner, Tuesday March 27, 6:00 PM

At The Dante Club, 2330 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Sacramento

Order tickets online via before March 20.

Tickets must be purchased in advance.

$40 for SCHS and SOCA members, $50 for non-members.

Menu Selections: Half Roasted Chicken, Dante Club Prime Rib or Vegetable Ravioli
(All dinners include salad, bread, dessert, wine and coffee.)

Dinner starts at 6:30 PM, awards and history presentation at 7:30 PM, music at about 8:30 PM.

Sponsored by Sacramento County Historical Society with the assistance of the Sacramento Old City Association

District 4 Candidates’ Forum Saturday March 10

Photo: Candidates Kai Ellsworth; Steve Hansen; Phyllis Newton; Michael Rehm; Terry Schanz;  Joe Yee

Sacramento Preservation Roundtable – Spring 2012

Date: Saturday, March 10, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon
Place: The Courtyard Building, 1322 “O” Street near the corner of 14th & O Streets

Continental Breakfast served * $5 requested donation to cover breakfast

The Sacramento Preservation Roundtable is a quarterly gathering of organizations to share information about historic preservation projects and policies, adaptive reuse and green building, heritage tourism and local history, and other topics of interest within the city of Sacramento. The featured agenda item at this Preservation Roundtable is a forum and debate for City Council candidates in District 4, including the central city, Land Park and Willowcreek. Prepared questions will focus on issues related to historic preservation, public transit and land use, but the public will have the opportunity to submit questions, and to meet the candidates one on one after the program.

9:00 Welcome and Introductions

9:10 Updates and announcements

- City of Sacramento Preservation Office updates

9:15– Presentation of development of Lot 9B, 1610 17th Street. Two proposals: Louis Kaufman, Architect & Arcade Homes, Craig Hausman, Architect

10:00 – Break

10:10 – May is Preservation Month Event – Jane’s Walk, a weekend of local walks and bicycle rides combining urban planning, historic preservation, and the ideas of planning guru Jane Jacobs. For more information see – William Burg, SOCA President

10:15 – District 4 Candidates Forum

*Moderators will take written questions to ask the candidates; question cards will be available at the event.

District 4 City Council Candidates: Steve Hansen; Phyllis Newton; Terry Schanz; Michael Rehm; Kai Ellsworth; Joe Yee

11:45 – Questions and answer session with candidates

12:00 – Closing remarks / Announcements

Sponsored by the Sacramento Old City Association

Contact SOCA at or visit for more information.

The End of the Road

As the March  issue went to press I had to make a very difficult decision: barring some unforeseen development, this will be the final issue of Midtown Monthly.  At the very least it will be the final edition with me at the helm.

Some readers may know that our sister publication, Capitol Weekly, ceased publication of their print edition on January 12. After 23 years, the Weekly now exists as an online-only publication, a reflection of the difficulties of maintaining a print operation in the age of the internet.

While Capitol Weekly and Midtown Monthly are separate publications, they did share infrastructure: ad sales staff, accounting, art direction, printing, even office space.  With the elimination of Capitol Weekly’s print edition came a corresponding reduction in sales staff, an office move, and a significant change in our printing costs.

We’ve spent the past six weeks checking and rechecking numbers, talking with potential investors and exploring options to keep Midtown going.  As we go to print, I don’t believe that any of the options we’ve looked at can make the numbers work.  And after five years of ignoring those numbers, the time has finally come to listen.

I’m sad, but I’m also proud.  I’m proud of the work that our contributors have done.  I’m proud of the contribution that Midtown Monthly has made to the public narrative of Sacramento. I’m proud that we spotlighted a side of Sacramento that is often ignored, or even maligned.  I’m proud that in over five years I’ve never published anything I didn’t stand behind.

It’s been an amazing way to spend five years, and I’m thankful to have had the privilege.

As always – thanks for picking us up.

Tim Foster
Editor, Midtown Monthly


SKINNER Book Signing: Sat 2/25 at Dragatomi

Did you know about this?  We didn’t!  Awesomez local artist SKINNER will be signing copies of his new art book Every Man is My Enemy from 1-3 PM Saturday, Fen 25 at Dragatomi in Midtown.  Can’t wait to get my copy!

2317 J Street

Living Library 2/19: Ed Carroll, Beer Historian

Whenever we need an article that focuses on the history of beer or brewing in this region, there’s one guy we go to first. Ed Carroll is the author of Sacramento’s Breweries, the definitive history of the subject. You can find his article on Sacramento’s Ruhstaller Beer in this month’s issue of Midtown monthly.

In honor of the upcoming Sacramento Beer Week Ed will speak about Sacramento brewing – and how he came to write about it – at Sunday’s Living Library at Time Tested Books. The event is free, open to all and starts at 7PM. Hope to see you there!

SAVE THE ZOO! (well, the HyPars)

The folks over at SacMod are working on a campaign to preserve the Hyperbolic Paraboloids at the entrance of the Sacramento Zoo, a cause we wholeheartedly support.  Designed by architects Rickey + Brooks, the HyPars are swoopy icons of the Atomic Era, perfect emblems of Sacramento’s Mid-Century boom years.  SacMod needs your vote to help them keep this little part of Sacto history intact for the next generation. Check it out:

“We need your help preserving the historic entrance to the Sacramento Zoo.Please vote for our entry in Dwell Magazine’s “Rethinking Preservation”contest.

Voting is easy: just one click to vote and another to “Like” if you’re on Facebook.   Details of SacMod’s efforts to preserve the entrance to the Sacramento Zoo are outlined in our latest blog post:

Thank you for your support! Let’s do our part to ensure the Sacramento Zoo can embrace the future without losing its past.”

SacMod is the same group that brought you the Mid-Century Modern Home Tour – they know their architectural history!  Be sure to vote to KEEP the HyPars and don’t forget to check out the other stuff SacMod is up to:

SacMod Associate Memberships are now available! Member benefits include a discount to paid SacMod events and having first crack at reserving a seat/purchasing tickets.

Editor’s Letter, February 2012

Five years is a long time.

It was five years ago this month that we made the decision to ditch the unwieldy Midtown-Downtown moniker that had been slapped on the pub by the previous publisher in favor of a slightly catchier – if even less accurate – name. By February 2007 we’d already come a long way from Midtown-Downtown’s original incarnation – a newsprint direct mail piece that was as much ad flier as newspaper. Though we’d stopped running advertising on the front cover (!) we still hadn’t quite found the voice of the magazine yet.  You could say that we knew what we weren’t, but we hadn’t figured out what we were.

Art Director Tracy Heller spent February 2007 freshening up the layout, coming up with the colored ‘skybox’ design that would top each cover for the next four years.  With the March 2007 issue we were officially Midtown Monthly; local music wunderkind Chris Woodhouse promptly tagged us with the nickname ‘MidMo,’ and with that we were well on the track to be whatever it is that we’ve become.

Five years later, some things don’t seem that much different.  Becky Grunewald still leads our herd of food writers, ‘Incoming!’ still features the hot shows for the coming month and I’m still writing about the regional art scene.  Even Maakies and Underworld are in the same spot on the last page.

But some things have changed. We shrunk from a tabloid to regular magazine size – and at the same time we boosted the page count by 25%.  Our original Editor Liv Moe left to head the Verge Center for the Arts. Scott Duncan replaced Jesse Vasquez who replaced Sean Custer as our house photographer. We’ve cycled through four Art Directors, with Judd Hertzler manning that helm for the past year and a half. I can’t even count the number of ad salespeople we’ve had.

Looking back at the folks who have contributed to making MidMo what it has been for the past five years, there is a lot of credit to go around.  The writers, photographers and designers are the obvious ones – without them, there simply would not be a magazine.  But, there are people who are less obvious who deserve credit as well.  There are two people in particular whose names have been in every single issue of Midtown for the past five years, and without whom we would not be here today.

Paloma Begin and Bob Lystrup began running an ad with us back in the Midtown-Downtown days.  Back then they usually ran a full page on the back cover.  With the economic chaos of the past few years they’ve scaled back some, but they’ve always been there with us, month after month, every month.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that there were times where their ad made the difference between shutting the doors and keeping the magazine going.  They’re still here (check out their ad on page 6); without their unflagging support – and the support of our other advertisers – Midtown Monthly would not be looking at a fifth anniversary.

Five years on, I’ve learned a lot of things, and one of the most important is to never forget who helped you get to where you are.  It’s easy to say ‘support our advertisers because they support us.’  It’s easy because it’s true.



It’s a pretty monumental stage in a band’s career when they turn 19 and start their 20th year as a consistent and recognized project. It’s not a mark that very many bands reach. It’s something altogether different when the “band” that has been playing for 19 years has never actually been the same group on stage…ever…but somehow continues to expand the boundaries of improvisation in new ways regularly “as” a band. Lob, a Sacramento resident since 2005, has done just that with his long running conceptual project. Instagon, currently nearly 600 members strong… and growing, has never repeated a show with the same musicians in the same ensemble.. 19 years so far, and shows no signs of slowing This week to celebrate its 19th birthday, Instagon will appear as an 8 piece band featuring members of other Sacramento local bands Garage Jazz Architects, Chikading!, Gentleman Surfer, E Squared, Black HolesWhat?, & others, involving 2 drummers, 2 guitarists, and a horn section. This will be the 597th ensemble to be called Instagon..(the 600th show is just around the corner!) This festive extravaganza will take place Thurs, Feb 2nd at Old Ironsides for the monthly club night called FUTUREWANG (1st Thursday, every month = Improv!) The evening will also include sets from Sacramento’s’ CHIKADING! (with Tony Passarell on keys) and the Bay area’s DINO PIRANHA (with Phillip Greenlief on sax). Sorry kids,this is a 21+ event.