Thursday, January 3, 2008
In numerology, 2008 is a “1” year, meaning beginnings, creation, invention. It will be a propitious year for the arts in Monterey County.
The juggler balancing on a spinning ball lives by his art.
One of the first events out of the chute comes courtesy of the Arts Council for Monterey County, whose countywide cultural action plan, developed with much input last year, creates a sturdy safety net for those balancing jugglers. The Champion of the Arts award recognizes the lifetime achievements of artists who bring great honor upon the region, such as philosopher-cartoonist Gus Arriola and poet Ric Masten, whose long years of creative output will be lauded at the awards gala Jan. 19. It will be a chance to congratulate these and other luminaries who enrich the cultural life of the county. Meanwhile, the cultural plan already has stimulated action in the areas deemed to have the most need: the cities of the Highway 101 corridor, where new programs and/or facilities all are being officially considered or are under way. Arising directly from the plan, an exhibition has been curated by Kira Carillo Corser in three farmworker communities, Mi Vida: Mi Pueblo – My Life: My Town, which premiered at First Night Monterey and then travels to San Francisco’s Mission Cultural Center for Latino Art, opening Jan. 12.
Through the Arts Council, there are some new sources of direct funding for professional artists in the region. One of these, The Center for Cultural Innovation, an arts think tank, is inviting applications for artists to take their business to the next level by supporting their marketing or production efforts.
In the institutions, Monterey Museum of Art takes its own evolutionary steps after a year of planning with Men, Ships and the Sea: Masterworks of California Painting by Armin Hansen and William Ritschel (that’s a 15-word title… editor, please!) opening Jan. 24, drawing largely from the museum’s deep collection of these artists. In spring, MMA flies its new contemporary art colors as it goes lala for L.A. Rising, an exhibition showing the growing ascendancy of that megalopolis on the world art scene.
Carmel’s formidable Center for Photographic Arts moves its exhibition program into the 21st century with an international online photography gallery. A test version is already at iwg.photography.org, linked to CPA’s website at photography.org. In a word: Wow.
In the galleries, Gail Enns’ Anton Gallery was a power player in Washington, D.C., and was under the radar at Pacific Grove’s Anton Inn for most of 2007 doing small but provocative shows. In February, look for Golf curated by iconoclast Tony Sheeder, then watch as the stolid Hawthorne Mansion in New Monterey is transformed into a humming cultural center opening in November with Noise, an exhibition with political overtones curated by internationally respected art critic and scholar, Patrick Frank, featuring Bay Area artists known better in New York, Tokyo or London than in Monterey.
Pacific Grove’s Lisa Coscino Gallery makes its move in January from its street-front space into what has long been its private industrial space at 216B Grand Avenue, opening in March. Coscino and company will present exclusively California-based artists in multi-arts exhibitions that might combine prints, photographs, artist books, poetry readings and music. “Our idea is to create a multimedia environment similar to how one uses the Internet: You start out Googling one thing and you are constantly led to another.” Coscino will continue to organize exhibitions in Los Angeles and at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, where a show about the architect of Post Ranch Inn, Mickey Meunnig, opens in the spring.
Lay out the cutlery. This is just a taste of the delectable things to come!
In theater, the season ahead is filled with favorites and a few surprises.
MPC’s Morgan Stock Stage is offering a satisfying season that runs from Kiss Me Kate to Death of a Salesman – now there’s breadth – and includes the edgy Urinetown the Musical. Carmel’s Forest Theater Guild is introducing an all-student version of Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit in several locations in the spring, while PacRep brings back Twist and Shout to launch a year that includes Stephen Sondheim’s melodic The Fantasticks, another reprise of the ever-popular The Buddy Holly Story, and a rich salad of Shakespeare and The Wizard of Oz in the fall.
Western Stage was not ready to announce its season at press time, but we heard that administrator Dawn Flood landed a part in a Clint Eastwood movie (based on her gutsy performance in Threepenny Opera, perhaps?) and other stalwart local actors from Hartnell College’s great company are breaking into the big time.
The PaperWing Theatre Company moved from Salinas to Monterey in 2007 and presents its first year of theater in the new location. Beginning this month with Bill W. and Dr. Bob, a play about the two men who pioneered Alcoholics Anonymous, then One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the spring and Reefer Madness, the Musical in the fall, PaperWing’s continued ascendancy in all things edgy seems assured in an adventurous 2008.
Meanwhile, down the coast, this is the year I put the hammer to that piggy bank and immerse myself in creative intelligence at Esalen Institute. Even with piggy in pieces, I probably still couldn’t pull enough quarters out of the shards to attend the November creative bridges weekend, which last year brought together Deepak Chopra, John Cleese, Robert Reich, Jean Houston, Ken Dychtwald, Anisa Mehdi, Jeff Kripal and Michael Murphy on the theme of “A Time for Solutions.” This year, the players will be different, but the date is set for Nov. 7.
So, whether it’s a writing workshop in January or a Joseph Campbell week in March with extraordinary artists and thinkers, this is the year to take advantage of such fantastic food for thought.