Thursday, March 18, 2010
Best Local Artist >> Lesley Ann Spowart
Born and raised in Cape Cod, Spowart has lived, studied and worked on the Peninsula since 1989, churning work out through a number of mediums, including oils, beeswax, photographic xerography and tar. Her landscapes are pastoral, expressionist; they could accompany a lyrical children’s book. One can make out the women and objects that make up her nudes and still lifes, but they are abstracted into shapes that recall sketches, painted with confident, contrasting blocks of colors and swatches of texture. The former art historian and museum exhibitor has shown at Art House and Lisa Coscino Gallery in Pacific Grove, with new work going up March 20 (see the Calendar this issue) at Carmel Valley Art Association as part of a group show. “Lesley is an abstract conceptual artist,” says friend and artist/gallerist Jody Royee. “[Her art] comes from an inner intuitive process.” Traits that only add to the already formidable artistic arsenal.
Casanova between Eighth and Ninth, Carmel
The county’s only Equity theater boasts high-quality, high-quantity seasons, again and again. That’s owing to a number of things, like a supportive base of donors and popular fundraisers. But maybe their secret weapons are their two stages, the 300-seat Golden Bough Theatre and the 120-seat theater-in-the-round Circle Theatre. It’s like having two companies in one building, which, by the way, they own and are raising money to renovate. It allows them to program with savvy moves, staging experimental, racy stuff like The Blue Room at Circle Theatre in repertory (at the same time, though not on the same night) with Neil Simon’s Broadway comedy Laughter on the 23rd Floor on the Golden Bough stage. They sometimes even spill over onto the Forest Theater stage, as they will this season with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Their hard-given reputation has earned them access to top local and out-of-town talents. And they cultivate the future crop of local theater performers and patrons through their School of Dramatic Arts (SoDA) program, of which the currently-playing Disney’s Jungle Book is a merry example.
San Carlos between Eighth and Ninth, Carmel
There wasn’t any other Monterey County spot in 2009 that rivaled the diversity of entertainment that Sunset Center brought to Carmel. From the witty British comedy of Monty Python’s John Cleese to experimental dance pioneers Pilobolus to the inaugural Carmel Art and Film Festival, the 700-seat theater steadily showcased world-class acts. With many venues suffering countywide, Sunset stepped up its game, with no intention of slowing down in 2010.
Sixth between Dolores and Lincoln, Carmel
The cream of the crop features the works of masters like Ansel Adams, Yousuf Karsh and Edward Weston. It is named after Margaret Weston, ex-wife of Edward’s son Cole Weston. Its current exhibition, the aptly named Corresponding Angles, up through March 30, features Adams, Edward Steichen, Rod Dresser, Rolfe Horn and Brett Weston. Its classy surroundings and tasteful but always enterprising selections, including a recently displayed shot of Edward Weston’s longtime muse, Charis Wilson, lend tone, filigree and delicacy to a sea of finely observed portraiture and landscapes that provide the best of the past and the present.
Dolores between Fifth and Sixth, Carmel
The second oldest operating nonprofit cooperative of its kind in the U.S., CAA’s artist list is as extensive as its history, covering all sorts of subjects in charcoal, paint, pastel, oil and ink, and numbering more than 100 members. And these are no schlumps, either, carefully selected by their picky peers and including works by alumni like Armin Hansen, William Ritschel, Paul Dougherty, Mary DeNeale Morgan and Francis McComas. The beautiful headquarters (and its garden) on Carmel’s most flavorful street, its many events and the spirit of fellowship all help complete the pretty picture.
479 Alvarado St., Monterey 655-3031, www.muckyduckmonterey.com
Make it through the lines to the Mucky Duck patio on a Friday night and get the chance to bump and grind to sing-along classics and butt-shaking beats, courtesy of D.J. A.J. Bee Beddow. The local mash-up DJ packs the downtown bar’s dance floor every weekend with unexpected mixes of old, new and whatever feels right at the time. Bee’s popularity has gained him some infamy through less-than-courteous Facebook pages. Beddow, 28, likes the newfound fame. “If you have 10 haters,” he laughs, “you have to work to make it 35.”
444 Alvarado St., Monterey
There is a rather throaty debate over the best karaoke song of all time. “I Wanna Be Sedated” from The Ramones? Bonny Taylor’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”? “Cecilia,” by Paul Simon? “Don’t Stop Believin,’” by Journey? There is no such debate over the best spot to do it around here: The Brit conquers all. It was at this Alvarado landmark, which fires up the mic Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 9:30pm until close, that one patron offered another nominee just the other day. “Three words,” she said. “‘Like a Virgin.’”
26270 Dolores St., Carmel
624-6436, 625-9040, www.missionranchcarmel.com/restaurant.htm
Cougars and silver foxes need love, too. And, according to Weekly readers, they find it, year after year, at Mission Ranch. But there’s more than a wild animal to be had back at the ranch. The old-school ambiance of the copper bar and nightly sing-a-longs at the piano bar, the chance glimpse of owner Clint Eastwood, and a guaranteed breathtaking view of the sun setting over the pasture and Carmel coastline make this former early California dairy farm a perennial favorite with folks over 50 – and youngsters, too.
2116 N. Fremont St., Monterey
England’s BBC reported that the oldest known sex toy is a 28,000-year-old stone phallus found in a German cave. Scientists believe the ice-aged dildo was also used for flint knapping. We’ve come a long way since the days when self-pleasure devices doubled as household tools. Nu-Art’s toy selection is proof of such advances. Check out the five-speed, beaded Pearl Dolphin ($85) or the Holy Grail of vibrators: the 10-speed, waterproof Wave ($160). The adult shop also has a nice selection of classic DVD titles like Deep Throat, and versatile items like vibrating nipple clamps.
638 Wave St., Monterey
It’s a small, dark space with ceilings not much higher than six feet, but intimacy is the most fertile breeding ground for live rock shows like all-girl outfit The Hot Toddies, psychedelic cowboys Spindrift and heavy jammers Mammatus. Tobin Peregrina – the guy who singlehandedly transformed the Mexican restaurant basement into a local indie rock destination – may be exiting the picture as the venue’s booker, but the foundation he laid remains alive and rocking.
700 Cannery Row, Suite A, Monterey
Around these parts, the blues are as connected to Sly McFly’s as Lucille is to B.B. King, clam chowder to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Devil to Robert Johnson, Monterey Bay to Blues Festival (and the afterparty jam session is at Sly’s). Now, this isn’t no “My baby done left me and Lord I just can’t take it no more” brand of blues; it’s more the “C’mon, baby, let’s go out and dance and whoop it up some!” kind of blues. There’s a dance floor. But you’ll barely see it through all the dancers. It’s oceanside, but you’ll want to stay inside. It’s dim, but in that sexy kind of way. It’s big, but gets crowded fast. There are tables and chairs, but they’re just for eating and keeping your coat someplace while you work up a sweat to bands like Five Point O, Carla Blackwell, ReUnion Band (playing this weeked, in fact), and Sambahemians.
301 Alvarado St., Monterey
Cibo’s music lineup is like a lavish six-course meal. Joe Lucido’s gentle jazz picking is light on the palate for starting out the week. Dizzy Burnett picks up your appetite Tuesday with her sultry singing and swinging stand-up bass and guitar. Lisa Taylor & Powerhouse, an all-star jazz, R&B and soul lineup, will make you want to dance at your table with pomegranate martini in hand. By the time the main course rolls around – the soulful Neil Banks or ’70s funk quartet The Joint Chiefs – you’ll be begging for seconds.
321 Alvarado St., Monterey
This spot’s three dance floors have cages and plenty of room to groove, making them the quintessential Monterey Boogie Nights experience. Dancers get the multi-sensory effect from disco balls and light shows, four full bars fuel the party, and on weekends each floor offers a different DJ spinning a refreshing mix of songs you probably won’t hear at other bars. One of the biggest plusses for the ‘Drome is its coat check service, which guarantees a dance uninhibited by cumbersome clothes and accessories, and ensures patrons will be able to pay for a cab afterwards. High rollers may want to spring for bottle service and hang out in the VIP room.
According to his Cheeky Spanks band-mate Jill Childers, John Sherry is “a consummate musician, a great player as well as a great teacher.” He not only “dazzles audiences,” but is “a big driving force behind the band… pushing each of us to new boundaries.” Sherry, known affectionately by band members as “Mr. Clean” or “Sir John,” is the perfectionist in the band, which might account for his unique ability to play flawlessly without ever using a pick.
Lead singer Jill Childers takes the Best Local Band category very seriously – Cheeky Spanks also won the honor last year, after Childers rallied an adoring Bullwackers audience to vote for the band. Its chemistry and endurance – since reuniting in 2002, they’ve rocked the local live music circuit relentlessly – makes this quartet infectious. It’s also the versatility of material: Covers of The Beatles, The Doors and Zeppelin mesh well with Cheeky’s originals like the spirited party tune “Paris Hilton.” And the live shows that accompany the spacey visuals at the Hartnell College Planetarium are a trip, if you can catch them – their last nine gigs there have sold out.
414 Calle Principal, Monterey
When the hard work is done, the good cheer begins at Montrio for the biz-casual crowd in downtown Monterey. The bar is known among cocktail gourmets for featuring housemade mixes and ingredients, so that discounted drink prices – as well as $3-$4 “small bites” from the superb kitchen – are not taken for granted. A firehouse in 1910, the site has been transformed into one of Monterey’s most cosmopolitan establishments, only with no attitude. A flat screen is always on, so you won’t have to miss a game. 4:30 to 6:30pm. Weekends, too.
150 W. Franklin St., Monterey
In a town with more British pubs than grocery stores, the Crown and Anchor stands out as the place to point people looking for the real thing. True to its name, “The Crown” is a galley of 20 draft beers, including an impressive array of imports like Bellhaven IPA and Scotch Ale and Fullers London Porter as well as microbrews like Ranger Fat Tire and IPA. Their cozy outside patio is open early and perfect for an afternoon pint and some of their amazing curry fries or sausage rolls, two ingenious takes on real English cuisine hard to find anywhere else.
701 Wave St., Monterey
Sipping on a martini either straight up, extra dirty, chocolate or in one of many exotic variations on hand, in the plush lounge while being serenaded by music can make guests of the Sardine Factory feel like stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. A delectable menu of gorgeous-looking bites further seals the fantasy. What’s very real, though, is their world-renowned – no exaggeration – wine cellar. From Fred Dame, who went on to become one of the most influential wine professionals in the world, to current cellar master Arvind Dutt, The Factory showcases the best available wines from around the world, and have since forever. From the heights of the top shelf to the depths of the cellar, this institution is in a classy class by itself.
Fisherman’s Wharf II, Monterey
Few realize how many top-shelf destination bars and restaurants commit a quiet if sinister sin: pouring Bloody Mary mix from a bottle. Not here, where the bartender and the regulars who linger beneath the locals’ wharf know that these bloodies, happy hours and crab sandwiches rival any on the coast. The day bartending team handcrafts a batch of well-balanced robustness starring horseradish, mustard and hot sauce (among other ingredients that must remain secret), and it goes down more refreshingly than less accomplished permutations, with help from a similarly rare rim-finisher: celery salt.
7166 Carmel Valley Road,Carmel
It’s not only the 100-plus tequilas, the multitude of house recipes, or the fruit margaritas that make Baja the place to imbibe the cocktail we cannot live without: Baja has some of the best bartenders for all-around competence and friendliness, and it always feels like a party. Take your marg at the bar, in the dining room, or outdoors on the popular patio where there’s often live music. The vintage auto memorabilia collection is museum-quality – and oh yeah, the menu is awesome.
223 Reindollar Ave., Marina
Nestled inconspicuously in a semi-industrial strip of Marina is the joyful heart of a working-class community. English Ales is the kind of place where a plate of rib-sticking food can be had for a breeze, where world-class brew is handmade and deep mugs hang waiting for their assignees to put them to their proper use. It is an unpretentious gathering place for big games and small moments, a laughing hall, and a whistle-whetting welcoming mat for its loyal locals and intrigued travelers alike.
Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, 400 Cannery Row, Monterey
From page 119 in the new edition of the Bartenders’ Bible: The Patio Boss… mix one part tiled deck 30 feet above the crashing waves with two parts awesomely friendly staff. Add one jigger of ultra-pro mixologist and 2 jiggers good company. Shake well and serve in salted stemware with a garnish of sea otters, spinnakers and the hills of Monterey and Seaside. Actually, that’s made up. The real Patio Boss is the house margarita. Try one and you’ll see why Schooners was once again voted the best recipe in the county for an amazing drink with an inspiring view. And vice versa.
685 Cannery Row, Monterey
The pull of pool here is powerful: note the championship-grade Brunswicks – 11 all told – brought in brand-new when the Fin resurfaced in ’09 after several years off the table. But prime equipment alone does not a great pool hall make, and that’s where this place continues to rack ’em: The newly re-pimped club in the back is a local live entertainment epicenter; the balcony enjoys beautiful views of the bay; the menu ranks above average (especially for a bar); the bartenders behind the big, curved, stone bar are chill; and the square footage is super-sized. Your break.
611 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey
There are more important things in life than going out to get drunk and hook up with random singles. Like playing darts – and Weekly readers say this is the spot for that. The game is to be played in good fun – while strategizing ways to work up the courage to talk to that looker over at the table. If that someone is so enchanting, be careful not to accidentally throw a dart at someone’s face. The Dog has two dartboards, good bar food, and the bar hands know how to pour a Guinness properly.
1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey
Knuckles was the premier place to enjoy the 2009 NLCS between the Phillies and Dodgers: complimentary peanuts and popcorn, a plethora of flat-panel televisions, wireless speakers with adjustable volume at the comfort of your table, waitresses who remember your name and tribes of sports fans in either blue or red garb. But the beloved location, inside the Hyatt, is a stellar spot to watch any sport, any season. The only things that change are the team colors.
479 Alvarado St., Monterey
The Mucky Duck? More like the Lucky Duck! The downtown bar offers two proposals: 1) Drink specials every night, and 2) Anyone who walks in will either run into a friend at the bar or will make one during the night. Its pub atmosphere in early hours turns a bit more exciting at night, when the patio becomes a dance floor and the clientele morphs from couples to singles. A girl can groove with her friends and know that there are plenty of guys around who want to quench her thirst, free of charge. Couples beware: veer away from a significant other for too long, and they may be replaced.
498 Washington St., Monterey
Coffee: It comes all organic from Carmel Valley Roasting Company, including the signature three-bean bohemian French blend. Tea: The colorful sea of exotic leaves rises like a tidal wave behind the counter. Snacks: The case is stuffed with quiches, wraps and proud pastries from Bechler’s. Art: It’s everywhere, including the historic architecture and stylish blinds themselves. Music: Mike Beck and other such studs have made this a live outlet. Poetry: Spoken word happens on Wednesdays, with songwriters virtually every weekend. Booze: Local wines, craft beers and imported bottles like Belgian Duvals flow. The verdict: Long live the lounge.
350 Alvarado St., Monterey
In the era of multiplexes and mass releases that have swept American moviegoing, limiting the cinematic experience to popcorn and whatever pre-packaged fare comes down the line, the Osio stands alone. They consistently show intelligent independent works to an enthusiastic audience that appreciates the unique virtues of programmers who want to bring diversity and artistry to the screen. Whether you’re waiting to see Inglorious Basterds, Red Riding, a Werner Herzog doc or too many other indie options to name, you feel like you’re among a family of the faithful, in the spirit of great arthouses like the Brattle Street Theater in Cambridge or the Bleecker Street Cinema in Manhattan. Sampling the victuals, drinks and viewing the exhibitions at the Cafe Lumiere on the premises is an added bonus, but it’s the delightful range and scope of what’s being offered at the Osio that bring audiences back like a sequel.
1400 Del Monte Center, Monterey
It’s a hop, skip and a jump from the entrance of Century Cinemas to a choice of 15 martinis, 10 mojitos and a wine selection that boasts varieties from Gary Farrell and Halter Ranch. For those moviegoers who didn’t gorge on buckets of popcorn and Milk Duds, there are late-night bites to choose from like Carpetbagger Steak Bites – char-broiled oysters and apple-smoked bacon wrapped in steak strips, drizzled in honey mustard sauce. It’s a tasty option after three hours of Harry Potter.