From Boring, to number worst, and 22 things to antidote

Today, there is a discussion  Regarding Art and Excellence, for and about Modesto, CA,  put on by Zocalo Public Square, James Irvine Foundation, moderated by the Editor Modesto Bee, with MoBand Director, my friends Patty Castillo Davis – singer/songwriter and Dellanora Green, Street Singer, i.e. sing all day/night for tips to find money for motel room.  This is about funding, and choices of does the money go to certain artists, organizations, or everyone.  As the grant market not granting a lot last few years, but also this is underserved area in many ways in California, the Country, and locally the emphasis on music, I suggested they add a visual artist. There is  only one city oriented visual art non-profit usually at end of gravy train behind music here, and the music tradition goes back 80 years. Is it just talk, or do we find a plan in this exercise?

I’ve attended other such forums in past, inspiring for a day, but usually not much as result.  I’m not planning on attending, so am likely part of the problem of long time resident, but born out of town, frustrated by some of our economic, crime and attitudes who likely feels any experience on my part, trumped by I’m not a native.

I suppose that’s because my Hometown, Riverside, California, was rated the most boring place in the country last month.  Boredom is my worst enemy, but Riverside isn’t as boring to me as the raters found it.  I embraced it, but was annoyed that San Bernardino didn’t hold this spot, was only 2 further down the list.  After all, they’d gone bankrupt, Riverside boringly had money in the bank.

My chessplayer brother from Boring, lives in Cambridge – continually bombarding me with the real estate market stats noting Modesto has all this gang stuff the Bee doesn’t report.  Higher density of sex offenders per capita, and nearly half  that of Stockton.  Surprised he didn’t send me the Street article regarding advisory, Modesto the worst place to start a career for educated 20 somethings, or even regular ones. This is a real estate tied blog, and the rating methodology I understand, as used to have to read this stuff a lot in former career, but this stuff is read by the out of town investors, rest of the country, and I reposted the thing, for lively FB frenzy of comments. Many of my friends, can’t understand why I’d repost such negativity, we should all be positive, and things will improve.  Would explain the next topic, but here is the Street link.  I objected to only one of the data points, the lack of sufficient, or lower than average arts/leisure spots per capita.  After all, I write for Modesto View, know the staffing at City, usual performance of same outside town, and suggested that was officially under-reported.  When I shared the link, I also headed it with comment for people who were considering starting career here, “we need you to come anyway, to improve our ratings.” Truthful positive spin.

After you read that dire thing, a new one in long litany like that stat my bro sends me, the Number 1 in Auto Thefts, The highest density of low wage workers in the country, 13.8 percent unemployment rate (still current) and fact Petaluma is where George Lucas filmed American Grafitti, Modesto counters with, (and my beef with it, calling it lame, is this is marketing intended to appeal to people outside Modesto to move here) is this segment, titled 22 Things You need to Learn About Modesto before you Move There.  It scans over many of the things, like we have the Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team, and Cars, and art show, and…. restaurant that is good, with the classic Modesto residents drinking at a party…. but I don’t know if what was posted appeals to younger ones in my family out of town to come here, that is primarily because Grandma lives here, or my brother’s friends, or seniors like my mother, who wonders at 87, just how is it we came to live here, and moved away from Boring. ( She’s from Oregon originally, and the family from Denmark on Dad’s side, married in Manteca, career move to Palo Alto to raise family and Stanford before our split off to Boring old Riverside before coming to Mo-Town)  I didn’t think the 22 things, an effective counterpoint to the dismal The Street article 5 worst.  I think it needs to be less boring, but then I come from boring.

The Street article, notes one real culture issue, the really low vs elsewhere problems in education in our ranks of citizenry.  We aren’t a slum, and maybe the lack of funds is egalitarian, but as a UC graduate, who lived here before UC Merced, I was appalled to see a NO UC Modesto movement that won out over locating that campus here.  For all the good small town things I enjoyed right off here, there are these less than stellar promotions of Modesto I’ve had to endure.  For all the great stars, talents from here, they tend to stay “from here” rather than live here.  And the locals odd relationship to its most successful employer, is one I’ve noted.  Gallo been very good to the place and I like the wine, whatever label..  But success envied, or taken for granted.  And sometimes, because they don’t know you, though you’ve lived here a long time, you don’t get the memo.

But, booster that I’ve been to improve local visual art opportunities here (selfish, as I’ve been stuck here, similar to CCR song Lodi, without funds) support friends in music, make the place more fun for me to live here, it seems I can’t get into our negatives, as that is almost traitor to our good stuff.  Well, I’m one who thinks to remodel Hell, you find out how it is, to improve it….. which if you look up my old My Space blogs, was the topic I wrote under.  #modesto #modestoview #economics

Evidently, my Boring Roots, and Worst thing, identifies my intent.  I’m an artist.  I believe in rabble rousing and right to complain, as sweetens the cheerleading I do with a sense of authenticity.  I still think Modesto could do more to promote itself, than click its ruby slippers and cheer “There’s No Place like Home” but then I know geography as a native California, and don’t think Stanislaus County anywhere near Kansas.

Blue Monday Jam

Waitress takes your order at Blue Monday Jam.  I do sketches at various restaurants in Modesto, CA and anywhere else I’m at with a drawing pad.  Blue Monday Jam is a regular music event, where I try and catch the band, the staff, audience, the details of the venue.  Many of these sketches at Barkin Dog Grill end up in the gallery in the back hallway by the boss’s office and bathrooms, so actually seen.  I started the Blue Monday Series, back at Thymeless, now closed, then Clayton’s and Jax on H both closed, and now where it lives on at great burger and dogs spot, Barkin Dog Grill on 11th Street in Downtown Modesto.  I have a  lot of these posted on my facebook, and on my portfolio of over 476 images.

La Clave Del Gumbo good latin jazz fusion project

I got to attend the Jamie Dubberly and Orquesta Dharm CD pre-releases party at Ashkenaz in Berkeley last night. Jamie has used my painting on his posters, and as the backing graphic for the Album cover and notes. Music in … Continue reading

Pick and Gather festival in LIvingston, California now in Tenth Year

While I haven’t been there all ten years, in 2008 I did the original watercolor for Cindy Lashbrook and the Pick and Gather festival at Riverdance Farms. The Festival now in its tenth year, is May 31, June 1, with … Continue reading

four new life drawing sketches in the Dining Room gallery

Every other Saturday I go down to the back door of the Chartreuse Muse in downtown Modesto, up the stairs to the upstairs studio, give ten bucks to artist Jack Morris, for whoever our model is, and see what I … Continue reading

Orquesta Dharma album cover final, using my Jazz Squared painting

Jazz Squared is the back ground graphic for Jamie Dubberly and Orquesta Dharma’s new album. First album was “Road Warrior” nominated as album of year for Latin Jazz. This is the second album cd cover for me, the first for … Continue reading

my Studio Jazz painting featured Modesto Bee in print article

Studio Jazz featured in the online version of the Modesto Bee article published today on the Stanislaus Artist Open Studio Tour. Other photos on the event featured online via the link.

My image Jazz Squared on New La Clave Del Gumbo CD by Orquesta Dharma

Promo for cd release party, Jamie Dubberly and Orquesta Dharma Jamie owns some more of my jazz series, and Jazz in the Studio inspired Jazz Squared, ordered to add to Jamie’s wall, and used s the album cover painting image … Continue reading

Riverdance Farms Pick and Gather Festival

Now in its tenth year, this unique and ecclectic organic blueberry and cherry, spring harvest, eco tourism, music, powwow, and educational Merced River festival in Livingston, comes up May 31 and June 1 in 2014  Always the weekend after Memorial Day, in order to be easy to remember, and not to conflict with the Strawberry Music Festival (closed this year due to Rim Fire), the festival takes place in the middle of this working ranch’s blueberry and cherry harvest and U-Pick Season.  U-Pick organic berries and cherries available at wholesale market price during the festival and U-Pick weekends before and after, and by arrangement with Riverdance owners Cindy Lashbrook and Bill Thompson.  The site is on the Merced River, about 1.4 miles out of Livingston, on about 74 acres.  The Pick and Gather includes an all agencies, plus nonprofits, that manage and use the river, gathered in an educational Merced River Fair during the Saturday festivities.  This requires patrons to take the stroll through the berry field and cherry orchards to the “point” where the workshops, displays and live music take place in a shade house on the River.  The Main Stage and vendor area of the Pick and Gather sets up around the picking house, and shade house areas, down the river bluff from parking.  There is a pond project with habitat restoration to one side of the ticket gate, and the music venue, general store and craft vendors to the right.  That same path takes you to the Merced River Fair, or by a different path, to the Dance Circle, vendors and wares of the Second Merced River Benefit Gathering powwow that goes all weekend.  Entry into the festival is $10 general, $5 seniors, children, students, for Saturday, $5 general, $2 children, seniors, Laid Back Sunday.  Plenty of local artisans, crafters, artists, food for sale, kids activities area with hay fort and unusual stage area. Belly Dancers and Drum groups on site.  Camping is available Saturday Night at $15.  General admission runs 10 am to dusk on Saturday, 8 am to close on Sunday.  Camping for vendors and volunteers by arrangement Friday night.  For more information, email Cindy at or call 209-761-0081.  Vendor spots still open, and forms in pdf file can be found at the web site   For information on the powwow, and contacts for vendors, see the flier for head staff and contact information.  Additional contact for information on vendors, or music, or art, volunteers, etc, is me, Jim Christiansen at  I got into this event, from past work with festivals, but originally for this one for the watercolor commissioned for the flier poster on the third Pick and Gather, still used today.  This is my working vacation.  Music line up as we know it today, included The Poorhouse Millionaires, The Hunter-Austin Project, Hills Brothers Band, Frank Solivan and Friends Tina Louise Barr, and John Gwinner, Eric Burman and friends, likely newcomers Victoria Boyington’s Silly String Band, the Recycled String Band, singer-songwriter Patty Castillo Davis, Tim Lechuga Mahi Shakti on sitar and guitars with yoga to open Laid Back Sunday, the Adamantine Belly Dancers, and more.  Myth master from the Joseph Campbell Foundation and my former room mate Stephen L. Gerringer, will be telling a tale on the main stage and River stage.  This is a fun project, and different each year.  More people should be aware of it.  The last two years, the festival proceeds in part when to Save McConnell State Park, just across the river, which was successful, and kept open.  Kayaks on the river, likely.  Call in advance 209 761 0081 or check in when I update this blog for the schedule.  Rain or shine. Weather is a constant in the risk of farming, and this festival, in the midst of harvest in Livingston-Cressey area, has had wind, 100 plus weather, rain – our policy is to stay open, helps us harvest cherries before split, and enjoy the challenges. Site is 12230 Livingston-Cressey Rd., Livingston, CA.  From 99, use the Hammet or N. Winton Parkway Exits, and turn east at Main (N. Main) which becomes Livingston Cressey Road.  About a mile and a half down the road . Look for the flags on the left t the main ranch gate, and signs to get you there.  Weekend after Memorial Day every year, May 31 and June 1, for 2014

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