West Hollywood Public Library: 5th Anniversary Bash

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What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a party and other free events? On Friday September 30th and Saturday October 1st there will be mix of activities including a Friday evening panel, festivities all Sunday afternoon, and the opportunity to view library artworks.

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The library opened October 1st 2011, a heralded architectural structure that has become a destination renowned for its art installations, cultural programs, and events as well as providing a terrific space for reading and working. The building includes the 32,000-square-foot library itself, a strong commitment to the community’s passion for life-long learning. The structure also holds the City Council Chambers and public meeting rooms, CATV facilities, and 2.5 acres of green and open space; tennis courts and two municipal garages complete the space.

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Friday at 7 p.m., there will be a panel presentation titled “Do Libraries Have a Future.” The presentation promises to be a lively discussion created by a partnership between the City of West Hollywood’s continuing literary and author series and Zócalo Public Square. Zócalo is a non-profit organization that often partners with educational, cultural, and philanthropic institutions. Topics include how librarians have enlightened generations of readers and researchers, and what purpose libraries have going forward, when so much information is available on smart phones and computers with a simple click.

Panelists include the former director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services Susan Hildreth, Director of the Center for the Future of Libraries at the American Library Association Miguel Figueroa, and UCLA Deputy Librarian Susan Parker. Together they’ll explore just how libraries can keep their mission relevant by resetting their purpose in our connected, online world. Following the panel, there will be a reception and further time for discussion with panelists. Seats can be reserved – although reservations are not required – by visiting http://www.weho.org/residents/arts-and-culture/weho-reads-2016. The event will be held in the West Hollywood Park Public Meeting Room/Council Chambers at the library.

All ages are welcome at the library’s Saturday festivities. At 11 a.m. children will enjoy a special birthday-themed reading hosted by BookPALS in the library’s Children’s Theater. BookPALS is a children’s literacy program of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Foundation, providing gifted union performers as storytellers.
Attendees will receive free books from the West Hollywood Library – a lasting party favor indeed.

They’ll also receive books at the 12 p.m. soundSpark concert of live experimental music sure to get young hands clapping. The performance will be held in the theater as well. The concert will be presented by the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS), a catalyst for the creation, presentation, and recognition of experimental art and sound practices in the Los Angeles area.

The main event: a birthday party in the library’s community meeting room from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Treats and activities include, of course, birthday cakes and refreshments, plus special giveaways. Adults and kids alike will enjoy a crafts table, a caricaturist, henna tattooing, and face painting activities. For entertainment, there will be an eclectic mix of juggler, magician and balloon artist.

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Attendees can also see art works on display in the library, including Pat York’s current exhibition of photography, Worth A Thousand Words: Portraits of Artists and Writers. Also on display are Mr. Brainwash’s “Heart Sculpture;” as a part of the city’s Urban Art Program, “Peace, Freedom, and Creativity” by Shepard Fairey displayed in the Council Chambers lobby, and David Wiseman’s “Platanus biliotechalis” exhibited in the atrium staircase. Three Art in the Streets murals are on view on the sides of the library’s parking structure, installed as a part of MOCA’s Art in the Streets exhibition and created by Kenny Scharf, RETNA, and Shepard Fairey.

All this and books, too. The events take place at the library which is located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., in West Hollywood. Help the city celebrate!

The Ice Cream Man Cometh

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On the first day of fall, it’s appropriate to write about a closing exhibition that was all summer. At the end of July, in the height of an LA heat wave, artist Gregory Siff had a pretty amazing exhibition in his own workspace with a closing party we were delighted to attend, one that drew throngs to see his work and taste the flavors of an East Coast summer. Egg cream anyone?

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Gregory Siff, right, with author.

This is an artist to look for, with cool-as-ice-cream style that makes a sweet treat for art lovers.

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“The focus of this idea came from growing up in Rockaway Beach, New York. The more I did work in LA, the more I felt like the ice cream man at the beach. People came to my shows, the come to modern day artists like they’re the ice cream man with a menu of different choices,” he explains. “I was trying to figure out what I could do not to lose that kind of fervor from people, the kind you feel following the ice cream truck around when you’re a kid. I first followed it, now I drive it,” Siff said.

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“The periodic table here represents all the things I see in myself and in you,” he explained. In short: his art is not just about himself, it’s also about the viewer. What he sees, you see. And like that ice cream truck with the chocolate jimmy soft serve, you want to see more.

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Siff said of this show “I went away from doing abstracts. I wanted to take departure from symbols and faces, I wanted to do something different here, so I used many materials. For a recent piece, “Truth,” I burned sage into the acrylic. I love to use whatever is int he moment. If I’m drinking champagne, I want to add that.”

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Asked what’s next for the artist, he replied “I want to combine what everyone ever loved about me with the unknown. I want to uncover the truth. It’s always the greatest hits with artists. I am very experimental, I’m in a very experimental spot right now with no rules.”

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Siff worked here in unmixed pigment from Italy, new materials that “explode, not with a brush, but pressed into the surface, breaking into new areas.” A number of his works feature ink, acrylic, and chalk.

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Above, Siff turns a jacket to art. Below, party DJ rocks out.

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Siff aims for pleasure – the vibe of LA, and the vibe of his art.

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It’s not just the ice-cream theme that makes Siff’s work cool, it’s the mix of materials, styles, and edgy fun.

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So summer is over – yes, even in LA – but that doesn’t mean you can’t follow the ice cream truck around. Watch for Gregory Siff as he rings that artistic bell.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke

Corey Helford Gallery: Spectacular Anniversary Show Closes this Saturday

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Crashing into the art scene ten years ago, Corey Helford Gallery has always served up fascinating shows.

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There is pretty much only one way to describe the 10th Anniversary Gala Group Exhibition now at Corey Helford Gallery in DTLA – and that’s spectacular. So don’t miss the chance to turn out for this feast of an exhibition, closing this week.

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Featuring the work of a wide variety of artists exhibited at Corey Helford over the years, “Ten Years of Amazing Artists:  Corey Helford Gallery and Friends Celebrate!” is a terrific retrospective, a kaleidoscopic survey created by curated by Jan Corey Helford & Caro of the diverse artists shown here.

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Making great use of the gallery’s grand 12,000-square-feet of space, artists showing include Chris Anthony, Caia Koopman, Carlos Ramos, Gary Baseman, Camille Rose Garcia , Ron English, Shag (Josh Agle), Andrew Brandou, Korin Faught, Natalia Fabia, Kinsey , Lola , Simone Legno (Tokidoki) ,Kukula (Nataly Abramovitch) , Luke Chueh, Buff Monster, Van Arno, Sarah Folkman, Sylvia Ji, Brandi Milne, Joey Remmers, David Stoupakis, Annie Owens, Jason Shawn Alexander, Henry Lewis, Eric Joyner, D* Face, Chloe Early, Greg Gossel, Colin Christian, Nouar ,Michael Mararian, Ray Caesar, Sas Christian, Mike Stilkey, Adam Wallacavage, Michael Page, Eine , Billy Norrby, Tom Bagshaw, Shawn Barber, Risk , Kazuki Takamatsu, Erik Mark Sandberg, Victor Castillo, Beau Stanton, Richard J Oliver, Ben Frost, Soey Milk, Hikari Shimoda, Jennybird Alcantara , PETER GRONQUIST , Nicomi Nix Turner , HUEMAN , Redd Walitzki , Yosuke Ueno , Herakut , Naoto Hattori , Lu Cong , R. Leveille ,Hannah Yata , Lori Nelson , Joanne Nam , Travis Lampe , Brian Donnelly , Hirabayashi Takahiro , Kisung Koh , Mary Jane Ansell , Kelsey Beckett , Logan Hicks , Sarah Dolby , Carlo Cane , Joe Hengst , Okuda , Nathan James , Mikael Takacs , Mandy Cao , Miho Hirano , Adrian Cox , Lauren Marx , Yasuyo Fujibe , Stephanie Inagaki , Amandine Urruty , Stickymonger , Sarah Emerson , Riikka Hyvönen , Pip & Pop , Nicole Gordon , Meredith Marsone , Mara Light , Lauren YS , Kris Lewis , Lala Abaddon , Kristen Liu-Wong , Keun Young Park , Joey Bates , Jean-Paul Mallozzi , Haroshi , Heidi Taillefer , Ewa Pronczuk-Kuziak , Alessia Iannetti , Scott Musgrove , Amy Fry , Scott Hove , Olivia De Berardinis , Ian Francis , Glazed Paradise , Jonathan Viner , Marion Peck , Nigel Cox , Handiedan , Glazed Paradise (Mark Jenkins & Sandra Fernandez).

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Culling from the gallery’s catalog of artists, the show highlights an emphasis on the cutting edge, the surreal, the subversive, and the simply beautiful.

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The gallery grew from a personal collection of Jan Corey Helford, who founded the gallery with husband Bruce. Previously housed in Culver City, the larger space has led to richer shows, with space not merely filled but with art work but space used to create an immersive experience of pop surrealism, street art, and all works contemporary.

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So sit back and enjoy a look at some of the stellar pieces that represent the gallery’s exhibitions over the years, then head downtown for the closing this weekend.

The beautiful photos here are all from the camera of Jack Burke.

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Corey Helford Gallery is located at 571 Anderson Street in DTLA.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke

Of Art and Vineyards – Allegretto Vineyard Resort

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Allegretto Vineyard Resort is not just a beautiful resort with a focus on wine.  It is not merely the first true, inclusive luxury destination in Paso Robles. No, it’s also a work of art, a hotel as intimate museum, a spectacular destination that could be in Europe, could be from another time – but is instead a very modern take on a stunning Italian villa, in central California.

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Allegretto Vineyard resort is elegant, dreamy, an homage to Mediterranean style that is centuries old. Open for just under a year, the resort contains lush gardens and fountains, incredible artwork, a chapel – perfect for weddings or yoga retreats, depending on your needs – called the Abbey, two labyrinths, a pool with a view of the vineyards.

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There are twenty acres of vineyards here, and guests can stroll them, if so inclined, or relax by a fire pit, read in a lovely courtyard, experience a spa that features aroma therapy,  zero-gravity chairs, and an infrared detox sauna.

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But in the end, it’s the art of the place that makes a trip here an experience like no other, with a new “find” around every corner, from paintings to sculptures to massive crystals. Crushed marble from Israel, Indian arches, a stunning Buddha, a Roman goddess – you never know what you’ll find as you ramble through the property.

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The luxury and opulence of the resort is hardly formidable: somewhat miraculously, it feels comfortably homey as well as lush.

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The concept of the resort comes from creator Doug Ayres, whose family-owned line of 21 chain hotels are perfectly comfortable in their own right, but not properties that would lead you to envision Allegretto Vineyard Resort as part of that chain.

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The resort was a one of a kind personal vision by Ayres, after he visited this Central Coast wine region and fell in love with it. He wanted to establish – and has very much succeeded – a destination resort that fits perfectly with the area’s wineries, tasting rooms, and Tuscan-like scenery, and one that is infused with a sense of serenity. Guests frequently check in for a few days stay, and if a room is available, ask to extend their visit.

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Featuring 171 rooms and suites, each beautifully appointed in muted mauves and browns – the color of the earth and wines, these rooms are warm and appealing. We loved the large marble shower and our vineyard view. F23C6951

The resort’s dining is exceptional too, featuring locally sourced, and in some cases, locally foraged ingredients. An outdoor patio with a view of one of the resort’s fountains is a charming place for lunch; or try drinks and coffee by the massive fireplace just off the lobby. The interior of the restaurant, Cello, resembles a wine cave, again the reds and browns predominate in a comfortable,  stylish room.  In the evening, there’s often live classical music.

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Executive Chef Eric Olson is meticulous in his preparation of Northern Italian cuisine. Olson visits area farms to ensure that he’s working with organic and sustainable providers; has built his own bee box, and scours the area for wild-growing natural ingredients from milk thistle to seaweeds, elderberries, edible flowers, and acorns. Olson has his own chef’s garden and a large compost area. The vineyard on the resort’s property, and its 200 plus olive trees, also make fine resources for the chef’s kitchen.

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At lunch, we loved the light angel hair pasta with Roma tomato and fresh basil; the thyme-seared scallops on butter lettuce was everything you could wish for in a salad.

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“All the seafood is brought in whole, from halibut to salmon, to control freshness and origin,” Olson notes. “We create our pizzas going from gas to wood burning ovens to prepare them in a timely fashion while preserving technique. I look to prepare dishes that are unique and will educate our culinary team and our diners.”

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Formerly with Ojai Valley Inn, Olson’s creativity and flair in the kitchen is even more evident at dinner, with dishes like the stunningly presented sustainable abalone, arranged within the shell, and paired with lobster sauce; gluten free flat bread with edible flowers and fresh garlic; risotto with shrimp, scallops, and foraged mushrooms; and coconut gelato with bread pudding.

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Pastry chef Carol Anne Phiopott makes all her pastries and desserts from scratch. Her key lime pie is the best I’ve tasted – even after multiple visits to Key West, home to the dessert. “It’s my own recipe. I lift egg yolks and lime dust together,” she notes.

Other stand-out desserts include lemon mascarpone cheese cake, chocolate berry tart, honeycomb and fruit.

Alexandra Pellot, the venue’s mixologist, dries her own fruits and makes her own syrups from scratch.

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Careful sourcing is also a feature of the fine wines the vineyard resort creates: a Viognier with notes of minerals, citrus and honeysuckle, the hardy Spanish grape of the Tenaught,  a favorite here but rare on the coast, featuring spice notes, blackberry, and notes of chocolate as well. We were also impressed with the light rose petal notes in the Zinfindel and the cocoa and Bing cherry flavors in the Cabernet.

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A wine tasting room has just opened on site, for guests to enjoy sips from these vintages and more, both from wines created from the resort’s vineyard, and from the region.  With dinner we were able to taste a delightful Leticia sparkling Brute as well as a dry and fragrant Jack Creek Pinot Noir.

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Off property, we tasted at Villa San Juliette, whose capacious grounds and fountains made a lovely match with the resort’s ambiance. The Villa opened their tasting room in 2008, according to host Melanie Porteny. Created by Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, Villa San-Juliette’s tasting room is set amid the gardens of a 168-acre estate.

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The winery grows 11 varietals. We tasted a 2014 Pinot Gris redolent of almond, apricot, and lemon; an airy 2014 Sauvignon Blanc; and a rich Syrah with butterscotch notes. Winemaker Dan Smith, mixes 90% Syrah with 5% each of petite Syrah and Grenache to create the Syrah. Along with our tastings, we were treated to a bountiful cheese plate.

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We also strolled Tin City, a section of Paso Robles once given to industrial use, now with its warehouses recreated as wineries, distilleries, and breweries.

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We visited Barrelhouse Brewery, a terrific neighborhood hang out, producing 4500 barrels a year last year, and twice again as much this year. Outdoor picnic tables make a great spot to listen to live music on weekends.

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Open since 2013, Barrelhouse is the creation of Jason Carvalho and Kevin Nickell, lifelong friends and business partners. “We’re not looking to be found in every 7-11. What’s most important to us is to be part of the community,”  we were told. We loved Big Sur, their crisp double IPA, and their Sunny Daze Citrus Blonde Ale.

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A drive to the coast for some beach walking in Cayucos, and then it was time for dinner.

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In the heart of downtown Paso Robles, Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Lounge is another find, a beautiful restaurant that offers Central Coast resources as delicious as they are perfectly prepared. Produce comes from area farmers, breads are crafted by local bakers, and the local wines are perfectly selected.

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We tasted a 2014 Adelaida from Anna’s Vineyards along with Central Coast Brewing’s Monterrey Street pale ale to accompany an incredible seasonal dish of fried green tomatoes, dipped in gluten-free, house-made, Panko.

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Next came a cold cucumber soup, with Dungeness crab and sun gold tomatoes; zucchini from Haussler farms prepared with romesco and mint, and line-caught California King salmon served with crispy potatoes, Blue Lake beans, and olives, grilled with lemon. For dessert, the chocolate torte with cherries, and brown butter cake were both exceptional, and well paired with a Halter Ranch Vine de Paille and Rockso Porte.

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Sitting on the charming brick patio, this was a meal we lingered over, listening as owner Debbie Thomas explained that she doesn’t believe in heavy sauces, and neither does head chef Tim Veatch. “Let the fresh local ingredients shine,” she says.

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Thomas started an organic farm eleven years on top of a hill which she named Thomas Hill Farms, leaving a career in marketing in Pasadena. From the farm’s abundance of produce, the restaurant was born. “I was ahead of the farm to table curve,” she laughs.

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Returning to Allegretto Vineyard Resort, we were struck by the gorgeous play of colored lights on the fountains, the quiet of the vineyards, the serenity of a windswept night. Contemplated any time of day, both art and vineyards are pure delight.

You’ll want to taste, see, savor, and be transported by these Paso Robles finds as soon as you can – and then arrange a return trip to the sublime.

Allegretto Vineyard Resort

2700 Buena Vista Drive  Paso Robles, California, 93446

Thomas Hill Organics Bistro & Wine Lounge

1313 Park St.  Paso Robles, CA 93446

Villa San-Juliette

6385 Cross Canyons Road  San Miguel, CA 93451

Barrel House Brewing Company

3055 Limestone Way   Paso Robles, Ca 93446