Art Towns California

John Villani

One of the major contributing factors to the creation of Chico’s annual Artoberfest celebration was the inclusion of the city in travel author John Villani’s previous book, The 100 Best Art Towns in America. Villani’s latest, Art Towns California, also features Chico, in addition to 26 of the Golden State’s other “creative communities,” from that oft-celebrated “art colony” Laguna Beach to the aggressively redeveloping Redding. Each area is given a historical and artistic overview, which is followed by a modest selection of venue, restaurant and lodging listings as well as a couple of first-person accounts of the area by local members of the arts community. Villani’s nine-page section on Chico offers a good representation of the local art scene. He devotes a large chunk of the chapter to the wide swath that Chico State’s performances, exhibitions and overall influence cut through the city, and he touches on most of the big and small players in the local theater and visual-arts scene. I could nitpick about the somewhat random venue listings for Chico and the overall lack of dynamic photographs in a book about art, but if you’re planning a trip through the state, this is a decent starting point.