Artoberfest, domain drama and craft beer on the horizon

A fabric wall-hanging by Lida Penkova.

A fabric wall-hanging by Lida Penkova.

Artober blows in Considering the fact that there is no city funding on the horizon for future Artoberfests, it’s a little bittersweet that the first day of the annual month-long celebration of Chico as an arts city is coming this Tuesday. But at this potential crossroads, Arts DEVO wants to take time to give props for all the years of working on spotlighting Chico as an arts destination to Debra Lucero and Friends of the Arts, the nonprofit that has organized and promoted Artoberfest since 2006. It’s a life-swallowing endeavor to oversee a community event of this magnitude, and on behalf of the artists and the appreciators, I want to say thank you for the tremendous effort.

Of course, if you’re the head honcho of a public event, you get the brunt of the criticism as well, and while we’re on the Artoberfest topic, I need to also take a moment to bring a little clarity to an issue surrounding the Artoberfest website.

There were two stories recently published in the Chico Enterprise-Record in which former Chico artist and Chico arts commissioner Gregg Payne was called out by Lucero as being part of the problem Friends of the Arts was facing in trying to implement much-needed updates to the Artoberfest website due to Payne’s ownership of the URL.

The goose is loose.

It is true that Payne, who currently lives in Prescott, Ariz., has owned the URL ever since he created the Artoberfest logo when he was still an arts commissioner back in 2005. But he signed the Friends of the Arts servers onto the account in 2006, and has stayed out of the process while paying the annual registration fee as a courtesy to the city ever since. When the recent developments arose, he refused to turn the URL over to a “consultant” (i.e., Friends of the Arts), saying the event belonged to the people of Chico, offering instead to give it to the city, which he recently did. When Payne’s ownership came to light, Lucero told me that Friends of the Arts was, understandably, not willing pay for updating a site with a URL they didn’t own.

So, while it’s true that Lucero didn’t want to proceed with any updates with Payne as owner, Payne was not the reason the site wasn’t being updated—Friends of the Arts had been maintaining the site for years with no problems and based on that record could’ve continued doing so. And he was not “cybersquatting.” He wasn’t asking for any money from anyone for the URL, and gave it to the city, free of charge.

The end result of all this is the Artoberfest site’s content has been moved to a new URL owned by Lucero,, and the city has officially taken over, which redirects to Lucero’s new URL.

But, website or no, Artoberfest is still happening and there is a lot of art to look forward to. In next week’s column, I’ll highlight Arts DEVO’s personal picks for the month, but for now I’ll tease you with what looks to be one of the hidden Artober gems: Dreaming Cultures: Myths and Visions of Distant Lands at the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology at Chico State shows Oct. 2-25 and will feature the amazing work of self-taught artist Lida Penkova, who has traveled the world and tells stories through her paintings and linocuts on themes ranging “from the Mexican Days of the Dead to the Australian aboriginal dreamtime.”

The time has finally come If you need another reason to be excited about October’s arrival, get ready to raise your glass and cheer! Winchester Goose is kicking open its doors for its grand opening on Tuesday, Oct. 1, starting at 6 p.m. The handsome new craft-beer bar will start its first day with a Roaring-Twenties-themed birthday party for S.F.’s Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, which will celebrate turning 16 by bringing six “rare and unreleased” selections to town. I will definitely drink to that!