2014 DEVO Awards

2014 DEVO awards: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time once again for Arts DEVO’s super, somewhat random, local arts-awards ceremony for all the stuff that tickled my personal art spot (as well as a couple of things that turned on others in these pages). The envelope, please …

Best local art development: Art markets. Despite our short-sighted city officials placing little value on art as a cultural or economic resource (and thus offering almost no financial support to the arts in this historically creative city), there has been a growing network of community-minded arts faires and pop-up markets offering the full range of local artistic expression for affordable prices in fun environments: Open Studios Art Tour, multiday Art at the Matador spring arts celebration, Great Garden Art Weekend at Magnolia Gift & Garden, Chikoko’s spring and fall Bizarre Bazaars, and a multitude of holiday-season art markets (Muse Holiday Market Place, Chico Art Center’s Salon d’Art, etc.).

Best artist: Mitchell Davidovitz. From the multimedia experiments of his “Window of Normalization” project to the live and video performance art of his Mint Shekels—a cult leader, 800-number peddler, milk bather and performer of harmonic rituals (not concerts!) with the Treif Stars—Davidovitz made the most challenging, fun, thought-provoking art of the year. And his musical instrument of choice is a saw, which is just gravy.

Best new project from the Uncle Dad: Uncle Dad’s Art Collective Presents: Led Zeppelin IV (Sept. 13, at BMU Auditorium), featuring a wide range of local musicians—Bogg, Big Mo & the Full Moon Band, The Shimmies, The Lolos, The Pageant Dads, Kyle Williams, Aubrey Debauchery and more—performing a track-by-track reinterpretation of the classic album. Next up: Prince’s Purple Rain (Feb. 21, BMU Auditorium).

Best arts resource: Idea Fabrication Labs. High-tech, high-energy maker space leading Chico into the future.

Best game (as in, to hunt): Zombies!!! For Halloween, the ingenious folks behind the Zombie Wrecking Crew equipped an old school bus with 27 paintball guns and drove us through a zombie-infested wasteland on the outskirts of Oroville and let us mow down the undead, and it was amazing!

Best candidates for Local Badass: Julian Ruck, singer/songwriter, musician herder and (with tireless camera operator Fox E. Jeff) local-music documentary filmmaker. And Sesar Sanchez—playing the heavy music (Teeph, Cold Blue Mountain, etc.) and producing the heavy shows.

Best theater: Pageant Play at Lost on Main; Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Blue Room Theatre; Other Desert Cities at Theatre on the Ridge; Everybody in Outer Space: Lost Their Marbles, presented by Uncle Dad’s Art Collective at the Chico Women’s Club.

Best live music: French Reform at Maltese (April 11, during CAMMIES) and at Duffy’s Tavern (April 26, final show), Mark “Porkchop” Holder (Saturday farmers’ market), Lyrics Born and Gift of Gab at Lost on Main (May 2), Sun Club at Maltese (March 28).

Best new album: Drought by West by Swan and Let Them Eat Cake by French Reform.

Best local music: French Reform, Solar Estates, Sisterhoods, Michelin Embers, The She Things, Bunnymilk, Bran Crown, West by Swan, Severance Package, Ave Grave, Mint Sheckels & the Treif Stars.

2014 milestones:

Birthdays: Duffy’s Tavern turns 25; the weekly Synthesis turns 20; Avenue 9 Gallery turns 10.

Out of here: North State Symphony conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett moved to the Midwest; Avenue 9 Gallery is closing its doors; Rogue Theatre dissolved; MANAS Artspace ran its course.

New on the scene: Nor-Cal Jazz Festival; Jefferson Hardcore (punk promoters); Chico Rockstars took over the School of Rock; Chico Tellabration storytelling celebration; Chico-Con comic-book convention; Keep Chico Weird Talent & Art Show; The Barn performance space (currently in a holding pattern); For the Funk of It funk festival in Belden.

Rest in peace

• Anita Ingrao: Documentary filmmaker and “Queen of the Chico Community Observatory.”

• Maria Phillips: Arts advocate, professor, painter, and co-founder of Avenue 9 Gallery and the Chico Visual Arts Alliance.

• Dan Tomassini: Longtime Chico musician (drummer, bassist), actor and fixture of the downtown scene.

• Frank Ficarra: Longtime Chico jazz musician and philosophy professor.

• Mike Hamilton: The History Dude.

• Neil Wiegman: Author, Spanish instructor and CN&R contributor.