Artober in the air

Bear Star Press is a winner.

Bear Star Press is a winner.

Artoberfestivus! It’s official. Last weekend, at Chico Palio, the art horses was unhitched and Artoberfest officially commenced. Let the rambling columns begin:

Part of the busy Chico Palio day schedule was the announcement of the Mayor’s Arts Awards. This year’s recipients are an impressive trio: Sid Lewis, Crazygrass bandleader and founder of the Chico School of Rock; Claudia Steel, the longstanding local painter dubbed “Chico’s living city treasure” by the Chico Arts Commission; and Gregg Payne, muralist, sign-painter, public-arts advocate and creator of the giant “Resonance” chimes in Humboldt Neighborhood Park. Congrats all around.

While we’re giving out props, we need to also shout out to both Beth Spencer of local independent publisher Bear Star Press and one of her writers, Chico State grad Stephen Gutierrez. Gutierrez’s book of short stories—Live From Fresno y Los, published by Bear Star—was just selected for a 2010 American Book Award. Gutierrez joins no less than Amiri Baraka and David Eggers on this year’s list of winners. Order a copy at

Max is top banana.

And since your hat is already off, keep it tipped toward Chico artist Max Infeld. His design was a top vote-getter in an online competition hosted by Chiquita Bananas, and will be one of 18 new designs that will decorate bananas all over the world on the company’s familiar stickers.

Just like last year, one of my top Artober recommendations is the art of Janice Porter. The Chico painter and illustrator is one of more than 100 Butte County artists letting the public into their arts worlds during the Open Studios Tour (Oct. 2-3 & 9-10—stop by Chico Art Center for info and tour guide). For both weekends, Porter’s home studio (685 E. 16th St.) will be transformed into a discount art store, where her artwork—including painted scenes from her JTown exhibit from last Artoberfest and original books and illustrations from her 20 years of designing multicultural children’s books—are going to be selling for one-quarter to one-third the original asking price!

Speaking of art for sale, on Saturday, Oct. 2, 5-8 p.m., the 1078 Gallery is hosting its Annual Art Sale. Local artists’ works will be sold for $78 apiece, with half the money going to the artists and half benefiting the gallery.

While navigating the Artober terrain, consider following the trail into the Blue Room’s Sketch Valley, a brand-new, late-night, sketch-comedy variety show produced by the talented Matt Hammons (10:30 p.m., Fridays & Saturdays through Oct. 9).

Janice Porter art sale.

And lastly, the yo-yo never gets any love from us. Part of the reason is because we never find out about the National Yo-Yo Competition until we’re walking downtown wondering why every other kid on the street is walking the dog and rocking the baby. Although, we should have figured out by now that every year Chico hosts the country’s best the first Saturday in October, and this Oct. 2, they’ll all be in Chico City Plaza from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.