2017 DEVO Awards
2017 DEVO Awards: The envelope, please …
Best art news of the year: Monca opens! The arrival of the Museum of Northern California Art inside the beautifully refurbished former home of the Chico Veterans Hall gives Chico a destination art museum. And, thanks to the energetic people behind the scenes—led by board President Pat Macias—the place is already buzzing with activity, with a wide range of community arts programming making Monca a major cultural hub for Chico and the North State.
Second best art news of the year: 1078 Gallery finds a new home. When 1078 Gallery was evicted from its Broadway Street home last May, I felt like the family in A Christmas Story after the Bumpus hounds ate the Christmas turkey—“it was gone, all gone; no art, no art receptions, no rock shows, no classical guitar recitals …” But alas, all is almost right with the world once again—the arts heart of our little city will soon beat again in a new home at 1710 Park Ave.
Best art show: Replication Machine, Chico Art Center (March 3-31). Place any item in the replication box and 20 minutes later, out comes an original piece of art. A fun and engaging celebration of the creative impulse.
Personal hero of the year: Maddi Gruber. Not only did the local musician get pulled on stage to play guitar and sing along with Green Day during a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Knowledge” at the band’s Aug. 5 Oakland Colosseum show, but she absolutely killed it!
Tops of the props: Mystic Roots Band. When it comes to owning the year in music, it’s hard to top selling enough records to make it onto the Billboard charts. The longstanding local reggae crew not only made the Billboard Reggae Album chart with its latest album, Change, but it was in the top 10 for five straight weeks, topping out at No. 1 for the week of June 3. Way to represent!
Best artist: Josh Funk. The local musician-turned-filmmaker makes some of the most time-consuming art possible: stop-motion animation. In 2017, his projects included a sweet video featuring his young son interacting with animated toys created for the Chico Art Center’s kid/adult collaborative art show, Shared Visions, in August, and a music video for “Scissors Gonna Cut Ya,” a rockin’ earworm by local garage punks Severance Package. The music video is by far the most impressive piece of local art I saw all year, with a meticulously edited animated scene featuring characters that look like living, rocking paper dolls.
Best live theater/performance art: Good With Faces and Frost/Nixon, Blue Room Theatre; Radioland’s Fall Fantasia, Theatre on the Ridge; The Butcher Shop theater/arts festival; Chikoko’s Devotion.
Best live music: Empty Gate, West by Swan and Panther Surprise at Naked Lounge (Aug. 28); Bread & Butter and Mr. Malibu at Duffy’s Tavern (Sept. 12); XDS, every damn show; Black Fong, every funkin’ show; Small Town Big Sound III at Sierra Nevada Big Room (Sept. 18-19); Pink Martini at Laxson Auditorium (Dec. 8); and based on word from those who were there (including CN&R contributor Carey Wilson), Arts DEVO missed the best local show of the year—twice!—Leonard Cohen tribute nights at Blue Room Theatre (May 20) and again at Norton Buffalo Hall in Paradise (Nov. 11).
Best new local bands: Mr. Malibu, Susurrus.
Out of here: Has Beans Cafe (and with it, its live music, spoken word, etc.), punk shows at Monstros Pizza, shirtless math-rockers Team Skins, metal duo Kattattack.
Gone and back again: 1078 Gallery (out at 820 Broadway, in at 1710 Park Ave.); the weekly Thursday Night open mic (out at Has Beans, back as a monthly event at Naked Lounge).
New on the scene: Museum of Northern California Art (Monca), Blackbird: Books, Gallery & Cafe, Secret Trail Brewing Co.
Rest in peace:
• Peter Jodaitis, longtime Chico painter
• James Kuiper, painter and Chico State art professor
• Kylee Athena, local punker
• Chris Loizeaux, local lawyer and musician (String Nation, Hawks & Eagles, etc.)
• Nancy Borsdorf, local musician (Hawks & Eagles)
• Claudia Steel, longtime Chico painter
• Lew Gardner, soapbox poet, thespian and arts lover
• Ann Pierce, painter and Chico State art instructor
• Stephen Pankhurst, Socially Pink bassist and dude about town
• Don Lewis, old-school Chico band dude (Swiss Family Donner Party, Brut Max, etc.)