Best of Sacramento 2015: Arts & Entertainment writers’ picks
Best place to get some rhythm
Fenix Drum and Dance Company
While the Fenix Drum and Dance Company often performs live, it also teaches some wonderful classes that mix the traditions of the Caribbean with styles from West Africa and the Congo. Starting at $45 a month, you can attend one class per week and learn how to not embarrass yourself at the next hippie drum circle you encounter at a music festival. Don’t know where the one count starts or what a repeating four-bar refrain means? Doesn’t matter. An open mind and a pair of hands is all you need to get started on some cool African instruments. 2110 Del Paso Boulevard, www.fenixdrumanddance.com. E.J.
Best selfie-ready mural
“Everything Went Black” at Warehouse Artist Lofts
If you search #WarehouseArtistLofts on Instagram now, you’ll scan through photos and photos and photos of unique works of art completed in the artist corridors. But earlier, when WAL first opened, most shots were of Jose Di Gregorio’s “Everything Went Black.” More specifically, of people posing in front of Di Gregorio’s “Everything Went Black.” The striking blend of colorful celestial imagery and Di Gregorio’s signature geometric patterns—plus the sheer wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling magnitude of the lobby mural—leaves you in a state of awe. And then, of course, you want to snap a selfie and show your friends. 1108 R Street, www.josedigregorio.com. J.B.
Best does-it-all artistic spirit
The Brickhouse Gallery & Art Complex
Housed in a 1920s-era sheet metal building, the Brickhouse Gallery & Art Complex has been a hub of creativity in Oak Park since 1993. The charming brick exterior houses a gallery as well as artists’ studios and space for performances, classes and group activities. Whether it’s poetry or book readings, exhibitions, live music or meetups, the Brickhouse fosters an eclectic spirit, vibrant creativity and a do-anything vibe. 2837 36th Street, (916) 475-1240, http://thebrickhouseartgallery.com. R.L.
Best music therapy
Sacramento Taiko Dan
Jumping around, banging on thunderous drums and getting all sweaty—that’s a form of meditation, right? It is if you’re a taiko drummer. The modern style of taiko drumming started in Japan after World War II and quickly spread around the world. The Sacramento Taiko Dan is one of the best groups around—and not just because it has the biggest taiko drum in North America, at six feet tall and 800 pounds. If you think meditating is boring, but you still need a way to calm your mind, go take a class so you can get loud and sweaty while seeking inner peace. 2121 Blumenfeld Drive, (916) 444-5667, www.sactaiko.com. N.B.
Best hip-hop that don’t stop
Unlike some places we won’t mention, this Midtown music venue didn’t turn its back on live hip-hop immediately after that unfortunate shooting outside of a local Nipsey Hussle concert in February. Indeed, artists from the 916 have long considered Blue Lamp the place to keep it real. We asked David Crosby, host of the GRIND hip-hop showcase, to weigh in: “It’s a blessing to see an owner of a club be so supportive. [Gabi Garcia] backs everything we do and exhausts all her resources so it succeeds. … Blue Lamp is one of the best venues I’ve ever thrown shows at. It has the warm family vibe to it and they honestly care about their customers.” 1400 Alhambra Boulevard, (916) 455-3400, www.bluelamp.com. RFH
Best roving theater troupe
The Alternative Arts Collective
Since a devastating fire uprooted it last year, the local performing and visual arts hub has relied on the kindness of stranger stages to put on its bold reinterpretations of Shakespeare classics. Last month, Carmichael’s Chautauqua Playhouse lent its hardwood so TAAC could present a heavily altered adaptation of the bard’s Macbeth, featuring gender-blind casting and a harder-to-kill Lady MacBeth, among other changes. As director David Blue Garrison said at the time, “This is beneficial for both companies, and we hope to explore similar collaborations with other groups while we search for a new theater of our own.” All the world’s a stage, indeed. www.facebook.com/thealternativeartscollective. RFH
Best Latin culture educator
Latino Center of Art and Culture
Don’t get confused: After 40 years, La Raza Galeria Posada recently changed its to the Latino Center of Art and Culture. That decision was partly to invite all cultures to celebrate Latin heritage, regardless of speaking Spanish. The organization continues to educate the community about Latin and Chicano culture through art, music and festivals. One of those fabulous festivals is its annual Dia de los Muertos celebration, which transforms the corner of 20th and J Streets into a Mexican village and graveyard. A whopping 8,000 people attend each year to indulge in a bit of Latin history. 2700 Front Street, (916) 446-5133, www.lrgp.org. S.R.
Best art show benefiting sexual assault survivors
Art with a Heart
Art with a Heart annually showcases work by local artists, but there’s a twist: many of the artists are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking. All proceeds benefit My Sister’s House, the only nonprofit in the area to provide culturally relevant services specific to the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander survivors. That includes a six-bed shelter and program focusing on economic independence. This year’s fundraiser just passed, but you can still catch a full survivor art show on the Sacramento State campus slated for early fall. www.my-sisters-house.org. B.P.
Best accidental gallery
Son of a Bean
Since opening last year, the coffeehouse has been democratic about letting local artists display their works, as long as there’s wall space to accommodate them. By steady evolution, the eclectic décor has come to reflect the diverse talents of the community, from Mexico City native Raul Mejia’s large acrylic provocations to Julie Okahara’s vivid ink imaginings and mixed-media paintings. Owner Michael A. Chaves, a part-time photographer, recently bought one of the pieces himself and is considering making room for the metal sculptures of a cop’s brother. He also just booked his first jazz musician, completing his monopoly of the senses. 1029 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 274-4953, www.facebook.com/sonofabean13. RFH
Best off-the-grid nightlife
A Toucha Class
You don’t get this kind of charm, soul and variety at a Midtown bar. On Friday, dancers descend onto A Toucha Class for a live deejay spinning old-school R&B and hip-hop. During the week, happy hour cocktails are served from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. while pool games crack in the background. The kitchen dishes out hot wings, catfish nuggets and chicken sandwiches while the bartenders pour with genuine friendliness. Don’t forget extra entertainment bonuses, such as comedy nights for both local and traveling talents, and open-mic poetry sessions. Get off the grid and become one with the regulars at A Toucha Class. 4217 Stockton Boulevard, (916) 451-1786, www.facebook.com/playmakersatouchaclass. S.R.