Writers’ picks: Arts & Entertainment

SN&R writers share their favorite artists, venues, cats and malcontents

Photo COURTESY OF Franceska Gamez

Best underrated artist

Franceska Gamez

They say a woman's work is invisible in the home, and the same can be said of certain creators in the art industry. Franceska Gamez, 24, often plays a supporting role as the co-curator of 1810 Gallery, where she boosts the profile of other artists. In a recent exhibit, Art Is…, Akira Beard’s watercolors and oil paintings held ghastly forms that pulsed with color—a vibrant example of the “high caliber of lowbrow art” that Gamez says she wants to present to Sacramento. Gamez’s own work is commonly interwoven in collaborations, including with her fellow co-curator, Shaun Burner. They made a sultry mural for Wide Open Walls in August and the arguably most-Instagrammed installation at February’s ArtStreet—a hoodied man with bright wooden rays emanating from his face. Gamez’s touch is disguised in plain sight: Look for the raw, colorful, organic curlicues and swirls that thrum with life. www.facebook.com/franceskaart. R.H.

Best place to impress your nerd date

Alliance Française de Sacramento

For the cadre of pretentious movie snobs, the dearth of foreign-language films online is invariably depressing. Fortunately, the Alliance Française de Sacramento is keeping French film alive and available with more than 450 DVDs available for checkout to its members, plus books, music and events like monthly film screenings held in its new CLARA headquarters. For a yearly fee that ranges from $25 to $45, members gain access to the Alliance's cultural events, multimedia lending library and online access to French-language newspapers and magazines. Check its website to browse a catalog of movie titles, or stop by the office for staff member recommendations. 2420 N Street, Suite 225, (916) 453-1723, www.afsacramento.org. J.B.

Best unofficial Midtown mascot

Cluck Castro

Whether on bike, on foot or in a vehicle, if you live in the inner city, chances are you've passed by Cluck Castro, Midtown's festive and unofficial mascot perched on a second story porch near 22nd and N streets. Larry Fox, an artist and retired teacher, created Castro out of wood, plaster, hemp and wire, and each holiday he dresses the large bird to fit the occasion. Whether Castro's hiding underneath a large skull mask during Halloween, brightly decorated with Christmas lights during the winter or adorned with Valentine's Day symbols in February, this chicken is a quirky treasure that holds true to the grittier side of Sacramento. S.R.

Best new local arts calendar (other than SN&R’s)


A cheekier name for this app would be #NoExcuseSacramento. But Danielle Vincent, founder of #ShowUpSacramento and the annual First Festival, isn't trying to offend you for not coming out and supporting the finer events in our arts and music scene. She's trying to help you, friend. Through #ShowUpSacramento, a simple touch and scroll shows you the best of what's happening in your city. You can also post pictures of shows or listen to an all-local music playlist. It's elegantly bare bones, which works because Facebook can be overwhelming when it mixes event pages with Trump news and your friend's birthday. But really, you're running out of excuses. There are nice things happening in Sacramento, and you should come out. www.facebook.com/showupsacramento. M.Z.

Most twisted local artist

Diana Dich

Most people wouldn't take inspiration from a spool of steel wire, but that's what makes Diana Dich the artist and not us. Dich started experimenting with wire as a form of 3-D drawing when she was still in high school. Today she bends and twists it into everything from large-scale, single-strand silhouettes featured at Art Hotel and ArtStreet to affordable, custom work available at local makers-marts. Hit her up for everything from fine art portraits and twisted bracelets to beautiful, cursive signage featuring your favorite expletive. www.dianadich.com. J.B.

Best reason to question your insanity

The Hideaway Bar & Grill

I went in search of what I expected to be a simple prize. I told my editor I wanted to write about the graffiti inside the men's room at the Hideaway, an outpost dive bar on the edges of Curtis Park and North Oak Park. But when I arrived, mysterious forces had vandalized my reality. The two restrooms were now unisex and there was no graffiti to be found. Plus, the toilets were in the wrong place. Had I confused the Hideaway for another bar? Did I dream it? Was I that tipsy? As I sipped on a not-cold Olympia and pondered my sanity, I started noticing other things. The long plank of bar under my elbows was a glittering burgundy expanse that begged to be danced upon or stared at in a psilocybin-induced hypnotic stupor. And secreted in this brick building block with its rockabilly tiki touch (rockatiki?) stood one of the last analog jukeboxes on Earth. The bartender didn't care for the newfangled digital Daleks that allowed people to choose from an uncurated menu of music, or hack each other's plays through an app. Remember when jukes revealed the soul of a particular place, she asked? I agreed. As she played cuts from the first Eagles of Death Metal album, we talked about the band's origins as a Queens of the Stone Age side project and its unwelcome notoriety following the Bataclan terrorist attack. She was excited to see the band shake out the jams at Outside Lands. As we chatted, I forgot about my deteriorating psyche. To bend a phrase from another debauchery-loving rock 'n' roll outfit, you can't always find what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find what you need. 2565 Franklin Boulevard, (916) 455-1331,www.facebook.com/SactoHideaway. RFH

Best slice of Americana

West Wind Drive-In

The original Sacramento 6 Drive-In, now known as the West Wind Drive-In, was built in 1973 and remains the city's own unique slice of historic Americana. With the advent of car speakers in the 1940s, the popularity of drive-in theaters soared through the decades. More recently, a majority of the nation's drive-ins have shuttered, but this old-fashioned form of outdoor cinema continues to coast alongside modern-day movie theaters, because there's nothing like enjoying a movie under a canopy of stars with a much welcomed Delta breeze. 9616 Oats Drive, (916) 363-6572, www.westwinddi.com/locations/sacramento. S.R.

A mural by Franceska Gamez.

Best mysterious mansion

Amoruso House

With condos on every corner and historic buildings getting exterior makeovers, some would say the rougher charm of Midtown is losing to the highest Bay Area bidders. But it's haunting gems like the Hart Mansion, a.k.a. the Martinez House, a.k.a. the Amoruso House, a historic manor located in Boulevard Park that's kept the neighborhood's creepy folklore alive for more than 50 years. The house sits empty, but is owned by a local ranching family, the Amorusos. Above the large entryway, gargoyle-like heads keep away curious passersby better than the padlocked gates. But it's the rumors of ax murderers, ghosts and a doctor gone mad that give this mansion its spooky appeal, especially around Halloween. Still, the Amoruso estate assures Sacramentans year after year that the place is simply a family heirloom, and despite the scary stories passed on by neighbors and local ghost hunters for decades—there are no such things as ghosts. H and 22nd streets. S.R.

Best new album recorded in two hours

Michael Ray's Raw

In 2014, Jack White broke the world record for the fastest produced and released album ever. His second solo LP, Lazaretto, took three hours, 55 minutes and 21 seconds to lay down all 11 tracks in the studio, master it, press it to vinyl and debut it to the public. Put blues man Michael Ray in that same camp of musicians who’d rather bust out a living record in less time. His upcoming album, an eclectic tour of original and traditional blues rock songs from the last 50 years, was the fruit of a February show siphoned into the microphones at Gold Standard Sounds and performed for an audience in the studio at the same time. The show, and thus the recording process, clocked in around two-and-a-half hours. Just a reminder that you don’t have to pull a Chinese Democracy (Guns N’ Roses’ last album took 10 years to complete, and it was disappointing) to make worthwhile music. www.facebook.com/michaelray916. M.Z.

Best 49 seats in town

Wm. J. Geery Theater

For more than 30 years, the Wm. J. Geery Theater has been the place the city's small professional theater companies have called home. Inside the intimate 49-seat room, comedy troupes, cabaret festivals, one-man shows and even private music recitals have all claimed time on its stage. Located in the basement level of a historic Midtown abode, this theater offers a close-knit experience that puts the audience right in the thick of the drama, music and entertainment. 2130 L Street, (916) 448-9019, www.wjgeerytheater.com. S.R.

Best fair-weather feline pal

Chroma Kitty

If it's the kind of day that sends TV forecasters out to look at the sky, chances are you'll get the chance to catch Chroma Kitty, the best meteorologist who ever purred. Chroma, who lives on the Fox40 premises, is an on-set regular known for making appearances during the newscast's Backyard Weather segments. Sometimes the tabby even helps out, using her tail to point at key spots on the green-screen map. In return she gets a luxe cathouse (it's heated in the winter) and plenty of food. Now, if only your couch kitty would get off her fluffy little butt and do something this useful, too. http://fox40.com/2017/07/06/chroma-kitty. R.L.

Best “no comment”

Mahtie Bush

No one should ever accuse Mahtie Bush of having an inferiority complex. The beefy backpack rapper turned down not one but two recent requests to confab with SN&R until we agree to feature him on our cover. The headphones on this guy! This was no idle ransom demand, either. When our calendar editor asked to spotlight one of Mahtie's upcoming shows, the local emcee responded by emailing a link to a video in which Mahtie burns a copy of the paper. OK, man, we get it, you're not bluffing. Mahtie has kept up his social media campaign to make SN&R's cover since that one-minute clip, in which he narrates his grievances over slo-mo footage of him in a parking lot, igniting the offending newspaper and dropping it like it's hot. “You want to put me in the back of your paper with the weed and call girl ads,” Mahtie says in the clip, which swipes blink-and-you'll-miss-them cameos from Winona Ryder, Chris Pratt and Kanye. “You want me to just be thankful to be in your paper for a small blurb. I am Mahtie Bush. Do your research on me. My story is bigger than 150 characters.” Um, how many characters is this? www.facebook.com/mahtiebush916, https://soundcloud.com/mahtiebush916. RFH

Best spot for soul music … with pizza!

Soulful Saturdays at Graciano's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza & Speakeasy

Once a month, the Old Sacramento pizzeria Graciano's hosts an open-mic night dedicated to up-and-coming soul artists from your neighborhood and around California. But to Soulful Saturdays' founder, Damond Owens, the live music gathering showcases something bigger brewing around here, proudly sharing online that “#SactownIsTheNewMotown.” Want proof of the renaissance? Check it out every Second Saturday. 1023 Front Street, www.facebook.com/sexyb4dawn. M.Z.