Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

ArtHop focus: Neil Chowdhury’s ‘Burdens and Dreams’ at Corridor 2122

In Thursday’s Life section I highlight the work of Neil Chowdhury, who joined the Fresno State art department this academic year to teach photography. His new show at Corridor 2122, “Burdens and Desires,” is a vibrant and thoughtful exercise in which Chowdhury unpacks his relationship to India, land of his father’s birth. Here’s an extended interview.

You’re new this academic year at Fresno State.  Introduce yourself to the Fresno arts community.

I’m new to Fresno, but not to teaching and making art, or to being new. My parents moved with me frequently when I was a child. I was born in England, but immigrated to Canada and then the US while still an infant. Since then I’ve lived all over the country. I think that having to adapt constantly to new environments and cultures really helped me to become more observant of my surroundings, and inspired my use of photography as a tool to understand the new worlds in which I found myself. I moved here this August with my wife Sacha to teach photography at Fresno State University. We are both thrilled to live in a place where we can enjoy sunshine all year round. Our timing was fortunate, as we just managed to escape the worst winter on record in Syracuse, our previous home. I’m excited to discover that in addition to warm weather, Fresno also offers a vibrant cultural and art scene that’s much more lively than I expected for a city of this size. We’ve both felt very welcomed by the creative community here so far!

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For tonight’s ArtHop, some whopping fish tales

For my ArtHop preview in Thursday’s Life section I put the focus on Julia Tanigoshi Tinker, who has fallen in love with the traditional Japanese art of gyotaku, or “fish rubbing.” The result is sort of a cross between a Facebook boast post (“I caught a fish this big!”) and a Fish Tale Reality Check (“Really, I caught a fish this big, and I’m not exaggerating!”).

Tinker, an enthusiastic fisherwoman in her own right, has a new solo exhibition at Chris Sorensen Studio. It opens 5-8 p..m. Thursday as part of ArtHop, the monthly open house of studios and galleries in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods.

While gyotaku started as a way to document fish catches, it morphed into a traditional Japanese art.

Best part: After she’s done painting her catch, she eats it for dinner.

Check out some of my other ArtHop picks in my preview.

ArtHop highlights: 1821 Gallery & Studios, CMAC

In Thursday’s Life section I highlight two ArtHop stops:

Phil Bowers opens his first Fresno show in four years at 1821 Gallery & Studios. A central piece of the untitled show is the installation piece “Constellations,” which references his childhood experiences of looking at the night sky.

And the Community Media Access Collaborative is hosting the annual “Celebrate Agriculture with the Arts,” which is on tour from Madera. It’s a chance to see works from artists around the state in a variety of media. You’ll never look at walnuts the same way again.

For a complete list of ArtHop venues and artists, go to the Fresno Arts Council’s website.

Pictured: Phil Bowers and “Constellations.” Bee photo by Craig Kohlruss.

ArtHop pick: Mac Mechem at Fig Tree

In Thursday’s Life section I put the spotlight on Mac Mechem, whose new show at Fig Tree Gallery is a highlight of October ArtHop. (5-8p.m Thursday at most venues.) From my story:

Mechem taught art at McLane High School for 36 years. After playing football for Fresno State, Mechem says he felt “dazed and confused” about his future after coming to the end of his player eligibility.

He sold his car, took the few hundred dollars he had saved loading trucks at night for Pepsi and bought a round-trip ticket to Europe.

After visiting the great museums there, he returned to Fresno determined to be an artist and teacher. While he was at McLane, he taught a painting class at Fresno City College for 28 years, and after retirement he has for 10 years been teaching a drawing class at Reedley College.

Mechem calls himself a figurative painter who comments on the social, political, cultural and religious aspects of human nature. “Satire and humor are important components of my expression as I attempt to lampoon and ridicule the vices, follies and shortcomings of contemporary society,” he says.

More ArtHop picks are attached to the end of the story. For a complete list of venues, go to the Fresno Arts Council’s ArtHop update.

Tonight: ArtHop

Pat Hunter and Janice Stevens celebrate the 35th anniversary of Gallery II on Shaw Avenue tonight with a reception for the Greater Fresno Area ArtHop. It’s pretty amazing to keep a business open for 35 years, much less an art gallery, and I write about Hunter and Stevens’ accomplishment in a centerpiece story in Thursday’s Life section:

The gallery, a mainstay stop on the greater Fresno-area ArtHop tour, held the third Thursday of each month, opens a retrospective show today. Work going back to the earliest days of Gallery II will be included. The show highlights Hunter’s watercolor paintings of historical landmarks featured in the pair’s books and the regular column they produce jointly in The Bee’s Central Valley magazine.

In addition to my story, I include this ArtHop pick for tonight:

Painters Richard Silva and Cynthia Manuszak team up for a joint show titled “Superman and Me” at the Margaret Hudson Earth Arts Studio, 1946 E. Swift Ave. Both artists deal with their “struggles and joys.” One of Silva’s paintings, titled “Marilyn Monroe Buddha with Cup of Coffee,” include shapes that represent Silva’s recent loss of part of his lung where cancer was removed. He painted “Teeth,” pictured, after he had all his teeth removed. Manuszak’s “Red Woman” depicts “my feeling of loss after being raped as a teenage girl.”

For more ArtHop locations tonight in the north and other parts of the city, check out the Fresno Arts Council’s update.

Weekend pick: Second Saturday

A couple of weeks ago in my Spotlight column I told you about Second Saturday, a new extension of the Fresno Arts Council’s popular ArtHop program. 

In Friday’s 7 section I offer  more details about the event. The first one will be held noon-4 p.m. Saturday at nearly 20 participating downtown galleries, businesses and restaurants. The focus is on families and children, with a half-dozen or so venues offering specific children’s art activities.

The arts council’s website includes a detailed venue list. (Please note that the Fresno Bee’s ArtHop exhibit, which runs through September, is not open on Saturdays.)

Tonight: Mundy, Gentle Jaime, Werebear and War


It’s not a full Bandgeek post (for that you’ll have to wait until tomorrow), but here is a quick list of tonight’s music options (or what I know of anyway). Feel free to add what you know in the comments section.

  • Mundy.
    W/Tippery Stew. At Cellar Door Visalia. 8 p.m. $10. (Flier link)

  • LTC Art Hop After Party.
    W/Gentle Jamie, WaterBox Inc., Where Sea Meets Sky. At Peeve’s Public House. 10 p.m. Free. All ages.

  • ArtHop w/Fresno Underground Art.
    W/Werebear. At Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden. 5 p.m. Free. (Flier link)

  • War.
    At the Madera Fair. 7 p.m. $10, reserved seating. Free festival seating with fair admission. (Flier link)

  • A shout-out to Corridor 2122

    Corridor 2122 is marking its 10th year in Fresno with a big ArtHop celebration Thursday night. If you didn’t catch my cover story in last Friday’s 7 section, it’s never too late. Here’s Bee artist S.W. Parra’s clever cover design:

    corridorcoverFrom my story:

    The collective is celebrating its big milestone at next week’s ArtHop with a 10th anniversary show featuring works from both past and current members. It’s been an impressive run: Month after month, with group and solo shows that range from cerebral to wacky to caustic to beautiful to just plain bizarre, I often get an artistic charge.

    Other times — rarely — I feel as if I’ve walked into Dudsville.

    But that’s part of the surprise. What appeals to me is the energy of the place — the sense of ideas percolating, of boundaries being pushed, of lifting the veil on the process of making art.

    And here’s a video I made while doing the story:

    The Beehive Interview: John Walker on his ArtHop show

    I wish you could all go out on an assignment with Fresno Bee photographer John Walker. I love to watch him walk into a situation — whether it be a story about an esoteric visual artist, a shoot for a complicated theater production or an emotional, heart-tugging profile — and figure out the best visuals. John likes to talk to people, and his soft-spoken curiosity often steers me toward aspects of a story that I hadn’t thought of exploring. 

    He’s been shooting photos professionally for nearly 35 years, and he picked about 50 images for his new ArtHop show, which will be held 5-8 p.m. Thursday in The Bee’s front lobby. With the wealth of images that John has made over the decades, it was hard narrowing them down to a relative few.

    I caught up with him for an interview.

    john walkerHow would you describe your photographer’s “eye”? Do you think it’s something you learned or were born with?

    Personally, I think either you have it or you don’t. I don’t think it’s something you can learn. The technical side of it you can learn, and it’s pretty easy these days with all the high-end cameras on the market, with auto-everything. It’s possible for almost anyone to make decent photographs — to emulate others’ work, but in the end it’s vision that is the most important, this intangible element. This is what makes photography exciting … everyone sees things differently. A lot goes into making a really good photo: composition, lensing, lighting, timing, but mainly it’s the ability to “see” and have the vision of making it all work together.

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    Tonight: North Fresno ArtHop

    Assemblage and mixed-media artist Myrna Axt is the guest featured artist for North Fresno ArtHop at The Vintage Market, 601 W. Shaw Ave. She’ll be featuring her assemblage “characters” and small works. She writes: 

    There is something magical about taking an ordinary or dilapidated object and reviving it into something extraordinary. My art reflects my surroundings, imagination and many times my, my political view. One of my outlets has been creating assemblage art, a three-dimensional composition, putting together found objects, altered bits and pieces, along with my imagery.

    ArtHop runs 5-8 p.m. Check out the Fresno Arts Council’s website for more venues. Pictured: Axt’s “Where’s Pooh? (Bear).”

    Picks for tonight’s scorching ArtHop

    photo 4

    I’ve already told you about Marcos Dorado’s farewell exhibit at Peeve’s and editorial cartoonist SW Parra’s fun show at The Fresno Bee. Here are some more picks for ArtHop:

    Los Angeles artist Oscar Magallanes will be in town for an exhibition of his work, which Arte Americas executive director Frank Delgado describes as “seriously powerful and large scale.” From Magallanes’ bio:

    Magallanes was raised in the Azusa barrio. His artwork is influenced by the cultural and social elements of his upbringing. After a troubled youth at the age of fifteen, he was expelled from high school but was accepted into the Ryman Arts program which he credits with encouraging him to become a professional artist. Magallanes’ work which is primarily of wood panels is used as a vehicle to allow the viewer to gain insight of societal injustices and further understanding of diverse cultures and struggles on even the subtle level and in this way pay homage to the journey he has traveled.

    Also at Arte: Jeannette Herrera, an acrylic/oil painter, has had work featured at the  San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the New Mexico Museum of Art and Chimmaya Gallery in Los Angeles. She writes:

    After an attack in 2004 I recovered from a skull fracture and sending attacker to prison for 7 years. I started to paint again and have found it to be the only therapy that works for me.

    Both shows continue through Aug. 17. Pictured above: a work by Oscar Magallanes.

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    Marcos Dorado: the (farewell) Beehive Interview

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    Marcos Dorado, known for his classical realist drawings, has been a fixture on the Fresno-area art scene for years. It’s hard to imagine he’s leaving for good. But that’s his plan, and he’s marking his departure with an exhibition titled “Leave Art in Fresno (My Farewell Exhibit)” at Peeve’s Public House on the Fulton Mall. It opens at ArtHop and runs through July 28.

    I highlight Dorado’s show in Thursday’s Life section as the anchor of this month’s ArtHop coverage. Here’s the extended version of my interview with him.

    When did you first realize you could draw?

    In fourth grade. A family friend (David) was visiting my parents. As they talked, out of nowhere, I had the instinct that I could draw David’s portrait. When I finished scribbling, everyone was impressed. From then on, I drew all the time until I was in high school. Then, I became interested in other subjects, such as literature and languages. As a result, I put drawing aside until 15 years later, when I was thirty. I was recently divorced then, and I was rediscovering my old self.

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    ArtHop at The Bee: a chat with the Beehive’s S.W. Parra

    Fresno Unified, tentative agreement

    Psst … you should see how hard SW Parra has been working on his upcoming ArtHop show at The Fresno Bee. The Bee’s award-winning editorial cartoonist has been scurrying around for weeks making sure this ArtHop is extra special. He’s had the artwork up for a week now — but each piece is cleverly covered, so even employees will have to wait until 5 p.m. Thursday for the big event.

    We caught up with SW — or, as we call him in the office, Steve/Steven/Cool Artist Guy — to chat about this exciting show from the award-winning editorial cartoonist.

    Question: Do you remember your first editorial cartoon? What was the subject?

    My first editorial cartoon was drawn for my Mom. It was in 1969 and I was seven years old. It was something to do with Richard Nixon.

    How many editorial cartoons are featured in the show, and what years do they cover? Do you have a favorite?

    There may be 50 to 60 sketches, original drawings and prints in the show including one that is 4 feet x 5 feet that guests can actually pose inside of and Instagram or Tweet a selfie. The show includes a copy of a cartoon that published back in November 1998 but mostly the range is during the last 14 years.

    A favorite? That’s tough. It might be the broken pencil held together with a rubber band — a metaphor for the much embattled and heavily challenged Fresno Unified School District.

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    Don’t forget ArtHop at The Bee


    I’ve already given you a bunch of ArtHop picks on a busy June evening, but I’m giving this one its own post. (Yes, it’s a shameless plug.) Bee photographer (and great friend to the Beehive) Craig Kohlruss is the featured artist at The Bee’s second ever ArtHop offering. He’s selected a great array of sports-related photography (both portraits and action shots) to feature in The Bee’s front lobby. Don’t miss it! We’ll be here 5-8 p.m. tonight.

    Best bets for a busy ArtHop


    Tonight’s ArtHop promises to be a robust one, with lots of great options for art lovers. I offer my picks in today’s Life section. We didn’t have room in the print edition to use all the images we received, so here you get the whole colorful package:

    The big 8-9: Chris Sorensen, whose sprawling studio bearing his name features dozens of artists, is still going strong, and his birthday has become an annual celebration of his artistic longevity. Sorensen marks his 89th year with an ArtHop party and exhibition that includes his recently completed, 81/2-foot tall “Camel,” along with other works he completed throughout the preceding year.

    Poignant show: Also at the Sorensen Studio is a holdover photography exhibition from last month that has been getting a lot of buzz: Wendy Denton’s “Cancer Chronicles.” She writes in her artist’s statement: “When my husband Ken was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, we pledged to be conscious and awake throughout the journey together. Through images, we captured feelings, ideas, sadness, humor, and outright fun along the way.”

    In Denton’s photo “Letting Go,” her husband pulls an opened suitcase up a paved, woodsy outdoors incline toward a distant but unknown destination as various items (an old camera, a phonograph record, prescription pill bottles) spill out behind. The caption reads: “Free at last to let go of the baggage and encumbrances we pack away and drag around with us. A collection of random, unrelated objects that used to be important.”

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    ‘heARTbeat’ student exhibition winners announced

    ArtHop Large Canvas Winner_Morelos 043014

    At last night’s ArtHop, top art students from seven selected schools in Fresno County were chosen to exhibit their artwork at the Fresno County Office of Education’s “heARTbeat” student exhibition. (The event kicked off a series of “heARTbeat” events featuring performance artist David Garibaldi.)

    Two Best of Show awards were presented:

    The large canvas winner is Nicolo Morelos of McLane High School. His canvas “Art Transforms,” right, compares life with and without art, as a figure emerges from the colorless life devoid of art and into a life of color and possibility.

    The small canvas winner is Luis Wiley of Fresno High School. His canvas “Missed a Spot,” below, depicts how art defines a young artist using a figure in the foreground who paints himself into existence.

    The main heARTbeat event will be held May 17 at the Downtown Club. All events benefit arts in education in Fresno County schools.

    ArtHop Small Canvas Winner_Wiley 043014

    Tonight: ArtHop

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    There’s a new venue for ArtHop. And I work there.

    The Fresno Bee will open its doors 5-8 p.m. tonight as a stop on the ArtHop circuit. On display will be “100 Strangers,” a photography exhibition featuring work by students in Fresno State’s mass communication and journalism department.

    We’ll have food, drink, music and the chance to meet some of the artists. I plan to be there from 5-6 p.m., so drop by and say hi. The Bee is at 1626 E Street. We plan to host additional ArtHop shows on a periodic basis, so keep us in mind as a stop.

    In Wednesday’s Life section I offered my ArtHop picks. They are:

    Columnar Reflections, Sixty Lakes Basin, Kings Canyon NP

    SPECTRUM ART GALLERY: Renowned Yosemite photographer Charles Cramer, whose work is included in the 2005 book “Landscape: The World’s Top Photographers,” is the annual guest artist at Spectrum Art Gallery and will offer an exhibition of his original photographs.

    Cramer, recognized as a master printmaker in both darkroom-based dye transfer printing and now in digital processes, was selected in 1987 and 2009 to be artist-in-residence at Yosemite.

    He will be honored at an artist’s reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday.

    Details: Spectrum Art Gallery, 608 E. Olive Ave., (559) 266-0691.

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    Tonight: North Fresno ArtHop


    Artist Richard Silva is a fixture on the downtown ArtHop scene, but tonight he ventures north. He’s the featured artist at the Vintage Market at 601, located at 601 W. Shaw Ave. The venue is one of a handful in the area, along with the Brush and Easel Gallery and Gallery II Pat Hunter Studio, trying to increase interest in North Fresno ArtHop happenings. From the Fresno Arts Council website:

    Silva paints in an abstract expressionist style that has made him one of the most venerated Fresno artists. He was trained at the S.F. Art Institute in the 1960s, but states that the 1950s is the era that inspires him. He describes himself as essentially an action painter creating abstract expressionist images that stress spontaneity, gesture and movement. Silva will be showing a new collection of paintings and his unique wood sculptures that arouse one’s curiosity. Traditional bluegrass music will be performed by Jack Kinney and Eric Antrem.

    Check out the ArtHop page on the arts council’s website for more North Fresno ArtHop happenings.

    ArtHop picks

    I’ve already told you about the Jerry “Zits” Scott exhibition at 1821 Gallery & Studios — the “celebrity” show of the evening. Here are a few more picks on a busy ArtHop evening:


    FIRST LADY FRENZY: A set of portraits of the first ladies of the United States is featured at Fresno City Hall. All but one of the paintings are by famed portrait artist Lawrence Williams, known for his depictions of U.S. presidents and other world leaders.


    The collection was donated to the Fresno County Office of Education by the late Joe Levy, chairman of Gottschalks, the former Fresno-based department store chain. Levy purchased the set from Williams, who died in 2003 before the election of President Obama. To round out the collection, the education office commissioned a painting of Michelle Obama by local artist Ma Ly.

    The exhibition, which continues through April, is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Fresno. Tonight’s ArtHop reception includes a 6 p.m. program featuring league member and Fresno State professor Diane Blair, right, an authority on first ladies.

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    Tonight: ‘Zits’ and ‘Baby Blues’ cartoonist branches out with ArtHop


    You wouldn’t blame Jerry Scott — whose comics “Zits” and “Baby Blues” reach a potential 100 million readers daily — for resting on his laurels. The 58-year-old San Luis Obispo resident is at the top of his game.

    But seven years ago, Scott decided that as a comic-strip writer he was feeling a little unfulfilled as an artist. He enthusiastically took up painting. And for his subject matter, he turned to one of his great loves: Western themes and the rodeo.


    You’ll get to see the results at ArtHop tonight. Scott opens the second exhibition of his career, “Roughstock,” a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Clovis Rodeo, at 1821 Gallery & Studios. He’ll be there to greet fans. I got the chance to talk with the amiable Scott for a story in today’s Life section:

    Scott’s oil paintings are filled with images of cows, bulls and rodeo riders rendered in a mostly realistic style that often veers toward the impressionistic in terms of color and form. The fine-art approach is certainly a departure from the world of comics.

    “I’ve spent the last 25 years being the guy behind the scenes,” Scott muses about how his comics career evolved. “That wasn’t my first choice, because I’m a visual person. So all this was sort of in response to being the writer and not the artist on my comic strips.”

    I admire Scott’s drive when it comes to branching out creatively. He loves comics and is no way apologetic about what he does for a living. If anything, he’s cheerfully willing to use his celebrity in service of fine art.

    After the jump: view photos by The Bee’s Eric Paul Zamora of the exhibition.

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    Tonight: ArtHop


    He’s too shy to boast, but tonight’s North Fresno ArtHop features none other than Beehiver S.W. Parra, who will be showing a framed selection of editorial cartoons he’s done over the years for The Bee at the P*de*Q Bakery in Clovis (435 N. Clovis Ave., Suite 106, at Herndon and Clovis avenues next to Jimmy John’s).

    The 14 cartoons cover state, local and national issues, poking fun at politics, society and more. Besides one prior show of his editorial cartoons at the California History Museum in Sacramento, this is the only time Steven’s editorial cartoons have been displayed. As he puts it: “a very rare showing.”

    A couple of other North Fresno ArtHop options for you:

    • At the Vintage Market at 601, featured artist is Janet Ontko. Her inspiration comes from her love of nature and nostalgia for vintage ceramic styles based in the Art and Crafts movement.  Each of her clay forms are handmade using century-old techniques that vary slightly in design and appearance making each one unique.
    • Visual artist Corrine Bell’s solo exhibit “Cut” will be celebrated at the Brush and Easel Gallery.
    • At Margaret Hudson’s Earth Arts Studio, “The Beauty of Animals” features the pastel drawings and acrylic paintings of Christina JG Connelly.

    Tonight: ArtHop

    DRAW THE LINE G25 March 2014

    In Thursday’s Life section I offer an ArtHop roundup, starting off with a new show at Gallery 25:

    Artists Joan Sharma and Carol Tikijian are concerned about climate change. In a new show at Gallery 25 titled “Draw the Line,” they collaborate on an exhibition that employs light, sound and text to offer viewers “an opportunity to reflect upon global issues around climate change that threatens the health of our planet.”

    Sharma tells me that the one concept-driven installation – incorporating sound, light, color and text — “activates the entire gallery space.”

    After the jump, some more ArtHop picks:

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    Tonight: North Fresno ArtHop

    CRAY med

    The newly opened Brush and Easel Gallery hosts the work of Cynthia (Scin Chapman) Manuszak. Her show “inside, outside” will be marked by an artist’s reception 5-8 p.m. tonight as part of the North Fresno ArtHop.

    Gallery owner Valerie Green describes the new venue:

    Fresno’s newest place to buy art.  Home to over 20 artists each with their own unique style.  Oil and acrylic paintings, wire work lamps and vases, metal / glass / fabric sculpture, natural stone and dichroic glass  jewelry, ceramics and pottery.

    Go to the Fresno Arts Council’s website for exhibit updates.

    At ArtHop, how many words is a video worth?

    There’s something about wet, cold (well, coldish, compared to the rest of the country) weather that gives ArtHop an extra burst of energy. Inside it’s warm and comfy, and people seem to linger over the art. Bee photographer Eric Paul Zamora and I took the opportunity at last night’s event to experiment with a different way of covering ArtHop — on video.

    Our first stop: the Chris Sorensen Studio and an intriguing show titled “WORD.” Nearly 70 works are included in this exhibition, which focuses on text and the written word. It’s a strong, eclectic and provocative show. We talk with curator Edward Gillum about a couple of his own works — including a jab at the Tea Party’s role in the recent federal government shutdown.

    Next we stop by Fig Tree Gallery, where Heather Anderson’s “Wilderness” highlights her passion for the Sierra Nevada. We talk with Anderson and get a chance to see some of the bold, vivid color choices that Anderson makes in depicting the mountains she loves.

    Finally, a stop at K-Jewel Art Gallery, always a lively ArtHop stop. A big invitational exhibition raising money for heart research was accompanied by the group FresMorim, a Klezmer band. We talk with curator Karl Kallmann, who loves creating a party atmosphere. And you even get to see Fresno artist Evany Zirul dance.

    The three videos are part of a YouTube playlist, so you can watch them in a row.

    Tonight: ArtHop

    Lots to do at tonight’s ArtHop. I’ve already told you about Heather Anderson’s show at Fig Tree Gallery. Some more picks:

    The Downtown Community Arts Collective is now known as P Street Studios. It features the renovated gallery space of artists Stephanie Pearl and Andrew Watrous, and for its first show features the mixed media art of Jason Plemons. Below: Plemons’ “Abstract Bridge.”

    Abstract Bridge reduced

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