5 picks for July ArtHop

If it’s the first Thursday of the month, it must be ArtHop. My own arts home might have changed recently, but at least one thing is still the same: my picks for this popular monthly open house of galleries and studios in the downtown and Tower District areas. Here are five venues that sound promising:

Marilyn Monroe

Entertainment icon: S.W. Parra’s ‘Marilyn Monroe.’

K-Jewel Art Gallery

S.W. Parra, or “Surfwest” as you might know him under more breezy circumstances, is a well known local artist thanks to his long tenure as a cartoonist and illustrator at a certain Fresno daily newspaper. In January I was wandering through the Chris Sorensen Studio “Black and White” show when I bumped into Parra and his big, award-winning entry in the exhibition: a 5-foot-by-6-foot painting of James Dean titled “Icon.”

You can see that wonderful work at a new mini-exhibition by Parra at K-Jewel Art Gallery. The subject is celebrity, and along with the Dean painting the artist offers five watercolor interpretations of some of the best-loved names in show business: Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. (The fifth portrait is a surprise.)

“The subjects portrayed are due to their enduring status and popularity as icons of fashion, style and beauty,” Parra tells me. “The timeless images of Elvis, Monroe and Hepburn continue to fascinate fans worldwide, even among younger generations.”



Cool cats: S.W. Parra with his portrait of James Dean. Photo / The Munro Review

When he was a kid, the artist would occasionally feign illness to stay home from school, where he would watch movie classics broadcast on morning and daytime TV. Among his favorites were ‘The Big Sleep’ with Bacall and Bogart, “The Seven Year Itch” Monroe and ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ with Dean.

He’s particularly drawn to the Dean mystique.

“It’s my portrayal of someone’s image of the epitome of cool,” he says. “In his all too brief life he had just three major roles in film during the 1950s. His death was tragic. It’s been more than 60 years since his last film but the image of that conflicted soul in a chill motif continues to fascinate me. For whatever reason I identify with him.”

The evening includes the sounds of the Chris Janzen Jazz Ensemble.

Details: 5-8 p.m. Thursday, 1415 Fulton St.


Tis the season: Work by Neal Breton is at 1821 Gallery & Studios.

1821 Gallery & Studios

Just in time for summer, San Luis Obispo artist Neal Breton offers colorful and vivid hyper-realistic paintings. 1821 Gallery & Studios owner Bruce Kalkowski says of Breton’s work: “I think it’s fresh, a little campy and reminds me of work by David Hockney.”

From Breton’s artist statement:

One time in kindergarten I was assigned crayons and a piece of cardboard, “draw something and we will cut it out for you”. Others made jets, fire trucks and racecars. I made an abstract construct with asymmetrical lines jutting down out of sequential blocks of color. “What am I supposed to cut out?” the teacher said. I didn’t know. This was my first lesson in the practical side of art.

In the fourth grade, for Halloween, the class was to make black cats out of construction paper and glue. We were to follow a pattern. I noticed the day they were put up that my cat was not included. “Look at your cat, it is poorly cut, and you can see all the glue,” my teacher said, “that’s why I didn’t put it up with all the others.” This was my first lesson in craftsmanship.

In college, my professor chose my first series of work to put in the display case outside the art department. “Oh, how horrible!” exclaimed an older woman passing by. This was my first lesson in art appreciation.

Details: The show continues through July 28 at the studio, 1821 Calaveras St.

Arte Américas

One thing is certain this ArtHop: Arte Américas is going to be hopping with four big and compelling sounding shows: “We open four exhibitions that serve as a visual representation of our cultural center’s impact over the last thirty years, and the legacy that we continue to build for the future of our creative cultural community.”


FUTURESPECTIVE: Works by artists from the Arthouse collective.

IMAGENES ANTIGUAS: Artwork by F. John Sierra.

RARÁMURI: THE PEOPLE, THE PLACE: Photographs by Juan Arambula.

SOUTH OF THE GRAPEVINE: Los Angeles Chicano artists Sergio Teran and Rick Ortega.

I’m looking forward to this eclectic group of shows, which spans generations, subject matter, artistic genres and styles, and geography. Congrats to Arte for such ambitious programming.

Gallery 25


Gallery 25: Barbara Van Arnam’s “Life Will Out.”

A Barbara Van Arnam show is always a reason to hop to an exhibition.Three artists are in the spotlight at Gallery 25 in its featured spot at the M Street Arts Complex. Judith Goulart exhibits local floral photography with an emphasis on natural beauty and captivating compositions. Valerie Runningwolf presents recent work that explores what happens when “art meets words.” (In addition, the artist will have an interactive piece for visitors to express their own art and words.) And the mythic World Tree is inspiration for Van Arnam in a suite of paintings and drawings. Selected from works over the last decade, Van Arnam presents iconic images in oil, acrylic, ink and pastel.

Details: 1419 M St. Receptions will be held for ArtHop (5-8 p.m. Thursday, July 6) and Second Saturday (noon-4 p.m. Saturday, July 8). Regular hours are noon-4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays through July 29.


Memorable faces: Elizabeth Castro’s “Guerilla.”

Tower District Records

My eye was caught by the work of Elizabeth Castro, whose paintings are part of an ArtHop evening at Tower District Records.

A little about Castro:

She obtained a B.A. in Studio Art at CSU Stanislaus, studying the human figure, particularly portraiture. She has a love for expressive faces. Castro combines elements of classical and modern painting; she’s very fond of the Mannerism period and influenced by Symbolist painters — but she also finds inspiration in film, and everything around her.

It’s those faces — eccentric, ethereal, gently ensconced in fantastical worlds but still solidly connected to the viewer — that captured my attention.

I asked her for a statement about her work. Here’s her response:

This set of paintings incorporates fictional characters I’ve always been drawn to, ranging from ancient to modern mythology. I believe that mythology is always evolving, in modern storytelling media like film, books, and even in my own everyday life. I want my pieces to live alongside the stories I grew up loving, and some of the stuff I’ve recently been intrigued by — with a personal twist. I want to bring together the ancient with the modern, in a body of work connected through symbolism relating to my own story. This series is the beginning of a huge project that I plan to finish by next summer, for a large exhibition.

She’s joined by local muralist Jason Esquivel along with music from Portland-based There Is No Mountain and solo act Jimmy on Anything (JOA).

Details: 302 E. Olive Ave.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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