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Between Events - Just February In Fresno

February 25-30(or, -March 2), 2017
Written March 1 +
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

Sometimes we have a lot to write about and show and sometimes not so much.  I think this is a not-so-much edition, at least compared to the last diary about Death Valley and the next one about Florida and Havana.  Nevertheless, we need to keep a record. That's the purpose of diaries after all.

Marianne instigated a "dinner club" with us and three neighbor couples and on Saturday we had our first edition.  The idea is to have one of the couples set the theme and make the evening a higher standard than just our normal invite-Cambridge-Avenue-for-drinks-and grub.  We set the theme as "Istanbul" and it did turn out more than our normal gathering.
Preparations: A 100+-year-old "susani cloth" table covering and our best Turkish plates.  Spanish wine, because the wine tradition came from North Africa over to Spain hundreds of years ago.  And a first class chef.
Jon and Susan brought over appetizers and we started around our round living room table.  This illustrated why we had settled on having dinner only for eight: inside, that's the limit of our house.  After starters, the lively conversation and good food filled the dining room.  The lamb tagine was a hit as were the guest-provided salad and rolls and the finishing decadence: chocolate flourless cake with chocolate topping.  I had enough calories to last the rest of the week!

For Sunday dinner with Marianne's Mom, we started with a walk through the Shinzen Friendship Garden. For us, it was probably a need to walk off some of Saturday's dinner, but it's always a nice place to spend some time.
After the walk we tried a new restaurant in the area.  It was so marginal, I won't even name it!  Oh well, better to have tried than just always be stuck with the regular places.

Mid-week, I wanted to practice "street photography" in preparation for our trip next week to Florida and Cuba.  The idea was to just go downtown and see what might be picture-worthy, just as we would do in a travel destination.  Unfortunately, on the morning I set out, downtown Fresno did not seem at all like a travel destination: Dull buildings, traffic, street people, construction, and harsh sunlight.  It was beyond my imagination to make something of what was in front of me. 

Back home, I tried some more practice.  This time, I started with the back yard.
The view from my garage workbench was ok as was one of the last oranges of the season.  In corners of the yard, we have small color contributions and the big rose garden looks like it will be contributing in just a couple of weeks.  This really is my kind of February.

Still needing exercise and photography practice, I headed out into the neighborhood.
The buds were out on a few tree varieties (flowering plum and ???).  It was still early for much more, but these first blossoms do give hope at the end of winter (even if "winter" locally isn't so tough.)  Even the old neighborhood gas station was looking good!

Thursday ArtHop

On the first Thursday of every month, the Fresno Art Council sponsors a downtown "ArtHop", where 20 or 30 galleries and art workshops open up for an evening.  We do our best to visit, although lately there had been a series of conflicts.  In March, we hit one new venue and three of our regular haunts.
d170302_04_kayal.jpgOur first stop was at Studio 74, just a few blocks from home.  The gallery had been recommended before, but we had never managed to stop by.  Too convenient, I suppose.  The evening's featured art was acrylics by Mihir Kayal, an artist from India who had been unable to attend his own show.  The cost of travel probably would have exceeded the selling price of his whole collection.  I did like his work and Marianne had a chance to chat with the gallery owner, so maybe there will be a future commercial connection for our house artist.
Next came "1821", perhaps my favorite Fresno gallery-workshop.  The work areas include skilled artists and the front and hallway displays always feature work from truly skilled artists.   The featured artists this time included Eleanor Wood and Gordon Senior, whose sculptures combined wood and stone and whose two-dimensional work was interesting drawings of fine lines and small circles.  (I failed to get example pictures of the latter.  Trust me, they were nice.)
d170302_14_birdart.jpgd170302_12_birdgreet.jpgVinca Bird also showed both three- and two-dimensional work, hers of figures.  Haunting.   Meanwhile, other birds outside were enjoying a sunset chat.

Our next stop was Fig Tree Gallery, another regular ArtHop stop, although only a gallery, not a workshop.  Hazel Antaramian Hofman was the featured artist with a complex of painting, photos, and film concerning her return to Armenia to seek out her roots. 
d170302_20_hofman.jpgWe particularly liked her work because it imaginatively told a story, something I try to do with these diaries.  In her case, elements such as these steps, were photographed, painted, and featured in her short film.
(I particularly liked her back lit photo display and will try to copy the technique!)

d170302_30_ogata.jpgOur final stop was at Robert Ogata's workshop.  His work is also a favorite, although he works on sizes that we could not imagine as a purchase because we have no walls that big.  Marianne has discussed taking some lessons from him, but his skill is so overwhelming that asking for lessons has been too intimidating.  Maybe later.

And that's it before we start our next adventure, Florida and Havana.

Stay tuned.

John and Marianne


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