Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Downtown Santa Cruz And The First Friday Art Tour

Normally I wouldn't choose to drive over Highway 17 on a Friday night; braving traffic and returning in the dark, but my good friend had invited me to the opening night of her first art show and I wanted to support her. So the kids and I (my husband was on a business trip) drove to downtown Santa Cruz and explored a bit of the First Friday Art Tour. It was totally worth it.

Pacific Avenue - Lit Up And Happening!
 The first Friday of each month, artists get a chance to exhibit their works in venues around town. It feels like a big party as people spend their evening viewing art, shopping late, frequenting restaurants, and being part of the street scene.

Artist And Friend Tish Bertino With Some Of Her Oil Paintings - At The True Olive Connection
Not only did we discover new artists, we also discovered some fun stores. I had no idea there were so many delicious varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegars; the True Olive Connection at 106 Lincoln St. must sell them all. The proprietors were very nice and they did an excellent job showcasing Tish Bertino's paintings. I ended up buying two bottles of olive oil, one lime flavored and the other a wild mushroom flavor.

I must mention, the True Olive Connection has another location in Aptos where they offer olive oil tasting parties for adults - now that's unique!

We Enjoyed The Yummy Samples Of Bread, Cheese And Flavored Olive Oils
For dinner, we ate at an only-in-Santa-Cruz restaurant called CafĂ© Gratitude (actually they have other California locations as well). They specialize in "organic, seasonal, vegan, homemade" dishes. Even though we are meat eaters, we thought the food  was quite good. The menu choices have names that reflect the self affirming theme of the restaurant: I Am Thriving; I Am Accepting; I Am Warmhearted; being some of the names. My son chose an I Am Extraordinary dish that featured a “BLT” with maple coconut, "bacon,” lettuce, tomato and avocado and served with a cashew chipotle cheese bread on sliced sourdough wheat bread. He said it was delicious. The prices were very good too.

Seated nearby was a man dressed in a funky hat, scarf and vest(?). He definitely looked unique. My son overheard a bit of his conversation - “Mom, I think he was talking quantum physics!”
Only in Santa Cruz . . :-)

After dinner we went to what turned out to be my daughter's favorite store - the OM Gallery at 1201 Pacific Ave. This was definitely a fun store, full of colorful lights, mobiles, fountains and more. 

My Daughter Said She Could Have Stayed Here All Night

They were hosting the artist Yeshe Jackson. We loved his acrylic seascapes, landscapes and ocean waves. They were fun, colorful, and imaginative. I couldn't resist ordering two prints for my kids. Yeshe didn't have the prints on hand, but told me he could make and send them to me. He was true to his word - I received them a few days later.

I Can Imagine A Whole Wall Of These In My Dream House By The Beach

Then we had an ice cream and walked down Pacific Avenue looking in some of the shop windows and watching the scene on the street. My kids got an education seeing a drugged out panhandler, a couple of delusional extroverts, and two absolutely filthy, barefooted young children playing on the sidewalk with their parent God knows where. Unfortunately, I believe you can see this kind of thing in any big city in America.

The Pacific Cookie Company Has Delicious Ice Cream And "Home-made" Cookies!

But we ended our night on a positive note - we met a street performing poet! For two or three dollars, Kevin Devaney will write a short poem on his 1920s typewriter, based on any subject you give him. We read one of his poems, something about a cantaloupe - then it went off in several creative directions - ending in a bowl of cream. We liked it!

Kevin Devaney Leads Monday Evening Poetry Workshops At The Tannery Arts Center

If you go: First Friday is every month, rain or shine. It's free to enjoy. For more information, please visit their website.

If you are driving from the Peninsula, try to leave early. Friday night traffic is pretty bad, although it did clear out for us once we passed the Summit.

Parking: there are parking garages and street parking around downtown but you may have to drive a while before you find a free space. We lucked out and got a space right across from the True Olive Connection.

Hope you can check out the action sometime! Have fun and remember to keep an open mind. ;-)

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