‘Wadjda’ is first feature filmed entirely in kingdom

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - California Lutheran University will show the first full-length feature ever filmed entirely inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at Muvico Thousand Oaks 14.

“Wadjda,” the story of a 10-year-old girl, and will be screened in honor of International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8, as part of CLU’s Reel Justice Film Series.

The PG-rated film’s central character is fun-loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of the conservative world in which she lives in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn’t be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. Wadjda’s mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue, so Wadjda decides to raise the money herself.

Director Haifaa Al Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia and is regarded as one of the kingdom’s most significant cinematic figures. Within Saudi Arabia, her work is both praised and vilified for encouraging discussion on taboo subjects like tolerance, the dangers of orthodoxy and the need for Saudis to take a critical look at their traditional and restrictive culture. She comes from a small town in Saudi Arabia where, she says, there are many girls like Wadjda who have big dreams, strong characters and so much potential. Mansour believes that these girls can, and will, reshape and redefine the nation.

“It was important for me to work with an all-Saudi cast, to tell this story with authentic, local voices. I hope the film offers a unique insight into my own country and speaks of universal themes of hope and perseverance that people of all cultures can relate to,” Mansour said of the 2012 release, which has won numerous awards at film festivals around the world.
Admission is free. Tickets will be available starting at 6:30 p.m. until the theater reaches capacity. Muvico Thousand Oaks 14 is located at 166 W. Hillcrest Drive.

CLU’s Center for Equality and Justice, Gender and Women’s Studies Program, ASCLU, the Religion Department, the student club Feminism Is…, the Saudi Student Club and the Muslim Student Association are sponsoring the event. For information, contact Peter Carlson at pcarlson@callutheran.edu or 805-493-3435.


Dog, from The Vernacular Bestiary, John Nichols Collection
Dog, from The Vernacular Bestiary, John Nichols Collection
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Fish, from The Vernacular Bestiary, John Nichols Collection
Fish, from The Vernacular Bestiary, John Nichols Collection
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Colt, from The Vernacular Bestiary, John Nichols Collection
Colt, from The Vernacular Bestiary, John Nichols Collection
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From March 1 through June 15, 2014, the Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula, CA, will present the first exhibition of “The Vernacular Bestiary: Animal Snapshots from A to Z.” This collection of anonymous amateur photographs has been collected by photographer and gallerist John Nichols over the past two decades and has never been publicly exhibited. The abecedarian display of creatures is comprised of photographs taken over the past 120 years. An adjacent kids’ reading and exhibit area will encourage children and their families to read and write poems, as well as draw and display their own responses to the animal-themed exhibition. Animal poems by published poets will also be shared, in binders that can be carried around the exhibition area.

Call for Poetry: Writers are invited to preview selections from The Vernacular Bestiary online immediately at http://flic.kr/s/aHsj5133kr or see the original snapshots at the Agriculture Museum, beginning on March 1. They may submit up to three original poems of up to 25 lines each inspired by any of the snapshots. Submission implies that the poems can be used by the Agriculture Museum non-commercially to publicize the exhibit (credit will be given) and copyright reverts back to author. Poems must be submitted to VBpoem@gmail.com by March 29. A panel of judges will select poems to be shared at the “An Afternoon of Animal Verse” to take place in April. Poets will be contacted and asked to read their selected poems at the event; poet Jackson Wheeler will read the poems of any who cannot attend.

Related Events:
Thursday, March 13 at 2:00 p.m., John Nichols will give a Gallery Talk entitled, “What’s Special About Vernacular Photography?”

Saturday, March 22, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., free opening reception for “The Vernacular Bestiary”

The Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum is located at 926 Railroad Avenue, Santa Paula, CA 93060. (805) 525-3100. Information about the museum can be found at: www.venturamuseum.org Museum hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 – 4. For more information about the exhibition and the call for poetry, contact John Nichols at sespenichols@gmail.com or at (805) 525-7804.


March 2, 2014 Ventura event to draw hundreds for talks, demonstrations
Roger Scruton. Photo credit: Pete Helme.
Roger Scruton. Photo credit: Pete Helme.

VENTURA, CA - The Representational Art Conference 2014 will feature demonstrations, discussions and presentations on topics ranging from the healing power of portrait sitting to self-portraits in the age of Facebook.

About 300 artists, critics, academics, collectors and curators will converge on the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach from Sunday, March 2, through Wednesday, March 5, for the second international conference on representational art presented by California Lutheran University.

Presentations, panel discussions and studio art demonstrations will explore the direction of 21st-century representational art, which portrays recognizable people, places and objects. Artist Alisyn Blake with Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia and a psychologist will discuss efforts to paint portraits of children with craniofacial conditions to help them and others see the children in a different light. Katherine Zoraster, who teaches art history at local colleges, will present a paper called “Selfies: The Self-Portrait in the Age of Facebook.” Some of the many other presentations will focus on Chinese, Russian, Judaic and Middle Eastern art.

Distinguished philosopher Roger Scruton will be one of two keynote speakers. He explored what makes an object beautiful in his 2009 book “Beauty” and caused a stir with his BBC Two documentary “Why Beauty Matters” when it was released the same year. Scruton insists that beauty is a real and universal value with an indispensable role to play.

Juliette Aristides, a painter and writer dedicated to rebuilding traditional arts education in the United States, will deliver the other keynote address. The author and painter is the founder of the Aristides Atelier at the Gage Academy of Fine Art in Seattle. She teaches workshops throughout the world.

Odd Nerdrum, a Norwegian who is regarded by many as one of the greatest living representational painters, will discuss beauty, art and kitsch with Scruton. Nerdrum has written about why representational painting should be called kitsch rather than art because of the way it tugs at the heart and emotionally engages people.

Virgil Elliott, Pam Hawkes, Jeremy Lipking, Graydon Parrish, Stephen Perkins, Tony Pro and Alexey Steele will present demonstrations.

TRAC will include an excursion to CLU’s Thousand Oaks campus to see the “Women by Women” exhibit in the Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture and the “Resonating Images III” show in the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art.

CLU faculty members Michael Pearce and Michael Lynn Adams organized the first conference in 2012 to address the lack of critical appreciation of representational art and explore the new directions it might take.

For registration and more information, go to www.trac2014.org.


"Sea Arch" by Photographer Pete Scifres
"Sea Arch" by Photographer Pete Scifres
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"Milky Way Over Blue Lake" by Photographer Pete Scifres
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"Little Lake Star Trails" by Photographer Pete Scifres
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"Double Arch Night" by Photographer Pete Scifres
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"Bristlecone Star Trails" by Photographer Pete Scifres
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Ojai, CA - The Ojai Photography Club welcomes photographer Pete Scifres to its February 18 meeting, 7:00 PM, at Help of Ojai’s Little House, 111 Santa Ana Street, in Ojai. Scifres will share techniques and experiences in producing images of the sky and landscape after dark.

Before critiquing club member photos, Scifres have a power point presentation that will cover basic astronomy, equipment, planning your shots, and overcoming problems unique to outdoor after dark photography such as obtaining focus and lighting the foreground. He will show some of his images, and some the equipment he uses to produce them.

Scifres has been an enthusiastic amateur photographer for about 8 years, working mostly in landscapes, and more recently nighttime landscapes. He is a former president of the Thousand Oaks Photo Group, has twice won the Ventura County Fair Photography Exhibit's Landscape category, and recently published an e-book on Landscape Astrophotography. He has taught photography at the Calabasas Savvy Senior program and made many presentations at the Thousand Oaks Photo Group. For more about Pete Scifres connect with his website at: http://www.petescifres.com/

Monthly presentations, like Scifres, are part of the Ojai Photography Club’s community service outreach and visitors are welcome to attend.

The Ojai Photography Club, which is devoted to education, inspiration, and camaraderie, meets on the third Tuesday of each month, February – November. Only members may submit images for critique. More information is available at: www.ojaiphotoclub.com/


CLU’s Rolland Gallery show features Nerdrum, Hess

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - The third in a series of exhibits of representational art from 1900 until today opens Thursday, Feb. 20, in the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art at California Lutheran University.

An opening reception for “Resonating Images III,” which features works of contemporary artists in multiple styles, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 1. A second reception will be held from 5:10 to 6 p.m. Monday, March 3, in conjunction with The Representational Art Conference, which is being presented by CLU. The exhibit will continue through April 17.

Exhibitors will include Van Arno, Bayo, Sandow Birk, Davis Cone, Ron English, Helen Rebekah Garber, Wes Hempel, F. Scott Hess, Alec Huxley, Ruth Grace Jervis, Eric Joyner, Gegam Kacherian, Michael Knowlton, Ira Korman, Brin Levinson, Adam Miller, Odd Nerdrum, Billy Norrby, Michael Pearce, Michael Rosenfeld, Randye Sandel, Christopher Ulrich and Peter Zokosky.

Nerdrum, a panelist at TRAC, is a Norwegian regarded by many as one of the greatest living representational painters. He is known for his allegorical images of refugees adrift in an inhospitable Icelandic landscape.

Hess, who will present a paper at TRAC, has received National Endowment for the Arts and Getty Museum fellowships. The Los Angeles resident has had more than 20 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 100 group shows on three continents.

Birk, of Los Angeles, emphasizes social issues in contemporary life. He received a National Endowment for the Arts International Travel Grant to study mural painting in Mexico City in 1995 and a Fulbright Fellowship for painting in Rio de Janeiro in 1997. He was an artist-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institute in 2007 and at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2008.

English, of New York, coined the term POPaganda to describe his colorful mash-ups of cultural touchstones.

Joyner, of San Francisco, is a former digital animator who has painted urban landscapes, Mexican masks, cartoon characters, robots and donuts.

Admission is free. The gallery, located in William Rolland Stadium at 160 Overton Court on the Thousand Oaks campus, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For information, call 805-493-3697 or visit www.callutheran.edu/rolland.



Two hundred works of art created and donated by renowned artists, celebrities and local art stars will go home with art lovers during Mystery Masterpiece, Studio Channel Islands Art Center’s fundraiser on Saturday, March 29 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Guests at the will have the opportunity to select one original work of art that resonates with them.

What’s the mystery? All artist signatures are hidden: art by celebrities such as Daniel Stern will be on display anonymously next to artwork by prominent visual artists from Ventura County and beyond, such as David Gallup, Susan Petty, Julia Pinkham, Michael Rohde and Hiroko Yoshimoto.

Mystery Masterpiece tickets are $200 and include a work of art valued at more than $250. You may purchase two “art” tickets or one art ticket and an accompanying guest ticket (no art) for $75. Elegant finger food and premium wine will be served. On March 15, the price of the art ticket increases to $225. Mystery Masterpiece tickets and art sales benefit Studio Channel Islands Art Center’s art education programs and the Blackboard Gallery, the largest art gallery in Ventura County. To purchase tickets or for more information, go to http://www.studiochannelislands.org/mm14/ or call 805-383-1368.

“We want the community to know that art is accessible and that there is incredible talent in our midst,” said former Studio Channel Islands Art Center president Maggie Kildee. “We want people to come down to the studios to enrich their lives.”

Now in its 16th year, Studio Channel Islands Art Center is an exhibition and performance space. It serves as a creative hub and regional resource center for artists and an arts education center for people of all ages.

The Studio Channel Islands Art Center offices and Blackboard Gallery are at 2222 Ventura Boulevard in Old Town Camarillo. More than 40 resident artist studios are open to the public every First Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, go to www.studiochannelislands.org or call 805-383-1368.


A $1,000 Award for Excellence in Art Studies for 2014 will be awarded to an art major from Ventura College. Each year Studio Channel Islands Art Center selects a local college to submit three student candidate portfolios for consideration. The Award for Excellence honors both the quality of the art teaching as well as the work of the students. The three finalists are offered an exhibition in Studio Channel Islands Art Center’s Blackboard Gallery in April when the Award will be presented.

The Award was established in recognition of Studio Channel Islands Art Center founding member Pat Richards Dodds. Award recipients are selected based on the quality of the art rather than financial need. The Art Center’s Scholarship committee includes artists Gerd Koch and Patti Post, Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus Bob Privitt, Founder and Executive Director of Focus on the Masters Donna Granata, and John Nichols of John Nichols Gallery at the Santa Paula Art Museum. Last year’s award recipient was Donna Espinoza from Oxnard College who impressed the panel with her accomplished style and creativity.

Interested Ventura College art majors should contact the Ventura College art department about the submission procedures and deadlines, and may review the general prospectus at http://www.studiochannelislands.org/education/award-for-excellence-in-ar....

The Studio Channel Islands Art Center offices and Blackboard Gallery are at 2222 Ventura Boulevard in Old Town Camarillo. They are open Tuesday 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Wednesday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. As many as 40 resident artist studios at the Center’s campus across from the gallery are open to the public every First Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, go to www.studiochannelislands.org or call 805-383-1368.

Modern quilt exhibition at Broome Gallery pays tribute to a cherished CI colleague and artist on the eve of her retirement

Camarillo, CA - The Art Program at CSU Channel Islands (CI) is pleased to announce “Dreams and Memories/Colors and Patterns, The Quilts of Kathy Musashi,” on display Tuesday, Feb. 4, through Sunday, Feb. 23, in the John Spoor Broome Art Gallery. The exhibition, an exquisite selection of modern abstract quilts, pays tribute to a gifted quilter and cherished colleague on the eve of her retirement from CI. A free public reception will take place on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., coinciding with Musashi’s retirement the following day.

Curated by Irina D. Costache, CI Art History Professor and coordinator of the Broome Gallery, the exhibition presents almost a dozen quilts in abstracted patterns and stylized forms. Composed of diverse swatches of textiles, each quilt offers a pictorial feast of fragmented shapes and bold colors, along with endless visual connections and conceptual possibilities. From a distance, the viewer’s gaze is drawn to the quilts’ powerful simplicity. A closer observation of each work reveals subtle textures, unexpected asymmetries, and refined graphics. These features create a complex mosaic and reveal a sophisticated narrative connecting the works.

“It is a privilege for all viewers, but particularly for all of us on the CI campus, to be able to see these marvelous quilts,” Costache said. “I first saw the quilts in the President’s Office, but did not know who the artist was. I was struck by their beauty and power. I was even more impressed when I found out that they were created by Kathy, whom I knew and admired for her outstanding professionalism as a member of the CI community. The same level of dedication and an incredible artistic elegance was in her artwork. I am very happy to curate this exhibition that reveals a sample from Kathy’s vast body of work and discloses her incredible imagination and exceptional craft.”

A CI employee since the campus’ early days in 2003, Musashi will retire on Friday, Feb. 7. As CI’s Academic Programs & Planning Coordinator, she supports the University’s Curriculum Committee and helps guide through changes to the University’s 23 academic programs. She communicates those changes to the greater academic community through her work overseeing the University’s course catalog.
An avid quilter for nearly a decade, Musashi is a member of the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild who creates her quilts mainly as a creative outlet and labor of love for friends and relatives. She was surprised to learn her work was selected for exhibition by the University’s Art Program.

“I am very honored,” Musashi said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to say farewell to my magnificent colleagues who have supported me in many ways while at CI.”

Musashi is even more pleased to share “Fair Winds and Following Seas,” a quilt she created in memory of her former boss, beloved CI administrator and professor Stephen Lefevre, who passed away in 2011.

“Steve was a wonderful academic, administrator, and human being. His passing affected me greatly and creating this quilt helped me to mourn his loss,” she said. “He loved to sail and was the faculty advisor for the first sailing club at CI. The quilt depicts images of sails. Steve was always calm no matter the storm. ‘Fair Winds and Following Seas’ has evolved over the years as a nautical blessing. Along with those words, the color of the quilt, and its quietness, it all reminds me of Steve. After the show, I plan to give it to the Lefevre family.”

After retiring, the Camarillo resident, mother and grandmother plans to travel, work on her golf game, and help out her aging parents.

She also plans to do a lot more quilting, which has become a family passion.

“Being the OCD person I am, quilting consumes much of my time. It’s a very labor-intensive endeavor,” she said. “My husband, as a result, has also taken up quilting. It’s an extra benefit having your spouse to share this kind of work. He’s a member of two quilt guilds. We collaborate on work, and critique and assist each other as necessary. We’ve turned quite a bit of our living space into our studio. Not so presentable, but it works for us.”

The exhibition is supported by the CI Art Program; Karen T. Carey, Associate Vice President for Art & Sciences; and William P. Cordeiro, Associate Vice President, MVS School of Business & Economics.

The John Spoor Broome Art Gallery is located on the second floor of the John Spoor Broome Library. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.

Limited parking is available on campus with the purchase of a $6 daily permit; follow signs to the parking permit dispensers. Free parking is available at the Camarillo Metrolink Station/Lewis Road with bus service to and from the campus. Riders should board the CI Vista Bus to the campus; the cash-only fare is $1.25 each way. Buses arrive and depart from the Camarillo Metrolink Station every 30 minutes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. For exact times, check the schedule at www.goventura.org.

For additional information, contact the Art Program at 805-437-2772; Irina D. Costache at irina.costache@csuci.edu; Kathy Musashi at kathy.musashi@csuci.edu; or the John Spoor Broome Library at 805-437-8561.

About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI’s Social Media.


The Oxnard College Literature, Arts and Lecture Series will begin its 2014 spring Series with a celebration of the African American Poet Langston Hughes. Other events will feature a panel on addiction, poetry reading by the California State Poet Laureate, a Middle Eastern musical group, and testimony from a concentration camp survivor.

Sponsored by Oxnard College, the Series begins February 26, 2014, and will be held on Wednesdays from 1:00-2:00 p.m. on campus in the Performing Arts Center. The event held on April 30 is co-sponsored by Poets & Writers, Inc., through a James Irvine grant. All events are free, open to the public, and interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing. Parking is $2.00. For more information, contact Shelley Savren, faculty coordinator, by email at ssavren@vcccd.edu or tel. 805-986-5800 (x1951). The Performing Arts Center is located on the north end of Oxnard College at 4000 S. Rose Avenue, Oxnard, CA 93033.

Spring 2014 Series Schedule

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Langston Hughes’s “Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz”
For African American History Month, USC Music Professor Ron McCurdy will recite the words of this 12-part epic poem and accompany them on the horn, celebrating Hughes's homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Oxnard College Addictive Disorders Professor Michael Webb will moderate a panel discussing problems and solutions of addiction, featuring Bill Shilley addressing new strategies, Lois Zsarney on nutrition, Becca Porter on support groups, Jose Cuervo on recovering, and Dr. Webb addressing criminal justice.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Award-winning actor-writer-director-producer-comedian Rick Najera will entertain the audience with monologues from his book, Latinologues, and will discuss the image that Latinos have in Hollywood from inside out, focusing on the need for diversity in the arts and how his book Almost White addresses it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
“The Wild and the Fire”
Poet and English Professor Shelley Savren will read poems from her new book The Wild Shine of Oranges and from The Common Fire, which depict her rebellious youth, portray her family and highlight teaching experiences in prison, juvenile hall, and schools for abused and suicidal teens, among others.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
“Ain’t Got No CONTINUED »

February 15, 2014

High school students and college students who are interested in careers in agriculture are invited to the First Annual Agriculture Career Fair at the Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula, on Saturday, February 15, 2014, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. During the Agriculture Career Fair, representatives from colleges that offer agriculture courses, and representatives from Ventura County agriculture businesses, will set-up information tables and talk to students about agriculture education programs and about jobs in agriculture. There is no charge for admission to the Career Fair, which is funded in part by a grant from the Thelma Hansen Trust.

The Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum is located in historic downtown Santa Paula, across the railroad tracks from the train depot, at 926 Railroad Avenue. Hours are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Paid events include free admission to the galleries, the first Sunday of every month is free general admission to the public, and the Second Thursday Gallery Talks are followed by an additional gallery talk at the Santa Paula Art Museum. For more information, go to www.venturamuseum.org or call (805) 525-3100.

15th Heritage Valley Festival of Quilts

February 1 – 23, 2014
Santa Paula Society of the Arts Gallery
Santa Paula Depot, 963 Santa Barbara St., Santa Paula, CA
Gallery Hours: Sat-Sun. Noon – 4 PM
Admission: Free

The Santa Paula Society of the Arts has welcomed the Heritage Valley Quilt Festival to share space in their gallery during the month of February. The quilts on exhibit are homage to the quilt made in 1863 by Jane A. Stickle, a Vermont farm wife. The originality of the her quilt’s construction, with over 220 unique blocks, and the fact that Jane labeled the quilt as being made “In War Time…1863…Pieces 5602…Jane A. Stickle”, have combined to make the quilt a national treasure. The Jane Stickle quilt is on display at the Bennington Museum in Vermont during the months of September and October each year.

In 1991 Brenda MangesPapadakis, a quilting teacher, became entranced by the original “Mother” quilt, drafting the patterns from the quilt and teaching classesbased on these patterns. Her students made quilts that Brenda called “Baby Janes”. Quilters around the world have embraced the challenge of making their interpretations based on these patterns.

Two of the quilts in the exhibit at the Depot Gallery reflect the original design of the “Mother” quilt, while the others on display show some of the variations possible with the patterns. Four of these quilts were made in a class taught by Julie Gardner from Oxnard at Quilt Ventura over a two year period. It is fascinating to see the variety of fabrics and layouts that have come together for this exhibit.

There will be a closing reception, Sunday, February 23, 2014 from 2 to 4 PM. For more information, contact Linda Wilkinson, 805-525-2774, frog4mom@aol.com.

English program graduate returns to read from the heroic and critically heralded account of his mother’s life, ‘Rocket Girl: America’s First Female Rocket Scientist’
George D. Morgan
George D. Morgan
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Camarillo, CA - CSU Channel Islands (CI) will welcome author, playwright, screenwriter and alumnus George D. Morgan (B.A. English, 2010) back to campus for a reading of his acclaimed new biography, “Rocket Girl: America’s First Female Rocket Scientist.” The reading, on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Aliso Hall 150, is free and open to the public.

Morgan’s book, which he developed as a student in CI’s English/Creative Writing program, reveals the remarkable true story of his mother, Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s first female rocket scientist and an unheralded heroine in the Space Race. A poor farm girl with no college degree but an extraordinary talent for chemistry, Mary Morgan went on to invent hydyne, the rocket fuel that launched the nation’s first satellite, Explorer 1. However, while her collaborator on the project, German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, went on to become a high-profile figure in NASA’s space program, Mary Morgan’s contributions fell into obscurity.

“After my mother passed away in 2004, I submitted her obituary to the Los Angeles Times,” Morgan said. “They refused to print it on the grounds they could not verify any of its information. That’s when I really began to realize how slippery recorded history can be. I made a vow then and there that I would find a way to write my mother into the history books where she belonged.”

“Rocket Girl” recounts a son’s journey to uncover his mother's lost professional and personal legacy – a legacy buried deep under a lifetime of secrets. Blending a fascinating personal history with dramatic historical events taking place on the world stage, George Morgan’s compelling narrative brings long-overdue attention to a modest but brilliant woman whose work proved essential for America's early space program.

Morgan’s book has CONTINUED »

“Untitled” by Jessie Arms Botke, no date, watercolor on paper, 13” x 9.75”, Collection of Yvonne Flores and Chris Wilson.
“Untitled” by Jessie Arms Botke, no date, watercolor on paper, 13” x 9.75”, Collection of Yvonne Flores and Chris Wilson.
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“Corner, Morro Bay” by Jessie Arms Botke, no date, block print,10” x 9”,Collection of Jyl and Allan Atmore.
“Corner, Morro Bay” by Jessie Arms Botke, no date, block print,10” x 9”,Collection of Jyl and Allan Atmore.
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SANTA PAULA, CA – From her home and studio in Santa Paula, Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971) became one of the most extraordinary oil painters of the twentieth century. Now, the Santa Paula Art Museum invites you to view her rare and elegant watercolors and woodblocks in an unprecedented exhibition. The exhibit will premiere on Saturday, February 15, 2014 with an opening reception from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Admission is $10.00 for museum members and $15.00 for the general public.

Jessie Arms Botke was born in Chicago in 1883 and enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago in 1902. In 1911, Botke went to work for Herter Looms in New York City where she was first inspired toward the bold, decorative painting of birds that she became so famous for later in her career. It was in 1929 that Jessie and her husband Cornelis, whom she had married in 1915, made their home in Santa Paula.

While the couple vowed never to move from their peaceful ranch in Wheeler Canyon, they made annual sketching trips across the country. It was on these trips that Botke began to experiment with watercolor painting as a means of recording her travels, and to create studies for future paintings. It was a medium with which she quickly fell in love.By the 1950s, her watercolors were being exhibited and celebrated from California to New York.

“What is wonderful about Jessie’s watercolors is that she created them rather impulsively and spontaneously. They capture pure and honest moments and memories in her life. You really feel a sense of connection to what her mood was in those moments,” says Executive Director Jennifer Heighton. Over 50 of these rare works from private collections will be on display in the show, which in addition to watercolors includes works in gouache and block prints. This special exhibit runs through June 22, 2014.

The Santa Paula Art Museum is located at 117 North 10th Street in downtown Santa Paula. The Museum’s regular hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m., and Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00p.m.Admission is $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and is free for museum members and students. For more information, please contact the Museum at (805) 525-5554, or email info@santapaulaartmuseum.org.


Studio Channel Islands Blackboard Gallery has welcomed hundreds if visitors in 2013 who were thrilled with the quality and scope of the exhibitions.

During the month of February, the Gallery will be filled with talented children from Los Primeros School who are presenting an annual school play.

The Blackboard Gallery will have a grand reopening on March 1, 2014, with a new exhibition, "Less is More, Much More."

The Blackboard Gallery at Studio Channel Islands Art Center is at 2222 Ventura Boulevard in Old Town Camarillo, open Tuesday 11:00 - 3:00, Wednesday through Friday 11:00 - 5:00 and Saturday 10:00 - 3:00 p.m. As many as 40 resident artist studios behind the gallery are open to the public every First Saturday of the month from 10 - 4 p.m. For more information, go to www.studiochannelislands.org or call 805-383-1368.

February 8, 2014

Ventura County’s huge strawberry crop is all picked by hand. Planning for the busy harvest period, and recruiting and retaining the skilled labor force needed to bring in the berries, are vital. On Saturday, February 8, 2014, at 3:00 p.m., two local labor experts will discuss the challenges at a Strawberry Symposium held at the Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula. Anyone interested in agriculture in Ventura County is encouraged to attend the free event.

At 3:00 p.m., Alvaro Valerio, Strawberry Production Manager, Reiter Brothers, Inc., will talk about how he plans and manages Reiter’s strawberry production throughout Ventura County. He will explain how innovations in strawberry cultural practices and developments in harvest machinery help workers earn more money as well as help the company’s bottom line.

At 3:45, Saul Aguilar, Manager of Strategic Labor Initiatives, Reiter Affiliated Companies, will discuss labor recruitment and retention strategies. Reiter Affiliated Companies grows strawberries around the world and Mr. Aguilar oversees an international program. Both speakers will talk about their career paths in agriculture. Time for questions and answers will follow the presentations.

The Strawberry Symposium is made possible in part by a grant from the Thelma Hansen Trust and a sponsorship from the California Strawberry Commission. Those attending can also visit current Museum exhibitions including: “Strawberry Fields Forever?,” “Art About Agriculture VI” and “Vintage Valentines and Candy Boxes.”
The Museum of Ventura County Agriculture Museum is located at 926 Railroad Avenue in Santa Paula, across the railroad tracks from the historic railroad depot. Ample parking is available.

Ramsey big band show to feature NPHS alumnus
Elmer Ramsey and his trumpet. Photo credit: Brian Stethem/CLU
Elmer Ramsey and his trumpet. Photo credit: Brian Stethem/CLU

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - Elmer Ramsey’s fifth annual concert of big band music and love songs celebrating Valentine’s Day will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at California Lutheran University.

“Elmer Ramsey, His Trumpet and Orchestra” will be presented in Samuelson Chapel. Ramsey and the Conejo Pops Orchestra will perform music from great artists of the big band era, including Artie Shaw, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie. Dynamic vocalist duo Nancy Osborne and Ned Rifken will sing with the orchestra.

Jazz trumpeter Jonathan Dane will perform one of his own arrangements. Dane got to know Ramsey when Dane was attending Newbury Park High School and he has performed at Ramsey’s concerts for years, but this is his first featured performance. Well-known in the Los Angeles jazz world, he recently was a featured soloist with the Stan Kenton Reunion Band at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute Big Band Festival and is a featured soloist on Bill Holman’s Grammy award-nominated CD “Homage.” He has recorded five CDs with recording artist Luis Munoz and a personal CD titled “Very Life” that features mostly original compositions.

Osborne, a Westlake Village resident, has been featured with such big bands as the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Tex Beneke, Ray Anthony and Johnny Vana’s Big Band Alumni. In addition to performing in films and on stage and television, Osborne produced her own 17-piece big band CD, “Hot Swing, Cool Jazz.”

Rifken has headlined more than 600 shows as the “Ambassador of Swing” for several cruise lines. On land, he performs with Ned Rifken and the Hipmunks, a classic jazz quartet made up of top musicians from the Los Angeles area. As part-time singing partners, he and Osborne star in their original show, “Swingin’ Vegas is Back!”

Daniel Geeting, a member of the CLU music faculty, will be featured on clarinet.

Ramsey, a CLU professor emeritus of music, began playing trumpet professionally at the age of 14 and three years later had his own ‘40s-style big band on a Washington radio station. He made West Coast tours with Mel Tormé and other popular singers. During his 27-year tenure at CLU, he helped found and served as artistic director of the Oakleaf Music Festival and served as music director and conductor of the Conejo Symphony Orchestra. Ramsey has been music director of the Conejo Pops Orchestra for more than 30 years. Many members of the orchestra are CLU alumni and have also performed with Harry James, Glenn Miller and Tex Beneke orchestras.

Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for students. The chapel is located at 165 Chapel Lane on the Thousand Oaks campus. For more information, call the Music Department at 805-493-3306 or visit http://www.callutheran.edu/music.

Lion Dance. Photo credit: Brian Stethem/CLU
Lion Dance. Photo credit: Brian Stethem/CLU
Enlarge Photo
Free event features food, music, dance, martial arts

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - California Lutheran University will host its popular Chinese New Year celebration from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, in Soiland Recreation Center.

The free event will celebrate the year of the wood horse (or green horse) with a traditional lion dance and gong fu (martial arts). Ming Ming Jiang, a world-renowned soprano from Beijing, will sing. Other performers include the Thousand Oaks Chinese Folk Ensemble, YangSheng Choir, in-Harmony Choir, Thousand Oaks Chinese School Dance Group and Thousand Oaks Tai Ji Group.

Authentic Chinese egg rolls, dumplings, noodles and desserts will be served. Artists will demonstrate painting and calligraphy, and vendors will add to the festive atmosphere. Red envelopes will be distributed to participants for good luck.

Chinese New Year, which this year begins on Jan. 31, is the most important of the Chinese holidays. The holiday lasts 15 days and focuses on bringing good luck for the new year.

According to legend, Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian. To protect themselves, villagers put out food to satisfy the Nian. Later, finding that the beast feared the color red, they hung red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. Today, adults give red envelopes, often containing money, to children to symbolize wealth and prosperity in the coming year. Lanterns symbolize the brightness of spring. In dragon and lion dances, a group of dancers parade under elaborately decorated costumes to scare away bad luck.

In Chinese astrology, the year of the horse is considered a fortunate year that brings luck and good things, according to organizer and CLU faculty member Debby Chang. In Chinese culture, the horse is a symbol of nobility, class, speed and perseverance. People who are born in the year of the horse are smart, active and energetic, and they are fabulous speakers and dress fashionably. They seek freedom and happiness.

CLU’s Languages and Cultures Department, Multicultural Programs and Community Leaders Association are sponsoring the event.

Soiland Recreation Center is located in Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center at 130 Overton Court on the Thousand Oaks campus. Free parking is available in the lot at the northwest corner of Olsen Road and Mountclef Boulevard. For more information, contact Debby Chang at ddchang@callutheran.edu or Daniel Lawrence at 805-493-3489 or lawrenc@callutheran.edu.


Camarillo, CA - The Art Program at CSU Channel Islands (CI) is pleased to present “Chairs: A Photographic Exploration of the Commonplace Chair” at the CI Palm Gallery in Old Town Camarillo. The student group exhibition spotlighting the most basic of all furnishings will be on display Friday, Jan. 31, through Thursday, Feb. 20. The public is invited to a free reception with the artists on Thursday, February 13, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Curated by photographer and CI faculty member Larry Lytle, “Chairs” investigates our idiosyncratic relationship with this ubiquitous piece of furniture through photography. Lytle asked his students to think about the chair as a metaphorical and practical object and then express their thoughts through individual images, photo essays, or as photo-sculptural objects. The installation invites viewers to sit and think about their own relationship to this most universal and basic of all furnishings. Seating will be provided.

The CI Palm Gallery is located at 92 Palm Avenue inside the Camarillo Smiles Dental building. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. For more information contact the Art Program at 805-437-2772 or art@csuci.edu.

About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands (CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more about CI by visiting CI’s Social Media.

Alan Ruck featured in CLU series on the acting craft
Alan Ruck
Alan Ruck

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - Actor Alan Ruck, who played the best friend in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and a mayor’s staff member in “Spin City,” will give a talk at California Lutheran University at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7.

Ruck will speak before students and community members in the Preus-Brandt Forum as part of the free “Conversations With …” series. Actor and director Markus Flanagan, who teaches at CLU, will moderate an informal one-hour discussion on the craft of acting. A question-and-answer session with the audience will follow.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Ruck earned a bachelor’s degree in drama from the University of Illinois. He then moved to Chicago for a few years, performing small parts in movies and acting at off-Loop theaters.

His first film role was playing a friend of Sean Penn’s character in the 1983 drama “Bad Boys.” He also appeared in “Class” with Andrew McCarthy and John Cusack the same year. He made his Broadway debut in Neil Simon's “Biloxi Blues” in 1984.

One of his best-known roles was in the 1986 John Hughes classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Later, he played smaller roles in films including “Young Guns II,” “Speed” and “Twister.”

Ruck’s big break on the small screen was landing the part of Stuart on the popular sitcom “Spin City” with Michael J. Fox in 1996. He played the sexist ladies’ man through the end of the series in 2002. Since then he has appeared in guest roles on TV shows including “Scrubs,” “Cougar Town” and “Hot in Cleveland,” and in supporting roles in films including “Extreme Measures,” “The Happening” and “I Love You, Beth Cooper.”

The “Conversations With …” talks provide theater arts students and aspiring actors with advice from professionals. They take the approach laid out in Flanagan’s book, “One Less Bitter Actor: The Actor’s Survival Guide,” which explains how to make it in the business of acting while staying sane and focused.

Farm Fresh Clothing Co. is sponsoring the free 2013-2014 series.

Preus-Brandt Forum is located at 135 Chapel Lane on the Thousand Oaks campus. Free parking is available in lots on Mountclef Boulevard north and south of Olsen Road. For more information, call 805-493-3415 or email info@westlakeactingstudio.com.

February 8, 2014

The Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula is offering a new crop of merchandise at their Museum General Store. Items that reflect Ventura County’s agricultural and historical heritage are for sale. The Museum General Store offers greeting cards, gifts, art, books, children’s items and jewelry displayed in charming farmhouse cabinets, old-fashioned cider barrels and authentic citrus crates. On Saturday, February 8, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., all merchandise will be 10% off during the Grand Opening Sale!

The Museum General Store is located at 926 Railroad Avenue in Santa Paula, across the tracks from the historic train depot. Plentiful free parking is available. Store hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday.

The Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Paid events include free admission to the galleries, and the first Sundays of every month are free general admission for the public. For more information go to www.venturamuseum.org or call the Agriculture Museum at 805-525-3100.