Arts + Culture + Music

¡Viva la cultura! Sacramento’s Latino Center of Art and Culture continues vital celebration of heritage

From the live stage to rare gallery spaces, the Latino Center of Art and Culture is connecting Sacramento with its past and future. Photo courtesy of LCAC.

LCAC looks to new horizons at Winn Park, hosts its La Pastorela this week at The Guild Theater

It wasn’t that long ago in Sacramento’s history when a group of Chicano university students recognized something was missing from campus galleries, student bookstores and even educational curriculum— a reflection of themselves.

This revelation came in the 1970s, during the height of the Chicano civil rights movement and in the wake of the East Los Angeles Walkouts, where thousands of Mexican-American students walked out of campuses en masse in protest of inequitable education.

In Sacramento, the college students decided to combat institutionalized discrimination by creating a space where they could gather and feel a sense of community through visual arts, while also preserving centuries-old traditions and encouraging cultural pride. That’s when La Raza Bookstore opened in 1972 near 12th and F streets.

“It really was courageous for these students at the university to come together and say, ‘We’re going to have a bookstore off-campus, and we’re going to get the books that relate to our history, to our art, and to our community,’” says Marie Acosta, board member and artistic director emeritus for Latino Center of Art and Culture. “And that’s how the organization started, as a bookstore. It immediately became the hub for activists, Chicanos, and it extended beyond Chicanos; but it was predominantly a Chicano-based bookstore that then morphed into a visual arts gallery.”

The bookstore was renamed the Latino Center of Art and Culture in 2014, yet at its core, the nearly 50-year-old institution has never veered from its mission of highlighting the voices and talents of the Latino diaspora.

Read the full story here. Published with the Sacramento News & Review December 15, 2021.

Behind the funk: Sacramento’s The Gold Souls come storming back with ‘Downtown Sound’

The Gold Souls are ready to rekindle Sacramento’s love for live music. Photo by Kevin Gomez Jr.

Local musicians jump into the fray again with big Halloween night show at Harlow’s

With live music selling out large-scale festivals and filling independent venues again, many Sacramento bands are looking to re-connect with audiences after more than a year away from the stage.

One of those groups is the funk-driven quintet, The Gold Souls, who are eager to lure fans back with some blues-and-soul-heavy stylings that always make peoples’ feet move.

But beneath the unassuming, hip-swayin’ beats and feel-good melodies, The Gold Souls also pour their energy into writing lyrics on social topics that each member is passionate about: Those include labor inequality, toxic masculinity and even Sacramento’s rapidly changing cultural landscape. It’s all heard on the band’s new sophomore album, Downtown Sound.

“I think that we’ve always tried to really bring an idea of togetherness and unity inside of the music,” says keyboardist Alex Severson. “We can point out these huge social issues, and we can talk about it, but we can also make sure that people feel safe and heard while also still dancing.”

In the titular song “Downtown Sound,” vocalist Juniper Waller reminisces about walking the streets of a familiar city, only to realize it’s almost unrecognizable. Waller says the song also reminds her of how the art community is still recovering from myriad hardships stemming from the pandemic. But the lyrics of “Downtown Sound” aren’t solely dedicated to Sacramento’s growth and cultural shifts. In a broader sense it’s a story that applies to many cities experiencing similar change and hardship.

“I think it’s really telling how the entire performing arts industry was the first to close down, and kind of the last to recover,” Waller notes. “I think so much of the question that we’re asking in the album, and in this moment, fall 2021, is: ‘Things are changing a lot. Is there going to be a place for artists in this new landscape? Is there going to be a place for art and for those who make art who don’t want to slave away at a bullshit job?’” …

Read the full story here. Published with the Sacramento News & Review October 28, 2021.

Green Goddess: Women in Cannabis

Illustration by Mariah Quintanilla

For many women, the varied stigmas associated with cannabis use are enough to keep their closeted curiosities about the versatile plant’s benefits restrained. For mothers, the thought of being perceived as irresponsible, incapable nurturers or, even worse, half-baked stoners is an intimidating hardship to bare.

But times are changing. More women are not only visiting dispensaries seeking products that stimulate relaxation, encourage self-care and enhance sexual stimulation; women are also paving the way to help create better cannabis products that appeal to women’s needs and are found in dispensaries throughout Sacramento. The truth is, women enjoy ganja, too.

In fact, according to a recent Gallup Poll published in October 2020, 66 percent of women support legalizing cannabis altogether, making them one of the most viable demographics when it comes to medicinal and recreational cannabis use.

So why do most products found on dispensary shelves cater mostly to men? It’s a trend Kimberly Cargile says she noticed as the owner of six dispensaries, including A Therapeutic Alternative in East Sacramento.

After studying the packaging of various products at her dispensaries, Cargile says she and a group of women who later formed Khemia, a Sacramento-based cannabis manufacturing company and brand, discovered that less than 5 percent of products were targeting women through marketing or education.

That had to change. So together, they created female-focused products through Khemia that include cherry cheesecake rose petal pre-rolls (pre-rolled joints), CBD-infused chai tea and a skincare line launching this fall. Offering cannabis in a variety of forms outside of smokable flowers is just another way to break down those intimidation barriers, says Khemia CEO Mindy Galloway.

“Women love to support other women, and if they find something that helps their quality of life, they go and tell their friends about it,” Galloway says. …

Read the full story, here. Published with Sacramento Magazine May 2021.

Art’s Utility Player


Gioia Fonda’s upcoming “Give a Fork” installation aims to start a conversation on food deserts, hunger and solutions.

Polish your grandma’s treasured silverware; straighten—or don’t—the contorted cutlery caught in the garbage disposal; whatever your approach, artist Gioia Fonda wants Sacramento to give a fork. Ten thousand forks, to be exact. …

Read the full story Art’s Utility Player. Published in the Sacramento News & Review, March 24, 2016.

15 Years of mewithoutYou


Philadelphia post-hardcore five-piece mewithoutYou will celebrate its 15th year together this year, continuing to log thousands of miles touring across the United States. Vocalist Aaron Weiss, alongside brother and guitarist, Michael Weiss, started the band in 2001, signing with Tooth and Nail Records later that same year. The band—which also includes drummer Rickie Mazotta, bassist Greg Jehanian and guitarist Brandon Beaver—continues to craft dramatic, sometimes experimental, soundscapes that echo the singer’s trance-like vocal angst. The band’s recently released sixth album, Pale Horses, not only challenges mewithoutYou to revisit the band’s natural tendency toward the more theatrical, aggressive musical performance, but also revives the emotional honesty found in past albums. Submerge recently caught up with mewithoutYou vocalist and founding member Aaron Weiss to discuss how he developed his eccentric, spoken-word vocal style, what inspires the band’s performances night after night and mewithoutYou’s religious-based labels. …

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW: ON A PALE HORSE. Published in Submerge magazine, June 22, 2015.

Ax Murderers, Charles Manson and Ghost Dogs — Is This Historic Midtown Mansion the Scariest, Creepiest Haunted House in Sacramento?

Photo by Salvador Ochoa

A stone lion’s head hovers over a wide entryway, solemnly watching passersby, some of whom, catching sight of the house just beyond, slow their pace to examine the gothiclike structure that’s sat unoccupied for more than 20 years. But drooping palm trees and an iron gate edge the perimeter, keeping the curious away as it guards one of the largest, oldest mansions in the historic Boulevard Park neighborhood. Located on the corner of H and 22nd streets, it’s considered one of the most mysterious and perhaps the most haunted house in Sacramento. Indeed, this mansion conveys a spooky sense of intrigue thanks, at least in part, to its yawning emptiness. The home, now owned by a Northern California-based family trust, was built shortly after the turn of the century, and in the years since it has inspired countless stories—some grislier than others. Most have one thing in common: They are, at least according to the house’s current deed holder, decidedly untrue. …

READ THE FULL STORY: THIS OLD HOUSE. Published in the Sacramento News & Review, October 18, 2012.

Gioia Fonda Transforms Gutter Garbage Into Art


Ordinary hurricane fence morphs into happy orange flowers, familiar green baskets that once held strawberries transform into whimsical city skylines and forks found abandoned in Sacramento’s gutters glisten brightly. These are Sacramento City College assistant art professor Gioia Fonda’s recycled treasures. And her art. “I feel that people aren’t being as creative as they could be with their trash,” Fonda says. “There are possibilities in objects. A lot of things could be repurposed.” …

READ THE FULL STORY: POSSIBILITY IN OBJECTS. Published in the Sacramento News & Review, April 22, 2010.

Dale Smallin, the Wild Cackle at the Intro of the Surfari’s Hit ‘Wipe Out,’ Enjoys a Mellow Life in Downtown Sac


Resting underneath a green awning outside downtown’s Capitol Park Cafe, Dale Smallin inhales one last drag of his Pall Mall red cigarette as the hectic traffic of Ninth Street whizzes past. Partially relying on a wooden cane, Smallin slowly enters the cafe for his daily meal, greeting the waitress, Sally, by name. Determined, he heads straight to his usual spot, second table on the right, and politely waves away her offer of a menu. He has it memorized. To many customers in the cafe, Smallin is an ordinary man enjoying a ham grill with fries. And although his days may appear routine, Smallin’s memories of youthful endeavors are tales of rock ’n’ roll history—and one unforgettable laugh. Smallin was manager of the surf-rock band the Surfaris, known for their 1963 hit “Wipe Out.” And Smallin’s voice was responsible for the maniac-like cackle that taunts listeners in the song’s opening moment. …

READ THE FULL STORY: AN UNFORGETTABLE LAUGH. Published in the Sacramento News & Review, March 11, 2010.