.Best Of Santa Cruz County 2017: Art & Culture


Best Art Event

First Friday

  1. best of santa cruz county 2017 - first fridayFirst Friday started in 2003 with just 6 venues, and under two dozen people attending.
  2. Santa Cruz County Bank was one of the first venues, and has participated in nearly every First Friday since.
  3. There are often new venues, making First Friday a unique experience each time.
  4. The core mission is developing culture in the county by promoting local artists. Through the years, over 1,000 artists have been featured.
  5. The number of participating venues on any given Friday varies, but has been known to exceed 40. AARON CARNES


Best Art Gallery (Retail)

Artisans Gallery

  1. best of santa cruz county 2017 - artisans galleryArtisans has been through many phases since its opening in 1976, when it started as a co-op. Today it’s owned by Linnaea Holgers James, who’s worked at the gallery since she was 16. She purchased it in 2009 at the age of 32.
  2. Linnaea and husband Peter opened Agency, dedicated to to modern home goods, down the street in 2015, allowing more space for art, jewelry and other items..
  3. Artisans was the first place to feature the work of Doug Ross, who passed away last December and is featured in this issue.
  4. One section of Artisans is devoted exclusively to kids, where parents can find unique toys, games and clothing—for instance, puppets made from recycled sweaters. There’s also a playhouse where kids can play while their parents shop.
  5. It’s not uncommon for customers to see the local artists featured by Artisans in the store, as they frequently drop in to discuss ideas with Linnaea. AC


Best Festival (Music)

Santa Cruz American Music Festival

  1. best of santa cruz county 2017 - santa cruz american music festivalBegun in 1993 by Phil Lewis and Bill Welch as the Santa Cruz Blues Festival, the Santa Cruz American Music Festival is one of the longest-running music festivals in the area.
  2. The festival changed its name to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival in 2015, also broadening its scope to include Americana acts.
  3. The festival has introduced locals to many up-and-coming acts who later found success; for instance, the first time Trombone Shorty played it in 2008, he was unknown on the West Coast. He’s since played the festival several times.
  4. Things can get … spontaneous, like in 2012, when blues guitarist Chris Cain attended the festival as an audience member, with no intention of performing. He later found himself on stage—drunk, dressed in coveralls, and playing Debbie Davies’ pink guitar while lying on his back.
  5. The lineup for this year’s festival (May 27 and 28) includes Melissa Etheridge, the Devil Makes Three and The Rides (pictured), featuring Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg. AC


Best Movie Theater

The Del Mar

  1. best of santa cruz county 2017 - del mar theaterOriginally opened in 1936, and then closed in 1999 after struggling financially for years, it was extensively restored and reopened in 2002. Today the theater hosts a combination of indie and mainstream films.
  2. The theater has had many configurations, starting as a single screen theater with a balcony and temporarily serving as a fourplex. Today it has three screens. It’s also hosted live shows—the Grateful Dead even played there.
  3. Comedian Andy Samberg worked at the theater as a ticket taker from 1996 to 1998, while attending UCSC.
  4. Del Mar hosts the Secret Film Festival, which is in its 12th year. The movies airing in the festival remain a secret until show time, which last from midnight till noon the next day. It’s a mix of genre and indie films, primarily ones that have never been shown in Santa Cruz.
  5. The theater’s newest owner Landmark is currently in the process of restoring the neon on the marquee. It should be completed later this year. AC


secure document shredding


Art Event

First Friday


RUNNERS-UP Capitola Art & Wine Festival, Open Studios Art Tour


Art Gallery (Retail)

Artisans Gallery

1368 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz,

423-8183, artisanssantacruz.com

RUNNERS-UP Felix Kulpa Gallery, Many Hands Gallery


Artist (Local)

Doug Ross


RUNNERS-UP Joe Cosentino, Marie Gabrielle


Author (Local)

K.M. Rice


RUNNERS-UP Jonathan Franzen, Laurie King


Dance Studio

Pacific Arts Complex

1122 Soquel Ave ., Santa Cruz,

471-8142, pacificartscomplex.com

RUNNERS-UP Agape Dance Academy, Tannery World Dance


Festival (Art/Film)

Capitola Art & Wine Festival


RUNNERS-UP Santa Cruz Film Festival, Watsonville Film Festival


Festival (Music)

Santa Cruz American Music Festival


RUNNERS-UP Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz Music Festival


Festival (Street)

Greek Festival


RUNNERS-UP Capitola Art & Wine Festival, Pleasure Point Street Fair


Kids’ Art Program

Studio Sprout  


RUNNERS-UP Kaiwa Art and Play Space, Seven Directions    


Movie Theater

The Del Mar

1124 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz,

469-3220, landmarktheatres.com/santa-cruz

RUNNERS-UP CineLux Capitola, Nickelodeon


Mural/Public Art

Capitola Trestle

62 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz
423-1398, shopperscorner.com

RUNNERS-UP E.A. Hall Middle School, Shopper’s Corner



Museum of Art & History

705 Front St., Santa Cruz

429-1964, santacruzmah.org

RUNNERS-UP Capitola Historical Museum, Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History



Devi Pride


RUNNERS-UP Alexandra Rice, Shmuel Thaler


Poet (Local)

Ellen Bass


RUNNERS-UP Max Goodwin, Gary Young


Radio Personality (Local)

Rosemary Chalmers


RUNNERS-UP Laurie Roberts, “Sleepy” John Sandidge


Radio Station





Television Personality (Local)

Dan Green  


RUNNERS-UP Lee Solomon, Phil Gomez


Television Newscast (Local)




Theater Company

Jewel Theatre


RUNNERS-UP CYT Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Shakespeare





  1. Congrats on another GOOD TIMES Best of Reader’s Poll! Santa Cruz has no lack of interesting people representing many fascinating catagories. While all of these catagories and winners are important and of benefit to the community, I ask why is the catagory “Best DJ” never a consideration in these best of the best polls?
    DJ’s often times, entertain hundreds of people for hours at a time… alone!
    We promote the event, prepare for hours to stay current, bring gear, show up first and leave last and generally get paid far less than our musician friends.
    DJing is an artform. This has been established for a very long time. I think it is time to include DJing into the list of creative contributors who deserve recognition. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
    DJ Don-ette G (DJ/Promoter/Booking Agent)
    – 5 year weekly Resident DJ @ Motiv
    – Creator of Rasta Cruz Reggae (Almost 10 year long event, possibly the longest running weekly DJ night in Santa Cruz history, of any genre)


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