.Opinion: How to Make an Arts Scene

Watsonville artists and organizations see their hard work pay off


Steve Palopoli editor good times santa cruz california

An arts community is not built in a day. And even when it is built, through years of networking and mutual support from countless artists and arts organizations, there’s the question of whether anyone will notice.

That’s why I think the time is right for Johanna Miller’s cover story this week about the ascension of Watsonville’s art scene. And also why, I suspect, more than one of her sources makes a point to mention that getting it to this point has been a sustained effort from a lot of people over a long period of time.

I remember some of the people still involved in the South County scene from when I was covering arts and culture at the Register-Pajaronian in the ’90s. And others I’ve seen bring incredible energy to it in the years since—look at the work Consuela Alba and the Watsonville Film Festival group have done over the last decade, for instance. For so many of these central players, the key has been perseverance and innovation, constantly testing what works and what doesn’t in Watsonville. That’s never going to be exactly the same as what works in Santa Cruz—and it shouldn’t be.

You’ll also notice the appeal that these Watsonville artists and organizers are making directly to the rest of the county: in order for this scene to sustain itself, it needs buy-in from a lot more of us. If you haven’t checked out any of the many events and exhibits there, you owe it to yourself to do so. After seeing this unique group of artists and supporters finally break through, I hope they continue to thrive for a long time to come.

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Re: RVs

I agree with the writer [of the “No Free Ride for RVs” letter]. Groups like Santa Cruz Cares make no distinction between those who are living in their vehicles because they have to and people who are just on vacation or rolling through to surf. Both groups create bad impacts to the neighborhoods and contribute absolutely nothing. I’m happy the city is providing places for parking legally, but the cops need to insist that people living on the streets use those places and stop parking wherever they want.

—   Steve

Re: Duke Kahanamoku

I really loved and appreciated this piece. I learned so much that I was never aware of. I’m glad to have spent a lot of time in the “Plunge” myself, and now know the Duke was a star swimmer there before I jumped into those salty and mysterious waters. Isn’t Santa Cruz history special! Thanks for this superb article.

David Ladd Wilson


HAND IN HAND WITH THE DUKE This photo was taken at the Bishop Museum in Oahu. The photographer’s hand is in a graphic illustrating the size of Duke Kahanamoku’s hand. She also included an image from the museum of Kahanamoku smiling at a canine friend who appears to have gotten two paws onto his desk in a ploy for attention. She wrote: “He had the biggest hands, and the biggest heart.” Photograph by Whitney Wilde.

Submit to [email protected]. Include information (location, etc.) and your name. Photos may be cropped. Preferably, photos should be 4 inches by 4 inches and minimum 250dpi.



On Monday, Save Our Shores collected 30 pounds of trash during the group’s post-Labor-Day cleanup. There’s a lot more work to be done, and you can sign up to join volunteers around the world for the largest beach cleanup event of the year on Sept. 17. Register at saveourshores.org.



UCSC astronomers led the way in analyzing the first direct images of a planet outside our solar system captured by the James Webb Space Telescope. Aarynn Carter, a postdoctoral scholar working with Astronomy Professor Andrew Skemer at UCSC, led the analysis. The planet is a gas giant that could not be habitable, but can teach us more about exoplanets. More info at ucsc.edu.


“Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness.”

David Spangler


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