Collaborative Color

Local Artist Invites Community Members to Express Their ‘Freedom’

By Daniel Barnes
February 2019

While best known for the charming pet portraits she calls PawTraits, local artist Nikki Solone hosted her first “collaborative art piece” during last September’s Sac Open Studios.

Called “What Color is Your Freedom?” and held at Solone’s studio in East Sacramento, the event invited people of all ages and skill levels to select and mix a paint color, and then add it to a 4-by-4-foot canvas. The finished work was displayed at Clunie Community Center in McKinley Park in October.

The painting was put up for sale in November at The Verge Art Auction, an annual event held at the Verge Center for the Arts. After a short bidding war, “What Color is Your Freedom?” was sold for $2,000 to Nikki’s mother, Jan, who outbid Tina Reynolds of Uptown Studios.

“She and her partner, Pam, love the painting so much that they didn’t want to let it go,” Solone says. “It was a great event and I was honored to have my community piece be part of the auction.”

Visit to view Solone’s work.


On the south side of 58th Street, one block west of Tahoe Park, homeowner Jan Tamayo and sculptor Crystal Lockwood have transformed a withering tree into a work of art.

Only the unfinished, bark-covered stump reveals the piece’s arboreal roots, as the rest of the tree has been carved into the figure of a female water bearer with Grecian robes wrapped around her body. The teenage daughter of one of Tamayo’s friends dubbed the statue Praebet, the Latin word for “provider.”

“I consider it a gift to the neighborhood and feel blessed to have made it possible,” Tamayo says.

Tamayo met Lockwood while volunteering at a charity golf event. “I was doing a fundraiser for a support camp for families with kids with cancer,” says Tamayo, who lost her 6-year-old son, Liam, to a brain tumor in 2002.

“My son had a bunny that he always carried around with him, and there was a woman with a chainsaw carving a bunny into a tree 30 feet away.” Lockwood was carving the statue as a tribute to a deceased resident who was nicknamed Bunny. “I thought that was so serendipitous, it just kind of blew me away,” Tamayo says.

When it came time last September to cut down the decaying tree in Tamayo’s front yard, her boyfriend engaged Lockwood’s services as a birthday present, and Praebet was born.

The sculpture took three weeks to complete and has been enthusiastically received in the neighborhood.

“When I’m outside, at least two or three people stop and slow down to look at it and take pictures,” Tamayo says. “I think everybody respects it as a wonderful and unique piece of art.”


In 2017, Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou became the third Sacramento-based sommelier to pass the advanced sommelier exam, a three-day test administered by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Less than one year later, Mandalou and husband/chef Deneb Williams opened the seafood-centric Italian restaurant Allora in a former East Sacramento flower shop on Folsom Boulevard, and she was named one of the “Best New Sommeliers of 2018” by Wine & Spirits magazine.

After two action-packed years, Mandalou is planning to wait until 2020 to sit for the punishingly difficult master sommelier exam. However, that doesn’t mean that Mandalou has stopped expanding her wine education. “I’m studying Italy and Greece and Slovenia, the wine regions that I deal with every single day,” she says. “I really want to know them like the back of my hand.”

Mandalou also plans to spend 2019 making small tweaks to Allora, including introducing more plants and art to the dining room and refining the wine list. In addition, Allora received a liquor license for the new year, so expect an Italian-focused cocktail program and a redesigned bar with hanging racks and additional glassware.

“We’re going to build into the space,” Mandalou says. “I’m not going to rush it and put up things that I don’t love.”


Sac City Brews Neighborhood Tap House in Tallac Village celebrated its first anniversary last month with a family-friendly block party featuring live music, food specials and a bounce house.

Over the course of its first year, Sac City Brews has gained a loyal following for its cozy and convivial vibe, well-curated beer list and seasonal farm-to-fork menu.

If you missed out on the block party, visit Sac City Brews for one of its Tuesday burger parties, featuring a special menu of wood-fired burgers, plus the Impossible Burger for vegans.

For more information, visit


The Elmhurst Neighborhood Association will hold a community forum on Monday, Feb. 11, to discuss Aggie Square, a large development planned near UC Davis Medical Center, and the city’s transit-oriented development ordinance calling for higher-density housing near the light-rail stations. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Masonic Hall at 4647 U St.

Aggie Square covers Second Avenue to Broadway and 49th Street to Stockton Boulevard. The proposed project includes multi-story buildings and 5,000 new employees as the development is built out over the next 10 years. Councilmember Eric Guerra will attend the forum to address neighborhood concerns about the project and to discuss plans to revitalize Stockton Boulevard. For more information, contact

Daniel Barnes can be reached at Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month

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