Out & About

By Jessica Laskey
February 2021


Parking garage on hold; community park will proceed

The Crocker Park Redevelopment and Expansion Project has hit a bit of a snag due to the pandemic.

City project manager Richard Rich and Crocker Art Museum CEO Lial Jones recently announced the project’s 500-space parking garage is on hold indefinitely. The parking garage was part of the expansion project, which includes an art-focused park in the 3-acre open space across from the museum.

The original plan was for the Crocker Art Museum Association, which runs the museum, to fund and build the community park and gallery, and for the city to fund and build the parking garage with bond financing backed by city parking revenue. Since the pandemic has caused a huge reduction in parking revenue, bond financing has been put on hold.

The association will go ahead with its part of the project—funded by more than $40 million raised from private individuals—which essentially decouples the two projects.

“We do know that parking demand will return in the future,” Jones says. “We also know that right now, more than ever, good useable outdoor space is extremely valuable for community programming, and we want to be able to move forward and make Crocker Park a really useable community asset in the future.”


Three new City Council members have officially been sworn in. Say hello to your new representatives.

Sean Loloee has taken over from Allen Warren to represent District 2 (Del Paso Heights, Hagginwood, Woodlake and Robla). The owner of Viva Supermarkets says he wants to “set Sacramento as an example of what a compassionate and giving city is supposed to be.”

Katie Valenzuela has replaced Steve Hansen in District 4 (Downtown, Midtown, River Oaks, Land Park, South Land Park and Little Pocket). The environmental justice consultant says, “To all of the activists and organizers and troublemakers—good trouble—that are out there still doing the work today, my victory is a big thanks to you and the work that you’ve done.”

Mai Vang, executive director of the Buck Scholars Association, is taking over for Larry Carr in District 8 (Meadowview, Parkway, North Laguna Creek and Jacinto Creek). As the child of Hmong refugees and the oldest of 16 children, Vang says she’s “always reminded that I am truly an embodiment of my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

For more information, visit cityofsacramento.org/mayor-council.


At the end of December, more than 1,000 seniors who were enrolled in the city’s Great Plates Delivered program received a piece of food-themed artwork in addition to their three daily restaurant-cooked meals.

One of seven different pieces of art, created by local artists as part of the new initiative called “Art for the Heart,” was given to each Great Plates recipient.

The initiative grew out of a project that Kelly Lindner, art galleries and collections curator at Sacramento State, launched last summer. Julius Austin, coordinator of Sacramento’s Promise Zone, approached Lindner about delivering artwork through Great Plates, and, with the help of the Crocker Art Museum and city staff, “Art for the Heart” was born.

The collaborative project provided artists, college students and teens the opportunity to build relationships and honor elders. “We know that seniors are experiencing isolation more than others,” Austin says. “Having the contact of an artist who is thinking of them is going to decrease that isolation.”

The artwork was tucked into each meal bag along with a biography of the artist and postcard inviting the recipient to respond. The pieces were created by artists Luis Campos Garcia, Peter Foucault and Aida Lizalde, as well as four printmaking students from Sac State, with creative input from local teens via virtual workshops hosted by the Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum and Sol Collective.


The UC Davis MIND Institute Autism Center of Excellence is seeking participants for an ongoing study to discover effective treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Marjorie Solomon and her team are recruiting children with ASD between the ages of 8 and 14 displaying anxiety and fears. The Specifying and Treating Anxiety in Autism Research, or STAAR, study is conducted almost entirely online and includes telehealth assessments, MRI imaging, anxiety treatment and clinical evaluation at no cost to patients.

“It’s pretty widely known from research that one of the major struggles faced by children, adolescents and adults with autism is anxiety and anxiety disorders,” says Solomon, the Oates Family Endowed Chair in Life Span Development in Autism. “Research has suggested that the same kind of interventions we use with children without autism work,” such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

The UC Davis MIND Institute Autism Center of Excellence—one of five centers in the country awarded by the National Institutes of Health in 2017—has been conducting this study for two years, but the pandemic forced the research team to figure out a way to continue without bringing people to the center.

“We realized we could do a lot online that we’d never believed possible,” Solomon says. The trial is now virtually all online except for regular blood tests, which can be done at any Quest Diagnostics lab, and MRI scans. Treatment, medical visits and assessments are all conducted over Zoom, which means that “as long as you have internet access, even if you live far away from us, you can get treatment,” Solomon says.

Imaging for the study takes place at the Imaging Research Center at 4701 X St. For more information or to enroll in the study, contact the recruitment coordinator at (916) 703-0119 or hs-staarstudy@ucdavis.edu.


Check out one of Sacramento’s newest murals. “The Lower American River” is a stunning three-story mural by artist Stephanie Taylor, now on display at the Sacramento County Administration Building at 700 H St.

The piece was commissioned by the Water Forum to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The forum is a diverse group of local governments, environmentalists, water managers, business and agricultural leaders, and citizen groups working to provide a reliable and safe water supply, as well as preserve the fishery, wildlife, and recreational and aesthetic values of the lower American River.

Taylor’s work depicts the river as a unique and cherished civic amenity—the only nationally designated wild and scenic river running through a major metropolitan area. For more information, visit waterforum.org/20th-anniversary-artwork.


The city of Sacramento and international nonprofit MicroMentor recently launched Mentor Sacramento, a free online business mentoring platform that connects diverse small business owners to volunteer mentors.

Available in multiple languages, the platform links thousands of members in the world’s largest virtual community of entrepreneurs and mentors.

“Especially as we emerge from the pandemic, we need to provide resources to make sure that these small businesses, often owned by women or people of color, have access to strong mentoring to make sure they are on a solid financial path to growth,” says Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

Local businesses and business owners can sign up at mentor-sacramento.micromentor.org.


Wilhaggin dad, writer and illustrator Judeh Simon celebrates the power of the imagination in his new book, “The Adventures of Artie and Zac,” for kids ages 7–9.

When his dad promises a summer adventure full of magic, young protagonist Zac finds his own intelligence is just as powerful as any magic spell when it comes to saving his new friend, a mysterious talking cat.

“I’ve always wanted to write an upturned fantasy book where the main characters in the story are typical everyday people,” says Simon, a former industrial engineer and video game artist who now writes and illustrates (and homeschools his sixth grader) fulltime.

“We traditionally expect the main character in a magic book to eventually develop magical powers, but instead I wanted to highlight our own intelligence, cunning and our ability to do research as our uniquely human magical gifts.”
The book is full of beautiful illustrations—Simon grew up drawing his own comic books—that contain tons of little details “to provide fuel for the imagination.”

“The Adventures of Artie and Zac” is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailers. Follow Simon on Instagram @JudehSimon for “doodles, sketches and half-cooked ideas.”


The Latino Center of Art and Culture, in partnership with Teatro Nagual and Teatro Espejo, has founded Sacramento Artist Corps, a collaborative effort putting artists to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The corps is funded by the city of Sacramento’s Office of Art and Culture and includes more than 40 artists and 60 works of art, poetry, songs, theater, live stream programing, photography, coloring books and murals.

“COVID-19 has impacted the Latinx community disproportionately, so it is imperative that we use every resource to help educate each other on staying safe,” says Marie Acosta, artistic director of the Latino Center of Art and Culture. “Not since the WPA (Works Progress Administration) during the Great Depression have the arts been placed in service of community during a national crisis.”

New live streams can be viewed nearly every day at facebook.com/sacartistcorps.


Archival Gallery presents MR AND MRS, an exhibition featuring works by husband and wife Richard Feese and Jadelle Andrews from Feb. 4–27.

Feese’s mixed-media and assemblage sculptures are paired with Andrews’ pastel landscapes and still life inspired by the California wilderness.

Visitors are welcome during normal business hours and must wear masks at all times. Archival Gallery is at 3223 Folsom Blvd. For more information, visit archivalgallery.com.


Women’s Empowerment recently received $75,000 from Wells Fargo—one of the organization’s longest and largest funders—to support programming for women who are currently homeless or have recently experienced homelessness.

Women’s Empowerment combines employment readiness, self-esteem courses, health services and education, counseling, housing assistance, job placement and paid job training to help women and their families overcome homelessness.

To date, the organization has graduated 1,691 women and their 3,792 children. Last year, 70 percent of graduates found homes and 79 percent secured jobs or enrolled in school or training. For more information, visit womens-empowerment.org.


MacKenzie Scott, former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is continuing her philanthropic blitz—giving away the majority of her wealth—by donating $10 million to United Way California Capital Region.

Scott chose the local United Way chapter because of its work to meet basic needs while addressing long-term systemic inequities that have increased due to the pandemic.

“Our team has been working tirelessly to stretch our resources as far as possible to help families in our community through this difficult year,” says Stephanie Bray, president/CEO of United Way California Capital Region.

“We cannot thank our staff, donors and volunteers enough for their investment in our work that is now being recognized on a national stage. This gift has brought us to the next level, and we are grateful to have our community of supporters by our side as we expand our Square One Project to create stronger, healthier and more compassionate communities across the greater Sacramento region.”

For more information, visit yourlocalunitedway.org.


The Sacramento Metro Chamber will hold its 126th Annual Business Awards virtually on Friday, Feb. 5, from 4–5:30 p.m. to celebrate regional leaders.

Honorees include Sacramento County’s former District 3 Supervisor Susan Peters as Sacramentan of the Year; Cate Dyer of StemExpress as Businesswoman of the Year; Randy Sater of StoneBridge Properties as Businessman of the Year; and Savory Café as Small Business of the Year. A special Lifetime Achievement Award will honor the memory of PRIDE Industries CEO Michael Ziegler.

“These awardees exemplify what it means to live a life of service and to use the precious time we are given to leave this world better than we found it,” Sacramento Metro Chamber President/CEO Amanda Blackwood says.

For more information, visit metrochamber.org/events/annual-dinner.


Arden-Arcade author Joseph Frizzi has published a humorous cookbook, “Cooking: For Those Who Can’t Boil Water, or Think They Can’t,” inspired by his own journey in the kitchen and funny family stories.

“The premise of this book is, ‘If I can do it, you can do it,’” says Frizzi, whose book also includes artwork and some of his favorite recipes. “It’s for people who can’t cook because either they have never had the interest in trying, or are intimidated by their lack of cooking skills.”

The book is available on Amazon.


The Sacramento County Office of Education and city of Sacramento recently distributed more than 10,000 art kits to students at 26 area schools as part of the city’s new CARES-funded program, Sacramento HeART and Mind.

The art kits contain basic art supplies—paper, colored pencils, Sharpie markers, glue sticks, scissors, rulers and more—to give students tools for self-expression.

“I am so glad the city was able to provide these art kits to help students explore creativity outside of school and hopefully bring some brightness to their day during these difficult times,” Melissa Cirone, city arts program coordinator, says.

Sacramento HeART and Mind brings together artists, community mentors and mental health experts to assist students most affected by the pandemic and school closures. For more information, visit sacramentocityexpress.com.


The city of Sacramento recently completed its Wi-Fi in the Parks program, bringing free high-speed internet access to 27 city parks through a public/private partnership with Verizon.

The goal of the wi-fi program is to support digital equity and economic development by providing wireless access that some citizens may not have.

To access wi-fi during park hours of operation (from sunrise to sunset daily), select “CITY-PARK-FREE-WIFI” as the network on your mobile device.

Fremont Park was the first park to have wi-fi installed in October 2019. A section of William Land Park marked the final installation at the end of 2020. For a list of connected parks, visit cityofsacramento.org/wifi.


The City Council recently approved a pilot project, Slow & Active Streets, which prioritizes walking and biking by limiting traffic on residential streets. The new $225,000 project is part of the city’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan for reducing Sacramento’s contribution to climate change.

Through April, the Public Works department will close up to 6 miles of roads to through traffic to promote walking, cycling and other forms of physical activity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tools, such as temporary signs and cones, will be used to divert traffic and slow drivers.

A section of roadway was closed in Land Park earlier this year between Freeport Boulevard and Land Park Drive as an initial test. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and Berkeley have implemented similar projects as a way to help people get outdoors during the pandemic.

Applications to participate in Slow & Active Streets must be supported by a sponsoring organization, such as a business or neighborhood association, nonprofit or faith-based group. Preference will be given to environmental justice areas, multifamily housing with limited yards, and areas with limited access to parks.

Residents, delivery drivers and emergency responders will still be able to drive in and out. For more information, visit cityofsacramento.org/public-works/transportation/planning-projects/slow-active-streets.


Last month, Sacramento lost one of its most beloved culinary luminaries, Paulette Bruce.

The popular cooking instructor and Land Park resident had moved her renowned Good Eats cooking classes online to make sure home cooks had access to her encouraging instruction during the pandemic. She also was one of the founding members of the Dining Divas, a group of women food experts gathered by late journalist Gloria Glyer who met and ate at local restaurants and dished about the dishes in Sacramento Magazine.

Bruce’s warm personality and endless culinary know-how made her one of the Sacramento region’s best-loved personalities.

She will be sorely missed.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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