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Out and About

By Jessica Laskey
October 2023

Celebrating 75 Years

University Art is still vital part of community

University Art celebrates its 75th anniversary of providing art supplies, custom framing, creative gifts and stellar customer service to people of all stripes.

The store was started by two sisters, the late Laurie Cappiello and Ginny Biondi, and their father Anthony, in Palo Alto on University Avenue, which gave the business its name. As success ensued, they expanded across Northern California, eventually owning five locations. The Sacramento and Redwood City stores remain.

The Sacramento location at 26th and J streets opened in 1997, when the Cappiellos bought out Taylor’s Art Center. The art supply and framing store has been a hub for the local arts community ever since.

As a kid, I spent some of my favorite afternoons perusing the store with my mom, a painter. We’d pick out a new tube of oil paint or cool paintbrush and, most importantly, get some great advice from one of the many longtime University Art employees.

“What we’ve always been known for is customer service,” says Cornelia Pendleton, Biondi’s daughter and company CFO. “Our sales people and framers are artists themselves, so they’re very knowledgeable and always have ideas.”

The staff have kept University Art at the top of its game. Many employees have been with the business for decades. COO Todd Ayers has been with the company for 48 years. CEO Charlie Affrunti was first hired at age 16 and just turned 74.

“I’ve always felt like part of the family,” Affrunti says. “We’ve lived through a lot together, but we’re still here.”
University Art is at 2601 J St. For information, visit


The first phase of the new state-of-the-art PS7 Elementary School campus in Oak Park has finally broken ground.

“This project is a long time coming,” says Cassandra Jennings, board chair for St. HOPE Public Schools, which runs PS7. “It means that the scholars at PS7 Elementary School will now have the campus they deserve.

“Our facilities here are old and in need of attention and improvement—a kind of ‘hug.’ This investment in a new school for our scholars will finally bring the quality of facilities up to meet the high quality of education they are receiving inside their classrooms.”

The renovation project includes constructing additional classrooms and an administration building, expanding the school kitchen, renovating the multipurpose room, reconfiguring the front entrance for added safety and reduced traffic, and installing new landscaping.

Against the dramatic backdrop of a giant earthmover at the groundbreaking, Jennings said, “What you see behind me … is a testament of what we can do when we all work together.”

For information, visit


The Sacramento Chinese Community Service Center seeks volunteers for the AARP Foundation Experience Corps, a group of volunteers ages 50 and older who provide reading tutoring to K–3 students at 10 schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Experience Corps volunteers give an average of four hours of support each week in person during afterschool hours. No teaching experience is required, but volunteers undergo a screening process.

For information, visit or email


Hoping to improve your Spanish language skills? Practice in a low-pressure environment with Roberto H. Romero, a former research librarian for The Sacramento Bee.

“I always like to do something special for my neighbors—this is a great community and we help one another,” says Romero, who started as a copy boy at the Bee as a new immigrant from Chile and ended up teaching Spanish to reporters, editors and other employees.

After 41 years at the paper, he retired and earned a license to teach Spanish and English as a second language, and has been teaching free group classes, as well as private, ever since.

“Anybody with a desire to learn is welcome,” Romero says. “There is no age limit or required language level, just show up ready to learn.”

Classes are every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at 6925 Havenhurst Drive in Greenhaven. For information, email Romero at


If you’ve always wanted to sing Christmas music with a live orchestra, now’s your chance.

The Capital Chorale is looking for singers of all voice types to join rehearsals starting Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Pioneer Congregational Church at 2700 L St. Rehearsals will culminate in a concert, “A Festival of Lessons and Carols,” on Friday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m.

To be included in the roster of singers, email Music Director Elliot Jones at For information, visit


On the last Friday of every month, musicians, painters and poets from every walk of life come together to present art in various modalities at “Expressions.” The event takes place at Lion’s Roar Dharma Center.

“The ‘Expressions’ showcase is where verbal art intertwines with visual and acoustic art, expressing the aesthetic spirit,” says Clemón Charles, a local singer/songwriter. Charles teamed with the center’s spiritual director, Lama Yeshe Jinpa (aka Stephen Bryant Walker), to host the monthly event as a way to bring awareness to the lack of access to mental health care.

“Expressions” supports the Middleway Health Foundation, where Lama Jinpa works as a licensed marriage and family therapy counselor. The foundation’s mission is to close the access gap by providing free one-on-one psychotherapy, social work and consulting for low-income individuals.

The next “Expressions” is Friday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. Lion’s Roar Dharma Center is at 3240 B St. For information, visit


The first phase of the $21 million Broadway Complete Streets project recently broke ground.

The project turns the 2-mile section of Broadway between Third and 29th streets into a less “terrifying” corridor, as described by Megan Johnson, senior engineer for the city of Sacramento.

New buffered bike lanes and reduced car lanes will make it safer for travel on foot, bicycle and transit. The enhancements link up with other Broadway improvement projects at Fifth, 10th, 19th and 21st streets to create an extensive connected bikeway network in the Downtown grid.

For information, call the project hotline at (279) 236-3799 or email


Before you chuck those old towels, consider donating them to the Sacramento SPCA to keep the animals in their care clean and cozy while waiting for their fur-ever homes.

Drop off your old towels at the donation station at 6201 Florin Perkins Road during business hours. For information, visit

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

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