Rain or Shine

Weather didn’t deter mckinley rose garden prunathon

By Jessica Laskey
March 2019

Despite predictions of a rainstorm, 85 volunteers descended on the McKinley Rose Garden in early January for the annual prunathon organized by the Friends of East Sacramento, the nonprofit that manages the care and events at the city’s public garden.

“The weather was calling for downpours and 40-mile-per-hour winds,” recalls Lyn Pitts, an avid gardener who started as a volunteer in 2013 and now works for the Friends of East Sac part-time as a volunteer coordinator and tour guide.

“I had advertised the prunathon to 500 people and we had soup on order from Evan’s Kitchen, so I was going to be there if even just one person showed up.”

To Pitts’ relief, at 8:30 a.m. groups of AmeriCorps volunteers began arriving in droves from their dorms at McClellan Air Force Base.

 As the morning continued, more and more volunteers showed up—including regulars like Dave Coop, president of the Sacramento Rose Society, as well as longtime rose garden advocate Ellie Longanecker—until the pruning was completed by midday.

“We ran out of bypass clippers, so we had people pulling weeds and cleaning the rose beds by hand—picking up every single leaf, rose petal, clipping and wrapper,” Pitts says. “We filled three dumpsters.”

The annual prunathon helps keep the beloved rose garden looking its best for the spring and summer seasons when it plays host to countless weddings and events (it even made a cameo appearance in Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated film “Ladybird”).

Interested in lending a hand in the garden? Contact Friends of East Sacramento at friendsofeastsac@aol.com or (916) 452-8011.



The arts-driven housing development McKinley Village recently announced that it will create two new parks named after iconic Sacramentans Russ Solomon and Ricardo Favela.

“The naming of the park sites is not only a fitting tribute to both Russ Solomon and Richard Favela, it’s also in keeping with McKinley Village’s dedication to public art,” says Dana Mahaffey, senior planner with Sacramento’s Youth, Parks and Community Enrichment Department.

The housing development has already created an art walk in collaboration with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission that features 10 public art installations designed and crafted specifically for McKinley Village by artists from the Sacramento region.

Russ Solomon Park is named after the legendary Sacramento resident who founded Tower Records and built it into a global music and cultural phenomenon. The park will include a turf area, table tennis, walkways, shaded social spaces with benches and picnic tables, bike racks, pet-waste stations and public art.

Ricardo Favela Park is named in honor of the accomplished artist and Sacramento State University professor who was a founder of the renowned artists collective Royal Chicano Air Force. The tree-shaded park will include walkways, a social space with seating and public art.

Both parks, to be built by developer Encore McKinley Village, LLC, are expected to be under construction by spring. For more information, visit mckinleyvillage.com.



When the play “When We Were Colored: A Mother’s Story” opens at Sacramento Theatre Company on March 20, it will be the culmination of decades of work by local journalist Ginger Rutland to bring her mother’s memories to the stage.

Rutland’s mother Eva moved to Sacramento in the early 1950s with her husband and four children from Atlanta, “which was still the Jim Crow South,” Rutland says. The family settled in Curtis Park.

After selling stories to Harlequin and magazines such as Redbook, Eva set to writing a memoir about her life as a middle-class black woman that she called “The Trouble with Being a Mama.”

The book was first published in the 1960s, but after Ginger Rutland’s father died in 2005, the family expressed renewed interest in the book’s stories. Rutland republished the book in 2007 with a new title, “When We Were Colored: A Mother’s Story.” It proved popular enough that Rutland decided to adapt it into a play, which she first produced at Pioneer Congregational Church on L Street in 2015.

“We sold out all eight shows, so I thought alright, this is going to be a big hit!” Rutland recalls. “I sent it around to lots of theaters, but nobody wanted it. They all told me the same thing—the play didn’t have enough tension.”

Rutland sought the advice of renowned theater maker Stephen Eich—one of the founders Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago and executive director of Pasadena Playhouse—who worked with her for six months to craft a more conflict-driven story.

The new version of the play runs March 20 through April 28 at STC. For tickets, visit sactheatre.org.



Renowned architect Julia Morgan will be the topic of discussion Monday, March 11, at 10 a.m. during a Julia Morgan: Architectural Pioneer-Renaissance Society Mini-Seminar at Arden-Dimick Library.

As the first female architect licensed in California, Bay Area native Morgan designed more than 700 buildings, including Hearst Castle and the Julia Morgan House in the Elmhurst neighborhood—quite the feat in a male-dominated profession.

The seminar will explore her personal and professional life in a discussion you won’t want to miss. For more information, visit saclibrary.org.



The only art gallery in the heart of Old Sacramento is celebrating 40 years of providing local art to the Sacramento region.

Formed in 1978, the Artists’ Collaborative Gallery was created to foster a “rich, inspired environment and a loyal, devoted community of artisans from the region that needed a place to display and sell their art, but more than anything to be part of the artistic community,” gallery president Marlene Hoffman says.

With 34 members, the Artists’ Collaborative Gallery hosts artists from Fairfield and Auburn to Grass Valley, Placerville, Yuba City and Galt. The members operate the gallery, as well as sell their artwork, which includes 15 different mediums such as fine art, ceramics, glass, gourds, jewelry, metal, photography, textiles, wire sculpture, wood and fiber.

“We’ve had members that have been at the gallery for more than 28 years,” watercolorist Marcie Bombola says. “Most of our members are retired professionals who were passionate about an art form, gave it up to have a career and now have returned to express their creativity.”

As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, the gallery is holding a series of Meet the Artist receptions on the second Saturday of each month during 2019. Learn more at artcollab.com.



Get ready to dance for joy—a new wine-tasting room has opened in the 700 block of K Street next door to the Golden 1 Center.

Bailarin Cellars is a collective of Sonoma County vintners, including Suacci Family Vineyard, Manchester Ridge Vineyard, Black Knight Vineyard and Rockpile Vineyard, brought together by executive director Chris Ryan. Bailarin Cellars has already won recognition for its fleet of wines, including gold medals at the California State Fair and San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The new tasting room in the historic Hardin building was completed in December with custom details provided by local artists. You’ll find Bailarin’s full lineup of Sonoma County wines, as well as an Insight Coffee Roasters espresso bar and small bites. For more information, visit bailarincellars.com.



While you’re in the area, check out Meatless Mondays at Golden 1 Center. During each Monday event, the arena will offer one new meatless entrée option at The Flavor Lab food cart located on the plaza level. These new creations will join the meatless options already offered at the Burger Patch cart.

The meatless menu items build on the arena’s industry-leading food and beverage program, which pledges to source 90 percent of ingredients from within 150 miles of the arena.

In that same vein, the Kings have announced that it is partnering with Bogle Vineyards for a specially crafted Proud Roots 2016 vintage wine, available exclusively throughout Golden 1 Center and Bogle’s tasting room in Clarksburg.

“Both the Kings and Bogle are committed to being leaders in green practices and serving as examples of how businesses can serve as models of sustainability,” says Sacramento Kings chief operating officer Matina Kolokotronis. “Proud Roots is the perfect embodiment of our partnership and dedication to our region.”



The California State Railroad Museum has opened an all-new exhibit titled Farm-to-Fork: A Public History, created by graduate students from the Capital Campus Public History Program at Sacramento State University.

The exhibit explores the critical role that the railroad played in transporting the Central Valley’s agricultural bounty to the rest of the country—creating the foundation for the farm-to-fork movement. Visitors learn about the production and delivery of goods, the deep history of the people behind the food and how railroads played an integral role in that history.

Farm-to Fork: A Public History, which will remain on display permanently, is included in the museum admission: $12 for adults; $6 for ages 6 to 17; free for ages 5 and under. For more information, call (916) 323-9280 or visit californiarailroad.museum.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month.

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