The Show Must Go On

Costume artists help nor cal ballet recover from camp fire

By Jessica Laskey
March 2019

When Northern California Ballet in Paradise lost its studio and storage unit in the Butte County Camp Fire late last year, its annual holiday performance of “The Nutcracker” was put on indefinite hold due to the devastating loss of its costumes.

But Nila Coats, head costume stitcher at the Broadway At Music Circus, refused to let the fire rob the ballet company of its beloved production.

“I had called the director of Nor Cal Ballet to see how they’d weathered the fire,” says Coats, who has worked with the company for 20 years while also heading up the costume shops that serve Broadway At Music Circus and Sacramento Theatre Company. “I asked if there was anything I could do.”

When Coats told her colleagues about the ballet’s dilemma, she was pleasantly surprised by a “spontaneous outpouring” of help.

 At the costume shop’s annual winter get-together in January, 17 costume artisans converged on the Broadway At Music Circus Production Center to fit and alter on-loan costumes and create new ones as necessary. The completed costumes were delivered Jan. 15 so the show could go on.

And it did. Thanks to the generosity of Coats, Music Circus, other ballet companies, arts organizations and individuals who loaned costumes and materials, Northern California Ballet performed “The Nutcracker” in January at the historic Oroville State Theatre.



Sheree Johnston, owner of East Sac Hardware, knows that when you are in retail you have to always to look for new ideas to keep your business vital to customers. And she’s been working at just that for the last 10 years, since she took over running the store originally founded by her husband.

“Last year Ace Hardware approached me as one of the 100 select Ace stores—out of 5,000 nationwide—for a trial run of a new concept called The Grommet,” Johnston says. For its retail shops, Ace wanted to bring locally relevant, innovative and unique products to help distinguish them from national home-improvement chains.

The Grommet launches a new product each week and helps tell the story of the people behind those products. “The Grommet’s mission is to level the playing field to help the best and most innovative products succeed,” she says.

Since 2008, The Grommet has launched more than 3,000 products, including many that are now household names, such as FitBit, Food Should Taste Good, GoldieBlox, IdeaPaint, Lovepop, OtterBox, PopSockets, SimpliSafe, SodaStream and S’well, among others.

“Initially, the space allocated to Grommet merchandise was a two-foot double-sided fixture.”

Johnston says her customers were so pleased she continued to grow The Grommet purchases and expand display space for the products.

“We rearranged part of the front section of the store, bought some new fixtures and had custom signage made. Our goal was to have everything finished for the start of the Christmas season,” she notes. “I was attracted to Grommet because of their focus of supporting U.S. makers and manufacturers. This is something I really focused on when the recession hit in 2008.

“This is also a way for us to serve customers by finding new and cool items, and giving them a reason to shop locally vs. on Amazon,” she says.

“Four years ago we added toys and last year we added books. I have been very pleasantly surprised to the response our customers have had to the books. In the first year, book sales have far exceeded our expectations,” Johnston adds.

East Sac Hardware is at 4800 Folsom Blvd.



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



A new mural was unveiled this year in the Oak Park Art Garden that’s meant not only to beautify, but to educate.

The brightly colored billboard-style mural—painted by artist Stacy Givens of Tangled Sea Artistry—reads “Use CalFresh EBT at Farmers Markets” in English and Spanish. The message may seem simple, but it’s necessary.

Thousands of people who qualify for CalFresh assistance (also known as EBT, food stamps or SNAP) are unaware that they can use their benefits at farmers markets. With 93,508 households receiving CalFresh benefits in Sacramento County, getting the word out is key.

The mural was organized by the Sacramento Food Policy Council—which aims to propel collective action toward an equitable and sustainable food system—with funding through Sacramento’s Creative Economy program and community coworking space Capsity in partnership with Alchemist Community Development Corporation, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, Valley Vision, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, Oak Park Art Garden and others.



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



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.

Bailarín 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 Bailarín’s full lineup of Sonoma County wines, as well as an Insight Coffee Roasters espresso bar and small bites. For more information, visit



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, which is 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



The STEM-based nonprofit organization Square Root Academy has had quite a wild ride since its founding in 2016. This past year was its best year yet and 2019 has already started off with a bang.

Founded by engineers Nicholas Haystings (who hails from South Sac and went to school at Sacramento State University), D. Theodore Mponte and Christina Carter-Brown, Square Root Academy is dedicated to educating underrepresented youth on the fundamentals of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) while emphasizing collaborative learning, innovation and academic excellence.

 During 2018, the organization served more than 3,000 “scholars” throughout Sacramento City, San Juan, Natomas, Elk Grove and Woodland Joint Unified school districts thanks to partnerships with Crocker Art Museum, City of Sacramento and Powerhouse Science Center, as well as Intel, Amazon, PG&E and SMUD.

 Square Root brought exciting STEM demonstrations to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pre-inaugural family celebration in January with vortex cannons, LED murals, projection mapping, virtual reality and other interactive science.

In the interest of spreading the STEM love, Square Root also offers STEM assemblies, which transform school auditoriums into hands-on science labs with dozens of interactive tech experiences. For more information, visit

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

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