Summer Music in Walnut Creek

Who doesn’t love sitting in the grass under a warm summer sun, jamming to some live music? Opportunities to do so are common in the Bay Area, but you don’t need to spend a ton of money or travel to San Francisco for a music festival to do so.

guitarIn fact, two events are happening in Walnut Creek this summer that may be the perfect fit for someone looking to take in an easy, cheap outdoor concert.

Summer Sounds Outside is a series of free concerts on the Lesher Center for the Arts plaza. On June 30th from 5:30-7:00 p.m., Box Set Duo Trio – who has played with artists like Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson – performs. You can take your pick from jazz to classical to acapella – check out the lineup and additional dates on their website here.  In addition to Box Set Duo Trio, Chris Cain, Anderson & Roe and Blue Jupiter A Capella will perform this summer.

If you’re still looking for something fun to do on 4th of July, you can check out a free musical tribute by the Walnut Creek Concert Band (under the direction of Harvey Benstein). Head out to Civic Park before 6 p.m. to catch the show!

Always a fun evening, so don’t forget about the Broadway Plaza Summer Concert Series, which has live performances every Thursday night in August:

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  • August 4th: Petty Theft
  • August 11th: Foreverland
  • August 18th: Mustache Harbor
  • August 25th: Tainted Love

Hope to see you there!

 

A Walnut Creek Art Show…Made from LEGO’s!

IMG_7796Everybody is familiar with the little multi-colored plastic bricks that we all used to build towers and spaceships out of. Well, New York artist Nathan Sawaya has taken LEGO creativity to a whole new level. He builds everything from life-size skulls to dresses out of LEGO’s.

If you visit the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts through December 20th, you can see Sawaya’s exhibition “The Art of the Brick” and a collaboration with photographer Dean West called “In Pieces.”

The art looks truly amazing and impressive. Whether you go alone or take your kids, this is a fun way to spend a few hours in downtown Walnut Creek this holiday season.IMG_7830

On Tuesday, I visited the Bedford Gallery to see the exhibit myself. One that really caught my eye was “Dress,” which shows a woman’s red dress, made entirely out of LEGO’s, disintegrating into the wind. According to the placard next to the piece in the exhibit, the piece leaves it up to the viewer to decide who she is, why she is standing there, and what happens to the little red bricks of her dress floating in the wind.

Another cool exhibit is his multi-colored skulls which represent his rocky past with LEGO, which initially sent him a cease and desist letter for his work using the trademark.
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The artist’s ability to speak to the emotions of the viewer and human nature in general is what makes the artwork resonate with me. His intricate portrayals of human nature and the general struggles one faces in a lifetime is what draws us in. The ability to create these messages out of a children’s toy is what will keep me coming back.

Bedford Gallery will also display an exhibition of sculpture by Jud Bergeron during this time, which reflect the experiences of becoming a parent. To see all the exhibitions at Bedford Gallery, get more information here.

General admission for “The Art of Brick” is $7, youth (5-17) are $3 and children 4 and under are free. Also, First Tuesdays are free admission for everyone. This weekend, it’s free with an arts and crafts show dispersed throughout the Lesher Center. Go check it out! Here are some more photos of “The Art of the Brick” exhibit below:

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Banjo Hall of Fame Artist Live in Walnut Creek

Peets Coffee & Tea

There’s absolutely nothing better then a crisp California morning with a hot coffee and live banjo music. Yes, I said it banjo music. Most mornings from 8 to 9, Harry Higgins and friends come together to entertain folks getting their day started with a hot drip. The group performs for fun outside Pete’s Coffee and Tea on Locust Street in Walnut Creek. If only I could start every morning listing to the beats of a Banjo Hall of Fame musician. Hopefully you can make it one morning, this video doesn’t do it justice.  Just another thing I love about living in Walnut Creek!!!

Public Art Walk thru downtown WC

Are you aware there is a thriving public art program in Walnut Creek or do you make the same drive every day not noticing some of the special work residing in the downtown area? Commercial development in Walnut Creek is to thank for the Public Art expansion. In 2000 the stipulation was created that commercial projects over 25,000 sq. ft. must commit no less then 1% of the building costs to an art installation. Smaller projects must also commit a less percentage. art_WC A cool concept with the premise that public art helps make our city more livable and more visually stimulating. The experience of public art makes the public areas of buildings and their grounds more welcoming and it creates a deeper interaction with the places we visit, work and live.

Can you think of the many works of art in and around our city? I can’t wait to see the living wall on the building currently being built next to La Fogata on the corner of Main & Mt. Diablo and hey, what about the great visuals on the fences to block the construction site!

If you would like to know more about art in Walnut Creek, join the Bedford Gallery docent led walking tour of our prime public artworks the third Saturday of each month from April – November. Admission is $5. Meet in front of the Lesher for an 11:00 am start which lasts 1 hour. Then enjoy lunch in one of our many wonderful restaurants. What a relaxing way to spend a Saturday.

Utility Box Art in Walnut Creek

The Bay Area is a region of cutting edge ideas, that runs on creativity and vision.  Walnut Creek as a city and a community finds it important to incorporate these inspirations of creativity and art into the evolving landscape of the city (which I might add has been well planned for years, starting with the insight to set aside open space for all of us to enjoy so close to home).

The Utility Art project demonstrates the growing public art movement of the city.  These ugly utility boxes that stand on street corners, now curiously feature works by local artists featuring animals, abstracts, landscapes on eleven signal boxes throughout downtown.

The first time I saw one, I wondered about it, it definitely will spark a conversation.  You may like them or you may not – they are bright and different, but isn’t that what art is suppose to do – make you think differently!

Share with me your favorite and least favorite.  The painted utility boxes are to stick around for 18 months, I think they should stay, maybe with rotating artists.   I could only find 9, but one article said there were 11, does anybody know where the other 2 are located?

Left “Crossroads 4”  Right “Freedom”   |   Artwork by : Carol Aust   |  Located at N. Calif & Olympic (Sports Authority)

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“Humility”  |  Artwork by Andrea Thrams  |  Located at N. Main & Civic (Eleve)

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“Windy Day”   |  Artwork by:  Carol Aust   |   Located at N. Main & Bonanza (Wells Fargo Bank)

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“Where The Other Sock Goes”   |   Artwork by: Julie Alvarado   |  Located at Locust & Mt. Diablo (Union Bank)

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“This Is How It Is”   |   Artwork by:  Nathan Huff   |   Located at N. Main & Cypress (A1 Shoe Repair)

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“All That”   |  Artwork by:  Jake Watling   |   Located at Botelho & N. California (Project Pie)

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“Mt. Rosalie”   |  Artwork by:  Mary Anne Kluth    |  Located at S. Main & Olympic (Talbots)

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“Above and Beyond”   |   Artwork by:  Marcos LaFarga   |   Located at N Broadway & Lincoln (Library)

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Left “Don’t Worry Mountain”  Right “Hexagons”  |   Artwork by:  Kristin Farr    |   Located at Civic & Locust (Lettuce)

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Detail on “Don’t Worry Mountain” |   Artwork by:  Kristin Farr    |   Located at Civic & Locust (Lettuce)

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Christmas Caroling in Parkmead Neighborhood

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Saturday, December 20th 7:00-8:30 – Starting at 1701 Lilac, ending at 190 Arlene Dr. Please, note the different starting place!!

All are welcome to come along and sing holiday songs. Make sure to dress warmly, wear your festive apparel and be ready to sing and meet your neighbors.!

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Lyric sheets can be printed at www.parkmead.org.

Hot chocolate & cookies will be involved 🙂

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The event will be on regardless of rain

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Organized jointly by the PCA Board & neighborhood youth.

Upcoming Events – May 2014

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Art on Main – May 17th & 18th
Downtown Walnut Creek
Mothers Day Tea – May 11th
Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek

Few things say “Mother’s Day” like a beautiful garden and the Ruth Bancroft Garden is welcoming mom’s with a special pampering day.

A Mother’s Day Tea Party has scheduled seating at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Sun., May 11, in the Ruth Bancroft Garden, 1552 Bancroft Road, Walnut Creek. The event includes sandwiches, seasonal fruit and assorted petite pastries from La Boulange, plus freshly brewed tea. It also features hands-on crafts for families and docent-led tours at 10 and 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. The cost for the special day is $30 for adults and $20 for children (includes admission to the Garden). Mom’s and kids under 12 are free.

Reservations are required. For information or reservations, call (925) 944-9352 or visi thttp://mothersdaytea.brownpapertickets.com/

Contra Costa County Fair – May 29th – June 1st
Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, Antioch
Check out all the fun and happenings  including live music, entertaining shows, Antioch Speedway events, fantastic fair food, traditional exhibits, youth livestock, NEW AND FREE Family Fun Zone, and much, much more!
Walnut Creek Art & Wine Festival – May 31st – June 1st
Heather Farms Park, Walnut Creek
May 31st and June 1st will be packed full of great food and drinks, live music, and pieces from local artists. Revelers can sample local restaurants’ delicacies and wash it all down with regional wine or the micro-brew of their choice. Admission is free, and the event lasts from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. With sunshine and plenty of grassy fields, the whole family is sure to have a great time.

Cadillac Corner?

cadillac corner

Once building permits are obtained, developer Brian Hirahara of BH Development plans to break ground on “Cadillac Corner”, an elegant center of retail and restaurants in the heart of downtown Walnut Creek.

Located at the current La Fogata parking lot, Cadillac corner will be a two-story space including retail space, a café, first-floor restaurant and second-floor roof top dining.

It will be adorned with a two-story living green wall and a living green roof.

Construction will hopefully be completed in early 2015.

City officials feel that this corner will be the final piece in the city’s core downtown and Broadway Plaza area.My main question regarding this development being, how did this area come to be named Cadillac Corner? Sources cite it is because of the areas proximity to Tiffany and Neiman Marcus, however, I have never heard this corner referenced as such and am curious if it was just nick-named by city officials.  I wonder if the name will catch on?  I say no, what do you think?

Book it or Blog it Danno!
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A view of the building site from across the street.
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Both Tiffany and Neiman Marcus neighbor “Cadillac Corner”.
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The future site of construction.
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An overall view from where the new development will sit.

Upcoming Events- August 2013

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Rockin’ the Plaza: 8/2, 8/9, 8/16, 8/23

     Free summer concerts from 7pm-8:30pm every Friday night at Blackhawk Plaza!

 Willy Wonka Jr.: 8/7-8/9

     Poison Apple Productions Presents Willy Wonka Jr. at Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. A timeless story of the famous candy man and his hunt for an heir. Tickets are $14.75 for adults and $12.00 for youth & seniors. For tickets call, 925-943-SHOW.

Diablo Ballet Gourmet Gallop: 8/8

     Join the Diablo Ballet dancers to taste wine and food at some of the city’s finest restaurants on Thursday, August 8th from 6pm-8pm. Stroll through downtown Walnut Creek while enjoying samplings from Lark Creek, Massimo, Walnut Creek Yacht Club, Tender Greens, SF Creamery Company, Silk Road, Stella Bistro, We Olive and more. Tickets are $35-$45 at http://diabloballet.org/tickets/

 AIA Home Tours :8/10

      The AIA (American Institution of Architects) 2013 East Bay home tour features 6 houses that embody unique elements of architectural design, ranging from modern to contemporary. The tour takes place from 10am-4:30pm. Tickets are $40 in advance, and $50 the day of. To purchase tickets, visit http://aiaeb.org/events/2013hometours/.

 Second Saturday Spotlight: 8/10

      Take a guided bus tour of Rossmoor, one of Walnut Creek’s largest communities spanning 1,800 acres and housing nearly 10,000 residents. Pre-registration is required at www.walnut-creek.org/thingstodo/second_saturday_spotlight/. Buses will depart from the Acalanes Adult Center, sign-in begins at 8:30am. The tour will be from 9am-10:30am.

 Concord Japanese Summer Festival : 8/10

       This free festival will be held at the Concord Japanese Cultural Center at 3165 Treat Boulevard with free parking at Ygnacio Valley High School, 755 Oak Grove Road. A free shuttle to the festival will be provided. Japanese food, bonsai exhibits, Japanese flower arrangements, Kendo and Judo demonstrations, Taiko drum performances, Japanese dance performances, and calligraphy demonstrations are just a few of the things attendees can look forward to!

 Stacey Kent Live at the Lesher Center : 8/10

      World famous jazz performer, Stacey Kent will appear at the Lesher Center for the Arts on Saturday, August 10th with shows at both 5pm and 8pm. Visit www.lesherartscenter.org for ticket information.

 19th Annual Hot Summer Nights : 8/15

      Head down to downtown Danville Thursday, August 15th from 4pm-9pm to check out some of the bay area’s most pristine hot rods and classic cars. For more information, visit http://danvillehotsummernightscarshow.com/.

 Ready or Not Improv- Void Where Inhibited :8/17

     Ready or Not Improv provides a unique brand of spontaneous theatre with a unique vibe at each show. Join this talented team Saturday, August 17th at the Lesher Center for the Arts at 8:15pm. Visit http://www.readyornotimprov.com/ for more information.

 Bluegrass Sunset Social: 8/23

      Head out to the Ruth Bancroft Garden August 23rd from 5pm-8pm to enjoy bluegrass tunes by The Alhambra Valley Band, BBQ by Willowstone Catering, and beer from Walnut Creek’s own Pyramid Brewery. Purchase tickets in advance online for $15 at http://www.ruthbancroftgarden.org, or at the time of the event.

 Lil Wayne, T.I. & Future : 8/30

      Rappers Lil Wayne, T.I. & Future will perform at the “America’s Most Wanted Festival” August 30th at 7:30pm. The show will take place at the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord. For tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.com .