Art Town: Wowhaus

This week, we’re going to The Orchards for our art! Husband and wife team Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable created three “Story Vanes” for The Orchards in 2016. They really catch the eye, and are interactive!

They used a process known as radial moiré, which means a fixed image appears when you rotate a disk, pierced with slits over a pattern. You can rotate the veins to make the disk move and the pattern change. It’s quite remarkable!

Of the three Vains, there is California Buttercup, Great Horned Owl (this one has a sound element to it!), and Ammonite. This Orchards area is actually a hotbed for unique Walnut Creek art. There will be more to come!

Event Round-Up: Jan. 19

There’s usually a bit of a lull after the holiday season where the events fizzle out and everyone recovers at the beginning of the year. However, I was able to dig up a few awesome ones in and around Walnut Creek to keep you satisfied. Enjoy the end of January and early February events before we head into the big Valentine’s week and let me know if you go to any!

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Napa Valley Restaurant Week: Jan. 20-27 (Napa)

Everyone knows the cuisine in Napa is just as good – if not better – than its wine. Now is your chance to gobble up some of that delicious fare for a fraction of the normal cost. Napa Valley Restaurant Week is the perfect excuse to visit the wine haven in its off-season.

Exploratorium After Dark: Radioactive: Jan. 24th (San Francisco)

This is a weekly event in The City at “After Dark” at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Go down to Pier 15 and enjoy the adults-only event in the incredibly cool museum. It costs about $20 at the door and is free for members. You can go to this from 6-10 p.m. on Jan. 24th.

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San Francisco Beer Week Opening Gala: Feb. 1st (San Francisco) 

You can’t beat a fancy night out in San Francisco for the most anticipated craft beer event of the year in Northern California. It’s not a cheap ticket, but the kickoff for SF Beer Week takes place from 6-10:30 p.m. at Pier 35. More than 120 NorCal breweries will be pouring their newest, most specialized beers. Check it out!

Pink Floyd Concert Experience with House of Floyd: Feb. 1st (Walnut Creek)

At 8:00 p.m. at the Lesher Center on Feb. 1st, you can go to see the Pink Floyd experience in concert right downtown! It’s a live musical tribute that pays homage to Pink Floyd’s famous shows, with sound effects, lights, lasers, video projection, and more. More info here!

Free First Tuesday: Feb. 5th (Walnut Creek)

As you’re probably well aware by now, there is a Free First Tuesday in downtown Walnut Creek at the Bedford Gallery. From 12-5 p.m., you can get free admission to the coolest art gallery in town and check out all the new exhibits. If you haven’t been, it’s definitely a hidden gem in Walnut Creek.  With a new exhibit that just launched on Sunday the 13th, going through March 24th, “Altered States” features artists across generations living and working along the California coast who harness natural elements of the environment to create their artwork. I think that will be a future blog!

Art Town: Folded Square Alphabet G

Have you ever been walking near BART and noticed a few, well…strange structures? Some of the art across the way from the northernmost BART parking lot is made up of some intricate statues. One of my new favorites is called “Folded Square Alphabet G,” and upon close examination, I can see why.
The piece was created by Fletcher Benton in 1984, and is part of a larger series called “Folded Alphabet.” It’s described a geometric puzzle because they contain a letter which is either obvious or hidden. You’re supposed to walk around the sculpture – which is made of painted aluminum – to get the full experience.
According to Benton’s bio, he was born in Ohio and supported himself as a sign painter. He became fascinated with the alphabet and geometric forms created by letters. That led him to create the “Folded Alphabet” series, which intertwine letters within shapes. He perches metal plates atop each other and balances them precariously, which adds a whole new layer of awesome to the piece.
It’s a truly unique, timeless piece that has only gotten more impressive with age. Next time you’re wandering near Walnut Creek BART, keep an eye out for the folded “G,” and see if you can spot it!

A new seafood restaurant on the outskirts of Walnut Creek!

I recently tried a new SoCal chain in Walnut Creek, and it was good for quick fish dishes! California Fish Grill, primarily located in Southern California, has opened a new spot in Walnut Creek at the corner of Oak Grove Rd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. in The Orchards, which is continuing to become a go-to place in Northgate.  You can even grab your food and take it over to the new brewery called Mike Hess, which I will have to check out in 2019.

It advertises healthy food, even though the most popular dish at the restaurant is a 1,500-calorie fish and chips dish. That said, there are quite a few good, healthy options here. They serve everything from sockeye salmon, to Hawaiian swordfish, to ahi poke and grain bowls. I tried the shrimp with Dynamite sauce, grilled zucchini spears and Brussel sprouts. The fish tacos actually look really good too.  They have a salsa bar and a help-yourself artisan soda fountain.

I’d recommend checking out California Fish Grill next time you’re hankering for some quick fresh seafood. We don’t have a ton of affordable seafood options in Walnut Creek, so this is definitely a step in the right direction. Let me know if you try it!

Did someone say free WiFi?

I’m keeping it light over here on Walnut Creek Lifestyle for the holidays. Lots of “Happy this” and “Merry that,” and peace and good tidings to all. But, I couldn’t let this one thing I learned slide – consider it a late Christmas gift, or a wonderful way to kick off 2019!

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Downtown Walnut Creek has officially installed WiFi services in the heart of the city. It’s called “ConnectWC” and it covers the section of downtown bordered by Civic Drive and Mt. Diablo Blvd., to N. Main and Locust St. This will fill in all the gaps of downtown that don’t currently have WiFi service.

If you’re trying to connect to WiFi downtown, select “#WalnutCreek” on your phone or other device, and surf away! Your eyes will light up when you see those bars connect!

New mural at the Lesher Center

Did you know that any 25,000-plus square foot buildings in Walnut Creek are now required to spend at least 1% of their funding on a public art project on their property? There is a new initiative in Walnut Creek to make more publicly visible walls and surfaces into works of art. And the new mural at the Lesher Center certainly express this well!

Artist Kristin Farr did a wonderful job hand-painting this beautiful mural with no guidelines whatsoever! She is inspired by the meshing of colors and folk art, and that is definitely reflected in her work. This specific mural is entitled “West Coast Prism Sign,” and is done with acrylic paint on Dibond panels. I love that this contemporary geometric painting now occupies a formerly bland piece of concrete in a highly-trafficked area of downtown Walnut Creek.

If this mural looks somewhat familiar to you, it may be because Kristin has painted a couple utility boxes in Walnut Creek, too! As the public art projects move from minor to major canvasses, keep an eye out for other familiar paintings going up. I’ve featured her utility boxes on this blog before, in fact.  They  are located across the street from this mural, and are two of the more colorful utility boxes we’ve seen painted downtown!

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Kristin Farr has painted her awesome works all across the country (and even the world – she has a piece in the Philippines!), and has been hired by Pinterest and Facebook headquarters to paint on their walls (no pun intended). You’ll see her work all around the Bay Area, or if you head to Bonnaroo or Outside Lands music festivals.

I applaud Walnut Creek City Council and their quest to make Walnut Creek and more interesting town by supporting and displaying art throughout the city!  I will end this blog with a few quotes about art!

Art, Freedom & Creativity will change society faster than politics ~ Victor Pinchuk

Art is the highest form of hope  ~ unknown

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”  ~ Pablo Picasso

Art Town: That Moment

I spotted this utility box art earlier in the year, and loved the little elephant artwork! It sits in front of KOJA on Locust and Olympic. The name of the artwork on it is “That Moment” and it was done by Netsanet Tesfay. I love the colors and the child-like drawing style.


If you look closely enough, you can see that the actual body of the elephant (as well as the other little designs along the bottom, like the butterfly) are made with intricate patterns that give off the single-color impression when you look at it as a whole. Another very cool piece in downtown Walnut Creek!

New housing going up in Walnut Creek

As anyone who has lived in Walnut Creek for more than 30 seconds knows apartments are popping up all over town to keep up with the demand of our popular little town. The newest ones being finished right now are primarily on Riviera, walking distance to the Walnut Creek Bart station. The main picture is a very large complex on Ygnacio and Trinity called Vaya. These are all meant to be walking distance to Walnut Creek BART (and they definitely are!), they feel a little more spread out and each their unique style than their counterparts in Pleasant Hill.  Below is low-income apartments that back up to the freeway.

The Pleasant Hill station jammed a lot of units on their parking lot without much regard to design and aesthetics.  I think Walnut Creek is trying to do it differently, there is still a lot of construction, so we will have to wait and see on the final product. Live Riv, pictured below, is on Riviera, which are condos for sale ranging from $495k for a junior 1 bedroom to $695k for a 2 bedroom. Riv’s refined, contemporary exterior welcomes you into design-savvy living spaces that feature keyless entry, nine-foot ceilings, hardwood floors and oversized windows. European-style open kitchens showcase sleek cabinetry, under-cabinet lighting, quartz counters, tiled backsplashes, and stainless steel appliances.

Below is another on Riviera that is also affordable housing with a 4,000 person waitlist that requires you to meet a certain income threshold and then the tenants will be picked lottery style.  That is what happens when you have a studio apartment for $900 rent in Walnut Creek!

The overall idea is to provide living opportunities close to Bart so people don’t have to drive to commute to the city.  Walnut Creeks is also building another multi-level garage, but more people are moving to our once quaint town and trying to find solutions to traffic will be an ongoing challenge over the next 20 years.

Walnut Creek on ice is officially back!

It’s that magical time of the year when the temperature in California dips down into the frigid 50’s, an occasional rainstorm passes through, and…an ice rink forms in Civic Park? That’s right, downtown Walnut Creek hosts an ultra-cool ice rink through Walnut Creek On Ice.

The rink, which opened on Nov. 9, and will remain in place until late January, has become a local favorite during the winter, to give us Californians a little taste of a white winter, but saving us the 3-hour trip to Tahoe! You can take a date to the rink for a couple skate, or maybe teach the kids how to skate at the open rink.

There are even an ice skating academy and private lessons for those who are getting serious about being a future San Jose Shark or the next great Winter Olympian. This is a wonderful way to spend some quality time with your friends, family, and loved ones this winter. How nice does a short stroll to La Scala after a couple hours on the ice sound?

If you’d rather skate in a colder locale, foggy San Francisco and icy Lake Tahoe both offer some awesome rinks, too! At the Embarcadero, you can skate with beautiful Bay and Bay Bridge views and then saunter over to the Ferry Building for hot chocolate. In Union Square, you can circle the rink between the buildings and even take in a “Drag Queens on Ice” show. And in Tahoe, of course, Northstar’s village ice skating rink is not to be missed. It’s 9,000 square feet of joy, surrounded by bars, cabanas, and fire pits – and if you’re up at Northstar anyway…it’s free!

Walnut Creek is the hub of the East Bay for a reason, and hosting cool events like an ice skating rink is one of them. The rink itself is in its 14th year of operation downtown, meaning Walnut Creek On Ice has brought snowy joy to our citizens since 2004 – this is bound to be the best year yet. Let me know if you check it out, and how you liked it!

Main Street Kitchen gets a re-boot

One of my favorite restaurants in Walnut Creek received a bit of a makeover recently, and since it’s been about three years since my last review, I wanted to re-visit it! Main Street Kitchen aka MSK has become a new staple for foodies in Walnut Creek, and now they’ve expanded and remodeled to match their popularity.

I went recently on a chilly, smoky day so nobody sat outside. But that just meant more of an opportunity to take in the beautiful new interior! I really love that this place has opened up a bit and can now accommodate more guests in addition to a full bar with seating. It allows even more locals and travelers alike to experience the excellent atmosphere and cuisine. My favorite feature is sitting by the living wall and eating Sunday Brunch!

We tried a couple different dishes. The first was Burrata with greens, but you can also get it with avocado, prosciutto, heirloom tomato, or tapena (mix and match) and Sunchokes, which were amazing.  Our order consisted of fish tacos with tortilla soup, their the BLT, however the star of the show may have been their signature dish called Chicken al Mattone where boneless thighs are cooked between two cast iron skillets. It was absolutely delicious!

As you can see, Main Street Kitchen is still serving up farm to table gourmet bites in generous servings. And now they’re doing it in a brand-spankin’-new space that really takes the experience to a whole new level. If you have yet to jump on the Main Street Kitchen bandwagon, I’d highly suggest doing so soon!  p.s.  their fried chicken isn’t always on the menu, but it is always available and is fantastic on their delicious salads.