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THE VASILOVICH HOME History & Heritage Speak Volumes





Stuffed Calamari with Linguine FEBRUARY 2015


Presort Standard U.S. POSTAGE PAID JG


24 HOME TOUR The Vasilovich Home



Letter from the Executive Editor

Seeking New Heights

10 Word Play

Jeff Montgomery

12 History: Visalia House - A Bygone Relic of a Frontier Town

Take a journey through the Pacific Crest Trail with an Exeter native.

22 Local Adventure: Blending Palettes 40 Charity: Rawhide Hot Stove Banquet - Baseball History in the Making



44 Travel: Prague - Ancient and Sophisticated


50 Community: The Creative Center Super Bowl Sprint

Catching Up With Calamari

52 Retreat: Lifestyle Magazine Spends an Afternoon Without Deadlines

Stuffed Calamari with Linguine Three different recipes, one main ingredient.

58 Happenings



Downtown Visalia: Where Art Thrives New perspective proves prosperous art community in Visalia. PAGE

54 4

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ON THE COVER: In the den, on display is a pair of Colt 45s, a family heirloom inherited from Adair's great grandfather. Above hangs a painting done by Ivan Jesse Curtis, along with sculptures and pottery. PICTURED: Bob and Adair Vasilovich pose in their living room.


Visalia Lifestyle Magazine is published monthly and is distributed via direct mail to nearly 13,000 homes in the upper-middle and high-income neighborhoods in Visalia and Exeter. An additional 2,000 copies are distributed at various distribution points around both communities. Views expressed in columns are those of the columnist and not necessarily those of DMI Agency or its advertisers.

Circulation of this issue: 15,000 © 2015 DMI Agency


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Bravo Farms Smokehouse DMI Agency Evolutions Fitness Center, Tulare TAZZARIA Coffee & Tea The Lifestyle Center Visalia Chamber of Commerce Visalia Convention Center COUNTERTOP LOCATIONS

210 Cafe Ashoori & Co. Jewelers Café 225 California Fitness Academy Creekside Day Spa, Skin & Laser Center Courtyard Aesthetics Envie Boutique Exeter Chamber of Commerce Flow Stuidios Franey's Design Center Fugazzis Hobbs-Potts Associates Holiday Inn Kaweah Delta Hospital Keller Williams Reality McDermott Counseling Michaels Jewelry Monet's, Exeter Pacifi c Treasures Pro-PT Sequoia Prompt Care Sherman & Associates Smiles by Sullivan, Tulare Smile Visalia Suncrest Bank The Lunch Box V Medical Spa Velvet Sky Visalia Airport Visalia Business Bank (Downtown) Visalia Ceramic Tile Visalia Marriott Visalia Medical Clinic Wildfl ower Café, Exeter Williams, Brodersen & Pritchett, Attorneys at Law Windows Plus, Inc.

PICTURED: Handmade purses with tassels, intricate bead work, and feathers are a few of the Native American pieces Adair has picked up on her trips to the mid-west.

Youthful Solutions

By Alex Lechtman, M.D., F.A.C.S. Board-Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

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738-7572 All follow-ups are performed personally by Dr. Lechtman at The Aesthetic Center.

Photo by Becca Chavez | Hair and Make-up provided by Velvet Sky


e all have our list of things to do before we die, and at one time or another almost all of us have said, “One of these day’s I’m going to […],” but few of us actually do. We go from being bored as kids to being overwhelmed as adults, and our calendars are rarely our own. This is not so for one young Exeter native, Jeff Montgomery, who recently quit his job to walk 2,660 miles from Mexico to Canada across the Pacific Crest Trail. Making new friends, wearing out a few pair of shoes, and foregoing common conveniences such as a shower, were only a few of the journal entries Jeff made along the way. To read about the ups and downs on the trail of his incredible five-month journey, see “Seeking New Heights” on page 16. It is February and long-time readers have come to expect the conversation to turn to the obvious … yes, that’s right … baseball. Our office is filled with baseball fans, the majority rooting for the SF Giants, with one lone supporter of that LA team. We get pretty excited when pitchers and catchers report to spring training. We know baseball season is on its way when activity starts buzzing over at Recreation Ballpark. Professional baseball is a big part of Visalia’s history, and since 1946, our rural town has been farming major leaguers for teams such as the Chicago Cubs, Oakland A’s, and now the Arizona Diamondbacks. Recently, the Visalia Rawhide held their annual Hot Stove Banquet where six individuals were inducted into its Hall of Fame, including long-time Visalia residents Pauline Taylor and Stan Simpson. Attendees included Ann Meyers-Drysdale, wife of the late Don Drysdale, and maybe the most famous baseball icon of all time, Tommy Lasorda. We congratulate all of the inductees and hope you will turn to page 40 for more information about the night’s events. If you are looking for the perfect night out but a 2,660-mile hike isn’t quite your cup of tea, be sure to check out our local “Happenings” section inside this issue. From concerts, to art exhibits, to cultural festivals, Lifestyle Magazine brings you the best of what’s going on in your town. As we wrap up another issue, the Lifestyle staff is feeling a new sense of energy. Although we’ve had some missed days due to illness, we managed to take a few hours this month for a little break from deadlines. We normally hit the ground running each morning and don’t take our feet off the gas until the end of the day, so a break was refreshing. The entire team, all 10 of us, spent the afternoon enjoying some creative playtime making vision boards that were personal to each of us. We had a great time, elbow-toelbow with each other, letting our minds wander and our hands create visual representations of how we see life. Although each board was different from the next, there was a sense of commonality that – when a group of highly creative individuals come together with a respect for any differences, art happens, and that is always a beautiful thing.

KAREN TELLALIAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR For more information or to submit a story idea email or call (559) 739-1747 or fax (559) 738-0909.


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n February, we celebrate two of America’s most admired presidents. Abraham Lincoln continues to be a popular subject for books, and George Washington not quite as much, but he is also well represented. “Mr. President”: George Washington and the Making of the Nation’s Highest Office by Harlow Giles Unger (Da Capo Press, Feb. 10), shows how Washington created the office of president. With only the bare bones of the office outlined in the Constitution, Washington put flesh and blood into the position, creating a powerful branch of the new government. Unger is an award-winning journalist, educator, and historian, and a former Distinguished Visiting Fellow in American History at Mount Vernon. Untrodden Ground: How Presidents Interpret the Constitution by Harold H. Bruff (University of Chicago Press, March 8), demonstrates that Washington wasn’t the only president to interpret the office and the Constitution. From Thomas Jefferson sealing the Louisiana Purchase to modern days, presidents continue to refine their role in the executive branch. Bruff is the Rosenbaum Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School. In Mourning Lincoln (Yale University Press, Feb. 24), Martha Hodes delves deeply into the diaries and letters of ordinary folks who were devastated or gleeful at the death of the man who led the nation through its greatest upheaval. Comments come from North and South, black and white, freedmen and soldiers, men and women. Hodes is an historian of the Civil War era.

Valley Writers Janet Nichols Lynch, Visalia author of Peace is a Four-Letter Word, Chest Pains, and eight other books, is leading a Teen Fiction Writers’ Workshop for the Tulare County Office of Education. The current eight-week session is underway and not open to more applicants, but other sessions are planned for later in the year. The workshop is open to Tulare County students in 7-12 grades and limited to 16 writers. “Teen writers often show their work to friends and family members who say it’s great, but they may not get comments to grow on,” said Lynch. “All writers need an objective view of their work to understand how to improve it, and that’s just what this workshop offers teens.” To learn more about the workshops, send an email to Lynch’s latest books are Racing California and My Beautiful Hippie. She has been published in The New Yorker and Seventeen. She holds a master of fine arts in creative writing and has taught at College of the Sequoias, El Diamante High School, and Divisadero Middle School. Michael J. Semas of Hanford and John Reynolds of Fresno collaborated on one of the Arcadia Publishing books in the Postcard History series. Their book, Fresno, shows postcard images of historic Fresno. Semas has been collecting images of central California for over 15 years and has also published another book in the series on Kings County. Reynolds has collected images of valley scenes for over 50 years. 10

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Hanford native David Oliveira has good company in Silver Birch Press (silverbirchpress.wordpress. com/2014/04/28/elephantpoem-by-david-oliveira/). His 2014 poem “Elephant” is published between Rachel Field’s “The Animal Store” (1926) and William Blake’s “The Tiger” (1794), which has been called the most anthologized poem in the English language. Writers’ Conferences Writing the Breakout Novel v2.0 is a week-long conference held April 6-12 in Hood River, OR. The workshop is taught by author and literary agent David Maas. Lessons include story discovery, strong voice, standout characters, the inner journey, beautiful writing, and more. The schedule includes morning classes and a private session with Maas. Lodging and all meals are included in the $2,095 registration fee. Details at: breakout-novel/. Writing Contests The Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction honors Colorado State University graduate Liza Nelligan by awarding the annual prize to the author of an outstanding story. The winner receives $2,000 and publication in the Colorado Review. Stories can have any theme but must be under 50 pages and unpublished. Deadline is March 14. Entry fee is $15. Details at: Online Classes Writer’s Digest University offers classes such as “Creative Writing 101,” “Freelance Writing," and “12 Weeks to a First Draft.” Among the more than 150 Writer’s Digest Tutorials are “World Building: the Art of Including Era and Place in Your Writing” and “Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward.” Among mediabistro’s offerings are “Nonfiction Book Proposal,” “Food Blogging,” and “Copywriting for Social Media.” Mediabistro also offers online bootcamps, in-person courses, and self-paced courses. Celebrity Readers Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has followed Oprah Winfrey as a promoter of books. Sales for The End of Power by Moises Naim skyrocketed when Zuckerberg announced it as his choice of a book to read. The Last Word “There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.” – George Washington (1732 – 1799).




Text by Terry L. Ommen


he old hotel has been gone from Visalia's landscape for almost a century now, but it continues to standout in our history as a reminder of our rough and tumble past. When Will Davenport built it in 1859, it was called the Esmeralda, but soon the fanciful name changed to Visalia House. Despite the change to a simpler name, the Visalia House was anything but plain or simple to the townspeople. In fact, when built at Main and Church streets, this first-class two-story brick hostelry was called “one of the most complete hotels south of San Jose,” but eventually, it would be called a “dive.” Despite its early charm, by today's standards it was anything but first-rate. According to E. F. Warner, the son of one of the early hotel operators, when it first opened it had a regular dining room downstairs and the upstairs sleeping quarters consisted of one large room. Guests staying for the night would actually rent a space on the floor where they would throw down their bedrolls. Later the upstairs, or “corral” as it was called, was divided into separate rooms. Over the years, the building was remodeled frequently


to keep it updated. At various times it included a billiard parlor, saloon, offices, newspaper, and retail shops. It was a popular gathering spot for locals and travelers alike, and as a result, was witness to a considerable amount of Visalia history. In 1893, the old hotel offered the public a chance to see a huge, live deep sea turtle on exhibit and then to taste the savory morsels of the reptile prepared by the restaurant chef. Exhibits were popular. For example, people were invited to listen to a new phonograph on display at the hotel, as well as to view a Chinese Museum of Art and Curiosities exhibit, complete with a 30-foot dragon. During the Civil War, part of the upstairs was rented to two newspapermen named Hall and Garrison, both sympathetic to the southern cause. Their newspaper, the Equal Rights Expositor, provided them a way of sharing their political views. Davenport, their landlord who supported the Union, was uneasy about his controversial tenants, so he asked them to leave. The journalists agreed and relocated. A short time later, the newspaper was attacked and destroyed. The Visalia House had literally dodged a bullet.

PICTURED: The Visalia House during a fl ood, circa 1890


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The hotel wasn't always that lucky. It had its share of trouble. All too frequently, patrons, especially those who spent too much time in the saloon, became disruptive and needed to be removed. Sometimes lawmen escorted them out of the building, other times unruly patrons were carried out in the prone position. On one occasion, a drunken stranger entered the hotel and caused trouble at the pool table. A player named Ketchum pulled out his six-shooter and killed the boisterous man for disturbing the game. At another time, Harry Britten, long-time Exeter justice of the peace, remembered as a young boy arriving in Visalia in 1887 with his father. As they walked into the Visalia House lobby, they heard shots and yelling coming from the saloon. Soon a dead man fell through the swinging doors on to the floor directly in front of them. A year later, Charles Boles came to Visalia and stayed at the Visalia House for several days. The famous former California stage robber, better known as Black Bart, had just been released from state prison and was seeking solitude. Once the ex-convict was discovered, he quickly left town and was never identified or spotted again. His last known sighting was at the Visalia House. Owners and former owners of the hotel had their share of problems also. Nick Wren, for example, at one time owned the Visalia House and in 1889, he was appointed Tulare County Deputy Sheriff by Tulare County Sheriff Dan Overall. While pursuing a wanted man, the lawman was killed attempting to make the arrest. Dave Sanders, the owner of the Visalia House in early 1909, also faced an unfortunate end. He was arrested and charged with stealing cattle from the Tim Hayes' Ranch.

Prior to his trial, Sanders fled Visalia, abandoning the Visalia House. He never stood trial for cattle rustling. After Sanders skipped, the Visalia House closed its doors for a time. Nasty community ridicule began to build up against the 50-year-old business and building. The negative press and sentiment began taking its toll, and it was now being called the biggest "hell hole" in the city. Not only was its reputation taking a hit, the aging structure was giving out under its own weight. One evening in February 1915, a corner of the porch suddenly broke loose from the main building and much of the balcony fell to the sidewalk. No one was hurt by the falling debris, but the collapse sealed the fate of the old timer. J. Sub Johnson, the owner of the building, began making serious plans to tear it down and replace it with a new modern, multi-story hotel, one he would call the Hotel Johnson. In August 1916, the Ferguson Bros. barbershop, the Visalia Water Company, and a Japanese restaurant moved out of the dilapidated building. The following month, the operator of the hotel, H. T. Howell vacated the building. Now completely empty, the oldest building in Visalia was ready to come down. But James Boyer, Secretary of the Visalia Board of Trade, had nostalgic feelings for the historic building and wanted to give it a proper sendoff. He arranged for a band to play as the building was being torn down, and he collected the first dislodged brick as a keepsake to be proudly displayed in a glass case. The site was cleared and prepared for the five-story hotel. The Hotel Johnson took about a year to build, and on November 6, 1917, the new hotel opened its doors. The Visalia House was gone, but its memory was kept alive when the decision was made to incorporate Visalia House bricks into the new hotel.

PICTURED: The Visalia House as it was being torn down.

RIGHT: A Visalia House envelope mailed in 1879 to Buffalo, New York.


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seeking new


eff Montgomery grew up in Exeter, practically in the shadow of the Sierras. His family owns a small cabin in Mineral King, so day hikes weren’t uncommon for him. But before last year, Montgomery

had never so much as worn a backpack, never explored the

heights and depths of Kings Canyon National Park. He just wasn’t from a backpacking family, Montgomery admits. 16

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Text by Christopher Wilder | Photos by Jeff Montgomery


TOP: Montgomery captured Kearsarge Lake which sits at the base of Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra Nevadas. BOTTOM: Blisster, Ninja (Jeff), and Possum, all trail names, travel through a hazy day due to local fi res.


After high school, Montgomery moved to San Diego for college. After graduation, he took a job “in the field of training and organization development, work that’s really kind of broad,” he explains. For more than nine years, Montgomery built a life for himself in San Diego – he found his niche, a community, a career; he was living the dream. And then one day in the spring of 2014, Montgomery found himself in Campo, California, standing in front of the border between the United States and Mexico. In a photo taken that day, on April 24, a clean-shaven Montgomery smiles at the camera. A straw hat covers his head, and a backpack hangs from his shoulders. Behind him spans a fence separating Mexico from the United States, and before him, unseen, a very long road. Montgomery was beginning a trip that would take him to Canada, up nearly half a million feet in elevation and back down again, over peaks and through valleys, across rivers and deserts – and he’d do it entirely on foot. Montgomery stood at the trailhead of the 2,660-mile Pacific Crest Trail, the second longest trail in the continuous United States. In the year leading up to his hike, Montgomery had done his research, bought the necessary permits, read all the books. He organized and packed the gear he’d need to survive five months in the wilderness, reducing his backpack’s base weight (without food and water) to about 16 pounds. Montgomery probably could have traced the entire PCT on a map with his eyes closed. But looking at the photo, it’s hard to believe that even Montgomery could predict everything that lay ahead: the countless, sometimes tedious miles, the suffocating stretches of desert and the heights of snowy peaks, the roaring winds and quiet nights, the sore feet and bruises, the friendships he’d make, and the kindness of strangers. It’s baffling that Montgomery, who had never been backpacking a day in his life, would just up and quit his job to commit to something that only 300-400 people a year even try to attempt. Every now and then, we all need to break out of our routine, get out of the city, smell the fresh air, and hit the trail. But 2,660 miles of it? Isn’t that a bit, well, excessive? “People have said the same thing to me,” laughs Montgomery. TOP: Jeff Montgomery on April 24 in Campo, CA, at the start of his journey through the Pacifi c Crest Trail. L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 015


N NEXT GEN “I was like everybody else,” he concedes. “My reaction was, ‘that’s insane, why would anybody want to do this?’” Montgomery first heard about the PCT through a friend, a real “mountain man-esque guy,” and slowly, he became obsessed. He never had that grand adventure to usher in “real” life, that postcollege backpack through Europe or road trip across the country. “I never really had that,” he says, and the more time passed, the more PCT became an obsession. “I really just think it was that I wanted this adventure and I wanted this challenge.” For years, Montgomery drove his friends crazy talking about the PCT, until he finally got to the point where he decided, “If this is something that I really want to do, now is the time, before I get into the work position that I wouldn’t want to turn down, before raising a family.” So Montgomery spent a year preparing, gave his work notice, and six days later, on April 24th, he set out from Campo, California with about 40 strangers. It’s impossible to compress Montgomery’s five-month adventure into words. He uploaded photos and continually updated his blog, ( but even those are just glimpses, flashes of lightning illuminating an otherwise dark landscape. In his last blog post, Montgomery admits that when all was said and done, five months felt like a weekend. “No words, pictures, or videos can

fully describe my experience or the magnitude of this adventure. It’s not until you have completed a thru-hike yourself would you be able to understand what we, the few, have really been through and accomplished,” he writes. Some photos, though, give an idea: socks with holes and insoles worn through at the heels hint at grueling hikes. At the end of the day, Montgomery’s feet and ankles were pale under calves that were blackened by dirt, tanned by the sun. “I was shocked that my feet were hurting so badly,” he admits. But when surrounded by granite slopes and grassy meadows, waterfalls and precipitous peaks, trees and caves, Montgomery probably could forget about the pain. “You see the most amazing scenery. I saw more sunsets and sunrises than people get a chance to see, and mountains and valleys and rivers and lakes.” Over the course of 25 national forests, seven national parks, 160 miles of the John Muir Trail, some of which cuts through Kings Canyon National Park, Montgomery’s hike “was not always a walk in the park, so to speak. He wrote in his blog, “I’ve fallen two times in the last 48 hours. I’ve broken my solar panel and headlamp, wore out my sleeping pad and trekking poles, and ruined my water filter by letting it freeze.” These specific challenges were compounded by grueling tedium. “I had to get up every single morning and walk 20 to 30 miles,”

PICTURED: Montgomery sits on the ledge at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.


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says Montgomery. “It becomes monotonous, and you do it day-after-day, and your feet hurt, and you’re sleeping on the ground all the time, and you smell all the time.” In fact, PCT hikers are so easily recognized by their smell and appearance that they are called hiker trash, a name the hikers have appropriated with pride. What sets these hikers apart brings them closer together. On the PCT, hikers meet as strangers but grow together, eat together, sleep together, spend their days together, and give each other meaningful trail names like Apache, Landfill, and Ninja (Montgomery’s trail name), almost like a rite-of-passage. These relationships made the difference for Montgomery. “I got through some of my roughest days because I was with people that I enjoyed being around.” He met men and women, young and old, doctors and bartenders, people from all over the world. They shared stories, they lightened each other’s load. Because of these relationships, Montgomery began to see his surroundings through a new lens. “I’m not one to look at trees and foliage and stuff,” he admits, but when other hikers slowed down for the details, Montgomery noticed too. “I wouldn’t say that I learned how to identify things, but I became more appreciative of the different things around me, and not just the overall beauty.” He confessed in his blog, “my

friends on the trail keep me in the moment.” After five months of pain and beauty, tedium and joy, frustration and excitement, Montgomery crossed into Canada and reached the end of the PCT on September 29, just a few days before his 30th birthday. He couldn’t think of a better way than this trip to close out his twenties. Now that a few months have passed, does Montgomery wonder if he has changed? “I think someone noticed that my calves were bigger,” he laughs, before adding seriously, “I don’t know if I’ve changed much. […] I’m one to kind of take life seriously, and I think this has sort of helped me see a different perspective, that while work and career are things that are important to me, there are other things out there that make us happy. That we should appreciate them more.” “The things that consume your life,” says Montgomery, “let them go, if just for a little bit.” Since Montgomery didn’t have a job waiting for him on the other side of PCT, you know he means it. And even after 2,660 miles by foot, Montgomery doesn’t hesitate to recommend this adventure to others. “Do it. Absolutely do it.” And if not the PCT, he says, make time for the other things. “Your family is important, going out and having fun, make those things happen because there’s really no reason not to.” Whatever trails we choose in life, let’s just hope they bring us closer to the things that really matter.

PG. 20 TOP: Jeff hits the 2,500-mile marker, in the forests in Washington.

TOP LEFT: The inserts of Jeff’s shoes were so worn, holes were created in the soles.

PG. 20 LEFT: Jeff, along with other PCT hikers cross a flowing stream by climbing onto a fallen tree. PG. 20 RIGHT: The Bridge of the Gods connects Cascade Locks, Oregon to the state of Washington.

TOP RIGHT: Jeff has officially finished the PCT, ending in Canada on September 29.

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Blending Palettes:

A Sip, A Stroke, A Smile


o you hear that? Listen closely. It’s the sound of your inner artist trying to get out. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t picked up a paintbrush since you were in grade school, or if you cringe at the thought of following your “cultured” date into an art gallery; you are an artist and don’t let anyone tell you differently! At least that’s the message that Blending Palettes, Visalia’s new interactive “paint and sip” art lounge, would like you to know about yourself. With the arts community in Visalia growing, Blending Palettes is making art even more accessible and fun for, well, those of us who think we aren’t capable of channeling our inner artíst. If you’re not familiar with what an interactive art lounge entails, all you have to do is register for a featured event online and follow these three simple steps once you arrive: 1. Purchase a drink from the bar (wine, beer, coffee, tea, or soda) 2. Sit down in a comfortable chair 3. Paint It’s that simple. Except it gets better. Throughout the entire painting process, you are given step-by-step instructions from one of Blending Palette’s talented artists. The artists also provide you with breaks throughout the evening to fill up your glass, relax, or even get up and dance. The experience is what you make of it. “This is art entertainment,” said Chavella Mack, founding owner of Blending Palettes. “Sometimes in some fields, art becomes untouchable…if you don’t really show any artistic ability, from whoever’s perspective, you never do it past middle school. But everybody is an artist. Period.” Blending Palettes will serve a very versatile function for this community; men looking for a new date-night spot are sure to get praise for signing up for an evening of wine and painting. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to host a birthday party, wedding shower, or a team-building workshop with your co-workers. It’s


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also a great place for a bachelorette party with the ladies, or hey, even a bachelor party for the guys (don’t forget, they have beer too). Though participants must be 21 or older to attend an evening painting event, Blending Palettes offers private children’s events for birthdays, as well as special children classes during the day, during spring break, and throughout the summer (perfect for when the kids are out of school). Mack’s hope was to create an artistic environment accessible to anyone; those who think they can’t paint, those who are modern day Van Gogh’s; those who don’t drink alcohol, those who do; everyone! “We did not want the name to have alcohol in it,” said Mack. “I come from back East where people do not want to bring their children to a place that’s associate with alcohol. I was trying to keep the name neutral.” Mack moved to Visalia with her husband and children from North Carolina nearly two years ago, but she is already integrated in the arts community and hopes to work alongside the organizations that are here. “Visalia is already a perfect fit for this, it just didn’t have it yet,” said Mack. “I went over and talked to Kevin Bowman over at Arts Visalia and told him our goal is to give 5 percent of our profits back to Arts Visalia. So it makes a full circle. And for people who realize that they’re not so bad at this, we’d love to refer them over there for formal classes. This is not taking the place of anything; it is complete synergy.” Blending Palette’s is one more place in Visalia that is bringing the arts closer to home and closer to you. “There’s no experience necessary,” said Mack. “Someone will teach you step-by-step, and you’ll be surprised at the end that your picture will look very similar, if not exactly like the artists. And you get to walk home with it at the end of the day.”

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History & Heritage Speak Volumes Text by Christopher Wilder

PICTURED: The entire living room serves as a miniature museum, featuring custom pieces of art and one-of-a-kind paintings.

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nce in a while, you come across a home that stands out because it doesn’t stand out. That is to say its roof and its walls, the doorways and the hallways, the bedrooms and even the furniture are lost in an overall mood, atmosphere, or you may call it a theme. The very things that make a home, well, they’re absorbed into the whole. Think of it this way; A forest is made up of its parts – trees and branches, animals, scents, and sounds. Sometimes, though, a forest is so palpably a forest, so overwhelmingly more than the sum of its parts that the individual branches and trees disappear. You can’t see the trees for the forest, so to say. The atmosphere of the home of Bob and Adair Vasilovich is something like that. There’s much more to say about what’s in the Vasilovich home than the home itself. But even then, when all those parts are brought together, hung on the wall, or placed on the mantel, the atmosphere is transporting. Their “collection” of Western and Native American art might be the largest private collection of its kind in the Central Valley, if not elsewhere. They’ve been collecting for 35 years: a personal interest that also happens to be a personal history. Their home represents their lifestyle, a collaboration of two cultures, an expression of dual heritages, of Western roots and

Native American blood – “of Cowboys and Indians,” says Adair. About a year ago, Bob and Adair Vasilovich lived in a different home, smaller than their current one, which by no means, asserts Adair, is very large. Still, the last home didn’t have the wall space to hang the art – authentic paintings and portraits on canvas and hide, genuine artifacts from different Native American tribes from around the country. A friend had even told Adair, “You and Bob need to live in a home with high ceilings so we can create a gallery like a museum.” Adair responded, “Well gosh, I don’t know when that will ever be.” Not long after, Adair happened to find a house with a backyard just off the golf course of the Visalia Country Club – but that wasn’t the allure. When Adair walked in and saw the white walls and the high ceiling, she thought, “this is the room, this is the place.” Adair, a visual person, immediately imagined the artwork hanging on the walls, each piece in its proper place. In their last home, though, some quilts were stored away, most everything else was on display. They’ve been in their new home since last April, and now they wonder, “how in the world did we have all this stuff in the smaller house?” The high, peaked roof in the living room offers Bob and Adair plenty of space to hang

PICTURED: The dining room, kitchen, and den all have modern design features with older pieces of art.


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PICTURED: The handmade Eagle Kachina doll sits on the mantle by the fireplace.


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any new art they are sure to purchase. Finally, they have a proper gallery. “Anyone who comes in here, that’s the first thing they say,” says Adair. “It looks just like a museum.” This was far from the case more than 35 years ago, before Adair and Bob bought their first piece. Before the Western and Native American art, their home looked like a scene from the beach. “It was blues and greens,” admits Adair, laughing, “I just had to be around the beach. And if I couldn’t do that, then everything had to be centered around the beach.” And then, says Adair, “everything just started to change, and it changed so dramatically.” How had it changed? “The things in my family, I wanted them around me.” Adair was born in Texas and though she grew up in California, she still considers herself a Texan. “I was raised as a cowgirl, technically, as a kid, on ranches with cows and horses,” she says. “When I was old enough to do anything, I was out riding horseback with my dad.” Her family history also has deep roots in Texas. Her great grandfather, who went by W. T. Jones, was one of the first pioneers to bring Hereford cattle from England to West Texas. So perhaps it was natural for Adair to have an affinity for Western art, as well as Native American art. Adair was always drawn to these cultures, almost intuitively; though she never could exactly explain to herself why. Adair’s specific interest in Native American art and culture began after she saw Billy Jack, a 1971 movie about a Navajo-American Indian, which introduced her to the realities of segregation and discrimination against Native Americans. Adair believes that it was the teacher in her. “I really thought about it a lot,” she says, and then began to study the culture. Seeing that film began Adair’s lifelong interest in Native American tribes and culture, and soon after she bought her first piece of art, a large painting of men on horseback with large billowing clouds in the background. The painting reminded her of home, the skies in Marfa, Texas, “which is the most beautiful place in my mind.” Like most of her art, Adair bought this piece directly from the artist. “We were driving, and there was this gentleman, he was Native American, and he was sitting on the street corner painting.” The street corner was in Exeter, and the man was Ivan Jesse Curtis, whose art now hangs in the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Gene Autry Museum. His painting hangs prominently over the mantle above the Vasilovich fireplace.


Adair also inherited family heirlooms, like the Colt 45s her great grandfather carried in a shoulder holster while driving cattle from Texas to Kansas. Above a display of those pistols, surrounded by sculptures and arrows and pottery, hangs another painting by Curtis of a stagecoach and three riders. Her collection grew quickly, and while it is impossible to catalogue her entire collection, there is no doubt that Adair could. She seems to know the name of every artist, their tribe, and where they are from. Whenever she met an artist, like Brian Campbell or Rosie Ramsey of the Ojibwe in Wisconsin, she asked them to make individual pieces. She never commissioned something too specific, believing it would hinder the artists’ ability to speak through their own work. Adair met Brian Campbell when he was 22 years old, during a trip to Wisconsin where she was visiting friends. “His grandfather had been with Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe,” says Adair, and many of Campbell’s paintings are inspired from drawings in his grandfather’s journal. Much of his work, which is painted on caribou hide and framed by birch branches, hangs on the walls of the Vasilovich home. On another wall hang leather and hide purses, decorated with intricate beadwork and geometric patterns, adorned with feathers or strips of fur. “I got that from South Dakota,” says Adair, describing a Lakota Sioux purse. Rosie Ramsey made another, a dark purse with three roses. A third purse from the 1800s is Blackfoot, which Adair bought in Colorado.

There’s pottery from the Acoma in New Mexico, and a chief’s smoking pipe that came from South Dakota. Moccasins and tobacco pouches and woven baskets can be found throughout the home. On the mantel stand brightly colored Kachina dolls, “which represent different parts of the lives of Native Americans.” The eagle, the ogre, the butterfly and buffalo, “each of these is handmade and part of the myths and legends of these different tribes,” says Adair – tribes like the Navajo and Zuni. The Eagle Kachina was an early purchase. “The eagle was so important to me, and I don’t know why,” mulls Adair. As a child, Adair had no idea that she might have any connection with Native American tribes. “I’m not so sure that I realized it right away,” she admits. It wasn’t until about 20 years ago, through conversations with family members on her father’s side, that Adair discovered that she actually has Cherokee heritage. As recently as four years ago, Adair also uncovered ties to the Penobscot tribe in Maine. She admits that she’s not full blood, “but in my mind it doesn’t make any difference.” “Having already had the love for Native American culture,” says Adair, “well, it just makes total sense.” She often asked herself why she felt this affinity for the culture and history, why did she collect this art, why was it so important? Upon learning about her family’s Native American history, Adair said, “well, now it makes total sense.” PICTURED: The fireplace setting features an original piece framed above the mantle, made by Ivan Jesse Curtis.


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But her ties aren’t limited to Cherokee and Penobscot tribes only. Adair frequently visits an Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin, two to three weeks at a time every three to six months. She’s taught classes there, made friendships, including with the artist, Brian Campbell. She was even adopted into the tribe, given an Ojibwe name by a tribal elder: On-don-a-mon, which means West Wind. And for Adair, that adoption into the tribe was almost more important than discovering she had Native American roots. “I would have been just as proud having been adopted into that tribe, and not being connected in the first place,” says Adair. Adair admits that she’s sentimental. Everything in the house has a history and it’s right place. She longs for the skies in Marfa, Texas. “Every six months I have to have my fix and watch Giant,” an old film with James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor that was filmed in Marfa, her hometown. She admits that the first painting she bought is probably her favorite piece, since it has local ties through the artist. And she and Bob certainly intend to travel and fill their home with more art. As for Bob, who has a wonderful Eastern European heritage, this passion and appreciation for Western and Native American art, “he’s developed a love for it as well,” says Adair. “He’ll tell you that himself.” And walking into the Vasilovich home, it’s hard not to believe her. It’s like walking through a door and stepping out onto the open plains; it’s like experiencing a piece of American history.

TOP: An original piece made by Brian Campbell of a beautiful Native American man. RIGHT: Another original by Brian Campbell, painted on a caribou hide and framed with birch branches.


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Recipes by Elaine Dakessian, Trés Bien Tailored Cuisine | Photos by Taylor Johnson



et’s be honest, there’s a reason why they call it calamari and not squid.

But with this recipe, you won’t care what its name is…you’ll just start calling it “delicious.” Here, we are preparing it three ways: fried, breaded, and stuffed. Serve this all three ways, or choose your favorite; no matter what, your guests will keep coming back for more.

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FRIED CALAMARI WITH CHILI-LIME AIOLI Ingredients: 1 lbs. squid, rinsed under cold water, bodies and tentacles (body cut into rings) 1 C milk Canola oil for frying 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tsp sea salt 1 tsp cayenne pepper 3 lemons, cut into wedges 3 jalapeĂąos, cut into wedges lengthwise, seeds removed

Directions: Put the squid in a bowl with milk and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (Tip: The calamari will fry much better when marinated and chilled.) Pour oil in a deep-fryer or heavy pot, filled about 4-6 inches deep and heat the oil to 375°F. Prepare the flour by adding salt and cayenne pepper. Toss the calamari and coat in the seasoned flour. Carefully place the calamari in the fryer or pot, and fry until golden, a few minutes. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Next, toss the lemon wedges and jalapeno strips in the flour and coat. Place in the fryer or pot and fry until golden brown. Arrange the calamari with the fried lemon and jalapenos on a platter and serve with the chili-lime aioli.

CHILI-LIME AIOLI Ingredients: 1 C mayonnaise 1 lime, juiced 2 T Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (or more if you like it spicy!) 36

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Directions: Scoop mayo into a small bowl. Add the lime and chili sauce, whisk, and serve.



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Ingredients 4 calamari steaks 1 C flour 4 eggs, lightly beaten 1 C milk Salt and pepper 2 T butter 2 T olive oil 1 C toasted almonds Lemon zest 2 T capers (optional) Directions Rinse calamari and pat dry with paper towels. Pre-heat the oven to 300°F for holding the steaks. In a small bowl, add flour and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine milk and eggs and whisk. Dip each steak in the egg mixture and then dredge in the flour. Repeat the process for a double dip. Heat the butter and oil in a sauté pan on medium high heat. When the pan starts to sizzle, place the steaks in the pan and brown on each side, about 4 minutes per side or until golden. Remove the steaks and place on platter. Tent the steaks with foil and place in the preheated oven.


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LEMON BEURRE BLANC Ingredients 1 C dry white wine ½ C shallots, minced 5 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1 ½ C heavy cream Directions Combine wine, shallots, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and heat until reduced to ½ cup liquid. Add cream and boil gently until thickened. Place calamari on plate, spoon sauce over, sprinkle with toasted almonds, lemon zest, and capers if desired.

Ingredients 1 lbs. linguine pasta 6 calamari bodies or tubes, cleaned ½ C olive oil Red pepper flakes, to taste 5-6 Julienne basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, minced Parmesan, grated for garnish

STUFFING 1 lbs. Italian sausage ½ C Julienne sundried tomatoes ½ fennel bulb, finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced ½ C basil, chopped ½ C panko bread crumbs Directions In a large pot, cook linguine according to the directions on packaging and set aside. For the stuffing, using a skillet, brown the sausage; add the fennel and garlic, and sauté another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the sundried tomatoes, basil, and panko. Reserve the left over stuffing mixture to toss with the pasta. Fill each calamari body or tube with stuffing. Using a grill pan or grill, brush each tube with olive oil and grill in hot pan or grill until they are heated through and have nice grill marks on both sides. Place pasta in large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil, to taste. Add basil, garlic, and red pepper flakes along with the remaining stuffing. Garnish with a little Parmesan. (Typically, one doesn’t use cheese with seafood dishes, but lucky for us, it works here!)


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here’s no place like “home” for baseball players, especially when it comes to the town where they began their careers as boys and departed as men. Home plate at Recreation Ballpark has served as the foundation for seven decades of baseball players, some of whom have gone on to play in the major leagues, some who have become coaches and trainers, and others who have put down their bats, but will never forget the summers they spent playing ball in the Visalia sun. For Tulare County, Visalia baseball has contributed much to its culture and history, which seemed to be the focus of the Rawhide’s Third Annual Hot Stove Banquet on January 24. The entire evening was an ode to Visalia baseball’s past and a cheers to its future, as the room was filled with nearly 200 baseball legends, players, fans, and members of the Visalia community who have kept and continue to keep baseball alive in this town. Perhaps the most iconic baseball legend in the room was Tommy Lasorda, former Major League baseball player, National Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee, and manager of the LA Dodgers from 1976-1996. As a surprise to many of the attendees, Lasorda opened up the night with a classically humorous speech, showcasing his love for the great game of baseball and his appreciation for

the minor leagues. Lasorda’s ties to the Rawhide are two-fold: current Rawhide owner, Tom Seidler grew up around Lasorda, who worked for Tom’s family. Lasorda also played alongside Al Gionfriddo and Don Drysdale, both of whom were inducted that evening into the Visalia Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. Lasorda’s appearance was almost as much of a surprise to the Rawhide staff as it was to attendees. “Somehow he caught wind that we were doing another [Hot Stove Banquet], and that the Drysdale family was involved, so he wanted to come up and be a part of it. We literally had no idea he was coming until we got a phone call the day before the banquet,” said Jennifer Pendergraft, Rawhide general manager. “That's how amazing this little baseball family is here in Visalia. We have a support system that most don't even realize exists.” Lasorda’s speech was met with standing ovations, which seemed to be a theme throughout the night. Everyone attending showed overwhelming support and appreciation for each of the inductees and the mark they left on this community. The inductees included Pauline Taylor, Pete Beiden, Al Gionfriddo, Joe Charboneau, Don Drysdale, and an unexpected surprise inductee. In a turn of events, Stan Simpson, the banquet’s

PICTURED: Tommy Lasorda, long-time owner of the Dodgers, surprised most of the attendees by kicking off the Hot Stove Banquet with a humorous speech. Photo by David Gonzales L I F E S T Y L E | F E B R UA R Y 2 015



Master of Ceremonies, was announced as the 6th inductee. As a former managing owner of the club and long-time supporter of Visalia baseball and sports, his emotional reaction displayed the true honor he felt to be inducted into the Visalia Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. During his speech, he continually gave credit to others, including his parents who he wished were there to experience this moment with him. “Stan is an integral part of Visalia's baseball history,” said Pendergraft. “Without Stan, there is a good chance we would not have a team here today.” Another emotional tribute was given to the late Pauline Taylor, coowner of Taylor’s Hot Dogs and known to the team as “Ma Taylor.” She truly was the team “mom” for many years and a major advocate of keeping baseball in Visalia. Her son, Jim Taylor, gave the speech on behalf of his mom, and listed how she hosted players in her home, drove them to the airport, did countless favors, cooked meals, and so much more. She was even featured in a Sports Illustrated article for her efforts to keep baseball in town. Donny Baarns, Director of Broadcasting for the Visalia Rawhide and author of Goshen & Giddings: 65 Years of Visalia Professional Baseball, said in his book about Pauline Taylor, “Baseball players loved Taylor’s Hot Dogs stand because it was the most affordable food in town, and she loved them like a mother in return. She regularly invited players to her family’s house for free meals, especially those who were the poorest and furthest from home.” But the tears shed that evening weren’t all tears of sadness. There was plenty of laughter during Joe Charboneau’s speech, as he poked fun of himself and his teammates, and reminisced of the old days in Visalia. Joe is infamously known for his humor, his stunts, and of course, for his “pet” alligator, Chopper. He was a leader on Visalia’s 1978 California League Championship team, all while keeping Chopper in his bathtub apartment. It is said that Visalia’s team hasn’t won the California League Championship since 1978 because of the curse that came about during Chopper’s untimely death. Now, the Rawhide is in constant effort to “reverse the curse” that Charboneau’s alligator left for future teams. The Rawhide may be “cursed,” but they sure are lucky to have such influential and inspiring people on their side. Ann Meyers-Drysdale, Hall of Fame basketball player and Olympic basketball star, attended the event to represent her late husband, inductee Don Drysdale. RIGHT: Inductee Joe Charboneau stands on stage with his fellow teammates from the 1978 Championship team, most of whom still live in Visalia because they married local girls. BELOW: Plaques were awarded to each inductees.


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Earlier that day at the Rawhide Ballpark Hall of Fame Club, Ann spoke directly to a group of young female athletes in Tulare County, encouraging and inspiring them toward reaching their goals. The Hot Stove Banquet raised a total of $15,000 from ticket sales and donations, which goes to the Rawhide Baseball Foundation for Kids. Through this nonprofit program, the Rawhide is able to sponsor more than 30 youth baseball and softball teams in Tulare and Kings County. In the future, they hope to expand this program in order to reach high school baseball teams as well. Speaking of the future, Rawhide baseball has a lot of exciting initiatives up their sleeves. At the banquet, they revealed their new marketing message: “Welcome to the Rawhide Baseball Family.” Attending a Rawhide game is about more than just watching baseball; it’s a family event, and that’s the feeling that Rawhide wants to bring to their stands. “We want each person who is impacted by the Rawhide in 2015 to get that same experience - from the players on the field, to our corporate partners, schools that get a visit by Tipper or Rawhide players, the service clubs we are involved with, our event partners, each of our fans, our host families, our staff. Everyone,” said Pendergraft. Along with the Rawhide’s message, a few new features coming to the stadium this year are upgraded clubhouse furniture, a POS system that will take credit cards for fan convenience throughout the ballpark, a user-friendly online ticketing system, new uniforms, and a fresh logo. Rawhide Baseball is always evolving, yet it keeps the same beat of the past to make sure that the history of the park can be experienced every time fans come through the gates and see the Hall of Fame plaques lining the stadium wall. That’s why events like the Hot Stove Banquet are important to the culture and history of Recreation Ballpark, to ensure a bright future for Visalia baseball. “We all love the tradition and history of baseball with a passion, we want to support each other, and we want to see that baseball continues to be a rich part of Visalia's culture,” said Pendergraft.


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he Prague panorama surrounding our river barge pulled me rapidly into another century and place. The soaring spires of Prague Castle, Tyn Church, and other unique landmarks connected in my view with the iconic 14th-century Charles Bridge across the Vltava River. Our experiences informed us even more: this Czech capital has more than good looks, history, and contemporary dining to lure its visitors. It remains one of the few major cities on the continent that can be described as affordable - especially when you compare it with London, Paris, or Rome. Costs are now about $130 per person a day for double-room sleep and eats. Spending time in the countryside is even more affordable - as low as $50 a day per person. Lux is still plentiful for those who prefer it. Prague has international brands that include Four Seasons, Hilton, and Marriott. And there are pricey restaurants and

shopping stops, including Hermes, Cartier, and Hugo Boss in center city. We went for a middling and charming boutique, Hotel Anna. The tab was just under $200 per night, double, with a hot and cold breakfast buffet. We found reasonable eats for other meals in the quiet central residential neighborhood location that's convenient to public transportation, restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs where we could lunch well for as little as $5. Off our river barge ride, we learned a full three days of touring Prague's juxtaposition of modern and medieval treasures paired nicely with attractions in the scenic Czech countryside. A week in the Czech Republic was just right. We hit some of the city's major sites, including the Castle Quarter, Old Town Square (Stare Mesto), that dates to the 13th century, and the Jewish Quarter. Old Town is essential for tourists, and we were no exception. Besides stands where one can reserve tours of the city and outlying

areas, there's the stunning 14th-century astronomical clock that puts on an hourly show of time-telling and advice about living a virtuous life. Crosses next to Old Town Hall mark the spot where 27 people were beheaded during 17th-century religious wars, and the soaring interior of Old Tyn Church shares narrative about the Reformation era with the Jan Hus Memorial in the square's center. The nearby Jewish Quarter is probably Europe's finest collection of heritage sites. It's remarkable if only because Adolf Hitler decided to spare it as the “museum of an extinct race.� Included are six historic synagogues, a town hall, cemetery, and museum of artifacts. The Pinkas Synagogue has a halting memorial to victims of the Holocaust that lists names of many who died in Nazi camps. The old cemetery is a fascinating tumble of ancient gravestones, thanks to limited space and Jewish custom that prohibits disturbance of old graves. Because the site has been covered with

PICTURED: Prague's stunning panorama is best seen from a barge on the Vltava River.


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earth several times for new graves, there are about 20 layers of inhabitants. Castle Quarter has been home to the Czech Republic's ruling class for more than a millennium and contains multiple points of interest for the crowds that sometimes overwhelm it. We enjoyed the city view from the hilltop, walked through the gardens, and marveled at the stainedglass windows, kings' tombs, mosaics, and Gothic architecture in St. Vitus Cathedral. Outside the city we ventured into more of the Czech Republic's unique destinations. Many think they've stepped inside a fairy tale upon arrival in Cesky Krumlov, a threehour ride south of Prague. Like the capital, Cesky Krumlov lies on the Vltava River, which provides scenic reverie and restaurant riverbank eating overlooking the flow. The town's winding cobblestone streets offer food emporia where patrons enjoy sausages, beer, and pastries, as well as shops that contain art and books. The town

square is often active with street performers such as jugglers and acrobats. Krumlov Castle, built in the late 17th century, is a must-see, if only to regard one of Europe's two surviving Baroque theaters. Guides show surviving and original wood and rope stage machinery that was used for sound effects, as well as props and scenery that amazingly still exist. Because of its age and fragility, the theater presents performances only a few times a year by simulated candlelight. Elsewhere, the castle interior retains enough furnishings and artwork to depict the lifestyles of bygone centuries of ruling families. A cavernous dining hall and Hall of Mirrors are among the elegant spaces that once brimmed with courtesans and candlelight. Outside, bear pits hold a family of brown bears, long symbols of European royal families. A good half-day trip from Prague is Kutna Hora, which holds about 300

medieval and Baroque buildings, including the Cathedral of St. Barbara, an excellent example of Gothic architecture with a dazzling interior of frescoes about mining and minting - testimonies to a glorious age of prosperity. Most visitors put Kutna Hora on their itineraries to see the Sedlec Bone Church, or Church of All Saints, about a mile from the center of town. Although the pristine little white church looks normal on the outside, its interior is something else. Decorating the walls and ceilings are the bones of 40,000 people who died in 14th and 15th-century plagues and wars, including those that broke out after Czech church reformer Jan Hus was burned at the stake. The church's centerpiece is a "chandelier" that contains at least one of every bone in the human body. Why bone decor? The story is about a monk from the local monastery who returned from a Holy Land pilgrimage with soil from the region, and sprinkled it on

PICTURED: The Old-New Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter in Prague.


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the cemetery surrounding the chapel. Over time, so many wanted family members to be buried in the hallowed ground that space became unavailable. Older graves were exhumed and the bones stored in the chapel. Guides give varied explanations about why monks began to "design" decor with the macabre contents. The Terezin Memorial, an 18th-century walled site about three hours' drive from Prague, is an interesting star-shaped piece of architecture that contains stories about the Nazi era. In 1941 the town's inhabitants were removed, and 7,000 Jews were incarcerated in what became another concentration camp.

Most were scholars, professionals, artists, and musicians who were encouraged to lead creative lives. They even gave concerts inside the camp where parks, grassy areas, and gardens obscured the truth. Though the Gestapo presented it in propaganda films and real time to the outside world as a model "Jewish town" where everyone lived and worked normally, it was all for show. Nearly all the 155,000 Jews - including about 15,000 children - who passed through Terezin during World War II died of disease or starvation in Terezin or were moved to other death camps. Guided tours of the former camp afford glimpses into what life was really like

for camp inmates: crowded prison cells with three levels of beds stacked atop one another and washrooms where fake faucets that were never connected to a water supply fooled inspectors from the International Red Cross. The camp museum has a display of artwork and poetry by some of the 15,000 children who were held there between 1942 and 1944. The poignant drawings were assembled about 20 years ago by a Terezin survivor, Hana Volavkova. Outside the fortress is the National Cemetery that was created after the war. It holds mass graves of about 10,000 people.

PICTURED: Prague’s picturesque Old Town Square is a great place to take in all that the city has to offer.


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The Creative Center



n the Northeast side of Visalia, there’s an extraordinary organization filled with some of Tulare County’s most dedicated, full-time artists. They paint beautiful art, they produce films, they act, and they thrive, and they do it in ways that will blow your mind. They are The Creative Center. Every day of the week, the historic building on the corner of North Bridge and Race Ave. comes to life because of the artistic and talented individuals who work at and attend The Center. It is truly a one-of-a-kind place where almost 100 adults with a variety of developmental disabilities are given the tools and the opportunities to express themselves through art and learn the life skills that can help them reach their goals. As you take a stroll through The Creative Center, it’s impossible to encounter an unfriendly face; everyone is filled with excitement for what the day has in store with art on their minds and 50

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an eagerness to work hard. You might encounter an artist painting a beautiful landscape with nothing but a paintbrush in his mouth, or someone who is nearly blind creating textured art by using his sense of touch, or an enthusiastic actor rehearsing his lines for an upcoming performance. The Creative Center artists generate some of the Valley’s best performing and visual arts, and even though they often must adapt to do it, they make it look effortless. At The Center, these artists take a variety of classes from eleven instructors including painting, ceramics, dancing, theater, computer lessons, video production, cooking, life skills, and so much more. “Our instructors in the performing and visual arts are all professional artists,” said Bailey Hagar, the executive director of The Creative Center. “Our visual arts instructors all have Master's degrees in art, which is pretty unheard of for a nonprofit that can’t pay much, but they really have the heart for the clients. That’s kind

of the key for anybody that’s involved with The Creative Center.” The clients at The Center don’t simply learn and then go home, but they have plenty of opportunities to showcase their talents and work at The Creative Center. The on-site Jon Ginsburg Gallery is where clients and guest artists display and sell their work, and the performing artists at The Creative Center put on two major productions for the community each year. Not only do clients have the opportunity to show off their talents, but the proceeds from their art and ticket sales go back to them, not The Creative Center. They aren’t just clients of The Center, they are true artists, and they have work to prove it. “The visual artists blow me away day, after day, after day,” said Hagar. “They own all of their own art work in the gallery, and they receive a check whenever it sells. We encourage the community to come in and look at the art work and purchase it if they so desire.”


Some of the clients even have the opportunity to perform at The Creative Center Foundation’s fundraising events that are held every year. On February 1, The Foundation held its Third Annual Super Bowl Sprint in Mooney Grove Park, and it was its most successful event to date. This year, they had more than 200 participants and more sponsors than in the past. Richard de Ocio, the new executive director of The Creative Center Foundation, said, “This is the year that we’re starting to come into our own and establish the Super Bowl Sprint as a brand, where it really is reflecting what we project into the community. We gave those 219 total participants a good glimpse into what we do here at The Creative Center. In everything that we do, we try to give folks at least an introduction to The Creative Center.” The goal of the Super Bowl Sprint isn’t just to raise funds, but it’s meant to show participants and community members what The Creative Center does and experience what the clients can do. This year, one of The Center’s talented performers, Robert Johnston, played the guitar and sang for the crowd. He

entertained the runners with classics like “Twist and Shout” and “La Bamba.” “I’ve played the guitar almost all my life, and he does stuff I can’t even try,” said Hagar. “It’s just amazing. He’s kind of the leader of a band we have here. There’s a percussionist, a keyboard, bass player, and they participate in our performances during Christmas and in the spring.” After the race, The Foundation presented flat screen TVs to one male and one female participant, and gave exclusive prizes to the male and female winners of the race. Super Bowl Sprint sponsors, including Redi-Rooter, Sole 2 Soul Sports, and Jo-Anne’s, made these gifts possible. Bruce Nicotero, who is general manager of Jo-Anne’s Fabrics and Craft Supply, was not only one of the runners at the Super Bowl Sprint, but is a longtime supporter of The Creative Center. He currently serves on the board as secretary and represented Jo-Anne’s as one of the three main sponsors for the Super Bowl Sprint. “It’s a great organization and all the time and effort spent raising funds has been well worth it,” said Nicotero. “It’s

very rewarding for me to be involved… All in all, this year was the best event so far, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.” These fundraising events are held in order to maintain The Center’s structure and integrity. While its operating costs are funded primarily through the state, there are a variety of other expenses that aren’t covered. Funds that are raised by The Foundation often go to maintenance, such as a new parking lot, a new roof, and a gate to go around The Center. The Super Bowl Sprint is one way the foundation supports these projects. “It’s really businesses and individuals that come out and make this event what it is,” said de Ocio. “If you participate in the Super Bowl Sprint as a supporter of The Creative Center, or simply as an avid runner, afterwards, you see the immediate result in how we distribute donor dollars.” The Creative Center is always holding events for the community, including their up-coming Wine, Cheese, and Jazz fundraiser in June, which takes place at the Jon Ginsburg Gallery. The gallery is also open Monday through Friday for anyone from the community to come and purchase, or just view the art.

Pg. 50 TOP LEFT: Participants in the Super Bowl Sprint take off at the beginning of the race. Photo by Dana Berry Pg. 50 TOP RIGHT: Justin Levine took home the fi rst place medal in the men’s race. RIGHT: Monty Chapin, Beverly McMahan, and Daniel Salas gear up for the Super Bowl Sprint with some football drills and fun.

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Creating as Individuals, Growing as a Team:

Lifestyle Magazine Spends the Day at Garden Street Studio


eing creative is fundamental to our workday at Lifestyle Magazine. You expect it, we demand it, and we absolutely love what we do. Still, we sometimes feel the need to be free and careless and let our inner child color outside the lines. No rules, no deadlines, and no AP Style to keep us in line. So, we checked ourselves out and headed down to Garden Street Studio where we spent several hours in a room filled with more paint, hot glue, and more patterned paper than you would think possible. It was there our diverse team of 10 created “vision boards,” reflecting each staff member’s personality, interests, and beliefs. The results were as varied as the people themselves, making it exciting to watch each board take life. Although we work side-by-side eight hours a day, five days at week, the team-building exercise gave us the opportunity for greater insight into the hearts and minds of our coworkers. We left with renewed spirits, a fresh perspective on the coming year, and of course, new art for the walls where we spend so much of our time.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~Albert Einstein


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where art thrives Text by Erin Olm-Shipman


TOP: Former Visalia resident, Jeffrey Prosser, fi lmed scenes for his upcoming fi le, Aventura, at the Visalia Fox Theatre. Photo by Matthew Spindler. RIGHT: An artist gives a painting demonstration during a First Friday Downtown Visalia art hop. Photo by Nicole Renteria.


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ut what are you going to do there? was a question posed to me daily after I announced that I would be relocating from Kansas City, Missouri to a little town in the Central Valley known as Visalia - a question that, just three and half weeks before my scheduled move date, I didn’t have the answer to. Shortly after proposing to my now-husband, I decided I would uproot my entire life and settle halfway across the country, thousands of miles away from my friends and family. I had spent the last decade living in big cities, surrounding myself with art – a constant passion. I worked at some of the most well-respected museums in the United States, curated numerous gallery exhibitions, managed multi-million dollar art collections for businesses and private investors, and rubbed elbows with some of the most talented young artists in the nation emerging from the Kansas City Art Institute (whose notable alumni include Walt Disney, among countless others). And yet there I was, preparing to transition from a booming arts center to a state whose per capita art budget is a pitiful $0.12 per person – less than anywhere else in the nation. Even Mississippi, which consistently ranks as one of the poorest states, manages to invest $0.65 per person in the arts. In 61 percent of California schools, there is no full-time art teacher, and according to a recent study commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation, the number of students enrolled in music classes dropped a whopping 36 percent since the 2001 enactment of No Child Left Behind, which places a premium on testing limited to achievement in reading and math. “What are you going to do in Visalia?” The question haunted me. But that was before.



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PICTURED: A girl walks by Sam Rodriguez’s mural at the 5th annual Taste the Arts street fair and festival. Photo by Sam Rodriguez.

In 2013, Zócalo Public Square, a nonprofit Ideas Exchange based in Los Angeles, published an article heralding Visalia as an arts center, with “old-school charm, new-school functionality, and enough ethnic food options to satisfy even an LA hipster.” My interest was piqued. More digging revealed that, according to a recent survey, 69 percent of Visalia residents rated the quality of life in town as either high or very high; still not thoroughly convinced, I was determined to find out why. My natural inclination was to reach out to the local arts council, which, if you’re a resident of Tulare County, is the Arts Consortium. Incorporated just five years ago, they have already made tremendous strides in positioning Visalia as a cultural destination for the region and beyond with events such as the annual Taste the Arts street fair and festival in October, and the South Valley Artists Studio Tour in March. They serve as the fiscal sponsor for creative start-ups such as the Visalia Opera Company, Urbanists Collective, the First Friday art hop program, and the My Voice Media Center, which provides free studio art training to individuals and families with lived mental health experience. In December 2014, they awarded $12,500 through the Visalia Community Art Grant program to fund initiatives of the Tulare County Symphony, Boys & Girls Club of the Sequoias, Visalia Rescue Mission, ImagineU Children’s Museum, Sound N Vision Foundation, and many others. Their membership program provides invaluable networking and marketing opportunities for a variety of cultural institutions, such as Arts Visalia, The Creative Center, and the Visalia Fox Theatre. “We’re the umbrella organization,” explains Executive Director, Caroline Koontz. “We raise awareness for existing local artists and organizations…Yet, we also work to stay connected with regional and state efforts to improve arts funding and opportunities for all Californians.” Thanks to a grant awarded by the California Arts Council, last month the Arts Consortium embarked 56

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upon the second iteration of their Artist in Schools residency program, which has provided hands-on training for students at Summit Charter Academy and Liberty Elementary, and will branch out to Valley Life Charter School in the coming months. In October 2014, Zócalo Public Square returned to Visalia for a follow-up panel to discuss the economic, social, and cultural effects of the arts on community life. They recognized Visalia as having successfully used the arts to strengthen downtown and convince young, educated people to settle in this area. I’ve lived here for less than a year now, but it’s clear to me that we are in the midst of a cultural renaissance, and it's important to keep the momentum going. What do I do in Visalia? I work to improve and develop programs for the Arts Consortium, and spearhead fundraising efforts so that this vital organization will continue to grow. I was also recently appointed as the Co-Executive Director of the Visalia Fox Theatre, along with my husband, Matthew Spindler. Together we are finding creative ways to bring this historical landmark back to life with a new performing arts series, concerts, and independent film screenings. On Tuesday’s I might treat myself to a class at Garden Street Studio. Thursday evenings are spent reveling in the exhibitions at the College of the Sequoias Art Gallery, while Fridays are spent hopping around the galleries downtown. Saturday morning coffee is infinitely improved with live jazz at 210 Cafe, and in the evening we bring the kids to experience live theater. Sunday brunch is spent surrounded by art at Café 225, and on occasion we’ll stumble upon a Main Street parade featuring the impressive marching bands from the local high schools. What do I do in Visalia? I recognize the significant impact creative industry has on our community. I applaud the efforts of those who continue to make our city a more vibrant place to live, despite the fact that they often work for little or no pay. I support the arts. Do you?


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ROOTS & BOOTS Put on your cowboy boots, belt buckles, and cowboy hats for a night of honky-tonk fun. A show filled with songs and stories all while performing on stage together, Arron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, Darryl Worley, and James Otto, will show all guests a great time. Tickets are $35-$75. When: Feb. 26, 7:30p Where: Tachi Palace, 17225 Jersey Ave., Lemoore Contact: 924-7751


FEB 21

FEB 21



Helen and John gaze proudly at their new offspring, a bit disappointed that it doesn’t speak English and is too polite to check its sex. So they decide that the child is a girl and name it Daisy, who actually turns out to be a boy. In a series of brilliantly theatrical and wildly hilarious scenes, the saga of Daisy’s struggle to establish his identity continues, despite his parents’ growing obliviousness. When: Feb. 27-28, Mar. 1, 6-8, 13-15, Fri. & Sat. at 7:30p, Sun. at 2p Where: Ice House Theatre, 410 E. Race Ave., Visalia Contact: 734-3375


The Choral Project’s 2015 California Tour of the Valleys takes the award-winning, community-based choir through California’s heartland, including Visalia, centrally located in the agriculturallyrich San Joaquin Valley. The 54-voice ensemble will be performing a mix of diverse and dynamic repertoire from the sweet to the sublime, including works by Biebl, Hansson, Lauridsen, and Poulenc. Tickets are $15 for general, $10 for students. When: Feb. 21, 7p Where: St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 608 N. Church St., Visalia Contact:


Cloak and Dagger is the theme of the Tulare County Symphony’s Masterworks IV Concert, featuring music from great spy films, including the James Bond series, “Mission Impossible,” “North by Northwest,” and more. When: Feb. 21, 7:30p Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 732-8600

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The Tulare County Symphony Masterworks V Concert will feature Tan Dun, YouTube Symphony No.1 “Eroica”, Mason Bates’ “Desert Transport” and Beetoven’s “Symphony No. 3.” When: Mar. 7, 7:30p Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 732-8600


MAR 16


It wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without honoring the joy of being Irish. The seven musicians of Slugger O’Toole and step dancers from the Kerry Dance Troupe offer a heady brew of foot-stomping pub songs, heart-rending ballads, and deft instrumentals. With traditional instrumentation, including fiddle, button accordion, mandolin, banjo, flutes, and guitars, this band thrills audiences with brilliant close-harmony a capella renditions of Irish classics. Tickets are $19-35 When: Mar. 16, 7:30p Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 625-1369

MAR 21

MAR 26


Winner of 17 Grammy awards, the Count Basie Orchestra embodies the spirit of the freewheeling 1930s band of Kansas City. Featured singer Carmen Bradford was recruited by Count Basie and sang with the orchestra from 1982-1990. The 19-piece orchestra has a trove of lush charts, which it executes flawlessly. Tickets are $29-39. When: Mar. 21, 7:30p Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: 625-1369


Boogie down to the sounds of the original band with hits like “That’s the Way (I Like It)”, (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty,” and “Get Down Tonight.” Listen to the music and get out on the dance floor! Tickets are $35-75. When: Mar. 26, 7:30p Where: Tachi Palace, 17225 Jersey Ave., Lemoore Contact: 924-7751

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12TH ANNUAL CHINESE NEW YEAR Join the Center for Integrated Medicine at their annual Chinese New Year Celebration. Experience a lion dance, dragon parade, tricky-tray auction, hors d’oeurves, and many other exciting attractions. Be sure to wear something red. Tickets are $20.

When: Feb. 28, 1:30-5p Where: 210 Building, 210 W. Center St., Visalia Contact: 625-4246 or


The anticipated art show returns in all its glory for the 20th consecutive year, with the theme being “Highways & Byways: A Sofa Art Road Trip.” Think of the famous roadways people travel, and the popular roadside stops along the way. Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway may come to mind. Decipher each artists and non-artists alike as their art includes the obligatory couch, davenport, recliner, day bed, divan, etc. When: Through Feb. 27 Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: 739-0905


Guest artists from all over are flocking to the Jon Ginsburg Gallery at The Creative Center offering their best work featuring birds. They will be featuring the work from their Creative Center artists as well, and will be asking the public to vote for their favorite piece. The Creative Center will be hosting the opening reception on March 6 from 6-8 p.m., so be sure to stop by and choose your favorite, maybe even buy a piece or two. When: Mar. 2- Apr. 17, M-F 10a-3p. Where: Jon Ginsburg Gallery, 410 E. Race Ave., Visalia Contact: 733-9329


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Explore the muli-sensory art events featured throughout the Downtown Visalia area. Stroll Main Street and see, hear, taste, and smell the art while spending the event outdoors, engrossed in the cultivating arts scene here in Visalia. When: Mar. 6, 6-9p Where: Downtown Visalia Contact: Food, Fun and fabulous art. Every first Saturday of the month, the artists, restaurants, and merchants of Three Rivers open their doors and invite you to join in a town-wide celebration. You can pick up a map and schedule at Anne Lang’s Emporium or the Historical Museum – the flier shows all participating venues, art to see, locations and times for special events. When: Mar. 7, 10a-5p Where: Anne Lang’s Emporium, 41651 Sierra Dr. (CA 198), Three Rivers Contact:





Enjoy this event that features local artists and the best of the California wines. It is a fun-filled evening where friends can get together and enjoy delectable hors d’oeuvres while tasting various wines. When: Mar. 7, 6-9p Where: Nuckols Ranch, 11344 Rd. 216, Porterville Contact: 784-9076


Tulare’s Encore Theater presents their annual fundraiser, Murder Mystery Dinner, with the theme, “Murd-arrr!! Pirates of the Salty Dog.” Captain Bigbeard and his crew will dish up a delightful dinner with a side of “murd-arr!” This fast-paced pirate story is funny for the whole family. Tickets are $50 in advance, $60 the day of the event. Reservations are required. When: Mar. 7, 6-9p Where: Tulare Encore Theater, 324 S. N St., Tulare Contact: 686-1300


FEB 21



The Tulare Historical Museum presents a night of sampling specialty California wines, served by local celebrities, and a variety of local-area cheeses and chocolates. Tickets are $30. When: Feb. 21, 6:30p Where: Tulare Historical Museum, 444 W. Tulare Ave., Tulare Contact: 686-2074


Join the Visalia Elks Lodge for a night of great food, wine, music, and auction items. 100 percent of the proceeds will be split between the Elk’s Purple Pig Charity, which provides no cost physical and speech therapy for children, along with CASA of Tulare County. Tickets are $30. When: Mar. 7, 6-9p Where: Visalia Elks Lodge, Contact: 734-6762

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EMPTY BOWLS Join the Visalia Rescue Mission at their 6th annual Empty Bowls event. This is an international project to fight hunger, personalized on a community level. Choose a handcrafted bowl for your soup, catered by The Vintage Press, and take it home as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. Peruse silent auction items and enjoy live music during dinner. Tickets are $30.

When: Feb 24, 5:30-7:30p Where: VRM Community Center, 741 N. Santa Fe St., Visalia Contact:

MAR 14

MAR 15


Enjoy an evening of cocktails and fine dining with the Tulare County Farm Bureau, all while supporting the educational and scholarship trust fund. Special guest and singer, Nick Palance, known as the “American Andrea Bocelli,” will serve as the entertainment for the evening. Reservations are recommended. Tickets are $100. When: Mar. 14, 6:15p Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: 732-8301


The Max Race is a day of family fun with a 2-mile, 1-mile, ½-mile, and ¼-mile races for children and adults of all ages. In addition, games, face painting, community service resources information, and food options will all be available. The proceeds benefit the Tulare Youth Service Bureau’s countywide children’s mental health programs. Pre-registration is recommended. When: Mar. 15, 11a-3p Where: Del Lago Park, 1700 N. Laspina St., Tulare Contact: 688-2043.

MAR 22


This community wide fundraising walk is to raise money for local and worldwide hunger and disaster relief. Twenty-five percent of money raised will remain in Tulare County. The remaining funds will be donated to Church World Service. When: Mar. 22, 1:30p Where: St. Pauls Anglican Church, 120 N. Hall St., Visalia Contact: Cindy Sanders, 625-4931



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February 2015  

Style, Art, Culture, and Events of the South Valley

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