Community Stories

News and related articles from our community.

‘BACK TO THE FUTURE’ BENEFIT

Brandon Cowen of Elsie Allen High School's Lobo Song choral group sings a solo during Chop's Teen Club's Back to the Future fundraising event, in Santa Rosa on Sept. 13, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Brandon Cowen of Elsie Allen High School’s Lobo Song choral group sings a solo during Chop’s Teen Club’s Back to the Future fundraising event, in Santa Rosa on Sept. 13, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

It was as though Lena’s came back to life for one mirthful and inspiring evening.

Lena’s was the century-old Italian restaurant and special-occasion spot in downtown Santa Rosa that gave up the ghost in 1996. The Lena’s sign and the great wooden bar became elements of a new community jewel constructed there at Adams and Sixth streets — Chop’s Teen Club, a gift from the estate of Santa Rosa civic leader Charles “Chop” DeMeo.

Saturday night, the youth center’s main auditorium took on the look of a 1940s supper club for “Back to the Future … Come Back to Lena’s for the Future of our Teens.”

Guests of the benefit bash sipped donated wines and tasted appetizers prepared by the Chop’s Culinary Crew. The club’s Jam Band kept a lively beat as folks toured the spaces dedicated to technology, art, workforce readiness, culinary training, music and recording, and sports and fitness.

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At the bar that long graced Lena’s, bartenders on loan from the neighboring Stark’s Steakhouse — created within the historic walls of the beloved Michele’s restaurant — mixed classic cocktails.

Dinner in the retro-dressed gym was prepared by students in the culinary program at Maria Carrillo High, and diners were serenaded by Elsie Allen High choral students.

The evening concluded just as so many had at Lena’s, with post-dinner conviviality and dancing.

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ART FOR LIFE

Joan Moore, right, artist Koni Rae, Karen Greif and Nancy Klein look at a table of 1,180 stones that represent the number of lives lost to AIDS in Sonoma County since 1983, during Art for Life, an art auction benefiting Face to Face to help end HIV and AIDS in Sonoma County, at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts on Sept. 6, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Joan Moore, right, artist Koni Rae, Karen Greif and Nancy Klein look at a table of 1,180 stones that represent the number of lives lost to AIDS in Sonoma County since 1983, during Art for Life, an art auction benefiting Face to Face to help end HIV and AIDS in Sonoma County, at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts on Sept. 6, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

So much art! And there was just enough time to examine it, swoon over it, connect with it, talk about it and bid for it at Art for Life, Saturday afternoon’s celebration of creative expression, food, wine and compassion at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.

This was the 27th year of the lively art sale, a benefit for the Santa Rosa-based Face to Face and its mission to end AIDS/ HIV in Sonoma County. Art for Life is the major annual gala of an organization grateful to the enduring support of local artists, some of whom have contributed valuable pieces year after year.

Guests arrived at the Sebastopol center, the event’s new home, to find the great, central gallery quartered. On exhibit in each of the four sections was donated art from across the creative spectrum: paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, glass, ceramics.

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There were about 175 pieces in all. And a bit more than three hours to peruse and choose among them. Each artwork came with the option to buy it outright, for 150 percent of the value established by the contributing artist.

Guests placed and checked on bids while socializing and savoring a rich, colorful palette of local wines and foods.

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‘EAT FOR ART’ POP-UP SHOW

Guests socialize and view artwork for sale during Becoming Independent's Pop-up Art Show at Rosso Rosticceria + Eventi in Santa Rosa on August 28, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Guests socialize and view artwork for sale during Becoming Independent’s Pop-up Art Show at Rosso Rosticceria + Eventi in Santa Rosa on August 28, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa’s appealing and pizza-aromatic Rosso Rosticceria & Eventi became something more Thursday.

For just that evening, the restaurant doubled as a pop-up art gallery, a momentary venue for the multimedia creations of artists who study and work at Becoming Independent.

The Santa Rosa-based agency, which helps people with disabilities to earn income and live as fully and independently as possible, hosted the “Eat for Art” show at the airy Dutton Avenue pizza cafe.

Several of the professional artists in the Becoming Independent program spoke with guests and answered questions about their paintings and drawings, jewelry, ceramics, cards, T-shirt art and other works.

All were for sale, with the artists and Becoming Independent sharing the proceeds.

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Guests perused the art, then lingered to enjoy a slice of Rosso pizza or two, and perhaps a salad and glass of wine.

People served by Becoming Independent must apply to the art program, which explores an individual’s creative drive and determination to do the work demanded of a professional artist. For inspiration and instruction, the artists visit galleries, among them the De Young in San Francisco.

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