Get to Know July Featured Artist Steven Valencia

Profile CropEnchanting, colorful costumes. Skillful footwork. A high pitch grito (shout). These are the familiar elements that define Mexico’s ballet folklórico or “folkloric dance.” Our July Featured Artist Steven Valencia might add “his inspiration”, too.

This month, we connected with Calidanza’s Artistic Director to learn more about his life-long passion. As the leader of the Calidanza folk dance company, Valencia seeks to advance, celebrate, and preserve the culture of Latino, Chicano, and Native populations for generations. And he’s been pretty good at it. He’s worked and toured with some of the best instructors from across the border, choreographed traditional and modern professional productions in and around the Sacramento region, and was even awarded the 2011 Maestro Award from The Latino Arts Network of California for his efforts. What may be the most peculiar thing about Valencia’s success is that he juggles his time at Calidanza with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Read on and discover what quite literally moves our featured artist here.


Get to Know June Featured Artist Maren Conrad

Profile Crop“Beware of artists: they mix with all classes of society and
therefore are the most dangerous.”

This month met up with one of Sacramento’s most sought out artists, Maren Conrad. Best known for striking metal leaf and layered resin paintings, her work, inspired by her subconscious, connects to universal truths and experiences through text and delicate koi fish and feathers designs. She’s also known for famously ruffling a few figurative feathers with her censored “Politically Vulnerable” collection.

This June we encourage you to get to know Conrad’s dangerous mind and her plans to keep shaking up Sacramento’s art scene here.

Get to Know May Featured Artist Mike Johnston

May FA 016 Profile Pic - CopyThis May, wants you to Make It a Music night. Throughout the month, we’ll be showing you ways to move and be moved, so, of course, we had to choose an artist fitting for the occasion. Drumroll to Mike Johnston, a Folsom-based musician and instructor who works to the beat of his own drum, literally.

From a charming studio (or as he calls it “hobbit hole”), Johnston inspires thousands around the world through, a website allowing aspiring drummers to learn and practice on their own time. As if that’s not impressive, on YouTube, his riffs and rudiments have been viewed over four million times and Modern Drummer readers awarded Johnston the “Clinician/Educator of the Year” award. And, oh yeah, Johnston was a world-touring rockstar at 21 and lived to tell about it.

To say we were intrigued by Mike Johnston’s story is an understatement. Read on and discover what moves our May Featured Artist here.

Get to Know April Featured Artist Gale Hart

AprilFA Profile Pic
In honor of Make it an Arts Night, this April met up with Sacramento’s Godmother of Contemporary Art, Gale Hart at her spacious 19th Street studio on the heels of her 60th birthday bash. The vegan, skateboard-loving artist has more to celebrate than just another year in this life; in January, Hart was selected to construct her public art installation for the new Golden 1 Center (yes, alongside that Jeff Koons piece).

In this eye-opening profile, we learned that defying normal is part of her modus operandi. Throughout her life, she’s always been known to push the limit. Read how far she plans on going here.

Get to Know March Featured Artist Benjamin Ismail

Profile ShotFor our March instalment of our Featured Artist series, wanted to learn more about one of the region’s rising theatre powerhouses, the Big Idea Theatre. On the heels of its highly acclaimed and sold-out Motherf***er With a Hat, a seat at the intimate Del Paso Boulevard playhouse is quickly becoming the most coveted ticket in town.

The key to Big Idea’s big success? The passion and razor-sharp focus of its Artistic Director, Benjamin Ismail, just might have something to do with it. We were lucky enough to chat with the company’s fearless leader to learn more about his passions and Big Idea Theatre’s bright future here.

Style Defined.

Style Defined“Real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.” – G. Bruce Bayer

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe

“Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style.” – Billy Baldwin

All February long, we at have been putting our best foot forward. Whether it was for date night with our Valentine, grabbing dinner and visiting Art Hotel with friends, or taking in the incredible wearable art during Sacramento Fashion Week, this month was all about owning our personal style and celebrating all that makes us uniquely us.

So to wrap up this stylish month, we sought out a little help from a few of our past Featured Artists asking them to define the word “style” and to describe their own personal style in five words or less.

Karisa Gold, Fashion Designer 
February 2016 Featured Artist

File Jan 29, 18 21 09

Photo by Faith Marie Lopez.

Style/fashion is…wearable self-expression. It says something about you and goes with you everywhere.

Five words (or less) to describe my personal style:

  • Feminine
  • Sophisticated
  • Alluring

Gioia Fonda, Interdisciplinary Artist
January 2016 Featured Artist


Photo by Faith Marie Lopez.

Style is…the special way in which we go about doing things, whether moving through space, arranging food on a plate or furniture in a room, clothes on our bodies or hair on our head. Style also extends to the ways we communicate. Style is recognizing that we have choices to make and things to consider beyond utility.

Five words (or less) to describe my personal style:

  • Polychromatic
  • Eclectic
  • Comfortable
  • Festive
  • Thematic (I often wear clothes that relate to whatever topic I’m teaching)

Melissa Uroff, Multi-Media Artist
August 2015 Featured Artist


Photo courtesy of Melissa Uroff.

Style is…being true to yourself, taking risks, feeling confident in your skin, and wearing things that make you happy regardless of what is on trend at the moment. Now, don’t get me wrong, I follow the fashion world like crazy; a good runway show or a spread in W or Italian Vogue gives me chills. Stylish people are inspired by others, not clones. They take an idea make it their own, they wear it because they love it not because they are supposed to. Style truly comes from within. The most stylish people I know are unique, creative and confident individuals who are not afraid to take a risk.

“Personally, I adore the art of putting a look together. I love dressing according to my mood or being inspired by an era. Every day I wake up and think, hmm… who do I want to be today and then I dress for that.”

Five words (or less) to describe my personal style:

  •  A whole lot of vintage

Alexandra Cunningham, Dancer
August 2012 Featured Artist


Photo courtesy of Alexandra Cunningham.

.Style is…an expression of personality. As a performing artist, costuming (or styling) is a huge part of how to portray a character and how I ultimately represent a feeling or story. Part of my job is to learn how to take on characteristics of a personality and embody them in every way possible, from the way a character would act to the way they dress. Style is an art in itself. Style can express our ideas on beauty, ingenuity, and any human state of being from apathy to vitality. Style is how we connect and relate to each other.

Five words (or less) to describe my personal style:

  • Heels
  • Comfortable
  • Elegant
  • Vintage (flare)
  • Scarves

Four unique personalities and four different crafts. The common thread? Creativity never goes out of style. 

**This blog post was written by’s Content and Marketing Manager Karlee Cemo.

Get to Know January Featured Artist Gioia Fonda

Jan2016_ProfileWith the New Year comes a new way of doing things. After a few years getting to know featured artists through online communication, we’ve decided to return to the art of conversation. In 2016, our team is connecting with creatives working on projects that will be impacting the Sacramento arts landscape, interacting with them in the spaces where they craft their dreams and masterpieces.

Interdisciplinary artist Gioia Fonda helps us kick off our re-energized interview series here.