Author: Hillary Louise Johnson

Best of the City 2021

If there’s one thing we’ve learned during the pandemic, it’s that the human spirit perseveres through the darkest times. The dozens of Sacramentans featured here—struggling like all of us over this past year and a half—have found ways to shine some much-needed light into our lives, whether with charmingly anachronistic TikTok videos or a winning French pastry made with Top Ramen or an eco boutique that’s trying to help save the planet one bottle-free shampoo bar at a time. They bring smiles to our faces, good food to our bellies and taps to our toes. And if you haven’t already met, we’re thrilled to introduce you.

Perfect Picnics

We’ve filled our wicker baskets with the best takeout en route to eight sonnet-worthy spots across the region for your alfresco dining pleasure. Whether you’re unpacking a gourmet BLT on toasted artisan bread while gazing upon a sweeping view of Gold Country or digging into a bucket of crispy fried chicken while smelling the roses at McKinley Park, we prove that life in the wake of a pandemic can be a picnic after all. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen.)

Q&A: Sacramento's Creative Economy Manager Megan Van Voorhis

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, Megan Van Voorhis wanted to be a ballerina like the one she saw twirling on an episode of Sesame Street. It wasn’t until she took a business administration class in college that she realized her calling wasn’t to make art, but to make art possible. As the head of Arts Cleveland, she introduced innovative programs linking art with health care and helping creators access their inner entrepreneurs. As Sacramento’s freshly appointed Cultural and Creative Economy Manager, the former dancer takes the stage for her next act. Here the new 916 resident talks about the arts’ influence on the GDP, how to reopen venues safely in the age of Covid, and why the ability to create is a basic human right.

The Sweet Life

On the eve of his 100th birthday, Wayne Thiebaud—the Sacramento painter best known for his evocative portrayals of desserts that look good enough to eat—talks about the new pieces he’s working on (yes, he’s still wielding a brush—and a tennis racket!), his favorite kind of pie, and why, despite his status as one of America’s most important living artists, he still sees himself as “just an old art teacher.”

Murders, She Wrote

Over the past decade, Granite Bay author Theresa Ragan—or T.R. Ragan, as she’s known on Amazon, where she has sold more than 3 million books—has been penning mysteries and thrillers in which female vigilantes exact not-so-sweet revenge on their male predators. Her latest page-turner stars a Sacramento crime reporter and a crew of femmes “fatal.” Get ready for a bloody good read.

In the Name of the Father

After graduating from UC Davis in 1967, Stephen Kaltenbach headed east and thrived in the heady New York art world, exhibiting alongside future greats like Richard Serra and Bruce Nauman, and inhabiting provocative alter egos à la Sacha Baron Cohen before Sacha Baron Cohen was even born. But it was his return to Davis that resulted in one of Sacramento’s most beloved paintings: a hauntingly evocative portrait of his dying father. With the launch of his first solo American museum show in over 40 years, the artist reflects on the man who inspired his masterwork and his own starring role as both father and son.

Courtside Cantina

An eye-catching Mexican eatery has opened across from the Golden 1 Center, boasting regionally sourced south-of-the-border dishes and a room with a view that’s perfect for hooping it up.

True West

In his day job, Cornel West is a Harvard professor, a "New York Times" best-selling author, a national authority on race and a passionate advocate for the poor. In his spare time, he’s appeared in two of the three "Matrix" films (because, well, he helped inspire them), recorded three albums, and is taking meetings on the 2020 presidential campaign trail with Bernie Sanders and Cardi B. At a time when the country feels hopelessly divided, this nearly native son of Sacramento—and a “jazzman in the world of ideas”— has a message of love and compassion for all races, religions and political persuasions. And no matter how far he ventures from home, he carries with him a moral compass that unfailingly points west.

Rocky Horror Time Warps to the ’20s

Are you ready to travel to another dimension, with voyeuristic intention? The Green Valley Theatre Company continues its tradition of reinterpreting the ultimate cult classic, "Rocky Horror," as a period musical—this year, with a Jazz Age twist. Frank-N-Furter and flappers? We’re shivering with anticipation.

Small Wonders

With the need for homeless housing solutions greater than ever, an aspirational new architecture competition is yielding innovative ways to approach domestic design

Paradise Found

After a career that took her from being a style maven at Williams-Sonoma to launching a boutique bowling alley in San Francisco, Fair Oaks native Sommer Peterson has returned home, importing a slice of mid-century Palm Springs along the way. She calls her little piece of heaven Shangri-la. You can call it your new home away from home.

Cast Away

Angling to become an angler? Start with the Japanese tradition of Tenkara fly fishing, where all you need is a simple rod, line and fly. Come on in, the water’s fine and the trout are jumpin’.

Making It All Popp

Call him an an interior designer, a home designer, a furniture maker, a graphic artist, a chef or a classic car collector—or all of the above. Whether he’s crafting the look and feel for a hot new restaurant, a neighborhood taproom, a high-end chocolaterie or someone’s home, Curtis Popp has carved out an eclectic career as one of the city’s most sought-after visual thinkers. Sacramento, meet the modernist Renaissance man.