MARK TWAIN once said, “It’s more like kingdom come than California.”
Looking at Thomas Hill’s glorious 1876 painting of Yosemite Valley , I wholeheartedly agree. This treasured park is nature’s cathedral — one of the most heavenly places on earth — and the new Yosemite exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California makes me ache to go back.
In photographs, watercolors, graphite and oils, artists have captured the many moods of this American icon. Add to this the storytellers, ranger talks, slide presentations and more, and you’ve got a winning exhibit for the museum through Aug. 26. Catch it on the first Friday of the month and you’ll get a bonus: cool live music and dancing with a cash bar. Now that’s something to celebrate!
ART ADDENDUM: Speaking of art, I ran into Jacque Hachquet with the Montclair Village Jazz & Wine Festival the other night at Ron Scrivani’s hip warehouse party for Pro Arts Open Studios. The room was full of local artists, and Hachquet was no doubt scouting for participants for her Sept. 16 event in the village. If you’re an artist who’d like to be part of the festival, check out http://www.montclairjazzandwine.org.
GOOD BUZZ: The Berkeley Rep’s performance of Oliver Twist is getting great revues and one of the actresses is a homegrown girl. Jennifer Ikeda went to Bishop O’Dowd High School and now tours with a company out of New York. She plays the part of Nancy in the old fashioned Dickens classic which runs through June 24.
RAPID RESPONSE: My recent piece on passport problems triggered a rapid reaction from U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee’s district director. Leslie Littleton questioned a reader’s claim that her office was unresponsive when he called for help in expediting the issuance of a long-awaited passport. She says the congresswoman’s office receives daily praise in its handling of passport issues. With the growing number of complaints about the length of time it takes to process passports, I’m sure Lee’s office is getting plenty of calls.
AROUND TOWN: One of Montclair’s most recognized financiers, Dale Marie Golden, has jumped ship (or should I say the stagecoach) at Wells Fargo Bank. Golden and several colleagues have left the venerable institution to join a start-up called Alta Alliance Bank on Grand Avenue. The bank has branches in Oakland, Piedmont and Walnut Creek.
Meanwhile, the most anticipated new restaurant in Oakland must be El Agavera in Montclair. After lengthy delays in the permit process (converting the space from a longtime pizza parlor), building owner Ed Hirshberg says the Mexican eatery and tequila bar will be open any day now. Really.
And La Salle Cigars has reportedly shut its doors for good. Word has it some of the mental health professionals above the cigar store were complaining about the smell coming from the patio. All those years of business for the La Salle Cigars — up in smoke.
AERIAL ATTACK: You may want to duck and cover when you walk past the Hallmark Store in Montclair. There have been reports of a belligerent blackbird dive-bombing the area. One reader says the creature came down from the awning and boldly pecked at her head, then flew off.
Minutes later she saw two or three other ladies being attacked. Why wom