Thank you!

Arts DEVO is grateful and he wants to share your art!

Music box still life by Zac Elstein.
Jason Cassidy

This newspaper is in your hands because of you. You gave money in a shutdown economy during a global pandemic … to a broke newspaper! You gave money to Arts DEVO, literally. I still have a job thanks to reader donations (as well as some of that sweet low-interest federal cash). I imagine that it was community journalism, and not dog food and my mortgage, that was on your mind when you hit the “Donate Now” button—but with a very content poodle at my feet and a roof over my head, I promise to put in good work with my co-conspirators to honor your support and keep this Chico institution vital.

As you’ll read in other places in this issue (Second & Flume and Publisher’s note), we are still figuring out what form the CN&R will take post-pause. One thing we do know is that we’ll be be telling our community’s stories daily on the new improved website ( and monthly in print through October. And, after that, hopefully something more permanent.

I know you’ve been up to something

I realize that few of the fun places where inspiring stuff happens are open, and that most won’t be for some time, but I also know that many of you have spent your shelter-in-place making cool stuff. You’ve had to! And that is something. In fact, it might be everything. I’m going to have to tell plenty of bummer stories about the damaged art scene (see “Canceled by COVID“), but what’s going to get me and you through this time is the art you make.

Help me tell the story behind the song you’ve been wood-shedding. Please, send me your pissed-off poetry. Share the series of paintings that nobody has seen yet!

Or, maybe you didn’t make a damn thing, and you filled your lockdown with a bunch of freaky depravity? That sounds amazing! Definitely send me evidence of that.

Just a Chico hero shotgunning-in-place with his roomies.

I’m not just joking here. I really do want to be connected to whatever everyone’s been up to. Email me right now and I will celebrate it, either on these rare pages or online. Like this:

Zac Elstein, one of my favorite local artists, is always working on something new. He spent last year making beautiful creepy light boxes filled with animal skeletons, dead plants, and deteriorating wood and metal detritus for multiple exhibitions that I couldn’t keep my eyes off. This year, he’s building art for our ears. His handmade wooden music boxes are simple, beautiful machines that look like little speaker boxes, with speaker grills fashioned out of lace fabric of various patterns. The music coming from inside comes from a tiny MP3 player that’s been programmed with a melody Elstein crafted on a punch-card music box and then recorded.

Songs range from “November Rain” by Guns ‘N’ Roses to “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. Elstein sells the boxes for $50 and will program one with your song of choice for an additional $30. (He says the most requested are Radiohead and John Prine songs.)Check out @_music_boxes_ on Instagram for video examples, with each of Elstein’s music boxes set in uniquely dressed still life scenes.

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