Arts DEVO: Weekend plans

Slow Theatre presents Garage Fest 2020.
Jason Cassidy

The old normal?

A weekend of local theater? Music at Laxson Auditorium on a Friday night? A new Jed Speer mural? What year is this?! It can’t be 2020.

Looking at the calendar right now, the arts scene seems almost normal; Arts DEVO hasn’t felt this way in more than seven months. It’s still a virtual or socially distant scene, but the productions are getting more adventurous and it feels like there’s something real happening this weekend:

Tonight (Friday, Oct. 16), at 7 p.m., Chico Performances is presenting its first show since Chico State was shut down mid-semester last spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a collaboration with the university’s Media Productions crew, they’ve filmed local acoustic duo The Bidwells on the Laxson stage for a livestreamed virtual version of its Chico Voices series.

The scene in the big auditorium is flipped, with the empty house behind the artists as a backdrop for the show. It’s the ideal up-close yet dramatic scene for the harmonious duo’s big-voiced acoustic style. Also, in between songs, yours truly is on hand to interview the artists. (The CN&R is dedicated to partnering with local arts organizations during these corona-times—stay tuned for more online collaborations with various venues in the months to come!)

Samantha Francis and Ben Ruttenburg of The Bidwells rehearse on the Laxson stage for their Virtual Chico Voices performance. (Photo by Jason Halley)

Visit for tickets for tonight’s show and for updates on future virtual Chico Voices events.

Also on the calendar for the weekend is another multi-discipline arts happening from the creative folks behind Slow Theatre: Garage Fest 2020: Freedom of Speech. It’s an actual in-person, live (and socially distanced in a field in West Chico) drive-in-theater-style “underground political rally,” with monologues, comedy, poetry, film and music. From the event announcement:

“We’re taking you into a world where new political ideas and ideologies emerge, where some of the most famous political speeches of our time are honored, and where we can explore the issues that are affecting our world in brand new ways.”

There are two shows: 8 p.m. tonight (Oct. 16) and Saturday (Oct. 17). Tickets are $25/carload and available online.

‘Love, Safety, Support, Respect’

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Catalyst Domestic Violence Services is hosting a public reception Tuesday (Oct. 20), at 2 p.m. (masks required), for a brand new mural in its downtown Chico parking lot. The impressive two-story high piece is another creation by local muralist/designer Jed Speer (the man behind the “Love” and “Unity” murals on Lulu’s and the Boys and Girls Club, respectively), and its message— “Love, Safety, Support, Respect”—underlines Catalyst’s mission of helping to foster healthy relationships in Butte County.

Catalyst “Love, Safety, Support, Respect” mural by Jed Speer. (Photo by Ashiah Scharaga)

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