Arts DEVO: 2023 DEVO Awards

Jason Cassidy

Welcome to the 16th edition of Art DEVO’s annual local arts and culture awards. The envelopes, please …

The Hope Award:

Chikoko’s Gravity

In advance of the Oct. 21 fashion/art show at Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, the CN&R wrote: “Just the fact that Chikoko is back at full power, directing what has historically been the arts party of the year … is reason for hope and a sign that things are getting relatively better.”

The arts collective’s three instigators—Nel Adams, Sara Rose Bonetti and Muir Hughes—fulfilled that promise with Gravity, pulling Chico into its creative field and working with/for the community toward a fun, healing, hopeful future.

Local badass:

Jake Sprecher

If there’s a primary mission for the CN&R arts section, it’s to shine a light on those putting energy into the scene. And Jake continues to provide more rock-’n’-roll power than most—putting on shows at Duffy’s, Naked Lounge, Argus and Winchester Goose via his Valley Fever productions; rocking those same stages (and stages around the country) with his garage-punk trio The Wind-Ups; spinning on the air at KZFR 90.1 FM and behind the decks at local events; and working behind the scene to help others realize their musical visions.

Local artist:


Lola Yang turned much of Chico into her personal studio this year—from a solo show at the Naked Lounge in May to the fully immersive Conduit at the 1078 Gallery in November. For the latter, Yang transformed the gallery, filling the room with her art and giving performances “centered around the themes of ritual, chance, and repetition” every night for 24 days in a row.

Best use of social media:

Chico Old-School Music Scene Facebook group

An overflowing repository of local-scene nostalgia, curated mostly by longtime Chico guitarist/drummer and former CN&R staffer Charles Mohnike, whose connection to the scene, research and clever prose make for some of the best reading on Chico’s history—musical or otherwise.

Best changing of the guard:

Kai Music & Arts booking Friday Night Concerts

Whether it was out of inspiration or desperation, the Downtown Chico Business Association deserves a round of applause for giving up the reins to the young folks at Kai Music & Arts who transformed the historically staid calendar of weekly concerts into an impressively eclectic lineup of shows that better represented the breadth of local culture—and were actually fun!

Best reason to buy tix early:

Bonfire Storytelling

Since its June debut, Bonnie Pipkin’s “multi-generational storytelling” events have sold out every month, including for the expanded November and December editions held at the Chico Women’s Club.

Meaty bites of the year:

Pork katsu sando at PB & Jimmy’s PB; pork-belly burnt ends at Momona; double cheeseburger at Roselle Bar & Lounge.

Theater event of the year:

Legacy Stage’s smash production of Lizzie the Musical bringing punk rock and blood to the The Barn at Meriam Park.

Art show of the moment:

Tree With City in the Distance, the 500-piece AI-evolution of a sketch by Erin Banwell at Idea Fab Labs.

New local band:

Kid Cops

A noisy meeting of three of Chico’s most kick-ass musical minds: bassist Mathew Houghton (Cat Depot), guitarist Travis Wuerthner (Americas), and drummer Casey Deitz (Americas, Velvet Teen).

Local albums of the year:

Bicycle Ripper – XDS; Space Mountain – Surrogate

Local songs of the year:

Your Valentine (Come Over),” Scout the Wise; “Oh I Know,” The Wind-Ups; “Dark,” Melli Farias; “Mermaid Shit,” Similar Alien; “Clockwork Orange Juice,” Phantom Falls; “Empty Cities,” Infinite Kamikaze.

In memorium:

Bill “Guillermo” Mash (11/29/22), citizen journalist, community builder, arts/music supporter
Mark McKinnon (12/1/22), CN&R co-founder, musician (Ha’ Penny Bridge), Butte College instructor
Ronald Angle (12/2/22), CN&R contributor, social justice advocate
Lori Powers (12/26/22), former owner Upper Crust Bakery
Alan Rigg (2/25/23), jazz/Zydeco/rock/funk/R&B musician/bandleader
Corey Walters (5/2/23), metal bassist (Burial Grounds)
Robert Herhusky (5/3/23), artist, Chico State professor, Glass Lab savior
Miles Van Housen (5/18/23), trumpeter for Smokey the Groove
Laura Golino (9/19/23), longtime CN&R senior sales rep
Gene Kelly (9/21/23), longtime Butte County guitarist

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