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Flipo Off: Santana Row to lose French connection.

Public Eye

Art Stop

Magali Charmot, Stop Art Gallery manager, will be out of a job when she returns to San Jose after summer break. The San Jose State University advertising sophomore has worked at Stop Art practically since the day it opened at Santana Row last November. Now the French-owned art venue is nearly done teetering, as it is set to plunge off the edge of San Jose's constantly endangered art scene. Charmot confirmed to Eye that owner Emmanuel Flipo and his wife, Lilou Vidal, who own the gallery, are throwing in the towel and moving back to France. Charmot wouldn't say what happened to convince Flipo to leave. But she does say running the gallery seemed difficult for him all along. "I think the gallery probably would have been better in San Francisco," she says. "Unfortunately, the time for being here in San Jose wasn't the best, with the war going on." She adds that as a French immigrant, she's been confronted by anti-French freaks in the Bay Area. "Also, the audience is not the best because San Jose is a pretty conservative area," Charmot observes. Some might argue that this is a reason for working harder to keep cultural exposure around. William Rowan, for instance, the curator and director of year-old Pacific Art Collective favors more rather than less. Rowan is putting on what may be Flipo's last live art performance at his Santana Row gallery. Flipo and Vidal are currently scouting out business prospects in Montreuil, a suburb of Paris. They'll fly back in time for Rowan's May 3 "Cultural Xposure Through Unity of Art" event at Stop Art. As for the future of Stop Art's space, management at the thriving Peter Max Gallery across the street has been eyeing Stop Art's larger digs. "We're interested," says Peter Max's chief operator Mykel Hibbard.

Significant Others

Eye watched fun-loving environmental-impact-mitigation enthusiasts get a morale boost at their get-together last week. The excitement was due in large part to Gov. Gray Davis' wife, SHARON DAVIS, who gave a speech and handed out grant awards to cities and counties for doing a good job in the field of damage control. The setting was an annual three-day Disaster Mitigation Conference for experts in earthquakes, fires, floods and (every American patriot's newest favorite cause) terrorism. Davis was otherwise spending the day plugging her new children's book, The Adventures of Capitol Kitty, at schools and bookstores in San Jose and Santa Clara. Following Lady Davis' keynote speech about the importance of planning for disasters in schools, deputy disaster director from the state Office of Emergency Services, PAUL JACKS, beamed: "I think it's important that we have very important people here." He then paused for a beat, adding, "... to talk with all you very important people." Eye was sitting at a table with a crew from the federal Emergency Management Agency, who bristled slightly at the dig before Jacks' recovery. FEMA was only the agency handing out the dough that Mrs. Kitty was there to distribute, lest anyone consider biting that hand.

Take Back the Flight

San Jose Councilmember Chuck Reed was all bouncy last week in anticipation of seeing his hero fighter pilot daughter, back from Iraq for the weekend. Reed went to meet up with daughter Kim Campbell in Denver, where the Air Force sent her to speak with other military chief types at a conference, and where Reed's aunt, Pauline Harms, lives. "It was a great weekend of mostly eating and sleeping," says Daddy Reed. His eldest offspring became the poster child for female pilots last month after manually flying a badly damaged A-10 Warthog to safety, forcing sexist pilots worldwide to reconsider the notion that women can't drive, let alone fly. Capt. Campbell of the 75th Fighter Squadron's Tiger Sharks is scheduled to return to Iraq for an unknown period of time after her 16-day visit to her homeland. "Somebody has to fly the jets back," Reed explains, adding that she'll leave the broken one behind.

¡Libre Los Libros!

Everything's coming up roses it seems at the new city-university hybrid Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. At least, that's what they want you to think. Abdicating San Jose State University President Bob Caret, former San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer and Redevelopment Agency Queen Susan Shick were among those present Wednesday, April 23, at the ritual key-handing-over ceremony for the expansion (and public takeover) of SJSU's library, which is set to officially open on Aug. 23. Caret explained at the event that the hybrid would be a model for the rest of the country. It will be so cool, in fact, that everyone will want to attend SJSU, he explained (never mind that he's personally blowing town for a job at Maryland's Towson U.). But, despite the PR machine's excitement, even Caret had to admit that not everyone supports the project. "It does sound all warm and fuzzy," says SJSU English prof Scott Rice, "and maybe it'll work out." But Rice, who's been a constant and loud (and tenured) critic of the two library systems merging, doesn't think the public should have access to the school's books. Speaking for himself and other faculty and students, Rice says, "We were afraid of what was going to happen to our collection ... who was going to harvest our collection. Some people have this mentality that anything is good enough for San Jose State, which annoys me. "After all, our materials are going to be laid open. They're not going to be sheltered any more," he adds. "A place like this doesn't need books. That's the mentality."

Harms' Helpers

Four months after the Santa Clara district attorney's office began a careful review of all the evidence compiled in the Jeanine Sanchez Harms case--the South Bay's highest-profile missing-persons/homicide investigation (as reported in Metro's March 20, 2003, cover story, "In Harms Way")--the DA and the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department last week made their first joint public move by putting out an APB to Bay Area residents enlisting their help. Although they won't divulge specifics, detectives are apparently trying to nail down a critical piece of evidence that might break open the 21-month-old case: finding rug fibers similar to or matching an imitation Persian-style wool rug that Harms had in her Los Gatos home--which vanished along with Harms on July 27, 2001. Harms had returned home from Campbell's Rock Bottom Brewery that night reportedly accompanied by Maurice Xavier Nasmeh, a San Jose architect, who told police that all was fine when he left Harms at her house at about 1am. (Also missing from Harms' house were two sofa cushions and a sofa slipcover, as well as her purse, keys and cell phone; Harms body has not yet been found.) Police tell Eye that the rug request has yielded new leads but not the proverbial smoking fiber. "It's hold-your-breath time," says Harms' friend Janice Burnham. "I'm encouraged that more specific information is going out to the public that hasn't been released before." Harms' father, Jess Sanchez, along with his wife, Georgette, remains stoic and composed. "We have no clue what specific things the police have," he says, "but we're hopeful that in the weeks to come something will break." Police are asking that anyone who purchased an area rug (5-feet-by-7-feet, mostly red with an intricate multicolored design and white fringe) at the (now out-of-business) Home Express in San Jose's Westgate Mall, from 1997 to 2000, call Detective Steve Walpole at 408.354.6825.

Home Front

San Jose's U.S. Rep. Mike Honda has been busy flying across the country to confront disparate but critical issues. He swept in from D.C. and on Wednesday, April 16, he listened to county high schoolers with big ideas about publicizing teen mental health issues. Last Friday, April 25, it was off to Detroit to talk with Arab Americans about civil liberties. Meanwhile, Honda tells Eye, something else is constantly weighing on his mind. The congressman's wife, Jeanne Honda, 60, was recently diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. She underwent an operation about three weeks ago and is recovering well, according to the congressman, who sounds somewhat worn out but relieved.


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From the May 1-7, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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