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Night Howl
By Karen Reardanz

[whitespace] Mesas Kite Dreams: MAH exhibits 'Chasing That Kite,' a collection of paintings by the late SC artist Don Martin, like this lacquer relief painting, 'Mesas.'

Flying Spirit

Santa Cruz painter/sculptor Don Martin's works ring loud and clear at MAH

WHEN DON MARTIN MOVED to Santa Cruz in the '60s, he did it to get away from the hustle of L.A., to be able to work on his art in an environment that welcomed peace, creativity and individuality. In his 20-odd years here, Martin created some of his most memorable pieces.

The Museum of Art and History commemorates Martin's art with a collection of his paintings, Chasing That Kite. Shown in two small rooms, the exhibit is a stunning example of artwork. His works reflect his interest in Buddhism, his time spent in Mexico and his love for innovative artistic techniques.

Particularly interesting--though each series in the collection is in its own way--are the pieces titled "Just Above the Head." Created through a process of ink resist over crayon, each marks a powerful infusion of modernity and traditional artistic influences.

An appreciation of Asian techniques is also evident in the collection of ink on boards. These are very Eastern in their brushstrokes as well as use of color, and make a striking statement against the museum walls.

Martin's most famous, as well as most commanding, pieces are his "flying spirit" series of lacquer relief paintings. Beautiful, richly colored and ornately textured, the group of paintings, including "La Luna," "Mesas" and "Fire On the Mountain," are understated in their complexity. The exhibit's opening painting, "He"--a large image of a lushly colored Buddha--is similar in feeling.

The works of "Chasing That Kite" are joined by poems by Martin and reflections on the man by his family members and friends. The exhibit is on display at MAH, 705 Front St., SC through August 2. For more info, call 831/429-1964.

The World's a Stage

The Santa Cruz theater world is finally heating up again, after a hiatus that left local theater-goers choosing between, oh, one play or nothing. But the summer season is in full swing, with a whopping four plays in productions--at one time. It may not be New York City, kids, but it's pretty impressive for a town of this size.

The Museum of Art and History is hosting Gertrude Stein and A Companion, a 10th anniversary presentation of the literary salon world of early 20th-century Paris. Like you already weren't longing for a French summertime, but hey, there are some things to be said for living vicariously.

Over at the Actors' Theatre, Lampshade Productions is putting on Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, written by John Patrick Shanley, and starring the local theatrical perennial Hope Nicora as well as Richard Saldavia.

On the other side of town at the Broadway Playhouse, Lupen Productions takes a stab at one-upping that salty duo of Jack Lemmon and Walter Mattheau (anyone who's seen The Odd Couple 2 or Grumpier Old Menknows that isn't tough) with a presentation of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple.

And finally, Cabrillo Stage unleashes its grandiose summer production of Man of La Mancha. That's right folks, songs like "The Impossible Dream" live and in the flesh--the classic play comes complete with all the stage elements: choreography, elaborate sets, costumes, the works.

Of course, we can see Shakespeare Santa Cruz glistening on the horizon, kicking up its heals July 23 at UCSC. Having munched my way through the recent Shakespeare media luncheon, I can safely say that the directors, backstage folk and the actors--particularly the actors--are quite hyped about their month-long productions of Othello, The Marriage of Figaro and Much Ado About Nothing.

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From the July 9-15, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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