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The artistic side of Stockton

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Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2010 12:00 am

Just south of Lodi is a city where you can visit massive Buddhist statues and see Carrie Underwood perform in the same day, where you can browse the Internet and listen to an acoustic show at the same time, where you can see a live symphony for free in a park. Stockton has a lot to offer those who crave arts and culture, whether it is live music or the arts.

Surround  yourself with the classics

In the heart of historical downtown Stockton, the Bob Hope Theater is a hub for art productions, including film, dance, comedy and Broadway style entertainment. The Classic Cinema Series is one of the most popular events that will feature old classics like “Rebecca,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” between now and November. Bob Hope Theater is located at 242 E. Main St. in Stockton. For more information on events, visit

Be one with the theater

While Stockton Civic Theater thrives with season after season of live theater, it’s easy to miss it. The theater is sandwiched in a residential area between a canal and March Lane. Whether you want to act in a play or simply enjoy a live performance, the Stockton Theater is mostly run by locals, for the local community.

Running Sept. 1 through Sept. 26 is the play, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” It is directed by All Muller and Dominee Muller-Kimball and based on the book by Rachel Sheinkin.  The play is described as a hilarious tale of adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling championship.

Stockton Civic Theater is located at 2312 Rose Marie Lane in Stockton. For information, visit

Even shopping centers have summer concerts

In addition to shopping and eating (REI, BJ’s Brewhouse, Peet’s Coffee, etc.), Stonecreek Village offers events from Saturday farmers markets (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) to a summer concert series. Their next concert is Sept. 17 at 5:30 p.m., and will feature local school bands. Stonecreek Village is located on Pacific Avenue at Robinhood Drive. For more information, visit

Experience the art of your neighbors

The Tidewater Art Center and Gallery is one of Stockton’s most well-known art galleries, displaying the works of more than 20 artists whose medias span glass, painting, photography and more. “4 the Joy of It” is currently on display. It is a group show featuring the artwork of three resident jewelry artists, Gay Lynn Saunders, Susan Winton, Rebekah Burr-Siegel, and Lodi guest artist Debbie Kafton. The following exhibit, opening Sept. 7 is “An Eclectic Affair” of art from Babbette Thompson, who is known for her work in local theaters designing and painting sets for stage plays. Tidewater Gallery is located at 223 E. Weber Ave. in Stockton. For information, visit

Grab a latte or watch a dance recital

One of Stockton’s favorite hangouts now combines a favorite coffeehouse  (Empresso) and old-fashioned theater. Stockton Empire Theatre is home to a variety of events, from comedy to music and dance. Tonight, the Empire presents “Pearl of the Pacific,” a cultural dance recital. Showtimes are at 6 and 8 p.m.; admission is $15. Empire Theater is located at 1825 Pacific Ave. in Stockton. For events, visit

Bringing big names to town

When it comes to big names, Stockton Arena is where you can see them. Carrie Underwood is performing her “Play on Tour” at the Stockton Arena on Sept. 28. Rapper and actor Snoop Dogg will also perform at the arena on Sept. 24. For tickets and more information, visit or call 373-1400.

Way more  creative than official business

When you think administration building, you may not think art or cultural. But the building in Downtown Stockton is a destination for both. Inside, there is artwork and displays incorporating mountains, water and farmland. There is a 7-foot -tall water feature at the main entrance, 300 pieces of blown glass, a large county seal etched in glass and more. The San Joaquin County Administration building is on San Joaquin Street and Weber Avenue.

An exhibit of the little known commercial artist

One of the Haggin Museum’s most popular collections on display through December is the works of J.C. Leyendecker. Before Norman Rockwell, there was Leyendecker — who, according to the Haggin, is arguably the nation’s most popular and successful commercial artist of the first four decades of the 20th century. The Haggin Museum is located at Victory Park, 1201 N. Pershing Ave. For information, call 940-6300 or visit

Pacific musicians entertain all season

University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music is the oldest music school on the West Coast. The concerts, held in October and November, allow community members and music lovers to enjoy ensembles and orchestra pieces by professional musicians and music students. The series will kick off Oct. 1 with Pacific Jazz Ensemble at the Faye Spanos Concert Hall. For more information about the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music, visit

Locals’ favorite hangout

It’s probably right to say that Blackwater Cafe is, simply, where the locals go. It’s a place that is both arts and cultural: An entertainment venue that offers local and out-of-the-area performers. But it’s also a laid-back cafe, where people can order food or coffee and sit for hours on their laptops while using Blackwater’s Wi-Fi. Owner Linda Frontz says there is something going on all week long. Monday night is jazz night, and there is always music on Friday and Saturday nights. Open Mic Night is every night, and it’s first come, first serve. There are lunch specials every day, as well as beer and wine — and, of course, coffee. Blackwater Cafe is located at 912 N. Yosemite St. in Stockton. For more information, visit or call 943-6938.

The symphony celebrates culture

The Stockton Symphony keeps busy all year long, playing under the lead of Peter Jaffe. Their next concert is a free family concert on Sept. 18, which celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. The free concert will be held at 10 a.m. at University Park Stage, on the CSU Stanislaus Stockton Campus on California Street.On Sept. 23, Stockton Symphony will also begin three months of Classics concerts. For more information about Stockton Symphony, visit

Be overwhelmed by towering Buddhas

Driving along the quiet and deserted Carpenter Road, east of Highway 99, you wouldn’t imagine you’d find a garden of massive and colorful Buddhist statues. However, there is a temple that celebrates the life and story of Cambodian Buddha with more than 90 colorful and larger-than-life, jewel-encrusted statues. The Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple is located at 3732 Carpenter Road in Stockton.



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