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Lodi Arts Commission celebrates 30-year anniversary

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Posted: Friday, March 9, 2012 8:22 am

In typical Lodi Arts Commission style, the organization is celebrating its 30-year anniversary with a musical event for commissioners and the community.

The March 17 celebration will honor the dedication the commissioners have shown to the community of Lodi.  

Waterloo, an ABBA cover band, will perform live in the Charlene Powers Lange Theater.

“It’s quite a big stage production commemorating the ‘80s,” said commissioner and event chair Annalisa Babich Sharp.

Mike Bartram will emcee, and the evening will also include a slideshow that details the history of the commission.

There will be a raffle fundraiser with goods donated by the community, from haircuts and massages to a stay at Wine & Roses Hotel and Spa.

The proceeds go to the Lodi Arts Foundation to support the scholarship program for youth art classes.

Sharp is excited it is one more event to help generate more awareness of the arts.

“We have a  rich arts community that people know little about,” she said. “As wonderful as our wine community is  ...  another big movement needs to happen here in Lodi to create more visitors by involving the arts even more.”

Evelyn Olson was there when the LAC was born

Olson was a city councilwoman from 1982 until 1990. During that time, one of the most important projects she was involved in was helping create the Lodi Arts Commission. Olson, now 84 and still working at her store, The Music Box, shares her thoughts on why the commission was important then and still is today.

Olson, on the need for the LAC:  “I feel the arts in the world’s civilization are extremely important. The arts —  pictures, drama — are so big in our world’s society that they do need support. Europe is a much stronger supporter of the arts than we are here. We talked about this (30 years ago). We all (the council) felt that this was an important part of the community. None of us had any argument.”

On the first events: “One thing that we did at the beginning ... was a dinner for the City Council to tell them what we were doing. We wanted to educate them.”

On the need: “We felt the arts had been neglected and we wanted the city to be a city that supports everybody, from your poor to your rich to your everything. I believe it was quite successful. We’re real happy Lodi has the Lodi Arts Commission and a little culture.”

Laura Heinitz looks back on her 13 years as a Lodi arts commissioner:

During the 14 years she served on the Arts Commission, Heinitz spent seven years organizing the popular summer event Art on the Square, which many commissioners name as one of the best events that have come from LAC.

Art on the Square featured art by 40 to 50 artists from Southern California to the Bay Area. It was an art show centered around fine art: pottery, visual arts, paintings, handcrafted jewelry.

The LAC also partnered with wineries that had offered wine as people attended the juried event.

It was a family oriented event that started with a showing Friday night and lasted through Saturday evening. It featured entertainment from live singers to local choirs and belly dancers.

Art on the Square is no longer a regular Lodi event.

Deanie Bridewell, Square’s Community Center Manager who has worked with the LAC since 2004

Bridewell, on the dedication:  “It is a privilege to work with the current and past commissioners.  Many of them serve and have served on more than one committee including the Lodi Arts Foundation and the Art Advisory Board for Art in Public Places.  As volunteers, they attend many meetings, review grant applications and make recommendations to the City Council, and serve on event committees to enrich the arts in Lodi.

I hope the citizens of Lodi will show their support and thanks by coming out to the event on the 17th.”

Cathy Metcalf, commissioner and chair of the Taco Truck Competition

Metcalf joined the arts commission four years ago because she liked that it strives to bring art events to Lodi as affordably as possible. One of her favorite events has been last year’s Taco Truck Competition, where Lodi’s taco trucks battled for the title of best taco. She says it was a great event because it celebrated Lodi’s predominate culture and the Eastside, which gets neglected often.

Artisan Masters, the elegant and large-scale wine and art fundraiser, is her other favorite event because it successfully blends Lodi’s wine, art and food.

Donna Phillips, former commissioner for 10 years

Phillips’ terms as commissioner were largely devoted to volunteering and raising money for the LAC, two giant factors in the organization’s success. She helped start the pub (a snack and drink booth at the Square) as a way to raise funds.

She especially enjoys the First Friday Art Hops because it made art available to everyone. In the future, she would like to see a gallery, a project she didn’t get to complete before leaving the commission.

Sandi Walker-Tansley: “It is important work.”

With the schools being forced to cut arts program, Sandi Walker-Tansley sees the need for the commission. Through its fundraising, the LAC can provide funds for educational arts classes, theater events and other types of education that isn’t available in every school. Being on the commission is a lot of work, she agrees, but definitely worth it.

Marlo Kerner: The man behind all that jazz

Marlo Kerner joined the arts commission with one main goal: to bring live music, particularly jazz, to Lodi. He started small, with local musicians, and even played the piano for the series’ first event ever. He didn’t play again until a few years ago at the series’ 15th anniversary.

Here is a look at some of the names who came to play in the series over the years: Sam “Mambo” Hernandez, Smith Dobson, Jules Broussard, Pete Escovedo, Ted Herman Orchestra and The Modernaires and Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.

Contact Lodi Living editor Lauren Nelson at

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