Open studios: South County Oct. 6–7, North County Oct. 13–14, Encore Weekend Oct. 20–21.
The end of summer is bittersweet. That is unless, of course, you live in Santa Cruz. Any local knows the only things that set alongside the summer sun are the crowds and the vague sense of guilt for choosing to stay inside on a nice day. In order to celebrate the best time of year in our neck of the (red)woods, we’ve compiled a list of 35 can’t–miss fall arts and culture events. Whether you prefer settling into the couch with Jonathan Franzen’s page-turner, waving at a flower-covered boat cruising down Soquel Creek, or dancing to a hip-hop show at The Catalyst, we’ve got you covered. Santa Cruz’s “secret summer” starts now. Read on.
Capitola Begonia Festival
Flowers die. But as with many things, the fleetingness of their time is what makes them so beautiful. Hot gluing them to boats and parading them down Soquel Creek is one way to handle this existential conundrum. Other highlights of this weekend-long festival include a sand sculpture contest on Saturday and lots of people in silly, flower-covered hats. Aug. 31–Sept. 3 at the Capitola Esplanade. Free.
Cabrillo Gallery: A Bridge Beyond Borders
Sometimes, just enjoying a burrito isn’t enough. This powerful exhibit focuses on using art to unite individuals from different cultures. The mixed media and print work of artists from both Mexico and California will hang simultaneously in the Cabrillo Gallery and the Monterey Peninsula College Art Gallery. Thru Sep. 28. Free.
John Cage Festival
The avant-garde composer is famous for 4’33”, the silent composition often derided as gimmickry, but he made plenty of music you can hear, too. On the centenary of Cage’s birthday, New Music Works marshals a bevy of regional and local talents to play the master’s music at points around town using such Cagist instruments as harp, toy piano and radio. Sep. 5 at San Lorenzo Park and around downtown Santa Cruz. Free.
Santa Cruz in Song and Image
“Poet of the guitar” Brian Gore and acclaimed illustrator Bill Russell team up to create a multi-media celebration of the one-and-only Cruz. Bathe your senses in the watercolor paintings projected overhead and the guitar strums, which seem to wind from the mountains all the way to the Pacific Coast. Sep. 6 at Kuumbwa Jazz. $18–21.
‘Mary Stuart’ at Jewel Theatre
How much suspense can actors drum up about a meeting between two queens when the audience knows from Wikipedia (We mean “history books”) that the protagonist, the Catholic queen of Scotland, was beheaded by her Protestant cousin, Elizabeth I? A lot, actually—if 5 of the 12 cast members are Equity actors. Sep. 6–Sep. 23 at Center Stage. $24-29.
Pheonix & Arabeth
Depending on one’s perspective, the mythical painted creations of Phoenix & Arabeth may evoke a sense of the human form as a sacred symbol transcending the boundaries of time, life and space. Alternative interpretation? A beautiful, rainbow-drenched apocalypse. Fair enough. Sep. 7–Oct. 3 at Leeds Gallery. Free.
Capitola Art and Wine Festival
After strolling through the booths with work by local artists and sipping buzz-worthy samples from local wineries, sidle up to a friendly patch of sand and let an off-canvas ocean view remind you that you are in one of the most beautiful locales in the country. Say it with us: “Life is good.” Sept. 8 & 9 at Capitola Esplanade Park. Free admission; $1 per wine tasking token.