Trading Spaces

Two Ventura galleries have left their long-held locations for new digs this summer. Vita Art Center, which opened in 2007 at the Bell Arts Factory at 432 N. Ventura Avenue, has relocated to 28 W. Main Street, just a block away from the WAV in one direction and the Museum of Ventura County in the other. The new location has allowed Executive Director Mary Perez to expand the gallery’s offerings to include a ceramics studio and artists’ studios as well as an art education space and gallery. Vita celebrated its grand opening on May 31 with a reception for an exhibit featuring work by John Nava. Those Bell Arts rooms weren’t empty for long: The Buenaventura Art Association moved in after selling its building across from Plaza Park at Fir and Main. Its new home will have space for both solo and group shows, an artisan store and more community workshops, talks and demos. The new Buenaventura Gallery expects to be open sometime in August.

Squashed Grapes closed its doors at 2351 E. Main St. at the end of April to relocate to a larger spot at 2733 E. Main St. The Midtown Ventura jazz and wine venue is closed during moving and remodeling, but owners Adam Randall and Josh McNutt expect to reopen “The Grape” this summer.

Focus on the Masters is on the hunt for a new home. After several years on the fourth floor, and later the third floor, of the Nonprofit Sustainability Center, the art archive and library is now looking for a new location to house its extensive holdings and allow Donna Granata and company to continue their artist documentation activities. Ideally, the new space would be available for purchase and offer 3,000 square feet or more for gatherings, exhibitions and community outreach.

Changes at the Top

The California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks recently elected Daniel Crosby (principal and co-founder of SPS Limelight Agency) to its board of directors,

Patrick Cassidy

while 5-Star Theatricals has a new artistic director, Broadway star Patrick Cassidy, who took over from Will North at the end of May. Over in Oxnard, the Elite Theatre Company said goodbye to longtime artistic director Tom Eubanks, who retired this spring, and hello to new AD L.J. Stevens, formerly of High Street Arts Center. Joining her is Stephanie Rice, who has worked as stage manager, production manager and managing producer during her time at Elite, and has recently been named president of the board. Ingrid Hardy, formerly director of cultural and community services for the city of Oxnard, has been named assistant city manager of Thousand Oaks.


California Lutheran University Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Heather Castillo, creator of the Arts Under the Stars program, was honored with the 2018 President’s Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Local radio drama broadcaster Every Now and Then Theatre won the International Communicator Award for Audio Production, as well as the International Muse Gold Creative Award for Radio Program, for its production of Houdini, which it presented in conjunction with the Conejo Players Theatre.

The city of Ventura announced the winners of its 10th Annual Art Tales Writing Contest, which honors works of short fiction and poetry inspired by the city’s Municipal Art Collection submitted by youth, teen and adult writers. This year’s winners were Macy Li, Larsen Meckstroth and E.K. Baer (first, second and third place winners for Youth Poetry); Shawn Coyner, Isabel Connell and Devin Varela (Youth Fiction); Penelope Duran, Sophie Stimer and Ethan Adler (Teen Poetry); Cole Dodos, Genevieve Werner and Aaron Meraz (Teen Fiction); Mary Adler, Gabrielle Oracle and Sheri Ward (Adult Poetry); and Gerald Zwers, Carolyn J. Foegen and Caitlin Trude (Adult Fiction).

Annie Sun, a senior at Newbury Park High School, has won the 2018 Congressional Art Competition for California’s 26th Congressional District. Honorable mentions were Trinity Alvarado (Adolfo Camarillo High School), Katelyn Mehner and Josh Welcher (Newbury Park High School) and Kaylie Pendleton (El Camino High School). Sun will be flown to Washington, D.C., where her artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol complex for one year. The artwork of the honorable mentions will be displayed in the Thousand Oaks office of Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village.


Submissions are still being accepted for the 19th Annual Ojai Film Festival, scheduled to take place Nov. 1-11. This year’s theme is “Enriching the Human Spirit Through Film.” Deadline for both films and screenplays is July 1. For rules, entry fees and submission guidelines, call 640-1947 or visit

The Ventura Artists Union is looking for figurative work to be included in an upcoming show, Bodies of Proof, on exhibit July 6 through Aug. 12 at Art City Studio and Gallery in Ventura. For consideration, submit work by hand to Art City on June 27, 4-8 p.m., and June 28, 8 a.m.-noon. For entry form, fees and more information, contact Phil Taggart at, Sylvia Raz at or Gayel Childress at