PICTURED: Scott Ressler’s The Last Ice, best of festival winner of the 2021 Wild and Scenic Film Festival. 

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Summer is in full swing, and with vaccinations on the rise and shutdown orders in the rearview mirror (for the most part), people are getting out and about like never before. And that means cultural events are live once again, with food tours, film festivals and more adding some fun and entertainment to the coming months. Also in Arts Briefs this week: contest winners, board members and the passing of a beloved Oxnard artist.

Ventura Food Tours resumes operation

Fans of food, history and walking can rejoice now that Ventura Food Tours is once again up and running. The tours lead participants on foot through a nearby culinary center (Santa Barbara, Downtown Ventura or Ojai), where they can sample food and drink at local eateries. It’s an ideal way to enjoy some of the best cuisine in the area, learn about local history, and get a short culinary education in a friendly, relaxed environment. Eating Ojai tickets are available for tours taking place at the end of July; Downtown Ventura Tasting Tours have openings starting Aug. 1. Private tasting tours are also available by appointment. Tours last three-four hours and cost $89-$119. For tickets and more information, call 805-295-8687, email info@venturafoodtours.com or visit www.venturafoodtours.com

Wild and Scenic Film Festival returns Aug. 28

The Ventura Land Trust is pleased to present its 12th Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival — and it will be live once again! Last year, audiences had the opportunity to screen a variety of films — focused on beautiful outdoor spaces, wilderness adventures, environmental issues and more — in the comfort and safety of their home, as the festival was offered in a virtual format. But films will be screened live once again, at the Ventura County Credit Union. In addition, the festival will extend beyond the big screen, with food and drinks available for purchase, games and a raffle. All activities will take place outdoors and incorporate “the highest standards of social distancing and cleanliness.”

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival takes place on Saturday, Aug. 28, 5-10 p.m. Admission: $5-$125. For tickets and more information, visit Ventura Land Trust at www.venturalandtrust.org

Margy Gates: 1932-2021

“Allison’s Reef II,” watercolor by the late Margy Gates. Photo submitted

The Buenaventura Art Association announced in June the passing of one of its longtime members, Margaret “Margy” Crawford Gates, at the age of 89. 

Gates was a BAA Honorary Lifetime Member and a gallerist for more than 35 years. For 26 years she lived aboard a sailboat in Channel Islands Harbor, starting in 1977, and moved to Hollywood Beach in 2002. 

She painted and made ceramics at a studio gallery, first located at Marine Emporium Landing and, later, near Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut on Los Altos Street. Her final space, the Sea Gate Gallery, was on Ocean Drive near the Rudder Room. After closing that gallery in 2015, she continued making art at home. 

Gates was frequently inspired by the natural world, flowers and the ocean environment in particular. She also had a fascination for archeology and Indigenous cave art, and studied the cave paintings of France as well as those of the local Chumash Indians. She served as a resident artist at the BAA’s Harbor Village Gallery and Gifts in Ventura Harbor in 2016 and 2017.

Gates passed away peacefully in her sleep on May 30, surrounded by family. Her work and spirit will be sorely missed, both within and outside of the local art community. www.buenaventuraartassociation.org

Anderson .Paak joins OPAC board

Grammy-winning singer, rapper and Oxnard native Anderson .Paak joins the honorary board of the Oxnard Performing Arts Center. Photo submittedM/em>

Grammy award-winning singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer and drummer Anderson .Paak has joined the Honorary Board of Directors for the Oxnard Performing Arts Center. .Paak, a native of Oxnard, has been one of the venue’s biggest, and probably most famous, supporters. In 2018, he celebrated the release of his album Oxnard with a free carnival and concert at the performing arts center (back when it was called “The PACC”) and was in talks to use the space as the Ventura County base for his .Paak House initiative, which would provide community outreach, after school programs and a “safe haven” for youth. It was also hoped that .Paak’s involvement would save the PACC from budget-induced closure.

While much of that didn’t come to pass, PACC — later called OPAC — managed to survive, bolstered in part by the involvement of concert promoter Sterling Venue Ventures (of The Canyon Club). .Paak’s support of OPAC, however, has never wavered, and his role on the board can only mean good things for the venue.

“It is such an honor to be able to give back to my hometown, so I am delighted to join the Honorary Board of Directors fo the Oxnard Performing Arts Center,” .Paak said in a statement shared via email by OPAC. www.oxnardperformingarts.com 

New board members for OPAT

The Ojai Performing Arts Theater has welcomed two new members to its board of directors. Jane Weiler Weil — known for her work with the Weil Tennis Academy and as president of the Ojai Unified School District — will become the organization’s first chief operating officer. Michal Gaidano, who has worked with the Ojai Film Festival, the Ojai Art Center Theater and OjaiCares/Breast Cancer Awareness, will assist with special events and other functions. 

“The addition of these two talented women to the board of directors broadens our scope of work capabilities,” said Joan Kemper, founder and CEO of OPAT. “We are all excited to have them on board as we chart new destinations for OPAT and the future of theater in the Ojai Valley.” www.ojaitheater.org 

Luschei, Montalvo win poetry contest

Glenna Luschei of San Luis Obispo County was announced as the winner of the 2021 Ventura County Poetry Project poetry contest in the adult category. Luschei won for her poem “My Stroke.” The winner in the youth category was Luis Montalvo of Santa Paula, with “Entry.” The theme for the 2021 contest was “Defining Moments,” focused on personal experiences that led to change, elevation, profound sorrow or joy or epiphanies. vcpoetryproject.org