In the Mix

Interactive Art




    Lee Krasnow first saw a puzzle box — also known as a trick box or secret box because it requires manipulation to open — in an old movie and convinced his middle school woodshop teacher to let him make one. Now, international puzzle collectors marvel at his art.
    Krasnow, 30, is one in a handful of serious mechanical puzzle designers and manufacturers in the world. The award-winning owner of Pacific Puzzleworks lives and works in Oakland, where he turns metal and exotic woods such as cocobolo and vera into exquisite interlocking riddles. They are sought after for their striking beauty, fine craftsmanship and unique brain-teasing mechanisms, which include pins, magnets and ball bearings.
    People like mechanical puzzles because the aha moment — when you figure out the trick — is usually accompanied by a little endorphin rush, Krasnow says.
    For example, his Barcode Burr is a cube. The rush comes from releasing the puzzle’s six identical pieces, which have rhombic dodecahedral shapes. Figuring out that each piece slides on pins between two positions is key. The pieces must be moved in a particular binary sequence; that is, 64 moves liberate the first piece, 32 for the second, and so on. Krasnow says it took him a year to design that puzzle.
    His design process usually involves reverse engineering a concept using extensive computer drawings and animation. “I think a lot about how I want a puzzle to feel in the hands or what I want to be someone’s experience with it, and then I think about shape and how I can construct it,” he says.
    Krasnow developed a special jig for a table saw to make extremely precise cuts. “Every angle has to be just right,” he says, which is why some puzzles can take hundreds of hours to build.
    His puzzles range from less than $60 for simple ones to thousands for intricate custom designs. For more information, go to www.pacificpuzzleworks.com.

—By Rachel Petkewich


OAKLAND MADE

Kitanica Jackets
Rugged Outerwear

    All Billy John Cronin ever wanted was to make an “ultimate jacket” — what he used to call an “all-everything, everyday kind of jacket that will never wear out.” Now 42 years old, the former agriculture major from Connecticut began his quest as a student at the University of Vermont. After all those years, he has finally achieved the goal with Kitanica jackets, crafted in his studio in North Oakland.
    “This,” he says, unfolding a black, heavyweight Cordura Nylon coat — the Mark 1 — “is a revision of a revision of the first jacket I ever made. It’s something that’s never going to wear out.” The jacket seems to have pockets everywhere, most with a D-ring stitched inside. It zips, but also has a series of buckles in front to give it even more strength. It’s not quite military-spec, but it’s close enough to appeal to the types of customers who would go after something with a military style.
    Cronin, who goes by “Beej” rather than his given name, has teamed up with his brother, 38-year-old Chris, to jump-start a company whose products are so niche that retail stores and fashionistas probably wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them. Thus the sales are done completely by mail order and Internet, and the orders are coming in fast.
Cronin says the company started doing serious sales after his pal and television personality, Adam Savage, started wearing a Kitanica jacket on his show, MythBusters, on the Discovery Channel. In practically no time, the ’Net was abuzz with people wanting to know where to get a jacket like that.
    “I knew he had a show, but I’d never seen it,” says the affable Cronin, who at the time was teaching math to at-risk kids in San Francisco. “He’d bought one years ago, and I started getting weird e-mails from people wanting to know how to get one. So I put up a Web site and we fired [the company] back up. With that little push from Adam’s exposure we got some juice.”
    Kitanica jackets sell from $400 to $500, depending on the model, and have become so popular that the Cronin brothers have contracted with third parties for the sewing and stitching. Chris Cronin, meanwhile, heads up the marketing and business end while Beej Cronin holds up the design end. A cousin, Len Riccio, also works on the project.
    “It’s not fashion stuff,” Beej Cronin says. “No fashion people have really gotten it. This is a solid piece of gear, and we’d never really thought about that as a market segment.”
    Kitanica LLC, P.O. Box 99095, Emeryville, 94662, (510) 923-0503, www.kitanica.net.

—By George Shirk
—Photo courtesy of Kitana


LET'S EAT OUT

Montclair Farmers Market

    Long gone are the days when filling up at the farmers market meant gorging on free slices of Pink Lady apples. Today’s markets are stocked with prepared foods that can quickly turn around and serve as brunch. Beware though: The odds of getting excellent food are good, but the goods can be odd.
    Take the Montclair Farmers Market (9 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturdays). Brittany Crepes and Galette serves up gigantic butter, sugar and lemon crepes ($4) right alongside India Gourmet’s standout yet incredibly messy-to-eat curried chicken naan wraps ($7). But beware: If eaten in succession, gastronomic distress could follow. Instead, try sticking to foods that pair well.
    We had great success at RoliRoti with a fully cooked Sonoma free-range chicken ($12) and small side of rosemary-roasted fingerling potatoes ($3) from Zuckerman Farms in Stockton. While tearing into the chicken with the provided plastic utensils is only slightly less barbaric than rending it with your hands, nothing beats a bird fresh off the rotisserie drizzled with fresh lime juice. Accompany that with a yeasty pretzel covered with cheddar cheese ($2.75) from the Esther’s German Bakery stand, and, oh, heck, go crazy and add an India Gourmet vegetable samosa ($1), and you’ve got a meal.
    And if you’re really dying for a sweet for dessert, pick up a Pink Lady on your way out.

—By Candace Murphy
—Photography by Deborah Sherman


Urban Connections

The Oakland Public Stairway System

    Believe it or not, there was a time, not so long ago, that now car-centric Oakland was planned as a walkers’ kind of town.
    Whoops.
    Even so, and despite the freeways and the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of cars and trucks, it’s still possible to have a fine pedestrian outing by exploring the many public stairways that abound.
    Naturally, most of the stairways are in the hills. There are many in Upper Rockridge, more in Montclair, some really nifty ones in Grand Lake, several in Highland and more in the Eastmont Hills. There are, in fact, about 230 public stairways in Oakland, in various states of repair, built when developers did not foresee the car culture that arose in the East Bay. The best way to find these stairways is to get your hands on a copy of the Walk Oakland! Map, sold at many places, including the Oakland Museum of California, and listed at the Oakland Public Works site, www.oaklandpw.com.
    Three splendid examples of public stairways are the recently reconstructed stairs in the Merriewood District in Montclair and the Trestle
Glen stairs in Crocker Highlands. The Lower Merriewood Stairs (yes, there are Upper Merriewood stairs, too) connect Merriewood to Thornhill Avenue, while the Trestle Glen stairs connect Park Boulevard to the Grand Lake commercial district.
    The only thing missing are the trolley cars that developers, 80 and 90 years ago, insisted would be here. Whoops.

—By George Shirk


From One Geek to Another

    It’s a Wednesday night at TechLiminal on 14th Street in downtown Oakland, and the place is buzzing. There’s a panel, including a
researcher and professor, discussing the health benefits of computer games that aid with weight loss and heart health, would you believe? W-a-y back in the room, some kids are engaged — body and mind — in interactive computer games.
Upstairs in the conference room, some people are doing something that involves the Smart board and overhead projector. The conversational hubbub in the place is energizing. Some people are sipping drinks and talking. Others are gathered around computers learning about Facebook and Twitter.
    It’s exactly what Anca Mosoiu had in mind when she opened her computer hot spot and salon in June. The self-professed technology nerd and MIT grad who bubbles with creativity and humor came to Oakland from Romania with her parents when she was 9. As a community activist, she serves on boards and makes things happen. She saw how technology know-how — or lack of it — is dividing society into those who can (benefit from it) and those who can’t. She decided to open a place where she could remedy this. Help regular people become Web savvy. She also wanted a gathering place for geeks. “That’s what I am, and I attract them,” she laughs. She wanted to be a uniter. She wanted an inclusive technology hot spot with buzz. Seems she got it.
    For more information, check out www.techliminal.com.

—By Wanda Hennig


By the Numbers

    It’s not every day that an institution can claim a 59-year history like Children’s Fairyland. Here’s some scoop on the Lake Merritt storybook theme park.

Fairyland opened in 1950.
It sits on 10 acres of parkland.
Admission is $7, up from the 9-cent to 14-cent cost when Fairyland opened.
The major fund-raising gala this summer produced $65,000 for the nonprofit.
A membership program launched in 2009 has attracted more than 1,000 members.
Fairyland’s 28 Storybook Boxes  were recently reconditioned, and some have new words and music.
1 pony lives at Fairyland, and her name is Dory.
A Magic Key, which turns on the Storybook Boxes, costs $2.
Fairyland has handed out more than 1,000,000 Magic Keys.
Aesop’s Playhouse, the new  200-seat children’s amphitheater, cost $2 million. Plays run June through October.
The Fairy Music Farm Tunnel, an exhibit with interactive musical instruments, courtyard and fairy murals, is 118 feet long.

—Image courtesy Dan Goodsell


Gallery Spotlight
Lireille Gallery of Contemporary Jewelry & Art

    Yan Liu and her husband, Steve Robinson, have something they want to show you. It’s jewelry.
No, rather, it’s art. No, it’s jewelry. You get the drift.
    “We wanted to be part of the art-jewelry movement,” says Liu. “Many of our local artists are breaking into front-line design and want to present that to the general public.”
    Liu, a native of Shandong Province in China, arrived in the United States in 1995 and, with Robinson, opened the Piedmont Avenue gallery, the Lireille Gallery of Contemporary Jewelry and Art, in 2008.
    On the afternoon we dropped in, Liu was preparing the gallery for one of its monthly artists’ receptions, and she herself was on display. Her necklace, a lovely piece of metalwork, was created by Brooke Battles, a Rockridge artist who describes her work as “art in wearable form,” and who was to be received that evening at the event. On Liu’s wrist was a bracelet by Oakland’s Anastasia Azure, made of steel and monofilament. Azure’s work combines an ancient cloth-making technique with metalsmithing and contemporary materials.
    The gallery also features fine art, but the main focus is on the jewelry. Liu characterizes the art as “an undiscovered corner” of the burgeoning Oakland art scene and “very, very different than the common, mass produced jewelry.”
    Lireille Gallery of Contemporary Jewelry & Art, 3980 Piedmont Ave., (510) 547-3455, www.lireille.com.

—By George Shirk
—Courtesy Lireille Gallery



IN THE SCENE

New Digs for the Freight
Berkeley Coffeehouse Moves Into the Mainstream

    In 1968 in Berkeley, psychedelic rock ruled, folk music was dead and a used furniture store called Freight & Salvage at 1827 San Pablo Ave. was in the process of going bust. Who would have thought that an eponymous 87-seat folk venue opened in the failed store would evolve into a world famous performance and education venue fostering folk and traditional music from around the globe?
    But it did.
    By the end of its first year, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse had presented Mexican music, Chinese tunes, bluegrass, acoustic delta blues, jazz, Celtic fiddling and dancing. And that was just the warm-up.
     In 1984, with its reputation and audience numbers rising like a crescendo — and by then incorporated as the Berkeley Society for the Preservation of Traditional Music — the Freight moved three blocks to a 220-seat facility at 1111 Addison St.
    Within a dozen years, having outgrown itself again, the search began for a new home. Fast-forward to Aug. 27, 2009. Nine years after closing the deal on a one-time auto shop, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse (with the coffeehouse still to come) raised the curtains on its new home at 2020 Addison St. with the 21st annual Freight Fiddle Summit, a show the Freight has held at external venues for the past few years because it was too large for the old Addison Street address.
    In a sense, the new Freight is a case of antiestablishment going mainstream. Right in the middle of Berkeley’s thriving new Downtown Arts District, the $11.3 million, 500-seat performance center includes the main theater plus seven performance and teaching rooms — one of them a 50-seat music lounge for emerging artists, open mic events and student performances. No longer located in a funky part of town, the new Freight is close to BART, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, the Jazzschool, the Aurora Theatre and other happening art spaces. All this synergy, plus proximity to a diverse slew of restaurants, gives patrons a ready option of a full night on the town.
    Built to stringent LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification guidelines, the new state-of-the-art Freight has walls made from wood recycled from the former facility, tiered seating with comfortable, custom-designed chairs made from (recyclable) cast aluminum, an eco-friendly living roof planted with native California plants and a considerably larger stage with a bamboo floor and backdrop. “The audience probably won’t notice many of the features,” says marketing director Lisa Manning. “It’s all pretty simple and stripped down. What we’ve focused on is behind the scenes — a room to house the grand piano, for example, and making things better for the musicians.”
    A coffeehouse is in the cards for the future (“when being a function of how quickly money falls from heaven,” says Manning), and the old cafe counters will be shipped to the new Freight for business as usual.
    Meanwhile, the nonprofit’s mission remains intact. “We’ll be in glamorous digs, but the new venue is pretty vintage Freight,” says Manning. “Our focus is still the music.”
    Two months before the scheduled opening, executive director Steve Baker — who has been with Freight & Salvage since 1983 — sounds like he is running on enough adrenaline for his entire team.
    “What has been the biggest hurdle? Getting finished on time,” he says, sounding hectic.
    “And raising the funds. That’s been another one,” he adds. Then he stops for a moment before continuing. “But really, it goes beyond that. Retaining the ethos of the place. That’s been the biggest challenge. Being sure that we maintain the integrity of our mission.”
    The Freight’s longtime commitment to promoting public awareness and understanding of traditional music, that is. And not just any traditional music, but “the best music representing the regional, ethnic and social diversity of the world,” says Baker.
    So what can someone not familiar with  the Freight expect by way of a unique experience? “A friendly, welcoming, comfortable environment,” Manning says. “And to hear the best roots music, in the sense of bluegrass from Appalachia or Celtic from the Celtic Islands.”
    And there is another thing. “Our sweet spot,” she calls it. “When you go to a bar to hear music, the emphasis is not on the nature of the music — and music in a big concert hall is remote. Our sweet spot is the connection with the musician. Like it’s you and 400 friends in your home.” That sounds like vintage Freight. 

—By Wanda Hennig
—Courtesy of David Weiland


The Art of Harpestry

    King David played one. So did Harpo Marx. Angels are reported to be enthusiasts, and the souls of the departed are regularly portrayed perched on a cloud strumming a celestial tune. For some reason, the harp has always struck a profound chord on the human heartstrings, as evidenced by the fact that there’s scarcely a corner of the world that lacks its own music on the instrument. In some places the harp goes back to the beginnings of recorded history; in others, South America for example, it arrived with missionaries and explorers, but the locals quickly made it their own.
    To showcase this diversity of styles and cultures, local harpist Diana Stork gathered a few fellow musicians for a small festival in San Francisco 20 years ago. When the line of would-be listeners stretched around the block, she realized she was on to something, and the Festival of Harps was born.
    On Oct. 3 the festival celebrates its 20th anniversary with dozens of performers amid the nooks, alcoves, halls and gardens of the Julia Morgan–designed Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland (where, no doubt, the souls of the departed will also be enjoying the tunes); a host of fringe events will also take place at venues around town for several days. The walk-through event allows music lovers to savor and sample harp music from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, as well as styles from classical to jazz, meditative to percussive.
    Produced by the Multicultural Music Fellowship, the event is more than just a concert. Says Stork, “It is also educational in essence, as we hope to help other cultures to hear and learn about each other.”
    Festival of Harps, 5 p.m.–9 p.m., Oct. 3, Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., (510) 548-3326; fringe events Oct. 1–23 at various venues, www.multiculturalmusicfellowship.org.

—By Mary Eisenhart


Like Oakland for Chocolate

    Think “Nancy Nadel” and most Oaklanders think “Oakland City Council.” She’s best known around the city as the District 3 representative. In the future, though, her name could become synonymous in the city with chocolate. “We’re a small start-up with a big vision,” she says of her chocolate “factory” — right now, a kitchen she shares near Jack London Square with two other chocolatiers. Nadel, who studied chocolate technology at UC Davis in 2007, is working with chocolate growers in Jamaica — her favorite holiday spot — and has plans to develop a worker-owned chocolate co-op in Oakland. See her delectable creations online at www.theoaklandchocolateco.com.

—By Wanda Hennig
—Courtesy of Nancy Nadel


MEDIA SHELF

New Releases from East Bay Authors and Musicians

BOOKS
Writin’ on Empty: Parents Reveal the Upside, Downside, and Everything in Between When Children Leave the Nest edited by Joan Cehn, Risa Nye and Julie Renalds
(No Flak Publishing, 2008, 160 pp., $19.95)
    Editors Joan Cehn, Risa Nye and Julie Renalds, all Oakland empty-nesters who bonded after their broods moved out, have compiled an anthology of essays about the heartache associated with children growing up and leaving home. In addition to the editors, 23 authors, among them acclaimed writers Elizabeth Fishel, C.W. Nevius, Al Martinez and John Leland, as well as unpublished parents, pen poignant pieces full of hope, humor, sadness and readjustment.

—By Judith M. Galman

CDs
The Moore Brothers, Aptos
(American Dust, www.americandust.net)
    With vocal harmonies coming back to pop in a big way courtesy of Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, it’s time the world paid closer attention to Thom and Greg Moore. The former Oakland residents (now living in Nevada City but recording for Oaktown’s rising American Dust label) take
the kind of sibling vocal empathy associated with the Louvins and the Everlys and wed it to offbeat song structures and chord progressions. On the Moore Brothers’ fifth release, with a beefed up sound owing to Neal Morgan’s drumming, Jun Ohnuki’s bass playing and Kelley Stoltz and Kevin Ink’s detailed production, the results hark back to the 1960s without aping any one source. Fans of the Hollies, Simon & Garfunkel, the Bee Gees and the Beatles circa Rubber Soul and Revolver will find much to savor in this brief compendium, and much to decipher in the brothers’ cryptic lyrics. Sinking into the sound of these 14 gemlike songs while grappling with their enigmatic meanings can turn 37 minutes into an exhilarating trip.

—Derk Richardson


PUSHING THE LIMITS

Going Against the Grind

     Near the corner of 18th and Adeline streets, you’ll find this sign in painted rainbow colors: deFremery Park’s Skatetown, aka Town Park. It’s a concrete stage set on the historic stomping grounds of the Black Panthers and just blocks from where the Cypress Freeway structure fell. Now kids grind their trucks on structures built to last.
    That this West Oakland skatepark came together was no small feat. Project mastermind Keith Williams, an art teacher at Oakland High School, raised every dime for its construction. With 22,000 square feet of city-sanctioned space to work with, Williams (better known as “K-Dub”) and his crew of skaters, builders and artists designed the boarder Mecca. “These ramps have traveled a journey,” K-Dub says, “from the woods to the suburbs to the hood.” With the founding of Town Park, he says, skaters finally have “the space to do their thing.”
    The concept started in 2005, when K-Dub met pro-skater and Oakland native Karl Watson at the Los Angeles X Games. They came up with the idea of Hood Games, events for skater competition as well as venues to showcase local music, dance, film and fashion. The phenomenon began in East Oakland, but it has traveled to several California cities and as far away as Las Vegas, producing more than 14 free local gatherings for skaters in search of the perfect ollie. So far this year, Oakland has hosted a few games with a high turnout.
    Catch wind of the next Hood Games here: www.hoodgamesskate.com.

—Patsy K. Eagan
—Photo courtesy of Tida Lam


Leader of the Pack
Portrait of an East Bay Dogumentarian

    During Kendra Luck’s 12-year career as a photojournalist, her editors at the Contra Costa Times and the San Francisco Chronicle knew she liked dogs and taking their pictures, so she often got those assignments. In 2001, after 9/11 and a series of catastrophic personal losses, including her job as the newspaper industry meltdown took hold, she found herself taking stock and wondering what to do next.
    Inspired in part by her dog Gladys, adopted from a shelter in 1993, the East Bay resident became a “dogumentarian,” launching her Web site in 2002 and setting out to document dogs. Rather than staging cutesy portraits, she catches her subjects as they are, in their environment, with their people. The goal, she says, is “to really capture the charm and personality of your dog.”
    And, rather than handing you a disc with 100 snapshots of your canine buddy, she works exclusively in the old-school medium of 35mm black-and-white film, making heirloom-quality archival silver gelatin prints by hand. “I’m creating a lasting piece of fine art,” she says. Prints of her work are available in galleries in Santa Fe and Scottsdale.
    Luck offers a number of options, from basic family portraits ($350) to the Puppy Package ($1,200), which includes three sessions over the course of a year and removes, as she puts it, “the pressure of making all the cuteness happen on one day.” A typical session could be in the den, the yard or the dog park, wherever her subject is most relaxed and comfortable, and usually lasts between one and two hours. “Photographing dogs is very similar to photographing toddlers, in terms of their attention span and the direction they’ll accept,” she says. “It’s about having patience, getting down on their level, not trying to force the situation.” 
    For more about Luck, visit www.dogumentarian.com or call (510) 527-1011.

—By Mary Eisenhart
—Courtesy of Kendra Luck


BLOCK PARTY

A Lakeshore To-Do List

 

    A few hundred steps is all you’ll need to take for a perfect, easy-on-the-budget day on Lakeshore Avenue, a strip as energetic and ethnically diverse as any you’ll find in fair Oakland.
    If you’re a yoga devotee, or are at least comfortable with the basics, usher in the day with a workout unlike any other you’ve ever experienced at Monkey Yoga Shala, an airy studio tucked into a high-beamed second-floor space. Newbies pay just $30 for three weeks of limitless classes, and regular rates run about $8 per class — rock-bottom by Bay Area standards. A 90-minute class is heavy on strength-building ashtanga-based moves — think of a seemingly endless series of invigorating yoga push-ups and the chance to practice handstands as though you’re 10 again. You’ll leave not only drenched in sweat, but also with the soul-lightening feeling that you can conquer anything that comes your way.
    3215 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 595-1330 www.monkeyyoga.com

    If yoga isn’t your thing, substitute a morning trip to the truly grand Grand Lake Farmers Market for Hawaiian coffee and enough organic produce and sweet potato pie to last the week. Intent on sleeping in? Then skip right to the second must-do of the day: crisp, sizzling pizza from Arizmendi Bakery, a worker-owned cooperative that opened its doors in 1997. Bring the paper, wait in line and fork over $2.30 for a slice or order an entire pie of whichever scrumptious, surprising concoction
of the day — always a unique mix of just-picked veggies and gourmet cheese — is scribbled on the chalkboard. After lunch, gradually pick yourself up from your pizza-induced delirium and grab a few scones (corn cherry is a favorite) and a loaf of chewy, nutty bread to tide you over until your next visit.
    3265 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 268-8849 www.arizmendibakery.org

    Next, head north a few more strides to the newest cool kid on the street: Sway. Kin to an outpost of the same name on Telegraph near UC Berkeley and on Park Street in Alameda, this spacious fashion Mecca opened its doors in May to a legion of locals hungry for stylish, affordable frocks. From cute T-shirts and shimmery night-out tops to flowery dresses and Herve Leger–inspired bandage-style cocktail wraps, you’re guaranteed to leave clutching something delightful. (Even if it’s for your hard-to-please teenage daughter — or your hard-to-surprise wife, guys.) An added bonus? You’ll fork over far less than anyone would ever guess, as price tags rarely top the $50 mark.
    3359 Lakeshore, (510) 251-9940

    If you still have cash to spare, make Maribel your final feel-good stop. (To feel even better, bring some cool designer duds that you no longer wear to consign.) This upscale, gently-used boutique has perhaps the best broken-in jeans selection in the state. Fifty bucks for a pair that runs three times that at retail is the norm, and there are dozens of them on offer — and enough flirty, breezy dresses to make you dizzy. But not dizzy enough that you’ll forget about all that remains up for grabs on vibrant Lakeshore Avenue. Next week, return to take in the dozens of other alluring shops and eateries you have yet to explore.
    3251 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 419-0677

—By Lauren Gard
—Illustration by Julie Goonan


Not Your Mother’s Dress
Lesley Evers Fashion Fills Niche for Modern Motherhood

    Lesley Evers designs dresses for modern moms, taking them from work and spending time with kids to more formal occasions. A mix of punchy modern prints with streamlined shapes, her dresses, skirts and tunics combine femininity, comfort and classic design for women (think modern day Audrey Hepburn).
    Born in Berkeley, Evers made her way to New York City as an artist and part-time pattern maker after college, and she remembers scouring department stores unsuccessfully for the right outfit to wear to events and gatherings. “I turned to my sewing machine out of frustration, and it re-sparked a passion inside,” says Evers. Strangers on the street paid compliments, and friends requested she make dresses for them. The Lesley Evers dress was born.
    Described as “modern nostalgic,” the dresses are fun and versatile. Interestingly, many of Evers’ designs reflect a memorable time her life: Her figure-flattering wrap dress Audrey, also her best-selling dress, was based on memories of her mother’s cotton shifts. The Lucy, the first dress created, mimicked the dress Evers wore when she met her husband. The dresses continue to be staples for the company, though Evers’ own motherhood experience has inspired additional designs that reflect changing body shapes.
    Evers borrows her color scheme from nature and creates original colors by mixing paints with color swatches. The combination of custom colors, prints and designs with active lifestyles in mind fills a missing niche in women’s wear — fashion that targets motherhood. Her hope is that her pieces “create new memories” for the next generation.
    After moving back to Oakland, Evers started a dress line that continues to grow. The fall line includes shirtwaist dresses, new prints in double-knit fabrics and resort-wear tunics in sizes XS (2/4) – L (12/14). Prices range from $105 – $195 and are available online at www.lesleyevers.com, from the showroom (1250 Gilman St., Berkeley, 510-526-3851), and Bay Area boutiques including Bella Vita (5437 College Ave., 510-653-1639).         
 

—By Karen Granados
—Courtesy of Lesley Evers


Festival Fever 3  Don’t-Miss Events

Sept. 18–20  If you’re a jazz lover, Monterey will be heaven for you when it hosts the 52nd Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, a three-day jazz celebration with more than 500 artists — Esperanza Spalding, Pete Seeger and the Dave Brubeck Quartet among them — appearing on nine stages. www.montereyjazzfestival.org

Oct. 2–4  The hootenanny of fall hootenannies, The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, revs up for the ninth year with folk, blues, rock, bluegrass, etc., at Speedway Meadow in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for a weekend of absolutely fabulous free — free! — music on three stages with appearances from the likes of Billy Bragg, Neko Case, Lyle Lovett, Doc Watson and hordes of other performers. www.strictlybluegrass.com

Oct. 17–18  Pumpkins and autumn go together like peanut butter and jelly, so get your fill of the gourd from pie-eating contests, parades and carving demos at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. The fun starts with the Safeway World Championship Weigh-Off (1,528 massive pounds of pumpkin is the record) on  Oct. 12. www.miramarevents.com


 

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