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A Woman on Mars

By Matt Katz

 

hat is all this Ray Bradbury business? We’ve seen articles about him in other local publications and now Michael Kelly and John Anthony Miller have started something called the Ray Bradbury Theatre and Film Foundation (RBTFF). Don’t get me wrong: As a writer, I’m in awe of Bradbury’s fertile imagination and hyper-productivity. A telling example of both is his assertion that he started the lifelong habit of writing every day when he was 12 years old and a carnival worker named Mr. Electrico touched him with an electrified sword, shouting “Live Forever!” That was in the early 1930s. Anyway, my point is that Bradbury’s work spans decades and galaxies. So what’s the Ventura County connection?

It began nearly 20 years ago in Downtown Ventura. John Anthony Miller would have Ray out to his Phantom Bookshop for public signings, and a relationship evolved out of their mutual passion for independent bookstores. Eventually, Miller joined with another local artist, Michael Kelly, who introduced the idea of spreading the gospel of the 88-year-old author through the RBTFF—now an official 501c3 nonprofit organization. Starting on page 34, new writer Amber Lennon puts a first-hand spin on the passion of Michael Kelly, ruminating on the mental processes that drive him. It’s as much a story about a local man’s vision as it is about a visionary man.

But of course, Ray Bradbury is a supreme visionary. He turns the world on its head and shakes out galaxies of wacky ideas. And when just one of those stars explodes, it’s wildfire down here on planet Earth. Everything is impossible. Until it’s not. With political candidates bellowing “Drill, baby, drill!” and the stock market fluctuating like a teenage boy’s voice, we’re about due for a miracle. The country needs more than subtle change (it took punk rock to kill disco), and visionaries like Bradbury will be the answer. Our collective psyche could use something akin to the 1969 moonwalk. A man on Mars? A woman on Mars?

Speaking of women doing great things… Donna Granata. I’m not referring simply to Donna as an individual—she is an accomplished photographer, painter, and educator—but to myriad local ladies whose artistic legacies will live on thanks to Donna. More precisely, thanks to Donna and Focus on the Masters, the nonprofit art appreciation program she started in 1994. In her article on page 41, Maxine Hurt refers to the old adage that behind every successful woman there’s another woman, and focuses on Granata’s mission to document and archive the best of Ventura County’s female artists.

We experimented with a handful of approaches to this month’s cover. In the end, we opted to run a shot of Donna at home in Casitas Springs, surrounded by the work of local artists, including some of the women mentioned in the article. The concept of home plays a key role in Ventana­, and it’s a place we rarely get to see Donna Granata. But that’s not really what appealed to us about this image. She just looks great. Even if her twin cats wouldn’t play along. Thanks again for joining us. See you next month.

11-01-2008

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