A museum, a musician and a consulate walk into a magazine…



Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Live music is filling auditoriums, theaters are turning on the lights, festivals have resumed, films are back on the big screen and galleries are inviting the public in for art shows, workshops and classes . . . Yes, the arts are thriving once again! There are still plenty of adjustments being made (proof of vaccination, anyone?) but Ventura County hasn’t seen this much activity in months, making this an exciting time to present our October Arts Issue.

Speaking of exciting . . . 2021 is a momentous year for Mexico, concurrently recognizing the bicentennial of Mexican Independence in 1821, 500 years since the fall of the Aztec Empire in 1521, 700 years since the founding of Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City) in 1321, and approximately 100 years since the Mexican Revolution in 1920. To commemorate all of this, and celebrate Latinx Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), the Mexican Consulate in Oxnard joined forces with local community organizations to put on a stunning display of Mexican art (Culture). Works by several mid-20th-century Mexican masters can be seen along with contemporary art by Rafael Perea de la Cabada, born in Mexico City and now a living in Southern California. It’s a dynamic mingling of old and new, ancient symbolism and modern-day perspective . . . and a rare opportunity to see it all in one local venue.

As a founding member of the Byrds (and several other notable bands), Chris Hillman was one of the most influential musicians of his time. He helped develop the music genre we today refer to as country or folk rock, and Ventana Monthly had the privilege of interviewing the Ventura resident this month. Hillman discusses his earliest influences, surviving the Thomas Fire, his new autobiography and more in Conversation.

Finally, on our cover is Roya Alt of the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks. This “little museum that could” has weathered a lot of changes through the years, including a big move in 2018, a new director in 2020 and a pandemic shutdown. Through it all, CMATO has never ceased to impress and inspire. We put the spotlight on Alt and her vision for CMATO in Profile.

A museum, a musician and the Mexican Consulate. Three different stories, three different approaches to art, numerous ways to engage with creativity. It’s people and places like these that make Ventura County a more vibrant place. Yes, the arts are alive and well here, and I’m delighted to highlight a few of them in these pages. Enjoy!