SPAM: Jamming Dixieland Blues on a Green Canvas

By Sheryl Hamlin

Architectural Preservation and Adaptive Reuse

The staid white façade of the Roy Wilson, vialis 40mg Sr. designed 1920’s building at 117 North Tenth Street in downtown Santa Paula gives no hint of the lush and often provocative works of art on display at the Santa Paula Art Museum (SPAM).

Originally used as offices for the Limoneira Corporation, prescription the building has been repurposed into an art and cultural center. High ceilings, arched windows, wood floors, classic stair railings and even a walk-in safe remind the visitor that a different type of work once took place within these walls. The massive, interior arched windows, which had been covered, were rediscovered by the renovation committee during the careful restoration of the building. The interior arched windows restate the arched theme of the entryway. The third concert picture was taken from the mezzanine giving a feeling of the light-filled space on the main floor. SPAM’s display walls have been painted a restful green that becomes a complementary background for the art and the eye. SPAM is an architectural preservation and adaptive reuse project worthy of any major metropolitan area.

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On Sunday, April 26, 2015, about one hundred citizens enjoyed the soulful music of Dixieland Blues, performed by the group “Razzberry Jam”, whose regulars included Tom Hackney on piano, Chuck Mullett on clarinet, Charlie Myerson on banjo,  Jim Walker on cornet and trumpet, and Michael Wallace on trombone.  Augmenting the band were two members from the Barrelhouse Wailers: vocalist Karen Parkhouse and Jim Wade on Tuba and drums. Jim Wade collects trombones, one of which belonged to John Philip Sousa.

Chuck Mullett, whose wife Vivian is a SPAM docent, entertained the audience as if he were in a small cabaret, creating an intimacy with the audience. He also provided historical insight into the pieces. For example “Make me a Pallet on the floor” originated in the 19th century and, like so many in this genre, contain suggestive lyrics with double entendre. The song “I need a little Sugar in my Bowl” came from the 1930’s and was popularized by Bessie Smith and is considered one of the 50 sexiest songs of all times, according to Mr. Mullett. Razzberry Jam has been together for twenty years and is a regular on the Ventura County circuit, including a weekly gig with veterans. Docents provided attendees popular desserts, cheeses and spirits.

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Dos Del Sur: Carlos Grasso & Sylvia Raz “Two from the South”

Running through June 14, 2015, the current SPAM art exhibition features works by Carlos Grasso and Sylvia Raz. Originally from South America, these two artists are now Ojai residents. Their art can be abstract or representational, minimalist or detailed, mono or multi-chromed. Social and political statements permeate the oeuvre. A row of dozens of Barbie and Ken dolls carrying social and political placards lines one of the exhibition rooms, along with a stuffed animal on a cross saying “Forgive them, they know now not what they are doing”, a provocative transliteration of a well-known Biblical phrase. Ms. Raz says that originally she created art that sold well; now she creates art that communicates well. This important exhibition should be on the calendar of all art enthusiasts and connoisseurs. 

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Santa Paula’s three museums (Agriculture Museum, Oil Museum, Art Museum) are high quality examples of architectural preservation and adaptive reuse and provide a cultural and social trove for the city.

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Sheryl Hamlin: With an MS in Industrial Engineering, Sheryl Hamlin spent years in technology with stints at Motorola, Tandem Computers and various startups. She has been on the boards of neighborhood organizations both in San Francisco and Palm Springs where planning issues were her specialty. She now resides in Santa Paula and loves the historic fabric of the city.  Ms. Hamlin’s blog Stealth Fashion  and  technology product ‘ Plug and Play Webmaster’.

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