With Valentine's Day just around the corner, historic downtown Sonora invites people of all ages to enjoy "Friends' and Lovers' Night" for Sonora's Second Saturday Art Night.
Downtown galleries, shops and theaters open their doors to celebrate the 42nd monthly event, beginning at 5 p.m. this Saturday.
Performances for this month's celebration include a night of love poems, starring Rick Foster and Bonnie Bryson, plus Peg Reza's Blue Shoes Ukulele Orchestra, the Hills Brothers Blues Band, Coyote Hill, fiddler Dave Rainwater, Niday and Riggs guitar duo, the Kelly Flynn Trio and more.
Highlights of the visual arts include the 27th annual In-Focus Photography Show, Leslie Hurst paintings, florals by Rebecca Spaan, an artist's retrospective for Thomas A. Hughes, a Chinese-Lunar New Year celebration and the Aloft Art Gallery's annual "On the Wild Side" exhibition.
The Europa Café, at 275 S. Washington St., features woodblock prints and paintings by one of Tuolumne County's most revered artists, Charles F. Surendorf (1906 to 1979). In addition, the Europa displays works by painter Diana Eppler, watercolorist Cate Culver and abstract photographer Geoff Wynne.
Award-winning actor, director and playwright Rick Foster will present "Valentine Poems" with actress Bonnie Bryson and guest performers at Stage 3 Theater at 208 S. Green St. Performance times are 5:45, 6:30 and 7:15 p.m., with selections from Sappho to e.e. cummings, Pablo Neruda and beyond.
In addition, the Tuolumne County Arts Alliance offers a "The Darkroom of Charles Moore (1931-2010)" at Stage 3. Moore, an award-winning news photographer, lived in Tuolumne County in the 1980s and1990s.
The Tuolumne County Arts Alliance's 27th annual InFocus Photography Exhibition also continues at 193 S. Washington St.
Joining Art Night for the first time is Marilyn's Boutique, 181 S. Washington St. Live music will be provided by yhe Brothers Strong & Co., featuring brothers Shane and Stephen Strong with Owen Ragland and Andrew Blazzard.
Just down the block visitors can get ready for walking "On the Wild Side" when the Aloft Art Gallery, 167 S. Washington St., presents its annual animal care fund raiser. This year 20 percent of all art sales goes to support Rose Wolf Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation.
At 161 S. Washington St., the Lotus Roots Herbal Apothecary offers the musical style of songstress Kristy Nava and her father, Dennis Nicholls, in Sonora's brand new tea and herb shop.
Potluck, a local bluegrass band, will perform at the Occasion Station at 157 S. Washington St., marking the shop's third anniversary. Across the street at 160 S. Washington St., the Kelly Flynn Trio will play at Lady Couture Boutique in the Sonora Inn.
Next door, at BeDazzled Boutique. pianist and singer Randy Paré will play the store's baby grand piano in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis.
Sharon Malone Lingerie, at 146 S. Washington St., plays host to Coyote Hill, one of the area's popular American roots bands. On view on paintings of the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite, created by natural realist artist Michael Severin.
At 7:30 p.m., Art Night founder B.Z. Smith will pull the winning tickets for two original paintings by Judy Grossman at Sharon Malone, with proceeds donated to Art Night.
Next door at Sonora Joe's Coffee Shoppe, 144 S. Washington St., visitors can enjoy Leslie Hurst's paintings through Feb. 28.
"This is a collection of pieces painted here in the county and interspersed with paintings from past travels," Hurst said. "From a castle in Austria to the Dardanelles, from the Aspens of Hope Valley to the view from my window in Brittany, these are favorite scenes that inspire me."
The Devil Mountain Boys will play bluegrass and country rock classics at the coffee shop.
At the corner of Washington and Theall Streets, Legends Soda Fountain, Antiques and Books welcomes the Hill Brothers Blues Band.
Next door, Benjamin Fig presents museum quality beaded masks and paintings by Gwynn Popovac.
Then at 93 S. Washington St., the Diamondback Grill continues its show of Yosemite art curated by Kristen Kestley.
Up the street at 67 S. Washington St. Backspace Boutique and Gallery presents the improvisational jazz guitars of Grant Niday and Tom Riggs. The shop also features eclectic works by many local area artists, photographers, jewelry makers and artisans.
Joan's Boutique, at 52 S. Washington St., offers bluegrass and more from the John Roman Jackson Trio.
Next door at 48 S. Washington St., the Ventana Art Gallery invites visitors to view the works of Thomas A. Hughes, a retrospective of one man's creative life in oils and pastel art. One of his paintings will be raffled off Saturday, with proceeds benefiting the children's summer reading program at the Tuolumne County Library.
Also featured at the Ventana Gallery is "The Dot Art of Sue Tripp," one of Tuolumne's most prolific and creative artists.
Bradford Studio B, upstairs at 19 W. Bradford Ave., features the works of Allison Blansit, Irene Deaver, Mike Kiriluk, Sherie Drake, Twyla Olsen and Jodi Sigala. This month the group honors the Lunar New Year with a celebration of the Year of the Horse.
Then strollers can travel north to Talulah's Restaurant, 13 S. Washington St., where they can experience a new exhibition of floral paintings by Sonora artist Rebecca Spaan. Nearby It's Yo Good Yogurt, at 11 S. Washington St., gives Art Night revelers a treat with music by the sister duo, Soleil, spotlighting Hannah and her 12-year old little sister Abby.
A special Art Night event takes place at the Heart Rock Community Theater at 1 S. Washington St., where Peg Reza's Blue Shoes Ukulele Orchestra offers a medley of favorite old time love songs in one of the newest Art Night venues. In addition, Reza offers her new line of recycled art jewelry, California Sisters. "I love butterflies," she said. "And I love to do art, and I recycle. Put the three together, and I'm having fun making hand-painted butterfly jewelry."
At Funky Junk, 8 S. Washington St., an original graphite drawing will be created by emerging Bay Area artist Nicolaine. That night the art work will be raffled off with tickets available at the shop.
Finally, Downtown Shoes, at 4 S. Washington St., offers wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres, accompanied by the folk songs and blues of Sean Brennan and Friends.
Along with Brennan's music, two photographers are featured at Downtown Shoes: Nature photography by Brenda Gorsky, plus abstract images and "footography" by Geoff Wynne.
Second Saturday Art Night began in September 2010, and has grown steadily since.
"This monthly celebration of our community's rich cultural life is getting more and more popular," Smith said. "Since November we've added four new spots that are participating each month."
For further information, call 532-7697 or visit www.2ndsaturdayartnight.org.