Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Jane Chu, the Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts visited Fresno this week. She is traveling the country preparing to announce a new arts initiative. She spoke with Valley Public Radio's Jeffrey Hess about arts in the valley and beyond.

Courtesy of Steve Skibbie

Creative Fresno is on the hunt for murals. 

Murals outside of bars. Murals on random petroleum station walls. Murals in parks. 

Murals. Murals. Murals. 

The group recently began collecting data on murals throughout Fresno County in a project called the Digital Mural Map funded by the Fresno Regional Foundation. The project will feature photos of the murals and information about the artists on a mobile friendly website and later select murals will be featured in a photo book. The mural hunt will end in December and the website should be up and running in May, 2016.

For Fresno natives of a certain age, Al Radka, the Fulton Mall, Lesterburger and parties in "the figs" all are cultural touchstones that bring back memories of a simpler time. They're also the subject of a new book by journalist Steven H. Provost titled "Fresno Growing Up: A City Comes of Age: 1945-1985." From historic photos of long lost Fresno landmarks to stories about life in the 50's and 60's, the new book seeks to capture the essence of an era when so many baby boomers grew up.

Jim Choi and Chihiro Wimbush / Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm

  In the tiny community of Del Rey sits one of the nation's most acclaimed organic farms. The Masumoto family has been farming the land there for generations, and their heirloom peaches are sought after by the country's top chefs. But the Masumoto farm is also in transition, a transition of generations, as David "Mas" Masumoto's daughter Nikiko has returned home to work with her father and keep the farm alive for another generation. 

This week on Valley Writers Read we hear a story about how, during the Vietnam War, a Hmong family was lucky enough to get out of their homeland. The story describes how, for years, this Hmong family fled from soldiers, hid in jungles, crossed the Mekong River to Thailand, and finally emigrated to America. The story is by Joel Pickford and is read by Lor Lee.

This week on Valley Writers Read, we hear a story by local author Hope Nisly titled "Seasons of Doubt." The story is mainly about personal behavior and philosophies.  Here is a young, very traditional Mennonite girl enrolled in grammar school who meets Summer, another girl with many surprising and often contrary views.  The story tells us what happens when Summer writes an essay entitled “Why I Am An Atheist”?

This week on Valley Writers Read we hear two stories: “Paper or Plastic” by James Benelli and “Night Sweats” by Ed Miller.  Both stories are read by their authors. The first story is a light hearted tale about a bag boy in a grocery store who was just about seduced by a very wealthy customer.  The second story is about a veteran with post traumatic stress disorder.

Editor's note: this program contains adult themes and may not be appropriate for all listeners.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

For the second time in five years, a Fresno poet has received the nation’s highest honor for his field. Former Fresno State professor Juan Felipe Herrera is the new Poet Laureate of the United States. Herrera grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and was influenced by both the beat poets and the Chicano movement of the 1960’s. He joins the late Philip Levine as the only Fresno residents to hold the national honor.  

In this interview Valley Public Radio's Ezra David Romero chats with Herrera about his life, poetry and future. 

This week on Valley Writers Read, we hear a story titled "My Life As A Mystic"  by David Borofka. Even though the main character is an appraiser (which is anything but being “other worldly”) he sees himself as a “mystic.”  Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than what happens toward the end of the story. Listen and find out what happens on this week's program.

Alabastro Photography

The Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra has a new conductor. Orchestra president Brian Burrow announced Tuesday that Bulgarian artist Stilian Kirov has been selected as the symphony's new musical director.

The move caps a year where the orchestra featured a series of guest conductors, following the departure of longtime leader John Farrer. 

Kirov says he's excited to work with the orchestra and the entire Bakersfield community: