Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Architects throw a 10-day party; you’re invited

Cathie Anderson
Cathie Anderson

This year’s Architecture Festival kicks off this evening at the Crocker Art Museum. The festival chair, Davis architect Maria Ogrydziak, promised that anyone who comes will find a tantalizing menu of events over the next 10 days.

In fact, there are nearly 15 events, but I pressed Ogrydziak to name just three that area residents shouldn’t miss. She chose tonight’s kickoff, a farm-to-fork architecture tour and a talk by visionary architect Jason F. McLennan.

“The architecture that was selected for the farm-to-fork tour connects to the Central Valley and to our ag roots,” Ogrydziak said. “There are seven projects, and one of them, at least, should appeal to just about anyone.”

One of the seven structures, the Davis Food Co-op, was designed by Ogrydziak, and it won her an award of honor from her peers when she finished it about 15 years ago.

“The architecture has worked the way that I had hoped in that it has engaged people,” Ogrydziak said, “and if you look at it now, the kiosks are there, and there’s food for sale outside, and there’s all kinds of community-oriented things that happen out there in that front entrance, and the plants have grown up to create a green entry and green, meaning living plant entry.”

As for McLennan’s talk, Ogrydziak said it’s an opportunity to hear from a thought leader in her business.

“He has developed a system for understanding how to build a building or a place, ideas for aesthetics and beauty and living things being incorporated in a kind of holistic approach to building, which I’ve always believed all architects should be doing and I believe most are doing,” she explained.

Ogrydziak and other festival organizers hope McLennan will touch upon how a downtown arena could be much more than an isolated events building but could accommodate pedestrian and other uses. Most festival events require registration, and some have a fee. Visit to learn more.

Cue the producers

Buck Busfield has depended on corporate support to produce all the plays he’s done at his nonprofit B Street Theatre, but he decided to borrow a page from producers of commercial theater for his latest production.

“Buck called me and he said , ‘We’d like to do a play that involves a Jewish guy that’s an artist,’” said Randy Getz, an executive vice president with CBRE. “ And I stopped him, and I said, ‘And you thought of my wife and me because I’m Jewish and she’s an artist.’ And he starts laughing and he says, ‘Yeah.’”

Getz, his wife, Pat Mahoney, and a few of their friends – Sharon Usher and David Townsend, David and Patricia Schwartz, and Marcy Friedman – donated the $10,000 that Busfield needed to cover pre-production costs for “My Name Is Asher Lev.”

Getz said he didn’t do it because he and Busfield are old pals – they’re not – or because of the play’s subject matter.

“One of the reasons people live in New York is that it’s not only the center of the universe for many different types of businesses and industries, but it’s also probably the most culturally rich city in the world, and whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s see a play, go to a film, see a musical, listen to music, whatever, it’s all there,” he said. “ Sacramento has a large and growing and vibrant arts community, whether it’s visual arts or oral arts or stage presentations or what have you, and I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to provide some level of support to these entities because, in a very real sense, they enrich our lives.”

Besides a tax write-off, the donors received credit as producers above the show’s title, something that is a regular occurrence in commercial theater. The drama, a coming-of-age story that explores a clash between religious tradition and art, plays through Oct. 19 on the B3 Stage.

The power of Chevo

The Parkinson Association of Northern California had as many as three paid staff in the 1990s, but after its coffers ran nearly dry, it had to lay everyone off.

The organization is making a comeback, thanks to the assistance of former Wells Fargo regional vice president Chevo Ramirez and his connections. Ramirez announced last year that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, and he established the Chevo Foundation to help raise $1 million for Parkinson’s research and support. His first gift, $25,000, helped the Parkinson’s Association get back on its feet, and an associate of Chevo’s helped the organization write an application that secured a grant of $99,450 from Wells Fargo.

“Chevo helped get the organization back on the track where we’re growing again, and with that money, we were able to put on a seminar again,” said Larry Alver, the board chair for the association. “We also this year had a workshop for support group facilitators.”

They also had a membership drive for the first time, getting 114 people to sign up, but Alver said he really wants to get the word out. He estimates that 40,000 people in Northern California are living with Parkinson’s, and that doesn’t include their family members.

Even in the tough financial times, Alver and other volunteers kept the organization’s 30 support groups running. Volunteers staff the organization’s Fair Oaks office, counseling people diagnosed with the disease. The nonprofit has a website,, but Alver acknowledged it’s kinda clunky. He says the best way to reach them is to call (916) 534-7279. And, that’s where you should call if you wish to sign up for their upcoming seminar, Living with Parkinson’s, scheduled for Oct. 26.