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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014

2009:   Festival - Entertainment - Map - How to Enter - Judges - Awards - Sponsors - Quilt Raffle - Volunteers

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Art in the Redwoods Festival
Top Hat Dinner (2009)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Doors open at 6:00 p.m.
Kronos Quartet at ~7:00 p.m.
Dinner served ~7:30 p.m.

Art in the Redwoods Festival logo

Art in the Redwoods Top Hat Dinner, photo credit: Barbara Pratt, 2008 The "Top Hat" opening dinner & wine celebration at the Gualala Arts Center starts at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday evening when the doors open. Chef Jon Mortimer from the Timber Cove Inn will be in charge of the scrumptious dinner with specially paired wines from Annapolis Winery.

Diners will get a sneak peek preview of the Fine Art Exhibit even before it is judged, and enjoy a special set by Kronos Quartet, who will also perform in concert at Saturday's Headline Event.

Advance dinner tickets ($150 each, includes $100 donation), which come with a VIP Festival pass, are recommended, as it usually sells out early.

Kronos Quartet Program

Kronos Quartet

Osvaldo Golijov / Doina *
Traditional (arr. Stephen Prutsman) / Wa Habibi (Beloved) +
John Zorn / Selections from The Dead Man *

Meditation (The Blue of Noon)
Hamza El Din (realized by Tohru Ueda) / Escalay (Water Wheel) *

Updated: 07/02/2009

* Written for Kronos
+ Arranged for Kronos

Meet Top Hat Dinner Chef Jon Mortimer

Alexander's recently welcomed Jonathan Mortimer to the newly renovated Timber Cove Inn as Executive Chef. He was nominated for James Beard "Best Chef / Restaurant Northwest" in 2008. Gualala Arts is honored to have him as the chef for the Art in the Redwoods Top Hat Dinner.

Jon "My life long journey with food began on the east coast. Charles Mortimer, my grandfather, was a true pioneer in the food manufacturing industry, but my food adventure has always followed a different map. At a young age I learned to love a great meal and the process by which it was attained. While enjoying the dining aspect, service and trying new flavors, my thoughts would always wander to where the ingredients came from. What we were enjoying at the table never had as much an impact as picking and shelling peas with my grandmother earlier that afternoon.

"In the subsequent decades to those early food memories I found myself perpetually moving west. Across the fertile plains of the Rocky Mountains I learned of the fruitful bounties of the rich, irrigated soils. I found great respect for the majestic animals that roamed the monochromatic hills and boned many trout from the cool, clear streams. All wonderful, yet still there existed an incognizant limit to my culinary dreams and I always longed for a place where you didn't have to perpetually out-think the food as a cook.

"In what amounted to an almost unexplainable fervor in a breathless week's time as if irresistibly pulled by a cosmic magnet my family headed west to land's end in the greatest food continent on the blue planet. It was the blue I'd been missing, teaming with life and crying out to be married with the fruits of the farmer's labors. The sense of place with which the wine epitomizes the food on the Sonoma Coast is a combination rarely experienced with such seamlessness. It is all so clear sitting on the coast at Timber Cove with the fertile, mineral rich soils behind me and ocean stirring before me . . .it's time to capture Earth and Ocean in a pan and use all the respect of a lifetime with food and capture it on a plate.

- Jon Mortimer

Kronos Quartet: Why Gualala?

It all began four years ago over a glass of wine before dinner. They were watching the sun set from their hosts' deck and nibbling appetizers. She mentioned volunteering for the Chamber Music Committee; he mentioned volunteering for the Board of the Kronos Quartet. There was conversation about the string quartet's commitment to new music and the group's international travel and mention that Kronos is resident in the Bay area. With no real expectations, she said, "We'd love to have Kronos play at Gualala Arts Center." And he said, "OK, we'll make it happen."

Over the months and years and many dinner parties that followed, she learned that not just one, but two members of the Board of Directors of the Kronos Quartet had homes at The Sea Ranch. They had been tossing around the idea of inviting Kronos to do a concert somewhere in the area, and had placed it on the Kronos Board agenda. But Kronos is a very busy string quartet, and the north coast concert idea kept getting tabled.

Then one Kronos Board member held a private Kronos listening party at his Bay area home, and the Chamber Music volunteer met Laird, the Publicity Director for Kronos. They talked about the possibility of Kronos coming to the coast, and she naively suggested that Kronos could be part of the Chamber Music Season and offered to compensate them at their usual rate. Laird very politely demurred, gently mentioning that Kronos is the mostly highly paid string quartet in the music world today. Well, perhaps the Chamber Music Committee budget and local donors were not quite ready for that.

Kronos Quartet Then the stars began to align favorably. Kronos had received a grant to bring their music to under-represented areas - like Gualala. A local Kronos concert might be affordable, after all. Two members of their Board of Directors were eager to make it all happen. The Chamber Music Committee was supportive, and so was Sus, who thought the bigger umbrella of the Gualala Arts Center might make it feasible.

The other Kronos Board member initiated a call to the Chamber Music volunteer, and over coffee they discussed details of how to put together a Kronos concert on the north coast. He asked the Kronos Managing Director, Janet, to give the Chamber Music volunteer a call. The Chamber Music volunteer suggested they include Sus as Director of Gualala Arts. Thus began a series of emails and phone conversations among the two Kronos Board members, the Chamber Music Committee volunteer, the Managing Director of the Kronos Quartet, and Sus.

They discussed the logistics of putting on a Kronos Concert in Gualala. There were nagging questions. Would the Coleman Auditorium be large enough? How would the Gualala Arts Center schedule and the Kronos schedule ever mesh? Could Gualala Arts afford this? But Sus, ever optimistic, with a can-do attitude, knew he could make it a reality. Everything else just sort of fell into place, when, miraculously, the perfect date for Gualala Arts and for Kronos was the middle of August 2009 - the weekend of Art in the Redwoods!

And so, Kronos will pay a first time visit to Gualala this August. Many local folks will be in the audience to support the concert, along with a Chamber Music volunteer, two Kronos Board Members, and the Director of Gualala Arts. They will experience music from a world class string quartet under the redwood trees in Gualala and know that volunteering for the arts is a powerful calling.

- a Chamber Music Committee volunteer

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.