January is often a great time for indoor activities and many Alameda organizations have planned a variety of events for art lovers, history buffs and chili enthusiasts on the Island.

Local artist Joan Clair Di Stefano is showing some of her paintings through the end of March at the Alameda Main Library, 1550 Oak St., in the Regina K. Stafford meeting rooms on the first floor. Di Stefano considers painting "a venture into the unknown," that is challenging and exhilarating.

The artist's exhibit features abstract and semiabstract paintings. The graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute and New York University is also a member of the faculty for the Center for Art and Religious Education at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Another local artist, Heidi Guibord, will exhibit her prints at the Main Library on the second floor through Jan. 26. The works feature layered images of pastels, colored pencils, ink and gold leaf put through a press.

Guibord said her art is inspired by experiences she had while carrying her child and watching the child grow.

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 23, the Main Library will present a discussion of the "high points" of Alameda's colorful history, including the Island's role in historic movies and photos.

Eric J. Kos and Dennis Evanosky, publishers of the Alameda Sun will lead the event, which will explore the importance of local creations such as one form of peanut butter, shipping technology and the Popsicle, as well as notable residents and visitors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, Jim Morrison and Jason Kidd.

Over at the nearby Rhythmix Cultural Works, the Book Club at Café Van Kleef in Oakland is hosting an art exhibit through Feb. 24. Two community receptions are slated for the show: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and Feb. 8 at Rhythmix, 2513 Blanding Ave.

Participating artists include Rick Arnitz, Mark Ashworth, Gary Burgess, James Finnegan, Keith Ferris, Dave Gerard, Josh Greenberg, Robert Hernandez, Rose Kelly, Fred Kling, Bob Laney, Michael Mew, Robert Murray, King Shrubb, Peter Van Kleef, Norton Wisdom, Agnes Yau and Tom Young.

Book Club participants have met each Thursday for several years at the coffee house in downtown Oakland (on Telegraph Avenue) to discuss their past experiences with art exhibits, lectures and books, inspiring the creation of new works through their camaraderie and collaboration.

A few blocks away, the Frank Bette Center for the Arts is accepting donations for an upcoming fundraiser. Donations of gently used arts and crafts can be dropped off through Jan. 13 at 1601 Paru St. The silent auction will be held from Jan. 18-26.

Over at Alameda Pointe, the Kiwanis Club of Alameda is getting ready to hold its 14th annual chili cook-off, barbecue dinner and fundraiser Jan. 26 at the "O" Club. Tickets can be bought online at www.alamedakiwanis.org/Chili.htm.

Janet Levaux also writes the Alameda Journal blog at www.ibabuzz.com/alamedajournal.