Walnut Creek

Johnson new CAE program manager

Linda Johnson has assumed the helm of Walnut Creek Civic Arts Education as its new program manager.

She succeeds longtime manager Kathy Nelson, who retired in 2012 after more than 40 years of service with CAE.

One of Johnson's goals is to ensure CAE's educational goals align with the communities it serves.

"With the arts being such a big part of the new Common Core standards adopted for California schools, I want to be sure that our program supports young people in their development," she said. "CAE is already such a high-quality program, and I hope to extend and expand on that."

For the past 12 years, Johnson had been executive director of Bay Area arts education nonprofit Streetside Stories, a San Francisco-based non-profit that helps young people develop literacy and arts skills through storytelling, theater, visual arts and tech media.

Johnson has a bachelor's degree in English from Ohio State University and a master's in social work from the University of Iowa. She also worked at Mercy Housing California for seven years managing resident services and in fund development.

She lives in Berkeley with her 5-year-old son Holden.

Local artists' creations for library gala

Five local artists are donating original works of art to be auctioned at the Walnut Creek Library Foundation's 5th Annual Authors Under the Stars fundraising gala, March 8, at the Walnut Creek Library.

This year's gala celebrates Walnut Creek with the theme "Authors, Artists, and Adventure."

Proceeds benefit essential programs and collections for the Walnut Creek and Ygnacio Valley libraries.

Tickets are $225 per person and are available through the Foundation's website, www WCLibrary.org, or by phone at 925-935-5395.

'Poetry Out Loud' county finals Saturday

The Contra Costa County finals of Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation contest for young people, takes place this Saturday, Feb. 8 starting at 11 a.m. at Las Lomas High School, 1460 S. Main St. in Walnut Creek.

The young participants must select a poem and then interpret it at the event.

A panel of judges will select a winner, who then will represent Contra Costa County at the California championship in Sacramento March 16-17.

Twelve high schools will be represented this year -- College Park High (Pleasant Hill), Deer Valley High (Antioch), Delta Vista High (Byron), El Cerrito High, Independence High (Brentwood), Las Lomas High (Walnut Creek), Making Waves Academy (Richmond), Monte Vista High (Danville), Mt. Diablo High (Concord), Northgate High (Walnut Creek). Richmond High and Salesian High (Richmond).

The Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County is again sponsoring the event, which is open to the public and free. To learn more about Poetry Out Loud, go to http://poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/watch-video

Donahoes' photos on display at Boundary Oak

"At Play: Recreation Near and Far," an exhibit of photos by Tom and Nancy Donahoe depicting what people do for fun and health, and the seriousness with which they go about those pursuits, is currently on view at the Boundary Oak Golf Club, 3800 Valley Vista Road in Walnut Creek. The photos will be on display in the club house through April 3.

The photos range from the sheer fun of the playground to youth sports, pickup games, individual skills and serious competition. They were taken in locations from Walnut Creek to Russia.

Open your 'Mindscapes' at Valley Art Gallery

Valley Art Gallery's "Mindscapes" exhibit, featuring the distinctive textured abstract paintings of Lu Buery, which runs through March 1.

Buery layers paints, sand and gesso -- a plaster-of-Paris-like blended paint -- along with intertwining metallic forms with random streaks and shapes, to portray textures and patinas of bark, chipped paint, rusted iron and other surfaces.

In addition to "Mindscapes" will be works from more than 100 other Bay Area artists on the gallery's 30 rolling walls.

The gallery, at 1661 Botelho Drive in downtown Walnut Creek, is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Diablo Ballet's 20th anniversary event in March

Diablo Ballet will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a special March 6 performance at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek with performance premieres, ballet alumni and a film retrospective.

Featuring works from the Ballet's history, the celebration includes the company's premiere of Eugene Loring's "Sweetheart Pas de Deux" from Billy the Kid, staged by Patrice Whiteside, the artistic executor of the Eugene Loring Estate.

A new work by acclaimed Diablo Ballet dancer/resident choreographer Robert Dekkers is set to be performed at the celebration.A gala reception, including dinner with the dancers at Scott's Garden, 1333 N. California Blvd., will follow the performance.

Tickets are $85; buy them online at www.LesherArtsCenter.org or www.DiabloBallet.org by calling 925-943-7469 or 925-943-1775.

'New Neon' now at Bedford Gallery

The Bedford Gallery's exhibit "New Neon: Light, Paint & Photography" opens today at the gallery, 1601 Civic Drive in Walnut Creek, and is set to run through Feb. 23.

Taking its cue from the re-emerging popularity of this distinctly Californian medium, "New Neon" will examine the ways in which neon has been repurposed -- in both paintings and sculptures -- to reflect the cadence and drama of the modern media-saturated cultural landscape. More than 30 artists are showing pieces.

Admission is $5; enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres hosted by the Bedford Gallery Guild.

For more information, go to http://bedfordgallery.org

Contra Costa County

Tribute exhibit to Mandela reflects Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, the Art & Culture Commission of Contra Costa County will select and display more than 50 pieces of art for "An Art Tibute to Nelson Mandela," mostly reflecting African American heritage, through Feb. 28 inside the county's administration building at 651 Pine St. in Martinez.

The Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County (AC5) is dedicated to advancing the arts in a way that promotes communication, education, appreciation and collaboration throughout Contra Costa County.

Pleasant Hill

DVC Drama's 'Hamlet' through Feb. 16

The Diablo Valley College Drama department will present Shakespeare's "Hamlet," directed by Nicole Hess Diestler, runs through Feb. 16 at DVC Drama, 321 Golf Club Road in Pleasant Hill.

Murder, melancholy,and madness are at the center of this classic. The death of Hamlet's father and his mother's hasty remarriage to his uncle leave the Prince of Denmark in suspicious mourning. When his father's ghost appears to him demanding revenge, Hamlet obeys, putting into motion a plan of vengeance that will have devastating consequences for the entire kingdom.

Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays Feb. 9 and 16 at 2:30 p.m. For tickets, call 925-969-2358 or go to www.dvcdrama.net

Lafayette

Gallery exhibit all about 'Love'

"Love at First Sight" at the Lafayette Art Gallery is an exhibit of more than 100 pieces that celebrate the love of the visual and tactile world, and the multitude of ways we express that love through art, in various media -- paintings, prints, photography, ceramics and handmade jewelry, which will be for sale.

Hours at the gallery, at 3420 Mt Diablo Blvd. (at Brown Avenue), are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 925-284-2788 or go to www.lafayetteartgallery.com

MORAGA

'California Revealed' at Moraga Art Gallery

Moraga Art Gallery artist George Ehrenhaft (watercolors) will be joined by guest artist Loreta Landucci (oils) for the gallery's new show "Good Looking: California Revealed," set to run through March 15.

For more information, visit www.moragaartgallery.com or call 925-376-5407. The gallery is open from noon until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.