Stay Gallery

Dear Editor:I had a memorable experience at Stay Gallery last Friday. The wildly inventive futuristic robots assembled by Cristian Castro from old machine parts were still on display. But in addition, there were artworks inspired by the Dia de los Muertos, including ofrandas, homemade memorials to deceased loved ones assembled from flowers, photographs, favorite foods, cut colored paper and keepsakes. Meanwhile, two skilled face painters, their own faces beautifully painted, were turning eager patrons into living works of art. And music, food and drink created a welcoming social atmosphere. The art of a high-tech future met with the art of a rich, spiritual tradition rooted in a past that stretches beyond Columbus. And in a neat twist, the futuristic robots recall Downey's heritage as the home of space shuttles, while the art of Dia de los Muertos points to the contributions of Latin culture that are vital to Downey's present and future. The leaders of Stay Gallery have shown a genius for bringing together diverse communities and thereby helping to weave the social fabric of our city, giving Downey a distinctive identity and civic pride. Downtown is alive again. I want to say thanks to those who have contributed money and materials over the Gallery's first year to make all this possible. I hope everyone in Downey will support the Gallery with their participation and contributions. I moved to Downey from Malibu when I retired two years ago, and I'm very happy I chose this city. Organizations like Downey Art Vibe, the Downey Arts Coalition, and the Downey Symphony truly make Downey a place to be and to stay. Don Marshall Downey

Dear Editor: In a recent news article in this newspaper, our mayor, Mario Guerra, spoke about our $10 million Columbia Memorial Space Center and the struggle to increase attendance, the space foundation's inability to raise funds, and create membership drives. While we are fortunate to have the help of Jim Kindrick, the president and CEO of the Balboa Park museum in San Diego, we are also blessed with a proven team of local talent that may be able to help the CMSC in driving traffic and creating the kind of buzz it takes to enable it to thrive and our mayor said, "a bang for our buck." Within Stay Gallery, located just a few hundred yards from our city hall, a very creative team of talent has emerged. Short on financial resources, but long on enthusiasm and terrific ideas, they have built a small oasis for our tiny downtown, thereby adding interest and a reason to visit the neighborhood. And their ideas don't stop short of the gallery. When the gallery caught my attention last November I wandered in to take a look. That was when I discovered the reason for their success. The art display was interesting, but the team was compelling. While I viewed the artwork, the gallery directors were busily engaged in strategy planning for upcoming events. It was a nice surprise when they invited me, a casual observer, to join in their conversation. That moment allowed me to share a small part ownership with their success. This friendly outreach to their customer base was not an isolated event. They continue to evolve and create a network of involved supporters, sharing the gallery's success with the entire community...all are welcome. In the Patriot's news article, CEO Kindrick suggested the executive director for our space center should be from Downey and also "love" Downey. With their love and excitement for this city, the folks at Stay Gallery created a successful focal point for civic engagement. This young and professional group has developed a very successful strategic plan that is bringing together our community. The city of Downey will be well served if it explores the development of a marketing program for the CMSC with the directors of Stay Gallery. They seem to understand our city while others do not. Gary L. Castagnola Downey

********** Published: Nov. 7, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 30