Artwork for Joey Lopes Park

This article originally appeared in the West Sacramento News-Ledger on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. (external link)





Artwork for Joey Lopes Park

By Thomas Farley

The art installation for Joey Lopes Park will be a knock-out. The City Council voted on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to accept a design from nationally known artist Michael Clapper of Denver, Colorado. He beat out over 75 submissions. There were no artist submissions from West Sacramento. Commissioners from the City of West Sacramento’s Arts, Culture & Historic Preservation Commission weighed in on the decision as well as the Yolo Arts Council, City staff, an outside artist, and a landscape architect. The artwork will cost $70,000, less than two percent of the budget to build the new park off of West Capitol.

Joey Lopes was a hometown boxer who fought in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. At many times he competed at the Memorial Auditorium across the river. In his early career he was selected for the 1948 U.S. Olympics boxing team. He went on to fight three times for the World Lightweight crown. A community leader in retirement, Lopes did work for the West Sacramento Sanitary District, the West Sacramento Optimist Club and the West Sacramento Babe Ruth Baseball League. It was only natural that a park be named after him, and just as naturally a fitting tribute to him in art would be constructed.

As solid as the boxer and community steward himself, the stone and steel artwork will show Lopes at the height of his powers, in profile, reaching out to deliver a punch. The metal’s rusty finish connects with his blue-collar roots, the son of a grocer, fighting his way toward the top of his sport. Where did the ideas and inspiration come from to produce such a design?

Michael Clapper says he drew on materials supplied to him by the Yolo Arts Council and the West Sacramento Historical Society. But as with all of his projects, he did his own independent research as well, even taking to watching old Joey Lopes fights now on YouTube. Along the way, Clapper said he could identify with Lopes rise from a working-class neighborhood, as he did from north-east industrial Ohio, the first in his family to graduate from college.

A collaborative effort, Clapper’s team includes an engineer, a graphics company, a water-jet shop that cuts steel, and even an electrician to provide the installation’s night-lighting. As this article goes to print, the artwork’s stone is being brought from Kansas to Clapper’s studio. Preparations are underway to meet a tight deadline, with late May the hoped for completion date. Clapper wants West Sacramento to know that he is proud and pleased to be selected as the champion for Lopes’ tribute and hopes that it will embody the boxer and civic leader’s spirit: fighting for the community.

Image courtesy of Michael Clapper


Newspaper article

West Sacramento Reacts To TBD

This article appeared in The West Sacramento News-Ledger (external link) on September 30, 2015.


West Sacramento Reacts To TBD

 Photos and article by Thomas Farley

Social media and telephone lines blew up on TBD weekend to praise and protest the event. Common ground for all sides seemed reachable if noise levels could be better managed. Controlling that din, though, proved difficult, despite shorter hours and City monitoring. On the subject of noise that weekend, no one agrees.

Mayor Cabaldon told me at the last City Council meeting that “TBD had dramatically less noise impact this year compared to the first year.” Perhaps. Last year, according to CBS 13, West Sacramento Police reported 73 complaints. The City this year received 228 official noise complaints but they conducted more outreach than before. The City’s Communication Manager, Paul Hosley, says that a noise hotline and their West Sacramento Connect App may have encouraged more people to report in. The noise affected different people differently.

Robert Raubach contacted me to say that he is not opposed to the festival, just to the venue. “I live two miles away from where TBD was held. My house was booming Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. I could close all doors and windows and still hear the bass. It vibrated the walls and windows. My daughter had a softball tournament this weekend. It meant early to bed and early to rise both days. Hard to do when our house is being invaded by unwelcome noise. Other people say we should have left town, gone somewhere else for the weekend. I find this suggestion repugnant and offensive. My house is my castle. My house is my refuge of peace and sanity. If I was to go anywhere for peace and quiet, it should be my house. Why should I have to go somewhere else?” Other people tolerated the sound, even to the point of discomfort.

Casey Gibson wrote to say, “My wife and I have lived in West Sacramento for a total of seven years. I personally have no problem with the noise associated with the TBD fest and quite frankly welcome the revenue generated, job opportunities provided, and exposure that result from the event. I have very high hopes for where West Sacramento is going as a city and am more than willing to endure a little bit of ‘bad’ for the greater good and long term growth and development. While I see where others are coming from with regard to noise complaints, I personally am happy to bite the bullet for three days in exchange for generating revenue for the city and fostering fiscal and communal growth.”

The City of West Sacramento was unable by press time to provide figures on the economic impact of TBD. They were also unable to say what the promoters paid to have the police department work the event.

The Mayor says the festival gets people thinking about the riverfront and about investing in the area. He says it reminds young people that West Sacramento is a place for them. What remains to be seen is whether these laudable goals can be achieved at 100 decibels.


West Sacramento noise report. (Downloadable in Word format) (Edited at the request of the City)

TBD music stage at dusk.
TBD music stage at dusk.
TBD festival goers at dusk,
TBD festival goers at dusk.
TBD festival tent at dusk.
Newspaper article

TBD: 17,000 Gather By The River, Celebrating Music, Art, Food, and Drink

This article appeared in The West Sacramento News-Ledger (external link) on September 23, 2015.

The News-Ledger is the paper of record for West Sacramento. Produced weekly, it is $.35 a copy. Subscriptions are $25 per year within Yolo County and $30.00 a year elsewhere in the United States. Delivery is by mail. Call (916) 371-8030.


TBD: 17,000 Gather By The River, Celebrating Music, Art, Food, and Drink

The TBD Fest boomed into West Sacramento’s Bridge District this weekend, forming a youthful community centered on music, art, drink, and food. But noise complaints threatened to break up the sybaritic world its founders sought to create.

Electronic dance music fueled the festival’s beat, though hip-hop, garage punk, art pop, and a dozen other genres made appearances. Dance music, however, in all its forms, was always key and constant. 90 acts played, many of them familiar to the EDM crowd, performers like Dusty Brown, Peter Robinson, and Tycho.

Art was scattered about the grounds. It ranged from performance art, a glammed-out ballerina dancing and twirling with a hoop, to competitive art, the War on Walls event, in which artists had a fixed time to create a painting that would outshine their rivals. Free standing art installations appeared here and there, many of them lighting up as you interacted with them.

Drink choices could be simple, subtle, or hard-hitting. You could fill your own container with water, or dive into choices like custom made cocktails or perhaps a shot or two at Wild Turkey’s 50 foot-long “distillery tour on wheels,” a motor-coach made to educate people about bourbon and to provide tastings.

Food choices were similarly eclectic. LowBrau was at the center of the complex, dispensing crowd favorites like sausages and different sides. Organizers said that 17 food trucks were scheduled.

The music at TBD was not enjoyed by everyone. According to KCRA TV, there were 55 noise complaints on Friday evening alone. Organizers seemed to listen to comments and on Saturday evening volume from the venue dropped considerably. City of West Sacramento complaint statistics were not available at press time.

West Sacramento and Sacramento are two very different communities but TBD managed to pull the youth of both cities into a communal atmosphere they could all enjoy. Stephanie Flores is a music festival veteran and she expressed many of the sentiments people had at TBD on Friday.

“I live a few blocks over. This is my third time for the Launch/TBD festival. Last year I came on crutches; I was treated great. I just came from Outside Lands last month in San Francisco and I think the security is better and I like the tamper-proof wrist bands. No gate crashers. I hope to see TBD grow, especially since I can just walk down the street to get here. It makes somebody like me from West Sacramento proud. I even brought my 13-year-old daughter. Everybody looks fabulous and there’s good vibes. Great music. I’m here to see Purity Ring and RL Grime. I think it’s good for the economy. I really love that there are new homes popping up around here in the Bridge District. We’ve been nearby homeowners for 20 years. I absolutely love the festival and the area and will keep coming back. I’m having a wonderful time. I think it is amazing.”

One of two greeters at the entrance.
A crowd around one of five stages.
Costumed ballerina.
Much to see and buy from distinctive vendors.
Art battle. Two hours to complete a composition.

Some positive news — more writing ahead

The News-Ledger of West Sacramento (external link to Facebook) has just given me two writing assignments. I should be able to complete these newspaper articles in September. While I tremendously enjoy the writing I do for Infocus (internal link), the work there is collaborative and without byline. It is always nice to have recent writing credits in my own name and I hope my writing will please the paper. For a look at one of the articles I previously wrote for them, click here. (internal link).

Update: I went on to write 15 or so articles for the News-Ledger. Here is a list. (internal link)