Walnut Creek's Opera, Crafts and Public Art Permeate the City's Society

Area culture draws in a more diverse audience and younger performers.

On Sunday, May 8, 2011 - 03:20

In Walnut Creek, culture is not something that happens behind the plush velvet curtains of a premier theater box or after the last drops drain from a vintage bottle of wine.

Music and art are accessible to anyone who takes an interest. Opera, for example, may call to mind images of women with big hair and men wearing boutonnieres, but Walnut Creek’s Festival Opera is trying to draw in a more diverse audience and younger performers. The company is dedicated to putting on quality performances at low ticket prices for the up-and-coming East Bay Area. It stages operas in the park and holds community galas, performing such classics as Carmen and Don Giovanni. The 20-year-old Festival Opera is now the third-largest opera company in the Bay Area, and prides itself on showcasing young operatic talent.

For those of a less soprano persuasion, there is an abundance of fine art that waxes impressive without feeling stuffy. The Pacific Fine Arts Festival has been lining the sidewalks of downtown Walnut Creek with arts every spring for 60 years. The rows and rows of sculptures, jewelry, paintings and gifts don’t require any expertise, or even a ticket – just an eye for color and maybe some sunscreen. When the tents are packed up and the vendors have moved on, though, art still pulses through the city. Walnut Creek has a well-developed public art program, requiring a certain percentage of construction project costs be spent on art. The result is an energetic, inviting downtown atmosphere. The Bedford Gallery, a trendy art museum, offers public art walking tours to highlight the sculptures and murals that dot the bustling cityscape. Throughout Walnut Creek, culture is not elitist but transcendent, inviting everyone equally to take off his tie, let down her hair and enjoy the beautiful side of life.