Santa Cruz Good Times

Sep 23rd
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Best Professionals 2009

best_prof_BenClorBest Artist of the Year
Ben Llano Hecht




Jeff Pappas, Clouds

Jeff handles the downtown Santa Cruz crowd—a lively night-time bunch at that. Remember now, bartending is, really, an artform so when you find a dynamic bartender, you do get spoiled. That Pappas has enough charm, skill and testosterone to win over the masses is well, the perfect emotional cocktail. Cheers to that. Clouds Downtown, 100 Church St., Santa Cruz, 429-2000
Runners up
Morgan Raines, Michael's
Molly McVeigh, Crepe Place

Massage therapist
Divine Massage
Your votes gave Divine Massage a good rub. Nice 411 we discovered: DM provides bridal packages—a perfect wedding present, too? Check out the massages for couples. 3233 Valencia  Ave., Santa Cruz
Runners up

Tie: Debra Mattson /Unity Love

Dr. Steven Garner / Ultraderm

Garner, who is certified by the ABPS and head surgeon at  Ultraderm, wins yet again here. The thing we noticed, besides the stellar “bedside” manner—a good thing, doc—is Garner’s passion and expertise for what he does—from skin felicitatenqued to microdermabrasion. 3311 Mission Drive, Santa Cruz, 475-4315
Runner up
Randall Nacamull

Artist of the Year
Ben Llano Hecht

en Hecht has taken the Santa Cruz art community by storm. His unique talent is found in an art form called encaustic, in which he combines photographs with an artful smattering of heated beeswax to create a stunning three-dimensional effect. “Encaustic is the oldest form of painting—it’s essentially painting with heated wax,” Hecht says. “I use a mix of archival footage, my own photography and beeswax.” Hecht’s one-of-a-kind collection includes ocean wave photographs that he has taken both locally and in Hawaii that are embellished with beeswax. Other pieces include antique Civil War era tintypes that are manipulated collage style—the effect is truly mesmerizing and unique. In addition to his personal art, Hecht is the founder and director of the Seven Directions Institute of Art and Science. This dynamic program offers children’s art classes and camps throughout the year. Before founding Seven Directions, Hecht (who earned his M.A. in Education) worked for five years as an elementary school teacher. In 2001, he decided to turn his love for art and his teaching ability into a career. “The most exciting part of teaching art to kids is the chance to help them realize their own unique creative process and apply that to what they make at Seven Directions,” he says. “I feel that discovering one’s creative process with interest and wonder is critical to each person’s success and happiness. Having my art studio adjacent to the school helps me genuinely model my process and excitement for creativity with the kids I teach.”  Take note of the summer, winter and spring art camps as well as the weekly classes that Hecht teaches at Seven Directions Institute—they’re geared specifically to each child’s unique talents. Painting, sculpting, digital art and photography are all available, and Hecht oftentimes brings in live animals so that the children can learn to draw from life. (Ever adventurous, Hecht is also an entrepreneur, rock climber, para glider and animal trainer extraordinaire.) Field trips are also offered so that kids can capture the beauty of their own community through art. Hecht encourages each child to discover what it is that they love. “Art can be so different for each kid. They all go about it in a different way, so it’s really exciting to tailor it to each kid,” Hecht says. (Make a note: Hecht also teaches encaustic painting workshops to adults and teens.)
Runners up
Marvin Plummer
Janet Allinger
Pete Saporito

T Paul Sek

Eco-friendly painting? Let us hand you the brush. The fairly new construction and repaint business offers both interior and exterior painting and staining but the thing that may have stood out for voters this year is the “green” aspect to the business. The only materials used are non-toxic. 721 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 588-4080.

Kyer Wiltshire
Kyer Photography, Weddings, Portaits, Travel, Events
There are some mighty visual gems on Wiltshire’s site that it’s hard to describe the depth, the beauty and the pure awesomeness of his craft. Readers know this, which is why Wiltshire was voted No. 1. Things we found  that got us jazzed: the landscape images, which are captivating, the wedding photos—downright refreshing and new—and the nude yoga poses—inviting. Those fire dancer portraits are hypnotic.
Runners up
Shmuel Thaler
Tie: Frans Lanting /Pete Saporito
Studio Holladay
Craig Smith

Surfboard maker/shaper
Nick Palandrani

Based on the artisan’s philosophy of “low volume, high quality,” the man behind Source Surfboards and GP Surfboards is at the head of the lineup this year, with his carefully crafted, custom-made innovations. Coinciding with his 10-year anniversary as a shaper, Nick Palandrani’s Best of Santa Cruz win pays homage to a career committed to diversification, in which he fashions high performance shortboards for the ripping jock surfer to artfully vintage longboards for the classic nose rider, and everything in between. “I never wanted to be a one-trick pony,” says Palandrani, the humble 32-year-old who, before hearing about his win, joked with a friend about the impossibility of reigning as your top pick. “I figure I’ll focus a lot of time on progressive retro shapes—alternative shapes like fishes—but supe them up. I build boards for people knowing that their surfing is going to get better. I don’t want to limit a design.” Everything is hand shaped. Palandrani eschews the use of machines to avoid becoming a production shaper. He operates alone, at his workshop on the Eastside, shaping one to three boards each day. The Source workforce is just him, and for GP he teams up with Bruce Gordon, who executes the fine woodworking, glues the blanks and builds the fins. Rich Sanders adds to the pushing of the envelope by designing the fins for Source, and all of the boards are handled by the best glassers in town on the Westside. Minus business cards or a website until recently, Palandrani exemplifies word-of-mouth success, with the likes of Adam Replogle, Cheyne Pearson and Source test-pilot Noi Kaulukukui adding his boards to their quivers. Clientele requests can span a performance quad to a retro fish to a classic longboard. And that’s how Palandrani likes it: “Every day I’m doing something completely different from the day before,” he says. “What’s cool about it is that it’s never boring. It’s not like manual labor—it’s creative.” 345-8831,
Runners up
Pearson Arrow
Tie: Doug Haut/Michel Junod/Ward Coffey

Wallace Baine

No surprise here. Baine, who’s been at the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 1991 and now writes for the A&E section, knows how to capture your attention via words. He also has an amazing sense of loyalty to the community. Along with photographer Shmuel Thaler, Baine launched the Gail Rich  Awards in 1997, which salutes locals that make a difference in the arts. Baine does that every week, too, in the Sentinel, reporting on local arts and culture with such powerful heart.
Runners up
Doug Abrams
Chris Magyar/Geoffrey Dunn

David Hanson

Anyone that’s ever remodeled or had construction work done on their home knows that it can be a real pain in the rear. It can be messy, expensive and may not even turn out how you imagined. Unless that is, you contracted with David Hanson Construction. Since 1995, Hanson has been on the Santa Cruz construction scene, building homes, additions and myriad other building projects, all with his motto “creative beauty” in mind. Additionally, Hanson strives to build green whenever possible, making his projects good for you, the environment and your rear. 216 Story St., Santa Cruz, 345-7302,
Runners up
Aboveboard Construction, Randy Solomon
Steven Cervine


Clearly, Dreamscape is adventurous in its undertakings. The full-service landscaping company is all about planting, lighting, structures, hardscapes, irrigation, and more—all along with consultation and design. Not bad. Something that clearly stands out is the expertise and great style. 1916 Encina Drive, Santa Cruz, 476-6800
Runners up
Landscape Company

Surf City Plumbing

Clogs happen, so to unclog big messes, you have to call big pros like Surf City Plumbing. One word: local. But we don’t mean location and proximity. We know SCP resides here. When we say “local,” we’re talking in terms of attitude and energy. This a great home-town business with great service. 1231 River St., Santa Cruz, 423-0117
Runners up
Jimmie Smith

Coast Equine / Dr. Phinn

Born and raised in Santa Cruz, Phinn “grew up riding, judging and training in the Santa Cruz County Pony Club.” It makes sense then that her passions run deep for animals, particularly horses in this case. Big plus: readers seem to love the fact that her biz is mobile—only mobile in fact. It’s the perfect house call. She comes to you. At 28, Phinn may be one of the youngest vets in town, but her experience and sensibilities are revered. “I grew up in the horse community, and riding, and I always knew I wanted to be involved in it,” she says. “I love the relaltionships I develop with clients and horses and being part of their lives and helping the animals be as healthy as possible.” Call 707-4050
Runners up
Adobe / Dr. Evans
Westside / Dr. Shuman
Ty McConnell
Hannah Good


GT’s resident astrologer nabs another win here in this, a monumental astrological year. (Oh, but aren’t they all?) The founder of The Esoteric & Astrological Studies & Research Institute right here in Santa Cruz, Risa’s astrology column has graced the pages of Good Times since, well, the mood was in Scorpio way back when. (A good thing.) That, coupled with her intriguing website, which boasts estoteric astrology in an ever-growing online community——as well as the weekly classes she teaches to locals, give Risa a level of depth that apparently continues to be appreciated. Thank heavens.
Runner up
Rob Brezney