Media Life: Paper cuts lead to artistic recognition for Auburn author

Cards sought to boost colorful Gilbert Ortega’s spirits; Art show must go on for Shawn Baldwin; New info emerges about Newcastle mystery soldier
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Art has the wondrous ability of popping up in the most unexpected of places. Auburn’s David Carter has been a star in the international world of children’s pop-up books for more than two decades, dating back to his groundbreaking paper engineering on “How Many Bugs in a Box?” Eighty published pop-up books later, Carter is getting some long-overdue artistic due. But it’s not in his adopted hometown of Auburn. Instead, Roseville’s Blue Line Gallery has shown some perceptive appreciation of his creativity and, yes, genius, and is putting on a show of his work. “The Art of the Pop-Up Book: The Red Dot Series by David A. Carter” opens at the Vernon Street gallery Sept. 19. The exhibit will give gallery-goers a chance to view and sometimes touch 60 of Carter’s free-form, kinetic paper sculptures. The unique show will highlight the artist-engineer-sculptor’s creations for the five-volume Red Dot series. And everything won’t be book-sized. Carter is creating an original, large piece specifically for the event. Opening day Sept. 19 will provide children with hands-on activities from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The public reception will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Carter will be on hand for the final three hours in the evening to sign his books. The free exhibit will continue to delight children of all ages through Jan. 9. LARGER THAN LIFE Speaking of all things artsy, Auburn viewers will see a familiar face on Sacramento’s KVIE art auction Aug. 30. Shawn Baldwin, Arts Building Gallery manager and all-round gallerina, will walk viewers through works that are up for auction by five artists who have shown at the Lincoln Way gallery. But viewers will also see a very pregnant version of Baldwin and in case you’re wondering, there won’t be any potential backstage drama. The baby will still be about a month away from delivery day. Baldwin’s appearance will be prime time from 10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Channel 6. CARDS FOR GILBERT Auburn’s colorful and much-loved cycling octogenarian Gilbert Ortega is reported to be in falling spirits since he recently cracked his ribs in a run-in with a power pole while riding his two-wheeler. Now, one of his biggest fans – Anna Chiaratti of Downtown Auburn’s Norris Electric – is on a mission to get Gilbert back into his usually buoyant mood and on the road again. Gilbert, who turned 80 this year, is down to less than 100 pounds, apparently not eating, and sequestering himself away from others. “He’s very alone,” Chiaratti said. Her idea? Gilbert’s many friends, people who admire his flashy, individualistic style and spirit, or even Auburn residents who just miss him squeezing out that distinctive “honka-honka” bike-horn sound can drop a card or letter to help cheer him up. Chiaratti said they can be left with her at Norris Electric, at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Lincoln Way. They can also be dropped by the Auburn Journal reception desk and we’ll get them to Chiaratti. Media Life will also cull Web comments from the online edition of this column to pass on to the man who most know simply by his first name. Gilbert, whose colorful costumery is indeed a personal artistic statement, needs a little help from his friends. And Auburn is just the kind of community to do that. SOLVING A MYSTERY Veering away from the art world and into the realm of mystery, Media Life put the call out earlier this month to help a Texas woman locate a man who may have lived in Newcastle years ago. It now appears that she’s on the right track. Kim Otwell, a housewife living in Ingelside, Texas, found an Army projection operator’s card and a photo inside an envelope tucked between the pages of a book discovered by her sister at a yard sale. The envelope and projectionist’s card both had the name “Donald A. Betterley” on them and she was hoping to reunite the ephemera with Betterley or his heirs. Otwell searched the Internet and found a Donald Betterly in Newcastle, spurring an e-mail to Media Life for some help. This is what Media Life has learned so far: Linda Robinson did some genealogical research and turned up a Donald James Betterly, who was born in 1913 and died in 2002. He was in the Army, which gibes with the photo taken during World War II of a soldier, apparently Betterly. He’s buried in the family plot on Betterly Lane in Auburn. All the Auburn references drop the third “e” in Betterly. Jack Duncan also e-mailed to note the Betterly Lane connection. Barbara Van Riper, a valuable recorder of history in Ophir, said she didn’t know if it was the same Don Betterly, but she interviewed him for the Ophir history book in 1985. He had lived in Ophir on Wise Road. His interview and photo was included on Page 64 of " Ophir, Once Upon a Town." And B.K. England recalls Betterly as “a wonderful, wonderful man” who served as president of the Placer Arts League and helped to restore the Bernhard House and former Gallery One in the adjacent winery building. There’s still no family link to return Otwell’s finds to but Media Life will keep looking and holding out hope that it will emerge. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at