For Love of the Arts at the Bohemian Art LoftStory by Jim Dyar Photo by Betsy Erickson
It’s one thing to say you’re a supporter of the arts.
It’s quite another thing to host a venue for poets, musicians, dancers and others just about every week of every month for the past 13 years.
But that’s what Peter and Nadia Hava-Robbins have done in Redding. Known as the Traveling Bohemians, the couple has consistently hosted monthly spoken word poetry and open mic music nights, as well as concerts, dance events, art exhibits and more.
For a decade, they held events at venues like Redding’s Old City Hall Arts Center and the former Sue’s Java Café and Serendipity coffee houses. For the past three years, however, they’ve staged them at their own venue – the Bohemian Art Loft in an industrial strip at 3304B Bechelli Lane in Redding.
When one considers all the artistic expression that’s taken place under their banner over the years, it’s fair to say that it’s been an incredible gift to the North State creative community.
“There have been people who’ve been coming for 13 years and they’re still writing and sharing,” says Nadia, herself a dancer, poet and meditative and healing arts instructor. “And it’s not just that. They’re truly wonderful people to get to know and associate with. We just have a big, big love of the arts.”
Nadia, a native of Czechoslovakia, hosts the events and often participates with a dance performance or poetry reading of her own. Peter, a sound expert, is forever positioning microphones and adjusting volume levels. He’s captured a number of live recordings that have made their way into CD form, including performances by jazz, folk and singer-songwriter artists from across the country.
The couple originally met in 1982 at the Temple School of Nuclear Medicine Technology in Philadelphia, where Peter was teaching and Nadia was a student. They married in 1985.
Prior to coming to the North State in 2000, they lived in Honolulu, where they also hosted open mic events. Peter works as a nuclear medicine physician at Nuclear Medicine Associates in Redding.
Peter, who also worked as the sound technician for the five-year run of Dave Short’s Jazz at Old City Hall series, estimates he’s probably seen a thousand live concerts during his lifetime.
“With a live recording, you get the real feel of what people hear when they go to a show,” Peter says. “I try to capture what I love about the music, which is how it happens when it happens live.”
The Monthly Spoken Word Night, which features poetry, stories, skits and more, takes place at 7 pm the second Wednesday of each month at the Bohemian Art Loft. The Monthly Music Night takes place at 7:30 pm the first Thursday of each month. The couple also hosts concerts for artists or groups who can effectively promote their own shows.
Unlike in previous years, however, the Traveling Bohemians have scaled back the number of performances and art shows they’re hosting. To fill the void, Nadia leads meditative and healing arts classes – something she’s done for most of her life. The classes include T’ai Chi for Health, Gentle Hatha Yoga (Yoga Isometrics), Qi Gong (a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise and meditation) and T’ai Chi Sword.
“It takes me away,” she says of teaching the classes. “I’m no longer everyday Nadia. It transforms me and I’m in a whole different place. I love to share it and we have students that really get into it. They stay after and want to learn more.”
In addition, she does facial and head acupressure massage and relaxation therapy. Another massage therapist, Ocean Littlefield, also uses the space.
Between the performances, art shows, meditative and martial arts classes and massage, the Bohemian Art Loft takes on the characteristic of a health and healing arts center.
“A lot of people tell me they just don’t want to go to the gym,” Nadia says. “Here it’s subdued and quiet. That’s more what they’re looking for.”
Even if the performances have been scaled back a bit, there will always remain at least a monthly opportunity for musicians and poets to present their original creations.
“We’ve never done it for the purpose of making money,” Peter says. “We do like to come close to paying the rent. But we do it for the love of the arts.”
3304B Bechelli Lane, Redding • (530) 229-7818 www.travelingbohemians.org • www.meditativehealingarts.org