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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Los Altos bodypainter showcases curvy canvas


Most artists would be distraught if someone destroyed their creations, but 23-year-old Jessica Yurash of Los Altos doesn’t mind if her artwork gets washed away. In fact, it happens every time she paints a subject - Yurash is a bodypainter.

According to Yurash, the ephemeral aspect of her work makes it unique. When people see her bodypainting creations - whether it is a model coordinated to camouflage with her environment or a woman’s stomach painted during pregnancy - they often say they’ve never seen anything like it.

Covered by layers of water-based paints that Yurash applies to the skin via brush, sponge and airbrush, the curves of the human body virtually disappear to the human eye when the painting is complete.

"They’re not sure how to feel, but they have a sudden urge to want to be painted themselves," said Yurash of spectators’ reactions to her work.

Finding her passion

Yurash stumbled into bodypainting after becoming the muse and model for San Jose-based bodypainter Trina Merry. When Merry discovered that Yurash spent her weekends twisting balloons and painting faces at children’s birthday parties, she invited Yurash to assist with her bodypainting assignments.

Yurash called the opportunity to work with Merry "enlightening," because she had never considered herself a visual artist. Although she danced as a youth and performed in many theater productions at Homestead High School and Foothill College, where she earned an Associate of Arts degree in the performing arts and drama, fine-art media like painting and ceramics held little appeal.

"Traditional canvas is frustrating and takes too long," Yurash said. "Body art only takes a day."

While apprenticing with Merry, Yurash learned bodypainting techniques and acquired the business skills needed to thrive as a creative artist. She observed the process for managing assignments, from initial client inquiry to the test shoot and day-of painting, and was soon prepared to market herself as a bodypainter. Although she continues to work her day job at a child-care center, Yurash is hired for an average of 10 assignments per month.

"It takes a lot of time to conceptualize, design and figure out what art works best for each body, because every body is so different," said Yurash of her personalized process.

Because each new client has a unique vision for how he or she wants to be painted, Yurash noted that she’s constantly growing as an artist and expanding her range. To derive inspiration for assignments, she frequently references historical bodypainting styles as well as photos and other art that match her client’s vision.

A body of work

Yurash usually has a two- to six-hour window to paint her subject on the day of an assignment, a timeline that leaves little room for error. Test photo shoots help her determine the best angles for poses and visualize how she will paint her client. Although she’s never spent more than six hours continuously painting a subject, she once spent 12 hours modeling for another bodypainter.

When the cost of paint, Yurash’s time and other expenses are factored in, bodypainting can be pricey. Yurash notes that her fees typically range from a few hundred dollars for a client who only wants a small portion of the body painted to upward of $1,000 for a full-day assignment that involves multiple models in a complex setup.

With the availability of latex, glow-in-the-dark and ultraviolet paints, Yurash said, artists have many tools at their disposal to express their creativity.

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the body into something new via art renders the cost irrelevant, Yurash added.

"They want to take the beauty of a woman, femininity or humanity and become the artwork. … It’s so much more special because it’s temporary," she said.

Old art reinvented

Although the thought of covering the body with layers of paint or even tattoos may seem like a contemporary form of expression, bodypainting has deep roots as an art and form of communication, stretching back to prehistoric days. Cliff dwellers and indigenous tribes in Australia and Africa used clay, charcoal and natural pigments as a form of religious and cultural expression. Yurash said the art of bodypainting has evolved over time and she feels confident that it is making a comeback.

"The world of bodypainting is just on the edge of the cliff and is about to fall into our society once again," she said.

Professional bodypainters like Craig Tracy of New Orleans are finding unusual ways to showcase their work. From art for advertising campaigns to live painting events for corporations searching for ways to make their brands stand out, the bodyart medium is growing in popularity. Top artists like Tracy may charge thousands of dollars for artwork that lasts only a few hours on a person.

Performance-based bodypainting is gaining an edge locally. Merry launched the Art Alive Gallery in San Jose to engage Bay Area bodypainters in collaborative projects after a successful installation at the 2011 SubZERO Festival. Yurash, one of the gallery’s primary assistants, said she sees it as a stepping stone toward a full-time career in bodypainting.

In the meantime, Yurash continues to perfect her craft, actively participate in the bodypainting community and learn the art through osmosis as a model for other bodypainters.

For more information, visit jessicayurash.com.

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