By: Edward Bennett
In the midst of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, the humans behind Delta of Venus, an outdoor cafe space that serves a cornerstone in the Davis art scene, have filled up a humongous events calendar with hopes to bring the community even closer together—and keep their doors open amid financial woes.
Just in time for fall, Delta of Venus has expanded hours, ready to usher in a new season of connection and creativity. Monday through Friday, they’re open from 8a—6p, and until 10p on Thursdays and Fridays when hosting live shows.
As I sit down with Lee Walthall, the café’s proprietor, he lists upcoming live music, dance, poetry, and rotations of mixed media from Davis’ burgeoning arts scene.
With a quick shot, Lee connects the past to this moment in a tiny cup he squints on a saucer.”We’ve been through a lot, and we’ve had to reinvent ourselves,” Lee said. “But we’ve got an incredible line-up of events and artists that reflect the amazing community here in Davis.”
This sentiment rings true as I think back to the days when Davis native Max Hart played here with his punk band The High Speed Scene, long before he became a major touring artist smashing the punk rock on SNL and SuperBowl stages.
Live performance and spontaneous joy imprinted early on Lee. His family, along with mine and so many others gathered irregularly at the Fishman’s legendary East Davis garage to cocreate food, games, love, politics, religion, and live music.
Lee kindled these memories to create a hearth for tired, poor, and huddled youth seeking space to celebrate joy—especially where it’s hard won among lives held at arms’ length from opportunity.
The Delta V isn’t just a café; it’s a cultural sanctuary.
The feel-good story hits an inflection point in 2020 as we began to float through a cultural shakedown we see better in the rear-view.
He pauses to say what we’re all thinking, but his words hit like an epiphany in the moment: “The Delta succeeds where there’s a diversity of venues; Davis is stronger through diversity among our network of community sanctuaries.”
His words sing into my heart when my pencil snaps trying to capture language and I sense Lee converting the moment. He motions beyond a lilting screen door, “Let’s head inside I’ve something to show you.”
Indoors Lee has double energy and pulls my interest into new artwork on display from Stephanie Peel. Peel is one of the artists behind the newest art gallery in town: @the_secret_spot. She’s a painter, and her work takes on a life of its own wherever it hangs.
There’s a lull in conversation when several bike bells sound off at the intersection of 2nd & B. In a moment we both sense the young Davis renaissance—more palpable now from energy among returning students who rally around the precept: we are stronger together.
Words take us only so far before we must choose to drink. Recrystallizing Davis will take time, and broader community participation referees how quickly we create a future we want out from the present we occupy.
Next time you’re around, drop by the Delta, grab a cup, and soak in Davis while playing an active role creating the community you want to see. The future is bright and very alive—perhaps caffeinated.