Iâ€™ve worked on a lot of Best of Santa Cruz County issues, and while they can be grueling to produce, thereâ€™s an undeniable pride that I always feel when they hit the stands, because theyâ€™re always the biggest andâ€”if I may be so boldâ€”most spectacular issue of the year.
With that in mind, let me say this: thereâ€™s never been a Best of Santa Cruz County issue like this one, and there probably wonâ€™t be again. Itâ€™s not just about the sheer number of local businesses and individuals whoâ€™ve been recognized in these pages (although there are almost a thousand), or the design and photographs (although theyâ€™re fantastic). Thereâ€™s just a different feeling this year, of something bigger that connects this issue to the community in a deeper way.
Early on, we decided to honor Santa Cruz artist Doug Ross, who passed away in December, in this issue. It wasnâ€™t rocket science, considering how beloved he was here, but a few elements did have to come together. First, Maria Grusauskas had been wanting to do a story that would both honor Rossâ€™ legacy as an artist and celebrate the part of him that fewer people know aboutâ€”his passionate, innovative work as a marine activist. Second, Iâ€™ve been struck many times this year by how hard his loss hit this townâ€”reminding us, I think, that sometimes one person can play a far bigger role in the identity of our community than we realize. Doug Ross was that person.
Third, and most importantly, you voted him Best Artist this year, a moving tribute in itself. I hope youâ€™ll read Mariaâ€™s story and discover why Ross was not just the best artist, but also one of the best all-around people in Santa Cruz County. Our heartfelt thanks to Ginger Mosney, his wife, both for her insights in the story and for working with us at a devastating time to provide the artworks by Ross that made this tribute complete.
The Best of Santa Cruz County issue has been a lot of things over the years, but reading the story about Ross and looking at his art on the cover and throughout these pages, itâ€™s the first time that Iâ€™d describe it as emotional. We hope you enjoy it.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF