I’ve worked on a lot of Best of Santa Cruz County issues, and while they can be grueling to produce, there’s an undeniable pride that I always feel when they hit the stands, because they’re always the biggest and—if I may be so bold—most spectacular issue of the year.
With that in mind, let me say this: there’s never been a Best of Santa Cruz County issue like this one, and there probably won’t be again. It’s not just about the sheer number of local businesses and individuals who’ve been recognized in these pages (although there are almost a thousand), or the design and photographs (although they’re fantastic). There’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 wasn’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 Ross’ legacy as an artist and celebrate the part of him that fewer people know about—his passionate, innovative work as a marine activist. Second, I’ve been struck many times this year by how hard his loss hit this town—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 you’ll read Maria’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, it’s the first time that I’d describe it as emotional. We hope you enjoy it.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF