The latest art show at the M.K. Contemporary Art gallery in downtown Santa Cruz is about two things, in a very Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup kind of way. “Broadsides,” opening Thursday, showcases poets and artists, and especially the collaboration between the two.

The new show takes nine of Santa Cruz County’s finest poets and pairs them with nine visual artists to create a broadside, a presentation of a poem beside a work of art. The poets include some of the biggest names on the local poetry scene, including a few former poet laureates such as Danusha Lameris, Farnaz Fatemi and David Sullivan, along with some of the area’s all-time greats such as Joe Stroud, Gary Young and the late Morton Marcus.

The visual artists include such names as Harry Clewans, Jay Mercado, Marti Somers and Rose Sellery. It was Sellery, in fact, who served as matchmaker between poet and artist. Donna Mekis, the widow of Morton Marcus, chose poems from poets who had worked in some capacity at the annual poetry reading given in her husband’s name. Sellery then took those poems, absorbed them a bit, and then went out in search of a piece of art that complemented each.

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“Rose spent hours and hours and hours thinking about the poems to find the perfect art, Bay Area-wide,” said the gallery’s curator, Melissa Kreisa.

“I thought of artists I know and looked through their work,” said Sellery. “Some of it is lucky happenstance. You had to think about the poems and the feeling in each poem and then try to find the same feeling within the artwork.”

The show’s formal opening will take place Saturday at the M.K. Contemporary Art gallery (formerly known as Curated By the Sea) on Front Street (right next to the Museum of Art & History). I will have the honor of hosting the free event, taking place Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m., where visitors will have the opportunity to meet many of the artists and the poets talking about their collaborations.

The show runs through the rest of the year, until Jan. 13. Come see us Saturday.

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