ECLECTIC ART SHOP REOPENS ... Diane Master is all about art, whether it's her conversation, her personality or her clothing. As founder of the Gallery Shop, the eclectic little retail store in the Palo Alto Art Center at 1313 Newell Road, she has been the driving force behind the shop, which is in its 19th year. Now that the center has been renovated, the shop has been given more space and a prominent spot in the lobby. "The original shop was put in as an afterthought," Master said. Pointing to the new glass-enclosed contemporary shop, she said: "Here we're talking a different language. This space was planned and anticipated. It's the real deal." Master said she puts 35,000 miles a year on her car trying to find seldom-seen art to stock the store. "I'm everywhere. I'm on a mission. This is my passion," she said. A few of the finds on display from her long-distance driving include a collection of vintage-looking oil cans made from ceramic, inspired by rusted, dented, peeling metal containers. Other items include holiday ornaments; unusual art supplies for children; handcrafted porcelain dinnerware, cut and decorated to look like doilies; and fine jewelry, almost all of it made in Northern California.
ALMA VILLAGE TAKING SHAPE ... Alma Plaza is quickly transforming into Alma Village. Starbucks opened this week and Miki's Farm Fresh Market, which is modeled after the popular Berkeley Bowl supermarket, is tentatively scheduled to open Oct. 17. Developer John McNellis said he was thrilled with the rapid and smooth construction of the Palo Alto project, which also includes housing, after more than 15 years of planning and neighborhood meetings. "At long, long last, we are almost there. We're just looking forward to the day that all of our homes are sold and occupied, our apartments are rented and our retail shops are happily open for business."