If you have taken the opportunity to attend Arts Walk in Riverside, California, then you already know it is well attended. Far from being an elitist event, it attracts a diverse group of people all gathered together to mix and mingle, engage with side-walk artists, devour cupcakes and even dance! The theme for Riverside Arts Walk in March, “Celebrating Mardi Gras!” conjured the exhilarating Mad Marionettes, who puts the groove in the down beat, French Quarter style.
A few months back, an old friend from high school visited and since it was the first Thursday of the month, I called up as many of our old classmates as I could get hold of and we made the plan to meet downtown at Riverside Arts Walk. Not only did the art gallery crawl stimulate conversation and allow us the chance to catch up, but the excellent restaurant and bar, Mario’s Place, was having a retro 80’s night on the back patio, which was great, since we knew all the words!
Riverside Arts Walk in April began with a look in at Division 9 Gallery, featuring artist Jesus Cruz, Jr.’s linocut prints. Bold black-and-white graphics draw from Dia de los Muertos as well as seventies graphics. Cruz was on hand to explain his process and share tips, which was much appreciated. Jumping over to the Life Arts Center provided a peek in at my favorite local artist, Patricia Sablak Korzec. Sablak paints landscapes primarily, beautiful jewel toned tapestries on black backgrounds, which she frames in gold. Her impressionistic style is irresistible and you really have to see them in person to get the full impact.
It was a cooler evening than usual and on my way to my favorite coffee shop, Back to the Grind for a tea, I stopped to chat with friendly sidewalk artist, Justin Deines, a leather worker who enjoy bringing in vintage style to modern pieces. Justin is currently apprenticing, following in his artisan father’s footsteps. Deines has a line of accessories and accommodates custom orders.
The Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts thrives on innovation and enjoys engaging with its audience. Featured were several artists who provided interaction via electronic devices, like Thumbafōn by Christopher Lavender, whose program connected to “smart” phones allowing the audience to jam musically with him as he played guitar by pressing color-blocks on their screenpads. No smart phone? No problem, Lavender had spare phones on hand.
On 9th Street is the Healthy Heritage Cultural and Wellness Center, which provides screenings, workshops and talks on many health issues, with special focus on diabetes and empowering the black community. Phyllis Clark spoke with me regarding the importance of promoting art and artists at the Healthy Heritage Cultural and Wellness Center and believes that art is itself healing. The Wellness Center currently showcases the works of two artists, Charles Bibbs and Maurice Howard. Bibbs figurative paintings are vibrant and powerful, filled with color and motion. Howard’s work featured folk art palm bark masks and highly decorative portraits.
The next Riverside Arts Walk will be on Thursday, May 5th, 2011. What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?