The Santa Ana Sentinel

Santa Ana College Math Teacher Interviewed on Huffington Post

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on May 6, 2014

The latest at Santaniego:


Santa Ana College math teacher Hao-Nien Q. Vu was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post to discuss the launch of a new voice from the Vietnamese community called Vietnam Right Now. To read a contribution to Santaniego by Hao-Nien Vu, click here.

Click here for the original Huffington Post with Hao-Nien Vu.

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Remembering Samara Musical

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on April 30, 2014


Years ago, going back 20 years or so, there was a music store named Samara Musical on the corner of 1st & Broadway streets in Downtown Santa Ana.

I acquired some of the rarest imported cds there, and not just anything, but really impacting, life-changing music. It’s sounds like an exaggeration but it’s true.

Samara was associated more with popular or regional Mexican music genres, things like corridos, mariachi, versátil even rock en español. This last genre is why I entered Samara in the first place… I went hunting specifically for that genre when I stumbled upon an overlooked cd carousel. That carousel had some of absolute gems of albums. I think the first ever cd I bought there was called Embrujo flamenco, by a group of the same name, recorded on Sony Discos in the mid 1990s. I was floored by the quality of that group, a Mexican trio of guitarists…

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The Sentinel is now Santaniego

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on March 26, 2014

The Santa Ana Sentinel is now Santaniego. All Sentinel content is found at, ( Twitter and Facebook. The @SNA_Sentinel Twitter handle has been switched to @Santaniego.

Santaniego will remain dedicated to the original vision of The Sentinel, which has always been to observe, inform and critique with civility. A high bar was set initially with The Sentinel, and admittedly, that bar was not always met. But that higher goal will always remain for the sake of providing an elevated aesthetic, and an alternate view of all things Santa Ana.

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Disillusionment with Major League Soccer

Posted in The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on March 25, 2014

Saint City Soccer

Major League Soccer is starting to disappoint with the now too-common lip service and hype coming from the higher-ups in charge of the league.

There’s a pattern of contradictory statements made by the league’s commissioner involving the awarding of franchises to ownership groups and cities while ignoring the tantamount criteria of having a soccer stadium in place, prior to the awarding of a franchise.

The league and the commissioner have gone back on those words by allowing the league’s newest team, New York City FC, to enter the league without a stadium, nor a team, nor a youth academy, nor a timetable for a stadium, nor the political support to build a soccer-specific stadium within the 5 NY boroughs.

What’s more, the league failed at capitalizing on the Chivas brand. The demise of Chivas USA was not simply the former ownership’s fault. The Chivas USA plan was part of a…

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Posted in Artes y Letras, Arts & Culture, Educación, Education, Romancero Avaliano, The Santa Ana Sentinel by Omar Ian Ávalos on March 17, 2014

Word of the day, SANTANIEGO


Santaniego.  Sustantivo, definición: Persona o cosa de una localidad con el nombre de Santa Ana.

Para ser más específico, el gentilicio Santaniego no es un término muy usado–no al igual que otros como Santaneco (término usado en España y El Salvador) u Santanero (término también proveniente de España)–pero sí se usa en la localidad de Santa Ana en la provincia de Cáceres en España.

Santaniego. Noun, definition: A demonym, a gentilic. A person, place or thing from a place with the name Santa Ana. To be more specific, the term Santaniego is not a very commonly used term–not like the terms Santaneco (used by Salvadorans and some Spaniards) or Santanero (also used in Spain)–but it is used in the locality of Santa Ana in the Province of Cáceres, Spain.

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The Santa Ana College Applied Music Schedule for Spring 2014

Posted in Arts & Culture, Downtown, Santa Ana College by Omar Ian Ávalos on March 10, 2014

Santa Ana College Music presents another semester of free music performances at Fine Arts Hall (Art Building Room C-104) on Tuesdays at 5 pm and Fridays at 12:30 pm. In addition to these, this semester the Fine & Performing Arts Division will host theatre, dance and more arts events at the SAC Santora Arts Gallery downtown.

Campus parking is free for students with a valid permit and $2 for visitors.

For more visit SAC Fine & Performing Arts

Tuesday Performances at 5 pm in Fine Arts Hall (C-104)

February 25
Jazz Menagerie at the Santora Arts Center

March 4
Omar Avalos, Flamenco guitarist

March 11

March 18
Hoang Nguyen, Pianist

March 25
Michael Briones, Trombonist

April 1
Judy Huang, Pianist

April 8
Spring break

April 15
Kayoko Adachi, Violinist

April 22,
Santa Ana College Big Band

April 29
Don Mariachi

Friday Performances at 12:30 pm

February 28

March 7
Omar Avalos, Flamenco guitarist

March 14
Arash Kamalian: Improvisation in Persian Classical Music

March 21
Hoang Nguyen, Pianist

March 28

April 4
Judy Huang, Pianist

April 11
Spring break

April 18
Denali Guitar Duo

April 25
David F. Lopez, Clarinetist

May 2
Melody Versoza, Soprano

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Arte Santa Ana No. 7: Commentary on the Santa Ana Arts & Culture Commission

Fellow Santa Ana born and bred artist Francisco “Frank” Saucedo and I discuss matters concerning the formation of the Santa Ana Arts & Culture Commission on the latest Arte Santa Ana Podcast. Listen through the following links and on iTunes.

Omar Ávalos Gallegos
Associate Music Instructor,
Santa Ana College
Principal Musician, UC Irvine
Co-Founder, Arte Santa Ana

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Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana Moves to 2100 E. Fourth St.

Posted in Civics, Mexico by Omar Ian Ávalos on November 7, 2013

The Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana has for the longest time needed more space. They finally moved their headquarters to a larger, two-story space at 2100 E. 4th Street, where they reopened on November 4th. The new consulate office is near the corner of 4th and Golden Circle Drive on the south side and before Tustin avenue, heading east.

There’s speculation that this move may be to prepare for an expected immigration reform, where people could arrive in greater numbers. The Consulate, in its old location near Broadway and Civic Center, saw lines stretch outside. Whether or not a reform occurs, a move into a larger space was long overdue.

This information comes from the Mexican Embassy’s new smartphone app, called MiConsulMex, which is avaialbe on iPhones and Androids, and provides information on the Embassy’s consulates.

Click on the link for more information on the Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana.


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Spectrum Mural Project Kicks Off

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture, Downtown by Omar Ian Ávalos on November 5, 2013

Latino Health Access, United Artists of Santa Ana and Francisco B. Saucedo presented the first of three mural workshops on the night of Monday, November 4th at The Spectrum apartments near Fourth and French streets.

The first workshop consisted of a history of mural painting given by Sandra Sarmiento, followed by a presentation by Frank Saucedo and a group activity for the youngsters in attendance.

Three groups were made and each one brainstormed about what they wanted to see on their mural, always keeping in my mind what they want the mural to say about them. Their mural is meant to be reflective of their experience, and what stories they want to convey beyond their community.

The workshop instructor Frank Saucedo painted four murals at Willard Intermediate from 2011-2012, each one with a collegiate theme. Saucedo shared his experience and stressed three points to realizing the mural project, which were planning, fundraising and execution. Saucedo explained to the youth that the planning stage would be the most difficult due to the needed synthesis of many ideas.

The workshops continue with a presentation by Matt Southgate, who runs the Studio del Sótano gallery in the Santora, and who painted the mural in the basement there.

The workshops will culminate with a presentation by celebrated lecturer on Mexican art history Gregorio Luke on November 15 at Green Heart Park on 4th street, next to the Spectrum apartments. Luke ran the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, where he made famous his Murals Under the Stars series, in which he taught on Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros and others. While at MoLAA, he worked in conjuction with Enrique Arturo Diemecke, conductor of the Long Beach Symphony and former Director of the Mexico City Philharmonic, to present the music of Mexican composer Manuel M. Ponce. Luke also presented at the Pacific Symphony Orchestra’s 2007 festival concert dedicated to Mexican composers.

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Nights at the Santora

Posted in Art Music, Art Walk at Artist's Village, Artists Village, Arts & Culture, Downtown by Omar Ian Ávalos on October 16, 2013

The Santora has always been a source of inspiration for my creative process. She’s a beauty. I even titled one of my guitar compostions La Santora. One of my earliest recollections of going to the Santora dates back to ’97 or ’98, when the Neutral Grounds coffee shop was still there. That now is Lola Gaspar. It was a friend and neighbor, José Guadalupe Núñez, who told me about the place and invited me there. They had outdoor open mics on Thursday nights. I returned at one point on a weekly basis, and performed a classical guitar piece every week.

Omar Ávalos by Hugo Rivera

Omar Ávalos by Hugo Rivera

When I started going to the Santora, there was no Memphis. Instead there was a beauty salon, one that bookstore owner Rubén Martínez used to own. That’s what he told me. Across from Memphis there was no Gypsy Den, nor a Grand Central Art Center. What was in place was an abandoned building with grafitti visible from its broken windows. There was no Chiarini fountain, or lofts on Sycamore. Instead, everyone had the enjoyment of free parking on evenings in the large lot that it was.

Upon spending so much time in the downtown area and the Santora, I got invited to perform here and there. I brought flamenco dancing to the Santora and the Gypsy Den, and I wanted to do more all for the Santora’s sake. I conceived of a “Santora Camerata,” which would’ve been a chamber music ensemble.


Eventually I was invited to be a Santora gallerist because of the many ideas and projects that I had in mind. I helped run (pouring $$$ into) Suites K and B for awhile with Moisés Camacho, et altri. I did much brainstorming at the gallery with Camacho and was invited to some artists’ meetings, from before they formed AVAASA (Artist’s Village Arts Association of Santa Ana). Some of these AVAASA members formed out of a split with a pre-existing “Santora Arts Guild.”

Santora Suite K, under Gustavo Santana & Omar Ávalos.

Santora Suite K, under Gustavo Santana & Omar Ávalos.

Some of the suggestions I made to Camacho I remember as clear as water. I clearly remember suggesting that the artists needed a liason with the city, a commissioner type, and an arts commission. These ideas later appeared on a manifesto written and made public by Alicia Rojas, an artist sharing Studio del Sótano at the Santora at the time, which was used as a rallying cry to unite artists and to engage city government.

Lily Márquez Tamayo (Daughter), Arturo Márquez, Jorge Márquez

Lily Márquez Tamayo (Daughter), Arturo Márquez, Jorge Márquez

There were some definite high points while there. World-reknowned composer Arturo Márquez visited the gallery a few times. His brother, Jorge Márquez, was an attorney in Santa Ana who had his practice up Main street near Librería Martínez. Jorge lived across the Santora and was drawn to the area because of his appreciation for the arts. He met Joseph Hawa, a longtime upstairs gallerist at the Santora, and formed a friendship with him and then Camacho. Hawa used to tell me about a guy who’s brother was a world-famous composer. I finally got a chance to meet the Márquez’s at the gallery. Arturo came with his daughter Lily.

A Mixer with the Masters: Felipe Castañeda (Sculptor), Pilar O'Cádiz (Daughter of Sergio O'Cádiz), Arturo Márquez (Composer), & Omar Ávalos (Musicologist)

A Mixer with the Masters: Felipe Castañeda (Sculptor), Pilar O’Cádiz (Daughter of Sergio O’Cádiz, Arturo Márquez (Composer), & Omar Ávalos (Musicologist)

Another high point was a music recital that I did with local Persian classical musician Arash Kamalian. Arash, who is a tarist and setarist, is a local gem, a real hidden treasure. And he lives downtown at the Townsquare condos on the other side of Birch Park. We did a fusion of flamenco and Persian music that night.

That night, Laguna-based artist Hugo Rivera sketched us:


Here’s a sample of our music during a rehearsal:

Arash Kamalian playing a Persian tar at the music department at Santa Ana College

Arash Kamalian playing a Persian tar at the music department at Santa Ana College

The beginning of the end

One of the challenges I noticed at the Santora was how it was to be conveyed, or presented beyond its galleries. What was the Santora supposed to be? What is a fine arts complex or not?

The Santora, to me and to other artists, was viewed as a fine arts complex. Santa Ana College has a gallery there dealing with the subject of fine art. Unfortunately, there were artists in the Santora that failed to tow a line between what is fine, and what is not.

One event involved a punk rock fest complete with tables setup all over the Santora. It involed the absolute loudest and noisiest music I ever heard there, and worse, it involved a scandal involving the groping of a minor, who happened to be drinking alcohol.

That was the beginning of the end for me.

There were no controls in place. There was absolutely no leadership, nor any careful thought placed. An artist, who I will not name, pondered whether he should call the event off at 10 pm, or not. He should’ve called it off but instead allowed it to proceed. I awoke the next morning to hear of the scandals that took place the night prior.

At times the Santora, and specifically Suite B, was an anything goes type of place. You’d have a fine art exhibit crashed by a trio of neon-suited “musicians” with toy drums and instruments, and that was supposed to be ok, because anything goes, and one has to be zen-like and flow like water. BS. It was an insult to anyone with good taste. It was chaos. Luckily, those types are long-gone and out of Santa Ana.

I’ve always been one to argue for making order out of chaos. It may seem impossible to put “free-thinking” artists in order, but it’s not. Other cities have artistic order in the forms of commissions, councils, departments etc.

Left to right: Omar Ávalos, Jorge Márquez, Arturo Márquez, Moisés Camacho, Joseph Hawa

Left to right: Omar Ávalos, Jorge Márquez, Arturo Márquez, Moisés Camacho, Joseph Hawa

Eventually I left the Santora due to double standards and mismanagement, or that “anything goes” approach to “management.” And that’s another problem; the failure of some artists to see their galleries as businesses, but that’s an entirely different issue.

There were many good times at the Santora, more often that not. But I can’t say that I desire to be part of what it has become. An occasional dinner at Memphis, which is still my favorite downtown spot, is more than enough.