The Santa Ana Sentinel

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

Posted in Art Music, Art Walk at Artist's Village, Artists Village, Arts & Culture, Downtown, Ward 1, Ward 2, Ward 3, Ward 4, Ward 5, Ward 6 by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on February 1, 2014

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.

http://www.buzzsprout.com/10883.rss

http://www.arte-santa-ana.org

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

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Spectrum Mural Project Kicks Off

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture, Downtown by Omar Ávalos Gallegos 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 Ávalos Gallegos 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.

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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:

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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.

Commentary: Arts in Politics and Vice Versa

Posted in Art Music, Art Walk at Artist's Village, Artists Village, Arts & Culture, Arts Review, Civics, Downtown by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on October 9, 2013

Art is tied to politics. Some of the greatest works of art have messages tied to all kinds of political topics including social justice, economic disparity, economic policies and history, just to name very few topics.

Politics are not only present in visual art, where they perhaps are most evident, but also in musical art. Politics occur when an orchestra conductor or a philharmonic society that he or she serves decides what music gets programmed.

Politics occur at music venues that deny a type of genre to be performed, or at movie houses that won’t show certain film genres, or at museums that won’t display visual art forms that they don’t see fit.

These two things, art and politics, are inseparable. That’s the way it works and always will.

With regards to the controversy over a proposed Santa Ana mural

A grand-scale project, like painting a mural, obviously has to go through a public approval and process of some sort. This wouldn’t be just any mural, it would be the largest publicly visible one ever painted in Santa Ana. Do you know that the City of Los Angeles even has a Mural Ordinance? In fact, Los Angeles even has a Department of Cultural Affairs and literature concerning mural processes including issues, rights & responsibilities.

It turns out that Santa Ana’s Planning and Building Agency has guidelines for Public Art processes. These sections in Chapter 15 are crucial to the development of a public artwork, like a mural.

15.3 PUBLIC ART GUIDELINES
a. Public art associated with
commercial development is
encouraged. It is strongly
encouraged that art should invite
participation and interaction,
add local meaning, interpret the
community by revealing its culture
or history, and/or capture or
reinforce the unique character of
a place.

Already, a problem is presented with the recent painting of a mural at Plaza Santa Ana. Based on PBA Chapter 15.1, said mural does not “add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place.”

Fairness dictates that the following question be asked of the desingers / owners: How does that design add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place?

Also, regard section 15.3.d:

d. Art should be sited to complement
other features, such as a plaza or
architectural components that
acknowledge and respond to the
presence of the art and make the
art an integral part of site
development.

So, again, in fairness, how does that piece complement the plaza? I’ve seen the Workshop for Community Art’s propsed mural sketch and it would not complement the one above the plaza. They don’t complement each other because the one proposed one tells a story and the other one just…?

And this gets me to another mural, one in an alley on the side of the Yost. That mural raises a very valid and serious question that no one has bothered to ask publicly. Again, how does that mural add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place?

What is in place is a giant graffiti mural or “bomb” (what the one at Plaza Santa Ana is, in reality) with a giant dragon, which is a symbol of Asian culture. Is it because when people think Santa Ana, they think Asian dragons? Or is that what developers want people to think?

The “re-envisioning” and re-characterization of downtown Santa Ana has been studied and proposed before. Refer to this person’s master’s thesis on ripping out Mexican symbols in downtown Santa Ana called “Identity Design for Downtown Santa Ana.”

So now you see the politics behind this newfound “mural movement” in the downtown.

15.4 CITY REVIEW PROCESS
Developers should contact the City as
early as possible during the design
process to obtain information
regarding inclusion of artwork within a
development proposal and guidelines
for developing a project art plan,
selecting and working with artists and
art consultants.

15.5 WORKING WITH CONSULTANTS
Project developers are strongly
encouraged to work with an art
consultant in the selection of artists
and artwork. An art consultant can
provide expert assistance
about artists
who work on public projects.
Budgets, site selection and contract
knowledge will assist the developer in
developing the Public Art Plan.

15.6 SELECTING ARTISTS
Artists selected should be generally
recognized as a professional of serious
intent. Their work should show strong
artistic excellence, the ability to
produce works appropriate to the site,
integration of artworks into the design
of the building or landscape. The
artwork should show recognition of
accessibility, durability, and an
awareness of the issues of security,
maintenance, and safety.

Based on these guidelines, and based on the fact that such a thing as a mural ordinance does exist in other places, I recommend that the City of Santa Ana enact a specific mural ordinance, with a body to oversee projects, and make recommendations.

The process should be opened to interested groups to bid on mural projects (what’s fair) to find the best-qualified muralists with a proven record as accomplished muralists and for them to provide that expertise expected in the Chapter 15 Public Art Guidelines.

Said ordinance would complement and strengthen existing guidelines.

Take for example that in Los Angeles, there’s even curriculum being developed for Judy Baca’s mural La gente del maíz (The People of the Corn). Including curriculum could be part of a new ordinance.

It just seems obvious that prior to painting such an important mural, that it has to be done right, with as much information synthesized from what can be learned from other mural movements. We don’t have to look that far, LA is a perfect model. In LA there’s the Social and Public Art Resource Center – SPARC. How do they work with public entities and with the LA mural ordinance? What can be learned from a community that has more of a history with public art in the form of murals? There is much to be learned from an organization involved with the production of 105 murals since 1988. Again, their work directly engages and involves the City of LA’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Going forward it makes all the sense in the world to adopt and enact a process, one even guaranteeing conservancy.

What we have now is a rush job and a horse race, all the while disregarding processes and more careful studies of other mural projects. There’s an overwhelming amount of information about each mural out there, complete with the histories they contain and the processes involved in getting them done. They too synthesize public input.

Fairness dictates that neither group competing for a public wall, not WCA or UASA, should be awarded anything until there are mechanisms and systems in place in the form of a mural ordinance and an arts commission.

A project like this can only benefit from more thought put into it.

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The Santa Ana College Applied Music Recital Schedule for Fall 2013

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture, SAC Music Dept., Santa Ana College by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on September 11, 2013

Recitals are held in Fine Arts Hall, room C-104 and are free to students and the general public.

Tuesdays, 5 PM

September 10
Jazz Menagerie

Sept. 17
Voice Students of Melody Versoza

Sept. 24
SAC Jazz Quartet

October 1
Rachel Kaplan, Flute

Oct. 8
Judy Huang, Piano

Oct. 15
Kayoko Adachi, Violin

Oct. 22
Vernalis String Quartet

Oct. 29
Don Mariachi

November 5
SAC Big Band

Fridays, 12:30 PM

Sept. 13
Alison Edwards, Piano
David A. López, Saxophone

Sept. 20
TBA

Sept. 27
The Rolon Trio

Oct. 4
David F. López, Clarinet

Oct. 11
Judy Huang, Piano

Oct. 18
The Denali Guitar Duo

Oct. 25
Dang Tran, Piano

Nov. 1
Eric Salinas, Guitar

Nov. 8
Melody Versoza, Soprano

 

Student Workshops and Recitals
November 19 – December 6

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The Santa Ana College Applied Music Recital Schedule for Fall 2012

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on September 11, 2012

The Santa Ana College Music Department presents a series of recitals as part of its Applied Music Program, which is intended for students but is also open to the public at no cost.

Recitals are Tuesdays at 5pm and Fridays at 12:30pm in the lecture hall in the Fine Arts building, room C-104.

September 11
The Jazz Menagerie

September 14
Omar Ávalos, Flamenco and Classical Guitarist

September 18
Gary Hung, Violinist

September 21
The SAC Jazz Quartet

September 25 & 28
Judy Huang, Pianist

October 2 TBA

October 5
Alison Edwards, Pianist

October 9 TBA

October 12
Fureya Unal, Pianist

October 16
Santa Ana College Choirs

October 19
The Denali Guitar Duo

October 23
The Vernalis String Quartet

October 26
Ama Rue, Pianist

October 30
Kayoko Adachi, Violinist

November 2
David F. López, Clarinetist

November 6
Santa Ana College Jazz Band

November 9
Melody Versoza, Soprano

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SAHS Orchestra, Beginning Band, and Mariachi Spring Concert on May 23

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture, Downtown by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on May 18, 2012

The Santa Ana High School Music Department presents its Orchestra, Beginning Band and Mariachi spring concert on Wednesday, May 23rd at 7 pm at Medley Auditorium at Santa Ana High School.

The ensembles are directed by Victor de los Santos and Elizabeth Solares-Cerros.

Tickets are $3 presale and $5 at the door.

Support the arts in Santa Ana, and Santa Ana youth.

Medley Auditorium at Santa Ana High School is located at
520 W. Walnut St
Santa Ana, CA 92701

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Sergio González sings Ponce’s Marchita el alma

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture, Santa Ana College, The Journal of Mexican Art Music by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on May 9, 2012

Sergio González, tenor, sang Manuel Ponce’s Marchita el alma (The soul withers) as part of his first semester recital at Santa Ana College.

González was accompanied by Susan Dennis, who improvised the piano score at times.

The work was performed at the request of vocal instructor Eileen O’ Hern, whose students have performed a number of Ponce songs in the past including EstrellitaCerca de ti, Por ti mujer and Cuiden su vida.

This Friday, José Eduardo Hernández performs Ponce’s Por ti mi corazón.

Marchita el alma begins at 2:15. The first song is Star vicino by 17th-century Italian composer, Salvator Rosa.

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Works by Manuel M. Ponce to be sung at Santa Ana College this week

Posted in Art Music, Arts & Culture, Santa Ana College, The Journal of Mexican Art Music by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on May 7, 2012

The Santa Ana College Music Department presents tenors Sergio González and José Eduardo Hernández this week as part of the Applied Music Student Recitals.

González performs Ponce’s Marchita el alma (The Soul Withers) as part of his recital on Tuesday, May 8 at 5:00 pm, and Hernández performs Ponce’s Por ti mi corazón (For You, My Heart) as part of his recital on Friday, May 11 at 12:30 pm.

Recitals are held in the Fine Arts Building room C-104 and are free to the public.

Reviews to follow.

ABOUT MANUEL M. PONCE

Manuel María Ponce y Cuéllar (1882-1948) was one of Mexico’s greatest and most prolific composers. He is most widely known for his guitar compositions commissioned by the famed concert guitarist Andrés Segovia of Spain, but he left behind an important body of music for piano (a concerto, concert etudes, mazurkas, sonatas, rhapsodies), symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles and voice.

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The Santa Ana College Applied Music Recital Schedule for Spring 2012

Posted in Art Music, SAC Music Dept., Santa Ana College by Omar Ávalos Gallegos on January 27, 2012

Recitals are on Tuesdays at 5 PM and Fridays at 12:30 PM in the Fine Arts Building, room C-104 and are free for students and the general public.

Feb. 7
Jazz Menagerie

Feb. 10
The Roselle Trio

Feb. 14
Michelle Do, Pianist

Feb. 17
Holiday

Feb. 21
Judy Huang, Pianist

Feb. 24
Judy Huang

Feb. 28
Don Mariachi

Mar. 2
David F. López, Clarinetist

Mar. 6
Alison Edwards, Pianist

Mar. 9
Andrew Edwards, Pianist

Mar. 13
Eric Salinas, Guitarist

Mar. 16
The Denali Guitar Duo

Mar. 20-23
Spring Break

Mar. 27
The Vernalis Quartet:
Joyce Chappell, Soprano
David Ko, Cellist
Amy Silva, Pianist

Mar. 30
Holiday

Apr. 3
SAC Ensemble

Apr. 6
David A. López, Saxophonist
Alison Edwards, Pianist

Apr. 10
Melody Versoza, Soprano

Apr. 13
Jungwon Jin, Pianist

Student Recital Dates:

April 17, 20, 24, 27

May 1, 4, 8, 11

Juries:

May 14 & 15

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