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.
Tuesday Performances at 5 pm in Fine Arts Hall (C-104)
Jazz Menagerie at the Santora Arts Center
Omar Avalos, Flamenco guitarist
Hoang Nguyen, Pianist
Michael Briones, Trombonist
Judy Huang, Pianist
Kayoko Adachi, Violinist
Santa Ana College Big Band
Friday Performances at 12:30 pm
Omar Avalos, Flamenco guitarist
Arash Kamalian: Improvisation in Persian Classical Music
Hoang Nguyen, Pianist
Judy Huang, Pianist
Denali Guitar Duo
David F. Lopez, Clarinetist
Melody Versoza, Soprano
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Oliver Zavala and yours truly present the Arte Santa Ana podcast. In it we go over Latino arts in Santa Ana and beyond, with related issues.
In episode 1 we talk arts in the downtown, business, demographics, folk, pop and high culture, and more.
For more visit www.arte-santa-ana.org
Coming soon to iTunes.
Available through RSS here.
Also available on Google Feedburner.
For a preview of an article that I contributed to the Santa Ana Register that debuts tomorrow, click here.
The Register informs:
The Santa Ana Register is a new weekly newspaper covering the city of Santa Ana. It will be delivered Thursdays to Orange County Register subscribers. To subscribe, call customer service at 1-877-627-7009.
In addition, a limited number of free copies will be placed in racks Thursdays at the following locations:
Senior Center, 424 W. 3rd St., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Carl’s Jr, 3325 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92704
Dino’s Burger, 2217 W. Edinger St. Santa Ana, CA 92704
Rite Aid Pharmacy, 1406 W. Edinger St., Santa Ana, CA 92704
Stater Bros, 2630 W. Edinger St., Santa Ana, CA 92704
IHOP Restaurant, 3001 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, CA 92704
CVS Pharmacy, 3907 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, CA 92704
Carrows Restaurant, 3355 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, CA 92704
Chase, 1300 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Dantes Café, 600 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92701
La Chiquita Mexican Food, 906 E. Washington Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Northgate Market, 750 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92704
Martinez Book Store, 216 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Santa Ana Unified School District Headquarters, 1601 E. Chestnut Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Santa Ana Public Library, 20 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Santa Ana City Hall, 20 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Community Court, 909 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Denny’s, 1258 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92701
OCR Building, 625 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Amtrak Station, 1000 E. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Santa Ana Towers, 401 W. 1st St., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Rancho De Mendoza, 100 E. 4th St., Santa Ana, CA 92701
Taco Pronto, 1714 E. McFadden Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705Norris Food Market, 601 E. Andrew Place, Santa Ana, CA 92707
Superior Warehouse, 1710 S. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92707
Delhi Center, 505 E. Central Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92707
Stater Bros., 1230 S. Standard Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92707
KD Donuts, 2102 S. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92707
Yellow Basket restaurant, 1430 E. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705
Superior Market, 1730 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
Yellow Basket restaurant, 2860 S. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92707
Santa Ana College, 1631 N. Bristol St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
Stater Bros., 2603 Westminster, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Super Antojitos, 1702 N. Bristol St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
Southwest Senior Center, 2201 W. McFadden Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704
Polly’s Pies, 2660 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92705
Duke’s restaurant, 2900 W. Warner Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704
Donut Star, 1430 E. McFadden Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705
Cowgirls Café, 1720 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705
Carl’s Jr., 1809 E. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705
CVS Pharmacy, 1750 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705
Medical Center, 1001 N. Tustin Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705
Denny’s Restaurant, 2314 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92705
Knowlwood Restaurant, 2107 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92705
IHOP Restaurant, 945 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92705
Norm’s Restaurant, 121 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, CA 92705
T-2 Market, 2002 S. Flower St., Santa Ana, CA 92707
Bank of America, 2214 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92705
It must be asked. How is Downtown Santa Ana doing? How does it compare to other downtowns? The answer is obvious, (not so well) but let’s take a look at some of the downtown’s strengths and weaknesses.
What’s good about Downtown Santa Ana? Original brands. This is one area where the downtown sets itself apart from others. First of a kind restaurants and store brands make the area unique and that is a strength. Some city dwellers don’t want the downtown to lose that uniqueness by coupling more recognizable franchised brands with those newer, unique ones.
The Crosby found success marketing to its niche. Their $2 tacos on Tuesdays are one of the best values in the downtown, and are highly recommended.
There’s only one Chapter One, even though you could say that it is an offshoot of the Library Bar in Downtown LA, the similarities seem like more than just coincidence.
There’s the list of other unique brands; Playground, Little Sparrow, Au Naturaw, Lola Gaspar, etc. And there’s the list of upcoming brands that reveal that this is the trend here. But there still isn’t enough cultural variety, which is common in other downtowns in the LA area.
So what’s missing here? Much is. We don’t have Italian (remember Trattoria Ciao?), Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Mediterranean, Indian, Thai or other cultural eating choices. These varieties are common in other historic downtowns like Long Beach, Pasadena, even Fullerton. We do have these eating choices scattered around town, but it would be great to have them centered in the downtown.
Also, can you imagine having something comparable to Baja Fish Tacos, located at MacArthur and Bristol streets in Santa Ana, in the downtown? They are always packed and have been in business for over fifteen years. How about something like the Kicking Crab across the street? What about upscale Mexican like La Huasteca in Lynwood, or Rosa Mexicano at L.A. Live?
There’s this great Spanish deli, Ole, near MacArthur and Main streets in Santa Ana. Imagine that in the center of town. Why aren’t these great choices around town found in or closer to the downtown? Who is dropping the ball here?
If I represented the downtown (Ward 2) in city government, I’d go after businesses like that and try to attract them there. I live in Ward 5 so worry not.
I’ve only touched on eating in the downtown. Retail has a long, long way to go here.
Food for thought
The Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Statistical Area is defined as Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana. Now, I read somewhere that it’s now being called Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, but it has always been the former, and, Santa Ana is still the county’s seat of government. The area is called it the latter because Anaheim’s population is supposedly higher (not hard to fathom), but, the Census Bureau’s numbers on Santa Ana are likely not precise. Can every single head in Santa Ana truly be counted? That’s impractical especially when we’re one of the densest cities of its size in the country. I read somewhere that our numbers shrunk when I’ve seen nothing but the opposite in the last decade, just look at all of the added classrooms at just about every elementary school, and more and more cars parked overnight.
Isn’t it time that Downtown Santa Ana look and act more like those more cosmopolitan areas? Surely those newly arrived “Santa Anans” that tout the downtown so much want this area to be spoken highly of outside of here. Yes it has some strengths but it’s a must that those weaknesses be worked on.
Let Long Beach and Pasadena be the bar against which this downtown is measured. It’s as historic as those places, and (fact) it was built with the same bricks (Simons bricks*)! Oh, go to Original Mike’s and you’ll see that stamp on those bricks.
*If you’re a history buff and you want to know more about how the LA region was built, read Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of its Mexican Past, by USC Professor William Deverell.
Here are some questions addressed citywide.
What is Santa Ana to you?
If you reside here, do you have a sense of purpose, a sense of thinking outside of yourself or whatever comforts you may have? Would you act towards bettering the community as a whole?
What are the needs of the majority?
What do Santa Ana kids need from the education system?
Are you newly arrived to the downtown? If so, what brought you here?
What do you want to see happen in the downtown?
What do you as a newcomer want to see for the rest of the city, beyond the downtown?
It’s said that a city is defined by its downtown, and so I ask longtime Santa Ana homeowners, citywide, what do you want YOUR downtown to be?
Why did William Spurgeon keep the name Santa Ana? Where did he get the name from?
It’s become clear that when earlier Santa Ana city councils thought of reviving the downtown, they thought of recreating Costa Mesa’s “The Lab.” The city enticed business owners at “The Lab” to come to DTSA. The word is that the city gave certain businesses large sums of money to setup shop.
The problem is that they needed to couple consumers for those types of businesses, and those consumers were generally newly arrived as well. There was, never, any intention of marketing to the Santa Ana consumer base.
What’s that? You want proof?
Years ago, before the Proof bar opened, the “Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce” sent out a newspaper called the City Line. I clearly recall reading in that paper that Proof was specifically going to cater to “young professionals from Anaheim Hills, Irvine etc.”
I thought, WHAT THE #%$@?!
How dare they be so blatantly ignorant of Santa Ana locals, and how stupid are they to publish such nonsense without thinking that a local would read it?
Fast-forward and some downtown business owners, or one specific entity, will have you think that all is fine and dandy.
Take for example what this person told the Register.
“Downtown Inc. is pleased to have the question (of) the legality of the assessment of downtown property fully behind it now and looks forward to continued success in revitalizing Santa Ana’s newly vibrant downtown for the benefit of all users and the City as a whole,” said Ryan Chase, the nonprofit’s board chairman.
I don’t believe it. Why? Because for as long as the Yost theater has been reopened I can count the number of Spanish pop concerts held there that appeal to Santa Ana locals with five fingers. Oh, but I’ve been told that shows like this will occur there. And I am yet to be satisfied.
The House of Blues (Hollywood and Anaheim) gets Spanish rock / pop. El Rey Theater gets it. The Observatory in Santa Ana gets it. The Conga Room DTLA gets it. So many other LA-region venues get it but this one Yost just refuses to.
Note that an older attempt from that venue to bring in something “Latino” failed miserably, and that was when they brought in Norteño music, a genre commonly associated with stories of drug cartels.
Thanks. Because when I think Latino or Mexican music, I think Norteño narco corridos.
Before we continue, know that Santa Ana’s median age is something around 26 or 27 last time I checked. Whoever is promoting the Yost is clearly, clearly, out of touch with this demographic, perhaps even willingly.
Want Eating Choices? Not in DTSA
Do you want to find a, respectable, variety of eating choices coupled with nightlife in Downtown Santa Ana? You won’t find it here.
But you can go to Memphis for a burger, then you can go to Chapter 1 for a variation of a burger, then you can go to The Playground for an overpriced burger.
Am I oversimplifying? Yes. But can I go downtown for Mediterranean? No. Cantonese? No. Indian? No. Five-Star Mexican? No. Sushi? No.
It is absolutely preposterous that in a city like Santa Ana, we don’t have a dining experience like La Huasteca at Plaza México in Lynwood.
Where is the Ward 2 Representative?
It’s said that a city is defined by its downtown and just where the heck is the Ward 2 rep?
I argue that a councilperson representing Ward 2 should get to the task of networking and attracting a variety of businesses to the downtown. To not do that is to allow whatever promoting agency that exists now (Downtown Inc) to use their network or whatever people they know, people that they want, to setup restaurants or businesses catered to non-Santa Ana locals.
In other words, and to put things frankly and bluntly, allow the complete and finalized whitewashing of DTSA.