A dance competition, a silent disco and a man furiously painting with his body set to classical music were all features of Saturday’s first ever Costa Mesa Art Walk, which will continue on the third Saturday of every month from now on.
Around 28 artists gathered in Lion’s Park and set up booths, selling paintings, knitted animals, enamel pins, poetry, photos and various knick-knacks. The event drew a smattering of people throughout the day, mostly for the dance battle in which a young girl named Naomi Coulter won $100 for her ballet skills.
Coulter, with seven years of ballet training, swept the mostly adult competition with her spins, cartwheels and pirouettes. She said she did not know what to spend the money on, but was happy she won.
During the Art Walk, artist Alvaro Alvarez Salazar Fall covered his hands in paint, danced, writhed and flipped his way across a large canvas with classical music playing in the background, to the bewildered and fascinated stares of attendees.
“I started listening to classical music very intensely … I became very interested in the making of the piece, ” Fall said. An art student at Cal State Long Beach, Fall was “responding to the notes … their voices, to the sounds,” in order to paint the canvas with his dance.
Salina Mendoza, a local artist, 2019 OC Laureate and organizer of the Art Walk, said she wanted to create a space in her city for smaller artists to sell their pieces and network.
“It occurred to me that a lot of the people that have been working toward the arts … really are kind of just stuck, not really getting anywhere,” Mendoza said. “We’re called the ‘City of the Arts,’ but we don’t have a lot of arts going on … other than Segerstrom” [Center for the Performing Arts].
Mendoza added that she wants more residents of Orange County to experience art locally, rather than going to Los Angeles to scratch their artistic itch. In the future, she hopes to expand the event with food trucks.
However, engagement with the city of Costa Mesa is something younger artists struggle with, as they can feel intimidated by older city officials who they feel won’t take them seriously or listen to their ideas on how to incorporate more art into the city, Mendoza conceded. She noted that when she went to the cultural arts committee meetings, she “was most definitely the youngest person there by at least 20 years.”
The event featured multiple DJs, with music for the crowd and for the silent disco, in which the Art Walk attendees wore wireless headphones provided by the event to dance to songs no one without the headphones could hear.
There already exists a public art walk in Costa Mesa, where people can walk across the city looking at the public art installations, such as sculptures and fountains, but this new Costa Mesa Art Walk aims to help local artists by giving them opportunities to connect one-on-one with other artists and possible customers.
“This is such a big deal for artists,” said Melissa Murphy, an artist based in Huntington Beach. “These opportunities don’t come up all the time.”
An editorial intern and news junkie with a hankering for all things spicy, Jackson gained a passion for journalism writing about housing and homelessness in the Bay Area for the Daily Californian and the Tenderloin Tribune. When not writing, Jackson can be found rambling to anyone who listens about old movies no one else cares about. He can be reached at email@example.com.