Santa Ana is home to a community of artists who express themselves in a number of ways. Whether it’s through different forms of art, dance, music, film, or craftsmanship, there is no standard for how creativity is produced and shared in this vibrant city. For more than two decades, the Santa Ana Art Walk located in the Downtown Historic District of Santa Ana, has been a haven for creative individuals in the city and a cultural incubator for artists from all over the world since its inauguration in 1999.
“The Santa Ana Art Walk got its organic start from local Santa Ana Artists in the historical Santora Arts Building and their desire to draw more attention to the art that they were creating and the galleries located in the building,” said Ryan Smolar, organizer of the monthly artwalk. “One day they decided to open up all of their doors and invited musicians to come play music and artists to come sell their art on the promenade.” In the more than twenty years since its opening, the Art Walk has expanded to include a number of art vendors, free art workshops, live music and performances, free dancing lessons, cinematic and literary programs, and a variety of local culinary kitchens. Aside from the plethora of programs and activities offered to visitors during the Art Walk, what makes this event unique is the constant rotation of the galleries, shows, performances and live music that change every month to provide opportunities for other artists and new experiences for both locals and visitors to enjoy.
Images courtesy of: The Downtown Santa Ana Artwalk. https://www.dtsaartwalk.org/.
When public spaces were forced to shut down in March of 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the artwalk found itself in an uncertain situation for the first time given the physical nature of the event. The physical artwalk in its original form was shut down throughout most of the pandemic, however, they were quickly able to pivot and do a “series of online art walks that engaged multiple parts of the community that went on on a weekly basis,” said Madeleine Spencer, Executive Director of the Santa Ana Business Council. The online art walk took place every weekend over Facebook Live and tried to mimic the existing creative spaces for artists, locals, and the public the best that they could. Spencer expresses that although the experience was different from what people were used to, “it was wonderful because it gave [the public] a different look at artists by exposing them to the behind the scenes of their work.”
What’s great about this event is that even during the pandemic, it’s continued to maintain it’s organic nature as a creative place and community for people to engage with, connect with, and partner with. When speaking of how the Santa Ana Artwalk has contributed to the local and surrounding communities over the past two decades, Spencer did not hesitate to emphasize that “Santa Ana is a very creative community, and their idea of creativity is multifaceted. It's not just about a painting being on a wall; it’s in their dance, it’s in music, it’s in craftsmanship, and throughout different kinds of art.” Santa Ana’s creative community has not only attracted locals to the downtown area and inspired creativity within the community, but it has also helped local artists launch their careers toward bigger opportunities. On a global scale, the city has welcomed artists from all over the world who come to Santa Ana to foster their self-expression and stimulate their creative growth.
Fortunately after being closed for a majority of the pandemic, the art walk has resumed its in-person operations. Madeleine Spencer encourages all Chapman students and those within the community to attend the upcoming events and promotes that there are multiple levels that students can engage with the artwalk. “One of which is simply coming over to check it out, and another way is for artists, performers, and creatives at Chapman to plug-in and create installations and actively participate in the event.” Ryan Smolar notes that “[Santa Ana] has such a diverse audience that can only be met in the city’s urban downtown area, therefore people love when students perform and share their art in this environment, there’s everything from impromptu to more solid ways in which students can participate.”
The next event is happening this Saturday on November 6th, from 6pm-10pm, on 125 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701. For more information about the artwalk and how you can get involved, visit https://www.dtsaartwalk.org/ and https://www.instagram.com/dtsantaana/.
See the map below for directions and activities.
* Photo Grid Descriptions & Credits:
Top left: "Santa Ana College Mural Arts Team does live art and displays student work."
Top right: "Artist's site specific installation at the Santa Ana College Art Gallery at the Santora Arts Building."
Bottom left: "Artwalk attendees walk by the historic West End Theatre spying a rockabilly trio through the open window."
Bottom right: "Live art demonstration on the 2nd St Promenade."