Orange Blossom Festival

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By Erin Tobin

By Erin Tobin

Different aspects of the creative mind melted together like the flavors at the bottom of a snow cone at the Orange Blossom Festival’s Arts and Culture Grove.

May 21-22 marked the date for the annual downtown celebration of Riverside’s historic crop and this year an entire section of downtown was dedicated to sew together as much of the arts as possible.

Pottery wheels pirouetted as the members of the Kalvin Latimer Dance Academy’s Urban Force hip hop team spun, which quickly gathered an appreciatory crowd. Different choral groups flooded the area with songs of all types, from gospel to old American classics.

There was painting and drawing as well. Every type of medium was represented, including the more abstract. Artists proved their creativeness through metal, paper, fabric, printmaking and a bit of everything else.

Multiple galleries sent representatives, including artists in the process of creating, allowing observers to see the various steps that lead to masterpieces.

This year’s Orange Blossom Festival had the ground and the walls covered as participants in the chalk art and graffiti wall activities displayed their talents.

In a fashion straight from “Mary Poppins” the street between the Downtown library and the Municipal Auditorium was decorated with chalk, but these drawings were more than just hopscotches. Instead, artists produced beautiful reproductions as well as original work. Many spent all weekend blurring colors and sketching lines, to have it all be washed away Sunday night. One group of sidewalk artists put up a sign to remind people not to worry or be sad at the art’s demise, because it was all part of the job.

Originality was also the name of the game alongside the graffiti wall as well. Armed with spray cans local artists created murals that people might actually want on their walls, provided it was commissioned of course. In the same idea, The Press-Enterprise also sponsored a youth activity where children were invited to paint on their own wall, creating a very imaginative result.

The youth was very involved in this grove, which proved Riverside’s arts programs are in good hands. Alvord Continuation School brought some of the work of the its art students, mainly in the form of southwestern-esque paper-mache masks from their Day of the Dead celebration. A huge mask made by the teacher of the group was actually loaned to the Riverside Community College dance program’s Celebrate Dance concert. RCC dancers helped return the favor by making a little presentation that included the mask and a bit of choreography. RCC was also represented by its Art Club who sold snacks and drinks as well as offered face painting.

All over the area in front of the Mission Inn, library and the art gallery people mingled and observed with eager interest. Many stopped to watch art in motion and ask innocent questions that had been asked a hundred times before. The artists answered happily every time.

This Arts and Culture Grove wasn’t limited to just observing, though; there was a plethora of hands on activities for the public to enjoy. Some were spontaneous.

When a large group stopped to watch Paul Bradford create on his pottery wheel, he took a moment to hand the children in the group a bit of clay and explain some aspects of the medium. Other hands-on activities were more thought out. A drawing circle was set up. Though different artists were featured at varying times during the weekend, artists of all ages and abilities were invited to take a seat and sketch and doodle for awhile. A subject was provided for those who needed a little inspiration.

For those who are not so inclined to drawing and painting, there were other options. The Southern California Music School offered a Musical Petting Zoo, were people could pick up, hold and even try out instruments of all types. Someone was on hand to offer impromptu hand drum lessons.

The firefighting explorers of Riverside and the surrounding area proved to have the greatest talent when it came to the art of keeping people cool. Their firefighting games provided relaxing sprays of water that were exactly what people needed on the hot streets of Riverside during this Orange Blossom Festival.

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