BRITTANY NIKODYM | STAFF WRITER
On the first Thursday of every month, downtown Riverside transforms into a bustling cultural wonderland. Local musicians, artists and crafters fill the streets with sound and color, while people come from all over the Inland Empire to experience the event.
The Riverside Artswalk celebrated its 10-year anniversary last November and is going stronger than ever.
Many of the artists who started the movement continue to participate in the event. One such artist is Patricia Sablak Korzec, a plein air painter who paints landscapes in bold colors with large brush strokes in a style similar to The Group of Seven, a Canadian group from the turn of the century.
“It started off very small. When I started doing it, I used to put my paintings on the steps of the Municipal Auditorium and sell them from there,” said Sablak from her Studio overlooking University Avenue. “When we first started it was just kind of a fun thing and everybody just put their paintings out and it wasn’t very regimented.”
These days, the Artswalk is much more organized, with most of the young artists and vendors centralized in parking lot 44 on the corner of University Avenue and Lemon Street.
Although the Artswalk used to be free to artists, spaces now have to be reserved, and they cost about $15. Most artists don’t seem to mind reserving a spot, because as popularity grows finding a place to set up has become an issue.
“I like the idea of having a reservation and not having to worry about fighting for a spot,” said Michelle Prebich, a film student from Los Angeles who has been coming to the Artswalk since 2010. “I mean it’s a shame that you have to pay for a spot now… but it certainly beats like in L.A. it costs $500 for a spot at an art walk downtown.”
Some of Prebich’s wares include hand-painted coffins, voo-doo dolls, and prints of her macabre artwork.
The festivities aren’t limited to lot 44; a map on riversideartswalk.com lists 25 venues that are open to the public. There is much to do and see during the event, and some say it’s easy to get lost in what is essentially a four-block radius.
One of the venues, the Life Arts Center on University Avenue and Lemon Street, showcases the work of students and visiting artists downstairs, while upstairs, resident artists open their studios to the public.
One of the artists is former RCC student, Alex Howard, whose art ranges from the beautifully surreal, to morbid and cartoony works reminiscent of Tim Burton and Jhonen Vasquez.
The Artswalk isn’t limited to painters and crafters; the night is saturated with the crooning of vocalists and the strumming of various musical instruments. Hippies with banjos, break-dancers and other unconventional artists flood the streets with sound.
One musician, an RCC student by the name of Travis Miller, is an acoustic hip-hop artist. He is trying to raise money to meet with a label in Seattle that is interested in signing him.
“I play the guitar, I rap, I sing, and pretty much what I’m trying to do is create something new and different,” said Miller. “I average like four CD’s an hour, people are willing to help out someone from Riverside. It’s really cool. I think it’s really awesome that Riverside has something that artists can showcase what they’re doing.”