By Elaina Kleven
The Riverside Arts Walk is a monthly event for Inland Empire artists to display and sell art. It has grown into a communal space for anyone to network, exchange ideas and openly express themselves through unique craftsmanship.
Various vendors set up tents in a parking lot near the Life Arts Center to display their work for many to enjoy and to interact with local artists.
Although the walk may seem intimidating to first-timers not planning to purchase any pieces, the event has become a community-friendly gathering place for artists and consumers. Some even put the importance of public feedback at the same level as actually purchasing art.
“The atmosphere in general, everyone is very nice and even if they don’t buy anything they voice their opinions about our artwork, which is the whole point of the art walk,” said Brianna Page, a volunteer at The Porcelain Crane. “It’s a good stepping point to see what sells and what doesn’t and that helps us grow to figure out what we should go for.”
Thomas V. Marquez, a fine arts painter, has attended the Arts Walk for nine years. Over those nine years he has not only watched firsthand how the event has flourished, but his own business as well.
“It was here in the parking lot,” Marquez said. “I had maybe not even a handful of pieces. It was nice, it was a great experience. From then on I got a studio right across from the lab art center. It’s been wonderful. I love it. It’s a great vibe.”
Rolando Pulido has been selling his art at the Arts Walk for six years but has also been attending it as long as he’s lived here.
“It’s always going on,” Pulido said. “People just like art. I’ve always been out here and it’s always been busy, even when I think it’s not gonna be busy”
Like Marquez, Pulido’s experience through the years at the Art Walk has allowed him to see art culture in Riverside expand.
“The art culture in Riverside is growing,” he said. “I was born and raised in Riverside, I’ve never seen it this much.”
The event itself has grown tremendously but still stays true to its roots by giving new artists in Riverside the opportunity to network and expand business.
Stephanie Odriso, the founder of Moon Cupido has been a full-time entrepreneur for over a year now and, even without years of experience under her belt, the opportunities that Riverside builds for small business has allowed hers to develop further. She encourages other budding small businesses to take the leap as well.
“If you wanted to start your own pop-up at an art walk, I would say go for it,” Odriso said. “I feel like you should do whatever feels right to you and if you wanna go, and this calls to you you should definitely do it. Or if you just wanna check it out it’s a lot of fun you can see there’s a lot of vendors, it’s so diverse. That’s what I love. And you meet really cool people so why not get out of your house for a little bit and have.”