Riverside Artswalk lights up downtown again

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By Angie Escalante

A flickering candle and welcoming presence draw one into the Riverside Artswalk..

The monthly event attracted people from different walks of life to share and appreciate art on March 3.

The music, the people, the lights and overlapping voices can be overwhelming at first. 

Immediately, I found my way toward a booth that stood out with a dark set-up, lit candles and odd ink drawings lighting the way. It wasn’t off-putting. Instead, I was met with a welcoming presence. 

Artist Magnolia May has been a part of Riverside’s Artswalk since 2016. She started with pen and ink drawings until she became an apprentice for a taxidermist. May had earrings, necklaces and wall decor using real animal bones at her table.

When asked about her experience in this kind of work, she acknowledged the negative comments about taxidermy practices.

“There’s something beautiful in how it’s our bodies after death,” May said. 

She personally loves working with animals. Some of her works are commissions from people whose pets have died.

Afterward, I made my way down to a table where the vendor was struggling to set up their lighting but had beautiful butterfly hair clips. Eugenia Miller was a professional basketball player, now a motivational speaker, who now uses art as an outlet.

She started working with Artswalk last month but had been attending the events for a while. At first, Miller would bring in paintings with butterfly decorations but, after so many people asked about the butterflies, she and her team decided to make hair clips out of them.

  “Present what it is that you have to offer, get it out there,” Miller said. 

Miller and her daughter’s friend, Valorie, were full of life and happy to be involved.

“Even if you’re doubting it in your head, show your work, you never know what people like,” Valorie said.

From that bright encounter, I continued to walk down the lot where I got called over to check out original watercolor prints.

Niniane Selene, a self-taught watercolor artist, focuses on vibrant colors. Selene shared that she is very inspired by diverse beauty, humans and nature.

“I want to show life in a vibrant way from my perspective,” Selene said.

Her works are accurate representations of the human body and are presented in a colorful way that gives them a magical feel. Selene also offers stickers and apparel with her artwork.

I then left the lot and made my way down the street where I was attracted to an array of bold colors and hanging light bulbs.

There, I met Chicana artist Amparo Chi, whose artwork of bold colors is heavily influenced by her upbringing in a Chicana environment and the inclusion of her muse Frida Khalo.

Chi is deeply inspired by emotions and what she sees around her.

“Life throws you curveballs and stuff, and I was releasing a lot of my hurt,” Chi said. “Now it has changed to positivity within yourself.”

I ended my night walking by the main vendor lot once more. Now the music, the people, the lights and overlapping voices were no longer overwhelming. Instead, there was something beautiful about seeing all kinds of people getting together for one common goal: their appreciation for art.

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