By Victor Ledbetter Jr
On the first Thursday of every month, Riverside Artswalk fills downtown Riverside with art, live entertainment and a sense of community.
Street performers and vendor tents lined Main Street selling everything from handmade pottery and keychains to paintings and drawings on Oct. 5.
Surrounding locations like The Center of Social Justice and Civil Liberties, Back to the Grind and The Cheech were open during the event. The Cheech was open with free admission and hosted an outdoor acoustic performance by Vicky Tafoya and the Big Beat.
Riverside Artswalk is meant to create opportunities for people to share experiences and highlight the importance of art.
Rachael Dzikonski, executive director of the Riverside Arts Council, explained that this event is supposed to connect communities by “bringing arts to the community, (and) community to the arts while giving the opportunity of expression.”
Dzikonski’s efforts are not limited to Riverside, she reaches artists from out of town.
“I just moved out to Riverside, I’m new to the area,” acrylic artist Anthony Moreno said. “I thought this was a great opportunity to get myself out there.”
Moreno’s art as of late has taken a more personal turn as he explores themes of spiritual healing, as in connections to god or any higher power.
“I just recently started looking into my work introspectively and tried to figure out what exactly it means to me and to other people,” he said.
Josephine Cabrera is a poet who wants to make an impact on mental health awareness with her book “Shadows of the Earth”. The book is a collection of poems that deal with mental health through the lens of the natural world.
Cabrera said she’s trying to bring the community together by coming up with new ways to talk about mental health.
“I like to represent that and just get out (by) being able to share my story, my experiences and build community with different people who are also on the same page,” Cabrera said.
While many artists view their work as a way to express themselves and connect with an audience, other artists don’t share the same sentiment.
For Oscar Martinez, owner of Stoic Candle Company, the art is transactional. He said his goal is to get his name out there and see his business succeed.
Martinez makes candles that mimic real life objects such as different models of shoes, skulls and human faces, and while he enjoys what he is doing, his objective is simple.
“It’s all about money for me,” he said. “I’m a guy making this kind of art in a girls world and I’m doing okay.”
The different perspectives on the event highlight the ways artists can bring the community of Riverside together for an event like the Artswalk.
“If you walk the side streets of this event, there is art everywhere,” Anthony Moreno said. “I think this a great community to start finding more (art) and start pushing that.”