Feature images courtesy of Andrew Arce

Pomona Arts Colony paints the town with monthly art walk

By Andrew Arce, September 19, 2023

The Pomona Arts Colony gathers members of the creative arts community the second Saturday of every month from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in celebration of artists and to share their creations with the public for free.

At this month’s art walk, an artist from the Inland Empire known as “Jimmy the 9” spray painted a window of the historic First National Bank of Pomona. His mural will decorate the bank building for one year.

In front of his 8-by-6-foot canvas, Jimmy the 9’s station was one of five, each belonging to a different artist. His table held original works, art supplies and a dartboard covered in paint. The dartboard was a way for visitors to win a free painting if they managed to strike the bullseye, three, six or nine.

For some street artists attending, the event is about cultivating a safe place for artistic passion and expression.

“If you find an artist on the street out here painting, they’re painting because they love to paint,” Jimmy the 9 said. “It provides us a good safe environment to open ourselves up to the public and just be free with our art.”

Table of artist “Jimmy The 9” at Pomona art walk.

Trying her luck with the dartboard was Lauren Cassou, a student at Pomona College and first-time visitor to the art walk. She visited on behalf of the The Draper Center.

“The Draper Center for Community Partnerships at Pomona College has a second center here,” Cassou said as she claimed her prize. “And we’re really trying to get more involved with the local Pomona community.”

Tish and D One Cruz, a couple who design and sell printed hats, t-shirts and bags, occupied the next booth. As D One displayed his designs, he spoke about what the art walk means to him.

“We’re creative just like our children,” D One said. “I think that this event has become a little more special now that we have children in the art school,” referring to The Pomona School of Arts and Enterprises.

Cruz’s table was draped in purple fabric with the words “TISH L.A.” printed with playful white lettering. D One explained the clothing on their table was made by hand and were one-off pieces, meaning each item was printed once and would never be repeated.

D One has been a mixed-media artist for over 30 years, and Tish described her art as vending.

Behind the Cruz’s table was another decorated bank window like Jimmy the 9’s. It was painted before the art walk started and depicted a woman emerging from the African continent.

The two paintings are part of a mural series curated by The Alley Gallery, an art house at the center of the art walk. The series is titled “Beat of Culture” and represents the spirit of the art walk.

“Its purpose is to highlight different cultures and heritages that make our community a COMMUNITY!” the gallery wrote on its Instagram.

With the murals beginning 2 to 3 feet off the ground, they towered over the sidewalk. Artists like Brenda Angel needed a ladder to reach the top of hers.

Angel’s mural of a red-furred Xoloitzcuintli, also known as a Mexican hairless dog, represented her heritage. Freshly painted around the animal were the spiny pads of a prickly pear cactus, a species native to Mexico.

The fumes of fresh paint and funnel cake in the air accompanied a piano version of “Hello, Goodbye” by The Beatles. At the opposite end of the street, musician Bobby Rennie sat on the bench playing popular tunes. The colorful mural behind him dwarfed his brown, upright piano.

In a rare break between songs, Rennie, who was a first-time performer at the art walk, appreciated the number of attendees.

“It shows that there’s a lot of people out there that want to just see art,” Rennie said. “Like with paintings, music, sculptures — it’s just a way to get away from everything else.”

Musician Bobby Rennie receives tip while playing at Pomona art walk.

Feature images courtesy of Andrew Arce 

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