What to expect
The thing is, you never really know what to expect at the Pomona Arts Colony.
It's not unusual to see teenagers with spiked hair and black leather waiting to get into the Glass House, a punk and alternative rock club, while a jazz trio performs on the sidewalk and diners at Joey's BBQ wipe their chops to the sound of country music. Meanwhile, Chardonnay is being sipped at an opening at the Cuttress Gallery, soccer moms are learning glass-blowing at Moon Maiden Glass, and Wiccans are browsing at the Crystal Cauldron.
The second or fourth Saturday evening of each month is the best time to visit. The Second Saturday ArtWalk, from 6 to 10 p.m., features receptions at many of the galleries, while the fourth Saturday, known as Passport to Pomona, runs 7 to 10 p.m. and includes entertainment on stages set up throughout the area.
This week's festivities will include the 5iftybucks Gallery celebration of Quema del Diablo on Saturday, with art and music designed to rid Pomona of "devil spirits'' in time for Christmas and the New Year. The art show will include more than 100 artists, among them Michael Meyka, whose work will be projected against the outside wall of a building in the colony.
Also participating in the Saturday events are specialty retail shops, restaurants, clubs and more than a dozen galleries, including Art on Fence, where a college student occasionally hangs pieces on a chain-link fence along 2nd Street. Artists living in the lofts sometimes open their homes to the public to show work.
Latino art and cultural offerings are available throughout the colony at venues such as the Latino Art Museum, California Art Gallery; Magulandia Studio, Chicano Art & Design; Galeria Rustica, Latino/Cultural Art; and Cafe con Libros, which hosts authors Jane Tonorio-Coscarelli and Michael Heralda as part of a tamal celebration from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Beyond the music and art, the area boasts an antique row across Garey Avenue at 2nd Street, with a two-block stretch that holds six antique malls and 15 individual stores. The eclecticism carries through in such restaurants as El Taco Nazo, New York Delight and Chung King Restaurant to a live entertainment scene that has room for Yesteryear's blues and oldies club as well as the more cutting-edge slant at the Glass House. The Web site www.downtownpomona.com/artcolony.htm contains more details on individual artists, galleries and businesses in the area.
The downtown area suffered a decline in the 1960s, as businesses closed and employers left town. Buildings were boarded up, and the area became, for the most part, a modern-day ghost town. One night, Edward Tessier was practicing with his band in a downtown building, and some of the ghosts emerged, drawn to the music. They were artists. In the 1990s, Tessier, a developer noticed that artists were gravitating to the area on their own and began to wonder what might happen if they were encouraged to do so. He helped open a coffee shop, began developing artists' lofts and recruiting arts organizations and galleries.
While much of the work at the galleries is that of emerging artists, better-known artists also are being featured occasionally. Next year, Judy Chicago will be staying at the colony to lead a project on "Addressing the Future." In 2003, the colony will become the campus for a charter high school for the arts. More lofts are being built.
About 200 artists live in the colony. Among the more well-known: Gilbert Sanchez Lujan, known as "Magu," considered a pioneer in the Chicano art movement; painter Carlos A. Estrada-Vega, who recently completed his first sculpture; and muralist Kevin Stewart-Magee, owner of Avatar Gallery. One of the colony's most famous residents, activist-writer Eldridge Cleaver, author of "Soul on Ice," died in 1998.
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Pomona Arts Colony
1) Art on Fence
2) Avatar Gallery
3) Cafe con Libros
4) Chung King Restaurant
5) Crystal Cauldron
6) Cuttress Gallery
7) El Taco Nazo
8) 5iftybucks Gallery
9) Galeria Rustica
10) The Glass House
11) Latino Art Museum
12) Magulandia Studio
13) Moon Maiden Glass