Artistically speaking, it can take a village to raise a city--and in the case of Santa Ana, the Artists Village at Santora Arts Complex and environs may do the trick. One unoccupied storefront sports the slogan “SoHo, So What?”
AFTERNOON: 1, 2, 3
Historic buildings house scores of studios and galleries. Many studios at the Santora Arts Complex, which has been open since July 1995, are working spaces, and artists’ hours can be random. Thanks to picture windows, some displays are always visible.
Set designer Joseph Musil has his work space here--and a permanent display of his European toy theater collection and his own fascinating models, none for sale.
Several renowned Mexican artists maintain studios here: Vladimir Cora, whose recent work indicates a fondness for female derrieres; Ismael Guardado, a painter and sculptor who can often be found playing his harp; and muralist and portrait painter Jorge Ochoa.
In the basement are J. Cheryl Bookout’s Basement Art, prom dresses made to order by Austin Angel and Michael Maas’ paintings of climbers, bugs and flowers.
Stainless steel candelabra by New York-based Amy Hess--and bejeweled martini glasses-cum-cigar holders by local preservationist Tim Rush--are on display at ceramist Randy Au’s Flying Cup Gallery.
Several shows open Saturday, coinciding with a 7-to-10 p.m. open house. (Live music until midnight follows at Neutral Grounds.) Among them are “Go Figure” at Legacy Arts, works by Latino artist Sergio O’Cadiz at Meta Gallery and “Mini Series” at the Smallest Art Gallery in California, basically a storage space under the stairs that you crawl into.
Brand Gallery’s “Seen/Unseen” show could be seen until last weekend; appropriately, it’s now gone. (Up next: Tera Galanti’s timely “Spring Cleaning.”)
You can still see “Scarred & Consumed” at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art through Saturday. Temporary contemporary is a trend: OCCCA, now at the Empire Market Building, hopes to be in nearby digs by next year.
LATE AFTERNOON: 4, 5
On Santora’s south side, have a cup of coffee at Neutral Grounds; every third Saturday, the shop offers the Chicano Poets Society, with readings on the patio 3 to 5 p.m., and music from Honduras 5 to 7 p.m. (Next door are Art Angles, a frame shop, and Say It With Neon, where you can put the name of a loved one in lights.)
Rueben Martinez, in the Builder’s Exchange Building, offers Chicano and Latino books and art, not to mention haircuts.
On the way, check out the exteriors of other historic buildings designated for the Artists Village: the Grand Central Building (200 W. 2nd St.), where Cal State Fullerton plans to open Grand Central Art Center sometime next year; the Georgian Revival-style Southern Counties Gas Building (207 W. 2nd St.); the classically influenced Odd Fellows Building (built in 1905, 309-311 N. Main St.); and the Barrister Building (217 N. Main St.), where sculpted Assyrian warriors guard the entry.
A moped hangs on the wall in the main dining room at Trattoria Ciao, and the overhead monitor plays the Arts Channel. But ask Argentine proprietor Patricio Dillon for a seat in the “overflow” room, which overflows floor and ceiling with murals by 14 artists offering a lighthearted nod to more established artists including Michelangelo and Matisse.
Crayons and a cigar menu grace each table. Sandwiches including salsiccia (Italian sausages with melted cheese and tomato sauce, $5.50) are offered on toasted focaccia or Italian roll. Pair a pasta with one of more than a dozen sauces ($7.50-$9.50). Daily three-course specials (soup or salad, entree and dessert, $8.95) recently included Crespelle di Caposanta (Italian pancakes stuffed with sauteed scallops in a bechamel sauce).
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
1) Santora Arts Complex
Santora Building, 207 N. Broadway, (714) 835-5555 or (714) 543-1856
Dozens of artist studios; shows at galleries including:
Legacy Arts, Suite B7. Open noon-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (714) 539-9948.
Meta Gallery, Suite E. Open noon-4 p.m. Fri. and Sat. (714) 836-6858.
Flying Cup Gallery, Suite O. Open noon-4 p.m. Sat. (714) 543-1856.
Smallest Art Gallery in California (beneath stairs). Open by appointment. (714) 723-0528.
RSC Arts, Suite Q. Open noon-4 p.m. Wed.-Sat. (714) 645-5997.
Matthew Cruz, Suite I. Open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wed., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. (714) 835-5555.
2) Brand Gallery
Santora Building, 209 N. Broadway, (714) 550-7010
Open noon-5 p.m. Thur.-Sat.
3) Orange County Center for Contemporary Art
Empire Market Building, 208 N. Broadway, (714) 667-1517
Open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.-Sun.
4) Rueben Martinez Books and Art Gallery
200 N. Main St., (714) 954-1151
Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-7 p.m. Sun.
5) Trattoria Ciao
216 W. 3rd St., (714) 973-7788
Open for lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; for dinner, 5-8 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 5-10 p.m. Sat.
6) Neutral Grounds Coffee and Books
Santora Building, 209 W. 2nd St., (714) 834-0688
Open 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat. and for special events.
PARKING / BUSES
Buses: OCTA bus 65 runs east and west along 1st Street with stops at Broadway.
Parking: There is ample parking in lots at 201 W. 3rd St. and at the corner of Sycamore and 3rd streets (50 cents per half hour for first hour, $1 each additional hour or fraction, $7 daily maximum).