Artist grants available in Santa Ana

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If its grant application pans out, the Santa Ana Community Artist(a) Coalition will receive a gift from Santa Ana. And it hopes to repay the city with one of its own.

The grass-roots group, which formed in 2013 to paint a mural on the back wall of Macres Florists downtown, plans to apply for Santa Ana’s new Investing in the Artist program, which will give grants to community artists over a 12-month period. The coalition has already started preparations for a second mural in an alley behind 4th Street, and it hopes to use the grant money for materials, permits, insurance, artist fees and more.

When the last drop of paint dries, the mural probably won’t be the vision of the coalition. Rather, the finished work — which members hope will endure for a century or longer — will come from the suggestions of residents. The coalition surveyed residents for the first mural and is busy querying again for the second.


“For this one, we’re asking, ‘What do you love about Santa Ana? What do you dream for you or the community?’,” said Alicia Rojas, the coalition’s co-founder. “We still kept those questions. The only other question we changed a little bit is, ‘What image do you think would unify the community?’”

If city leaders find the mural project compelling enough, Rojas’ group will be as much as $10,000 richer — but it will still have work to do beyond the artwork itself. Investing in the Artist, which Santa Ana’s Arts and Culture Commission launched this spring, gives out funds in two allotments and requires winners to submit interim and final reports on their progress.

Applications for Investing in the Artist are due at 2 p.m. May 26, and the City Council will announce approvals in July. A total of $85,000 is earmarked for the project, and individual grants range from $5,000 to $10,000. Artists may submit proposals for visual or performing arts, music, literature, film, textile arts or multimedia. Organizations may also apply to fund programming costs, equipment or special events.

Kelly Reenders, the executive director of the city’s Community Development Agency and the overseer of Investing in the Artist, hopes that the winning projects will help define Santa Ana as much as beautify it.

“I think that there’s definitely an opportunity that artists will be recognizing history, reflecting local culture,” she said. “We have murals around town. We have other public art pieces. They may want to engage youth as part of some kind of production. It could really be anything. We left it pretty open.”

John Spiak, the director and chief curator of Cal State Fullerton’s Grand Central Art Center, said he expected a solid turnout for the program in a city rich with theaters, schools and even a neighborhood called the Artists Village.

“Five [thousand] and $10,000 is a lot for some of these local, small organizations,” he said.

The Santa Ana Community Artist(a) Coalition, which has only an informal membership and hierarchy, is such a group. When Rojas and her colleagues painted their first mural — a picture of St. Anne in a bucolic nature setting — about two dozen artists contributed, while total participation in the project, from surveying residents on street corners to donating food, encompassed hundreds of people.

The alley behind 4th Street contains a few images already, but Rojas said these are temporary designs that the final mural will replace. The group hopes to begin painting in September and have the work complete within two months.

“The community will be able to see the artists painting, physically painting on the wall, not just selling shirts or selling their prints,” said coalition member Ricky Lozano. “They’re actually seeing it being done on the walls. What we hope for is to actually paint all the walls in the whole alley and, really, for it to become the art alley of the city.”