Art Night aims to bring thousands to Downtown San Bernardino

Photo/Anthony Victoria: Cajon High School Little Theatre Drama Club students performing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” during last year's Art Night.
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The Second Annual Art Night event in Downtown San Bernardino brings the promise of attracting 10,000 visitors over two days, according to Community Development Director Mark Persico.

“We’re hoping the arts can reintroduce downtown to the broader community,” he said. “It feeds into the city’s plans of developing downtown.”

The Carousel Mall and Court Street Square will be hosting artists and residents from across Southern California on Friday April 21 and Saturday April 22 for a night of live entertainment, poetry, and aesthetics.

Persico, one of the leading forces behind the Art Night, said this year’s event aims to inspire more community artists to showcase their skills.

Photo/Anthony Victoria: Kalin Martinez, 23, is one of hundreds of artists showcasing their work during San Bernardino’s Art Night on April 21 and 22.
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“A lot of fantastic work is being done in the community,” said Persico. “By expanding it to two days, we’ve encouraged artists to come out and be a part of something exciting.”

Last year’s popular ‘DIY chalk art’ attraction, spray paint art, and musical performances will be the main features on Court Street Square, while the Carousel Mall will present art displays, crafts and dance performances.

There was an Art Night scheduled for last October, but was postponed due to logistical concerns. Persico said the steering committee–artists and dedicated members of the community–decided to “reshuffle and expand” the event to hold it on convenient days.

“It helped broaden the appeal,” Persico explained. “We took what people said to heart.”

Young artists contributing to growing art scene

Jose Muñoz, a 20-year-old photographer who resides in San Bernardino, decided to participate in this year’s Art Night to help build an artistic foundation within the community.

“San Bernardino rarely has events,” Muñoz said. “I want to be a part of something here in my city, instead of always having to go to Redlands.”

Muñoz first became involved with photography through his participation in Yearbook at Indian Springs High School. The San Bernardino Valley College student has attracted a large following on Instagram through his landscape photography, which focuses on highlighting some of Southern California’s most scenic views.

Catering to both traditional and younger artists will help keep art spaces diverse and not exclusive, Muñoz argues. “Having a closed mentality isn’t good.”

The Upland-based Inland Empire Museum of Art sponsored Muñoz’s application fee, which he claims was of huge financial help.

“I don’t have much money, so it definitely alleviates a lot of worry.”

Resident Kalin Martinez, 23, has spent the past two years showcasing his portfolio work in public galleries around San Bernardino. He prefers producing his photographs in traditional film.

Photo/Anthony Victoria: San Bernardino Valley College student Ezra Hunt, right, helping fellow student Chiara Lutz through the Glassblowing process. Hunt and Lutz are both showcasing art work at the Art Night event in San Bernardino.

He’s convinced an art museum in Downtown San Bernardino could contribute to the city’s growing art scene.

“It would be great to have an open art space near Downtown or somewhere like the Westside,” Martinez surmised.

Others like Ezra Hunt have turned to institutions like San Bernardino Valley College and Cal State San Bernardino to help master his skill in glassblowing. Hunt said his experience at SBVC has helped him find a “sense of direction.”

“This saved my life,” Hunt said. “It showed me that there’s much more to the world than just the hood.”

Valley College Art Professor Jim Stewart believes the city’s Art Night is a great opportunity for students to showcase themselves and create long lasting bonds.
“I think that’s what it’s all about.”

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