Walk highlights Inland Empire’s eclectic art scene

Kazzim Beltran, Ontario resident, holds a showing of his personal work Saturday at the Ontario Art Walk. The art walk focused on artists from the Inland Empire to make art more accessible to those in the area. / photo by William Zeus Hardy.
Kazzim Beltran, Ontario resident, holds a showing of his personal work Saturday at the Ontario Art Walk. The art walk focused on artists from the Inland Empire to make art more accessible to those in the area. / photo by William Zeus Hardy.

Vincent M. Franco
Staff Writer

The Ontario Art Walk took visitors to eight spots in the Emporia art district in downtown Ontario Saturday. 

The stroll through the cool, night air included stops by Casa Pitzer, Dragon Fruit Skincare, RA Stretch, and more. 

The Chaffey Community Museum of Art and the Ontario Museum of Modern Art also coordinated their gallery openings with the art walk, and will continue to be a regular feature of this quarterly event, the third Saturday of the months of February, May, August and November.

“It’s another opportunity for folks to have access to arts and culture without having to head out to L.A.,” said Miriam Valle-Mancilla, curator of education for the Ontario Museum of Art.

Every participating location had its own ambience, offering something for everyone. 

At both art museums, one was able to find fine art in an elegant setting with soft piano music in the background. Meanwhile, across the street at the Casa Pitzer, house music was blaring while artisans sold zines, paintings, photographs and even jewelry.  

One of the vendors was Rebecca Ustrell who is the founder of Curious Publishing, an independent zine publishing company operating out of her home in Upland since 2017.

“Curious” is also the name of the quarterly zine released by Ustrell, who aims to celebrate artists from all over Southern California, especially in the Inland Empire, woman, BIPOC and queer communities. This zine features interviews with artists alongside visually compelling color layouts of their art.

Their latest issue “Celebrations” was recently released Fall 2021 in celebration of Curious Publishing’s four-year anniversary. Full of poems and collages, this issue is a reflection of her business’ journey to where it is now. 

“The Ontario art walk happening right in the heart of the I.E. just proves that there’s enough of a community to build around art right where we live without having to go somewhere where it’s already over-saturated in the arts,” said Ustrell. 

The idea of appreciating the art scene right here in the Inland Empire rather than turning to a big city like Los Angeles was a pervasive theme in the Saturday event.

The Ontario Art Walk is organized by the Arts Area, a nonprofit that also organizes other art ventures in the Inland Empire. 

John Machado, CEO and president of the Arts Area, is excited about the event’s role in creating equitable access to the arts for the surrounding communities.

So is Gloria Almanza, a writer and one of the Art Walk vendors.

“To me, the most awesome part is the people,” said Almanza, who showcased poems, zines and paintings. Her paintings correlated with the poetry touching on her personal experiences, such as her relationship with her mother and her darker skin tone.

The next Ontario Art Walk will be 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. May 21 in the Downtown Ontario Arts District, starting at 119 Transit Street. 

Vincent M. Franco can be reached at vincent.franco@laverne.edu.

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Vincent M. Franco, a senior visual journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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William Zeus Hardy, a senior photography major, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times. His work can also be found at williamhardy.mypixieset.com.

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