2nd Saturday Artwalk March 2019

Downtown Pomona marches into spring this month and drops another batch of stellar shows, beginning with 57 Underground’s "Backyard Botanical," a duo show by Sharon Algozer and Karen Duckles of artwork inspired by nature. Duckles’ paintings represent flora found right outside her door, and burst with raucous vitality and energy, using gestural paint application to suggest growth and change. Algozer’s bamboo and floating botanicals are inspired by the masses of staunch fibery plants that populate her backyard and the pods, leaves and prickly things that drift to the ground “begging for attention and appreciation.”

Karen Duckles, Flower Leaves, 30 x 30,  oil on canvas

Karen Duckles, Flower Leaves, 30 x 30,

oil on canvas

Sharon Algozer, Bamboo Madness #4, 30 x 30, pipe cleaners, mixed media

Sharon Algozer, Bamboo Madness #4, 30 x 30, pipe cleaners, mixed media

The School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) hosts the “Middle School Visual and Digital Arts Spring Student Exhibition” at The Gallery at The Downtown Center featuring student art that explores the techniques and imagination sparked while attending the 2018-19 school year at The School of Arts and Enterprise Middle School.

Progress Gallery offers a triage of fascinating work in "Transparency," an exhibition by Duncan Simcoe, Clovis Blackwell, and Steven Felix-Jager, all of whom explore the mechanisms behind the visible through personal, societal, symbolic and linguistics, penetrating the layers of meaning in complex formations. 

Duncan Simcoe,  Girl Walking

Duncan Simcoe, Girl Walking

Clovis Blackwell,  Where Do We Go

Clovis Blackwell, Where Do We Go

Steven Felix-Jager,  Judith & Herodias , Oil on Aluminum, 2018

Steven Felix-Jager, Judith & Herodias, Oil on Aluminum, 2018

Latino Art Museum celebrates the “15th Women International Show,” featuring work from Aida Guerra de Heiras, Alberta Walker, Alicia Riccardelli, Antonia Rodriguez, Ayumi Dickson, Beatriz Hidalgo de la Garza, Betina Attas, Carla Chavez-Keller, Carmen Teal, Carolina Garino-Tabit, Cherie Redlinger, Claudia Cogo, Conchi Sanford, Elizabeth Sides-Preston, Iris Vodopivec, Kareene Alprecht, Karen Pinto de la Calle, Marcello Boza Carcamo, Maria Arisi Demaria, Maria Sanford, Mariana Montes, Mati Russo, Michelle Spencer, Olga de Leon, Paola Carcamo Cotero, Patricia Aizcorbe, Paula Gimenez, Rebecca Nabarrete, Rosa Elena Osicka, Rosario Lopez Ercoli, Sabina Zamudio, Sharon Turner, Silvia Amezaga, Silvia Garcia, NS Veronica Buccio, as well as continues their solo show of the works of Claudia Cogo. This month the museum will also highlight their Women of the Year 2019, presenting awards to artist Beatriz Hidalgo de la Garza and businesswoman Paula Lantz.

Finally, Metro Gallery presents the geometric abstracts of Latino Art Museum owner Graciela Horne Nardi in "Never is the End - Hard-edge," offering a look at the talents of one of Pomona’s most revered citizens, and The Alley Gallery pumps up the volume in a solo show of illustration, spray paint, graphic design and more from intuitive creator Daze1Arts.

-Stacy Davies

Graciela Horne Nardi, Hard-Edge 6-15-18 Acrylic on Canvas, 30x40

Graciela Horne Nardi, Hard-Edge 6-15-18 Acrylic on Canvas, 30x40

Graciela Horne Nardi, Hard-Edge 10-17-17 Acrylic on Canvas, 24x30

Graciela Horne Nardi, Hard-Edge 10-17-17 Acrylic on Canvas, 24x30

Dia de los Puercos serves up Chicano-style food and memories, now in Pomona

Dia de los Puercos (day of the pigs) has a menu that includes vegetarian options at this downtown Pomona, Calif. location. The change was triggered by owner Rick Garcia’s type 2 diabetes diagnoses. Photographed on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Dia de los Puercos (day of the pigs) has a menu that includes vegetarian options at this downtown Pomona, Calif. location. The change was triggered by owner Rick Garcia’s type 2 diabetes diagnoses. Photographed on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Dia de los Puercos serves up Chicano-style food and memories, now in Pomona
Owner doing it in part through cuisine described as Mexican food dishes served Chicano style.

By LISET MÁRQUEZ | lmarquez@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily BulletinPUBLISHED: February 17, 2019 at 7:34 am | UPDATED: February 17, 2019 at 2:08 pm

It’s taken six months, but food truck-turned-restaurant Dia de los Puercos is finally making its downtown Pomona its own. The restaurant has gained city approval after a months long quest to finish an Aztec mural, the lighted sign has been installed along the wall facing Garey Avenue and the menu is getting an upgrade.

Behind all of that is owner and chef Rick Garcia, whose goal is to make Chicano and non-Chicanos alike focus on family time. He’s doing it in part through cuisine described as Mexican food dishes served Chicano-style.

“Our concept is based on our culture, the flavors of the food, drinks, the music, artwork of our culture. We make you feel like when you’re with family,” said Garcia, who was nicknamed “El Chefe” – a combination of chef and jefe (Spanish word for boss) – during his days as an executive chef for Hilton.

It’s why the inside of the Pomona location is filled with communal tables and piñatas hang from the ceiling. Visually, it’s an homage to Boyle Heights. Graffiti-style art and a photo mural of the Sixth Street bridge line the walls, also decorated with replica street signs for Sixth Street and Brooklyn Avenue.

Outside in the patio there are mock light poles with a pair of sneakers hanging up.

Food-wise, Garcia is serving such dishes Artesa Papa, which are fries with gauca salsa and cojita cheese. There’s also the Ese Borracho, Garcia’s take on the L.A. Style hot dog which has a bolilo, grilled onion, mayo, mustard, ketchup and cojita cheese.

The weekend brunch menu offers a Chismosa, a sparkling wine with Tampico orange juice —  a staple in many Latino household refrigerators.

The bilingual menu is also a true reflection of how Garcia communicates, who spoke Spanglish during a recent hourlong interview.

Dia de los Puercos, in a prominent corner location on Garey Avenue at Second Street, took over a spot associated for nearly two decades with Joey’s BBQ, succeeded by the Rookery from the same family. The Rookery moved last year a few storefronts west.

Garcia was first recruited to the Los Angeles County Fair in 2017 by Fairplex CEO Miguel Santana and then to downtown by the Tessier family, which owns the building. He gave up his lease in West Covina to head east.

Not long after opening the 150-seat Pomona location, Garcia established a counter-based outfit at Riverside’s Food Lab, a food hall developed by Jerry Tessier. There are 21 employees between the two locations, but Garcia knows his staff could grow.

Although there have been some challenges, the past year has been a departure from his 20-hour days when Dia de los Puercos operated as a food truck.

“We’re still figuring it out,” he says with a chuckle.

Adding more culture to the actual building, though, proved harder than he’d expected. Garcia brought in graffiti artist Mike Rios to create a mural 13 1/2 feet tall by 40 feet wide on a blank brick wall facing busy Garey Avenue.

The mural will be an artist rendition of the legend of Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, two volcanoes 45 miles from Mexico City, Garcia explained at Cultural Arts Commission meeting last month, which approved the completion of the work.

The duo were once humans in love but were separated and never reunited before Iztaccíhuatl’s untimely death. The image is of Popocatépetl kneeling by Iztaccíhuatl’s side.

“We thought that art was a very important aspect of our culture, so with the restaurant we wanted to share our culture in a classy way,” he said recently.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Garcia said it was his hope to have the mural done by month’s end. On this day, he was five weeks into his plant-based diet – and by all accounts loving it and might make it permanent.

If you know him, it’s not necessarily the normal path you’d expect from Garcia, who on his birthday would always set out to find the biggest steak. But he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes brought on by his diet as well as the everyday stress of being a business owner.

At first, Garcia said he took the diagnosis lightly. His uncles, who also had diabetes, ate and drank whatever they wanted. But the more he thought about it, the more he noticed how their quality of life ultimately declined, and he didn’t want to follow suit.

“I want to reverse it because I want to see my kids grow up and I want to live,” said the 45-year-old father of four.

Garcia is waiting until 90 days pass on his new regimen to gauge the health benefits, but already he’s noticed improved sleeping patterns, less soreness and an end to moments of dizziness.

Initially, he said had no cravings but backtracked to acknowledge he misses his Double-Double burgers from In-N-Out and laments the lack of late-night options.

His change in eating has also inspired a new concept that may be part of the Dia de los Puercos business family. Garcia didn’t want reveal too much at this point.

The restaurant has always served vegetarian-friendly choices such as calabaza with Soyrizo, huitlacoche, also known as corn mushroom, and tacos de camote or sweet potato.

Some new items he’s working on are the “Baraflora,” a flower-based protein braised in pastor and barbacoa marinade. He also plans on adding “Nasada” and “Al impostor,” which will resemble carne asada and al pastor flavored meats. He’s also working on developing an alternative to fish n’ chips with the goal of adding these new items by Lent, or as he said it, Cuaresma.

His goal is for 80 percent of his menu to offer a plant-based alternative.

Garcia said making changes to the menu might be easier than changing the public’s perception about his restaurant’s name, which means Day of the Pigs. But the name has nothing to do with food. Rather, it’s a play on words.

“A lot of the local plant-based vegans and vegetarians are intimidated by our name. They see ‘puercos,’ and they just think it’s all pork,” he said.

A bit of a workaholic, Garcia said he’s always busy working with staff to make changes. For example, he finally caved in and bought television screens for the front area after numerous requests, despite thinking they’re a distraction.

He’ll launch a karaoke night with oldies, and on Valentine’s Day, he put together a $40 buffet with a Pachuco Baile-tines pechanga, or dance party in English.

Despite some possible opportunities, and the Chinese New Year’s lucky tie-in, Garcia doesn’t expect to do any more expansions in the near future.

“We’ll work it all out this year, the year of the pig. It’s our year,” he said. “I’ve got some stuff for 2020.”

2nd Saturday Artwalk February 9, 2019

In the Spotlight: Kai Mao, Superior Animals at Metro Gallery

Sometimes, a thing is just so mind-blowing you need a double-dose. That’s the case I’d make for Metro Gallery’s continuing show for the month of February, “Superior Animals,” a robust and inspiring collection of surreal anthropomorphic sculptures and paintings by artist Kai Mao. Blending the earthy, serene and spiritual elements of man and beast, Mao introduces us to rabbits, roosters, monkeys, and more in postures that, while unfamiliar in their animal kingdom, transpose with elegance into our human realm. Evoking poignant reflections on the very nature of our divisions and affinity, Mao’s creations offer a unique bridge between these two worlds and an innate sense of hope Likewise, Mao’s hypnotic paintings, most of which feature humanity center stage, float us into ethereal realms where inner cores manifest into outer dreams. Subtle and sedate, these portraits of porcelain women with elongated necks (and a few forest creatures sporting the latest fashion) ask us to read below beauty’s surface to witness desire and doubt manifest.

New shows this month come from the School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) with their “High School Digital and Visual Spring Show,” featuring a variety of art styles and themes from students that have been developed in class and in their personal time.

Local talents take over Progress Gallery this month, photographer Jill Carol’s “That’s So Second Street” in the East Gallery that offers up a veritable Pomona family album through snaps of local events and peeps over the last few years that chronicle the diversity and artistry of the downtown scene, and in the West Gallery, local painter and award-winning Native American musician Steve Rushingwind Ruis puts on display an array of his still life paintings that celebrate the very act of living.

The Latino Art Museum presents three new colorful shows: “Mapa del Arte de Mexico,” a group show of 37 artists hailing from our southern neighbor; “Mardi Gras in Pomona,” featuring work from Rigo Rivas, Mariana Montes, Juan Carlos Boxler, Mati Russo, and Cherie Redlinger; and a solo exhibition “Brushstrokes” from Argentine painter Claudia Cogo.

Also on deck this month, the dA Center for the Arts presents its annual “Simply Red” group show extravaganza.
-Stacy Davies

Happy Lunar New Year!

Cbinese nes year 2019-2.jpgChinese new year


They say people born in the year of the Pig think logically and are able to fix whatever problem they're in. They aren't good communicators, but they're kind and able to provide for the family. Most of them are wealthy. Their only obvious fault is that they lose their temper easily.

#chinesenewyear2019 #chinesenewyear #lunarnewyear#yearofthepig #pig #downtownpomona #pomona #february5

Downtown Pomona bar and arcade is a throwback to the ’80s, ’90s

Owners and married couple Evelina Gamboa and Sabrina Gamboa of Pomona own The Paradox Arcade+Bar which features pinball machines, upright arcades as well as console games tap beer and some wines in Pomona on Thursday, January 31, 2019. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Owners and married couple Evelina Gamboa and Sabrina Gamboa of Pomona own The Paradox Arcade+Bar which features pinball machines, upright arcades as well as console games tap beer and some wines in Pomona on Thursday, January 31, 2019. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

By LISET MÁRQUEZ | lmarquez@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
PUBLISHED: February 4, 2019 at 12:35 pm | UPDATED: February 4, 2019 at 1:29 pm

One step inside The Paradox Arcade+Bar in downtown Pomona and you’re immediately transported back to the 1980s and ’90s.

On the right, there are upright arcades like Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man. To the left, are pinball machines: Attack from Mars and the Addams Family.

Just behind that is a blank screen where period movies are projected. “Coneheads” was showing on a recent Wednesday afternoon. The screen is surrounded by a massive mural of iconic album covers from the era, such as Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Evil Empire.”

The throwback arcade for adults — there’s a bar that serves alcohol, thus the snappy portmanteau “barcade” some use — is the brainchild of Evelina, 36, and Sabrina Gamboa, 35. The married couple were sitting at a communal table recently as they shared their inspiration for opening the business.

“It’s a little of everything that we enjoy,” Evelina Gamboa said.

The oldest child growing up, Evelina Gamboa wasn’t allowed to go to arcades alone, so she’d find arcade games at the laundromat, liquor or grocery stores and play whenever she had the chance while the family shopped or cleaned clothes.

Sabrina Gamboa, on the other hand, would sneak into her older brother’s room and play their console games.
The arcade games are all still coin-operated. In all, there are 26 machines as well as Atari, Nintendo 64 and Playstation 1 consoles played on a flatscreen.

“We wanted the experience to be like what it was back in the day,” Evelina Gamboa said. “That’s all you and your skills in front of everyone, just like it used to be.”
The couple’s attention to detail didn’t just end in the gaming section. Beyond the machines is the bar and a communal table. The wooden bar top was made by Evelina, and the beer taps are held up by a bright green pipe, resembling one of the main modes of transportation in the Mario Bros. games.

The ceiling just above the bar mimics Donkey Kong, with the steel beams painted like the red platform in the game and blue ladders painted on the ceiling.

Fourteen beers are on tap, all off which come from California craft breweries.

“With everything we do, we want to keep it local,” Sabrina Gamboa said, later adding, “It’s all something we would want (to drink) if we were somewhere else.”

Evelina Gamboa always knew she wanted to start a business in her hometown. Over the years, she bounced ideas off her wife until about two years ago, when they decided on the bar and arcade concept.

“I knew this was going to happen, I just didn’t know how,” she said, adding they didn’t own any arcades at the time.

Soon enough, Evelina Gamboa was working her phone, constantly checking various websites and apps to see if anyone was selling their upright arcades or pinball machines. The first one they purchased in April 2017 was a Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga Class of 1981 arcade gaming cabinet.

“Our living room was full of games, even the backyard. Most of them worked but needed some TLC,” Evelina Gamboa said. “We like to keep it rough; they are old games. They were from decades, so we only replace the guts — like buttons that don’t work.”

After amassing a collection, the next struggle was finding the right downtown location.

It was about 1 1/2 years ago when the building’s management told them about a 1,350-square-foot space at 396 S. Thomas St. — a retail shop at that time — that would become available soon. After visiting the space, the couple signed a lease and then the waiting began; they had to work the city approval process. The City Council approved the business last February.

As soon as they got the OK, the Gamboas went to work making major improvements to the interior, relying on friends and family to help paint the floors and walls. They were finally able to open in October, Evelina Gamboa said.

The Gamboas both served in the U.S. Army and then the National Guard. Evelina Gamboa works full-time at Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos while Sabrina Gamboa is overseeing the day-to-day operations of Paradox.

The two, however, are both there Thursday through Sunday, running the business with the help of two bartenders and a security guard.

As a tribute to their military service, the patches they earned during overseas deployment hang just above the beer taps. The couple said they encourage other veterans to bring their patches in to help adorn the wall.

As female owners of an arcade, the Gamboas acknowledged they weren’t sure what kind of reception they would receive. Some patrons express shock, especially female customers. But they’re also the ones usually giving them high-fives or words of encouragement. One even suggested they add more purse hooks, said Evelina Gamboa, with a laugh.

Downtown Pomona's Artwalk January 12, 2019

Downtown Pomona kicks off the New Year with a mixture of the old and the new, offering residents and visitors the chance to catch shows from December that they missed while immersed in holiday frenzy, as well as experience new exhibitions that offer fresh and powerful perspectives on our humanity for 2019.

Metro Gallery opens with “Superior Animals,” a series of paintings and sculptures from Kai Ma that seek to find the animality within the human form through exaggerated expressions that reveal the noble and elegant nature of the Earth’s most domineering mammal. An internationally acclaimed artist and recent transplant to Los Angeles, Mao believes that every animal represents a human attribute or human character, with special emphasis placed on pride, beauty and elegance.

Kai Mao, Mr. Deer, 2016 Oil On Linen ,90x60 cm

Kai Mao, Mr. Deer, 2016 Oil On Linen ,90x60 cm

Kai Mao. 2016, The Pipa and Women of Superior Animals, Oil on Linen 90x60

Kai Mao. 2016, The Pipa and Women of Superior Animals, Oil on Linen 90x60

Progress Gallery presents “Of Gods and Other Flawed Creatures,” a  solo exhibition from Mark Thomas Bunner, a faculty member of the School of Art and Enterprise in downtown Pomona, uses form, line and texture to tell stories that explore time and motion. From majestic depictions of the female form floating through atmospheres meant for winged creatures to subtle observances of petals of a flower that often elude our gaze, Bunner asks for a deeper empathy from “a world that rejoices in the image of its blurred lines” in hopes of rejoining us to the small moments in life that we often fail to grasp in our flurry of living.

The Alley Gallery greets 2019 with an invitation to rumble in “The Roller Derby and Art Exhibition,” an evening celebrating the sport of roller derby in the modern era featuring work from HitSquadTV, Michael Wise II, Tristan King, The Angry Artist and others – so lace up your quads and roll on over to honor deliciously dangerous derby dames!

Mark Thomas Bunner, The Progress Gallery

Mark Thomas Bunner, The Progress Gallery

Alley Gallery flyer.jpg

For January, The School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) continues “The 2018 Creative Arts Year in Review,” a collection of the best student art from last year chosen from more than 1000 student artwork entries by a jury of arts teachers and educators. Thirteen of these winners will be featured in the upcoming “The Art of the SAE” calendar, debuting this year.

Stephanie Burgess, SAE

Stephanie Burgess, SAE

The Latino Art Museum also continues its December shows “Jambalaya,” a solo show by Mati Russo, featuring “thought-provoking” works that “champion the truth,” as well as the duo show from Rigo Rivas and Juan Carlos Boxler in the Main Salon.

Mati Russo, Latino Art Museum

Mati Russo, Latino Art Museum

Juan Carlos Boxer, Latino Art Museum

Juan Carlos Boxer, Latino Art Museum

Rigo Rivas, Latino Art Museum

Rigo Rivas, Latino Art Museum

Lastly, don’t forget to stop by and show your support for the dA Center for the Arts fundraiser for Inland Empire Harm Reduction (IEHR), hosted by the Alternative Gathering Collective (AGC) and friends. This local, community-based public health project works to improve the health and well-being of people affected by drug abuse in the Inland Empire region of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. $5 donation.
-Stacy Davies

2nd Saturday Artwalk & The Pomona Christmas Parade Saturday, December 8

The Holiday Season is upon us, as evidenced by the torturous mainstream radio and Muzack resurrections of pop earworms such as Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time,” but fear not – Downtown Pomona plans to put some shake, rattle and roll back into the Yuletide!

Once again, the Downtown Pomona Owners Association invites one and all their annual holiday parade, this year titled “the Sounds of Christmas.” Featuring school marching bands and drill teams, boom boom car clubs, service organizations, local dignitaries, and spectacular floats, even  more holiday festivities await at the Shaun Diamond Plaza – including Santa Claus, snow, crafts, and music you can actually groove to. The parade’s Grand Marshall this year is Harold Ray Brown, Pomona resident and founder of the funk band War, which topped the charts in the 1970s with songs such as “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” There’s no good reason why we can’t, of course, so roll on into the Downtown and inspire a little peace on Earth! 

The Downtown galleries will also be celebrating the holidays in spirit, and the Latino Art Museum opens two new shows: “Jambalaya,” a solo show by Mati Russo, features “thought-provoking” works that “champion the truth,” and a duo show from Rigo Rivas and Juan Carlos Boxler take center stage in the Main Salon.

Mati Russo, Latino Art Museum

Mati Russo, Latino Art Museum

Juan Carlos Boxer, Latino Art Museum

Juan Carlos Boxer, Latino Art Museum

Rigo Rivas, Latino Art Museum

Rigo Rivas, Latino Art Museum

The Progress Gallery dips into history with “Millard Sheets: Coming Home,” a retrospective of the iconic artist’s work sponsored in part by the Claremont Heritage association. Presenting recently acquired murals originally produced by the Millard Sheets Studio for Buffum’s department store that anchored the east end of the Pomona Mall, these paint on wood panels depict the history and glory of Pomona. Also included in the exhibition are mosaics and sculpture, and a short film comprised of interviews with Sheets and other Pomona Valley artists. Books, artwork and DVDs on Sheets will also be available.


The School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) presents “The 2018 Creative Arts Year in Review,” a collection of the best student art of the year as selected by a jury of arts teachers and educators. From more than 1000 student artworks over the course of 2018, 50 unique and original works have been selected for the exhibition, and of those, 13 will be chosen by popular vote to be featured in the upcoming “The Art of the SAE” calendar, debuting this year. Due to the parade activities, the DTC gallery will open early this weekend at 11am.

Last but not least, Metro Gallery continues its exhibition “1928,” a collection of works in acrylic and recycled/found wood by Lancaster painter and muralist Julius Eastman.

-Stacy Davies

Julies Eastman, “December 1928”

Julies Eastman, “December 1928”

Founding member of musical group war named grand marshal of Pomona Christmas parade

The Garey High School Marching Band entertains the crowd in the Pomona Christmas Parade, themed The Pomona Express, Saturday, Dec. 9, in downtown Pomona. (Courtesy photo)

The Garey High School Marching Band entertains the crowd in the Pomona Christmas Parade, themed The Pomona Express, Saturday, Dec. 9, in downtown Pomona. (Courtesy photo)

By LISET MÁRQUEZ | lmarquez@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily BulletinPUBLISHED: November 30, 2018 at 2:28 pm | UPDATED: November 30, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Thousands are expected to flock to downtown Pomona on Dec. 8 for the annual Christmas parade.

The Pomona Christmas Parade, themed “Sounds of Christmas,” will be from 6 to 8 p.m.

Harold Ray Brown, a founding member of War and a Pomona resident, will serve as the grand marshal, the Downtown Pomona Owners Association announced in a news release.

The parade is expected to feature more than 100 entries, including floats, bands and drill teams. It will begin at East Second and Gibbs streets and continue west on Second then turning south on Park Avenue to Mission Boulevard.At Mission, the parade will turn east and then head north on Garey Avenue before turning east on East Third Street, south on Locust Street, and east on Fourth and ending at Gibbs.

A free family event prior to the parade will run from 4 to 9 p.m. at Shaun Diamond Plaza.

For more information, visit downtownpomona.org.

12th Annual Chalk Art Festival

On Saturday, November 10, 2018, the City of Pomona's Cultural Arts Commission hosted the 2018 Chalk Art Festival in Shaun Diamond Plaza in Downtown Pomona.  The dull gray concrete sidewalks and plaza tiles were transformed into colorful, pastel pathways. Pomona’s elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as families and professional artists joined together to create temporary chalk masterpieces. This years theme was Route 66 or Favorite Book.

2nd Saturday Artwalk November 10, 2018

The holiday season is officially upon us, and that means it’s time for the Annual Pomona Chalk Art Festival. Hosted by the City of Pomona Cultural Arts Commission, the festival is in its 12th year – and still totally free! 

A variety of artists will be on hands and knees drawing, coloring and shading whimsical, wacky, and wistful street art creations – and all artists are welcome. The festival begins with a free breakfast and check-in, and then it’s straight on to dressing up the Downtown streets in thematic artwork – with free a box of pastel chalk provided to each participant. (Yes, more free stuff!)

Students from Pomona Unified School District, School of Arts & Enterprise, City of Knowledge School, Pomona Catholic, home schools and multi-age families all compete in the student category theme of “Route 66 or My Favorite Book.” Professional artists choose their own themes, and prizes for both groups include art supplies, gift cards, gift certificates, and $100 for the best contribution from an artist at the professional level.

Winners are announced at the recognition ceremony mid-afternoon, and every participant, receives a festival T-shirt. For additional information, contact the Pomona Planning Division at (909) 620-2191.

Later that evening, the Downtown galleries invite you to explore the works of mid-career artists and new voices. Metro Gallery presents painter and muralist Julius Eastman for “1928,” a collection of pieces by this self-taught artist from Lancaster who works in acrylic and experiments with recycled/found wood, and The Alley Gallery launches into a “One Day Nintendo Pop-up” shop, so jump back in time and relive your favorite childhood moments through artworks, murals and stickers. Yes, another yet another chance to cringe over Toad from Mario Kart! Yay?

Julius Eastman, December 1928, Metro Gallery

Julius Eastman, December 1928, Metro Gallery

Julius Eastman, Scarab and Birds, Metro Gallery

Julius Eastman, Scarab and Birds, Metro Gallery

The Latino Art Museum opens “Imagination,” a group show featuring work from Geoffrey Levitt, Charisse Abellana, Cherie Redlinger, Sonia Talukder, Rigo Rivas, Mati Russo, Juan Carlos Boxler, Carla Chavez-Keller, and Alma Moctezuma, and the School of Arts & Enterprise (SAE) continues its “Horror” exhibition of work from over 50 of the school’s digital and visual arts majors – with additional works added to celebrate Dia de los Muertos.

The Progress Gallery opens two shows in their East and West locations. On the Westside, Pomona native Domonique Brown presents her illustrative drawings and paintings in “To Color America: Blurring the Boundaries Between Traditional and Contemporary Modes of Representation,” and on the Eastside, noted printmaker Denise Kraemer has brought together the best works from her printmaking students in “The Shape of Things.” Kraemer’s hot off several Inland Empire shows and still manages time to whisk anyone interested into a magical world of printmaking – go find out if this is your new calling!

-Stacy Davies

Chicano Chefs are writing the next chapter of mexican-american cuisine in LA

Dia de los Puercos in Pomona with a lowrider outside        Wonho Frank Lee

Dia de los Puercos in Pomona with a lowrider outside Wonho Frank Lee

Dia de Los Puercos and San Diego’s Salud! blends history and culture with tacos and burritos

by Bill Esparaza Octover 18, 2018 1:53 pm PDT photos by Wonho Frank Lee

Pomona could be considered the gateway to the Inland Empire’s explodingMexican food scene and Rick Garcia, owner and el chefe at Dia de Los Puercos stands squarely in the center of the movement. On a bright Sunday at his restaurant, it’s friends and family day, Chicano-style. Garcia greets a customer dressed in an immaculately pressed black Dickies button up with baggy jeans. The customer says, “I knew it was a formal occasion so I dressed up.”

Tonight is a special occasion, and almost everyone is wearing lowrider apparel featuring young Chicano designers (some of the fashion designers are even present), the same way many here have been dressing since they were teenagers. Pendletons, Charlie Brown shirts, and millennial Chicana couture, with brands like Bella DoñaRaggedy Tiff, and Hija de Tu Madre, hold their trendy appeal in the Mexican-American community, and represent Chicano pride.

In places like Pomona, San Diego’s Barrio Logan, and East Los Angeles, pochos, the name for Mexicans who were raised in the United States, have grown up. They’ve started families and have become entrepreneurs, but their dedication to street fashion, Chevrolets, Oldies, and pocho cuisine define a lifestyle that’s been a constant. They are spawning a new generation of Chicano restaurants: places like Salud! in Barrio Logan neighborhood, and now Dia de Los Puercos in Pomona, which moved to a new location in mid-September.

“We still love our cars, the neighborhood, the clothes, and the music, but now we have responsibilities,” a customer waiting in line at Salud! explains. In a similar vein, Garcia’s new restaurant in Pomona is a shrine to Chicanismo, or Mexican-American street cultureStreet lamps light the booths, while Nike Cortez sneakers dangle from mock power lines on the ceiling, indicating where to snag tacos. Sneakers on power lines have often been a signal for where to score drugs.

There’s a wall of fame for car clubs who donate one of their chrome plaques. And all around the restaurant there’s photography and art by local Mexican-American artists like Art MezaMichael RiosCarlos Ponce, and Germizm. Grey, white, and black serapes line the backs of tables in the front bar, covered in plastic as a tribute to all the thrifty abuelas that wouldn’t let the kids sit on the couch without the covers.

The new Dia de Los Puercos oozes nostalgia from the red roses on the tables, to beers served in paper bags, to the quixotic list of oldies spray painted on the back wall while Debra Hurd’s When a Boy Meets a Girl pops on the DJ’s turntable. The soft, breathy soprano riffs take you back to your middle school crush, as funky guitar licks and staccato synthesizer bass lines take you back to the sounds of the Eastside of Garcia’s youth. Cheladas, micheladas, and sangria flow just in time for the firme hour, Dia de Los Puerco’s Chicanofied happy hour.

There’s been a shift in how Mexican-Americans cook the food of their upbringing, with chefs like Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish, Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria, and Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos elevating childhood dishes into a new genre dubbed “Alta California.”

In contrast, a new Chicano culinary genre has been emerging from Mexican-American communities — one where tacos, nachos, lowrider bikes, oldies, graffiti art, and micheladas reflect this generation’s youth and heritage. An Art Meza photograph of the old 6th Street bridge on the back wall is a bittersweet memory for the Mexican community.

“Our families crossed that bridge to go to work in Downtown LA from Boyle Heights and East LA, and that’s where we’d cruise our rides at, and now it’s gone,” says Garcia.

Back in Barrio Logan, Salud! has become a beacon of Chicano imagery and lifestyle, with murals, bumper-laden walls, lowrider bikes, and Chicana servers. They serve simple delights like tacos, mulitas, and quesadillas — a menu that pulls inspiration from Pocho taco shops, late-night taquerias in Tijuana, and the San Diego stands of the owners’ youth. The kitchen dresses the tacos traditionally with cabbage, cotija cheese, Mexican cream, and even a bit of cheddar. Salud!’s owner, Ernie Becerra, sees lines out the door at his pair of taquerias (Salud recently opened a second location in Midway) with a broader audience embracing their grown-up Chicano identity.

Becerra feels that Chicano culture is more in the public eye these days, but there’s still a struggle to shift broader cultural perceptions. There’s also a tension within: He says Chicanos are often stuck between not being Mexican enough or American enough.

“As a kid though, in the late 80s and early 90s, the gangs, party crews, and tagger crews really gave our culture a bad stigma,” Becerra explains. “It’s a different time now, and although we are still cruising lowriders, repping our sets, bumping the same music, and eating the same food, Chicanos are becoming more business-minded and showcasing our talents to the world.”

Garcia, like many young Latino cooks, went to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, then bounced around kitchens like Mi Piace and Cafe Santorini in Pasadena before landing a gig as corporate chef for Marriott Hotels, where he worked for nine years traveling to various outposts and fixing problems in the chain’s hotel kitchens.

“I never really found my place cooking at restaurants,” says Garcia. “So I took the job at Marriott, but when I got back into cooking Chicano food, that’s when I knew what I needed to do.”

It was the food he was cooking at home and for friends that inspired him to open the Piggy Smalls food truck in 2013, before upgrading to a brick and mortar, the original Dia de Los Puercos in West Covina, two years later.

Chicanos, like their families and friends in Mexico, draw inspiration from their elders.

“I think the roots of Chicano cuisine come from young children watching grandparents and parents who have come from Mexico, but who are now using what they have at their disposal here in the States and mixing the two together,” says Becerra.

Gramma B’s influence is all over the menu, from the sopes and tacos dorados to guisados like rajas con queso and calabasitas. Like many of his Chicano peers, Garcia also looks to notable Baja California chefs like Javier PlascenciaBenito Molina, and Jair Téllez for inspiration. But he spent more formative years eating East LA cuisine at Al & Bea’s, Ciro’s, and the legendary Cielito Lindoin Downtown Los Angeles’s Olvera Street.

Chihuahua-style plates like taquitos de weenie (hot dog taquitos), menudo served with a bolillo (small Mexican roll), and a torta of mochomos (Chihuahua-style shredded pork) get Chicano twists that reflect a Mexican-American aesthetic. The La Mesa torta comes with a pair of fried eggs and mochomos (seasoned beef ), while he serves the taquitos de wennie with ketchup. There’s the Ese Borracho, an LA-style bacon wrapped hot dog like the ones outside every concert and club where Latinos congregate.

Dia de Los Puercos’s Mexicorn, or esquites, comes with bits of bacon while the Flahco taco incorporates Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into the masa for a tinted special tortilla. It’s an ode to the the popular liquor store snack so highly coveted in LA’s Latino enclaves. It’s fine dining for the clika, and a place where raza can feel at home with familiar flavors that reflect Mexican-American culture.

“Chicano cuisine is a thing,” says Silvana Salcido Esparza, who owns Barrio Cafe, widely considered a pioneer of modern Mexican-American cuisine in Phoenix, AZ. “Mexicans born in Mexico can’t began to understand the struggles of growing up Mexican in America,” she adds. Chicanos are immersed in their culture, from their clothing, to their cars, their caló dialect and the food they grew up with. As pocho gastronomy enters the mainstream with restaurants like Dia de Los Puercos and its food hall branch at Food Lab in Riverside, which opened on October 4, the real flavors of home cooking in Los Angeles’s barrios are creating a new narrative. This is the future of Mexican cuisine in America.

Dia de Los Puercos. 115 W 2nd St, Pomona, CA 
Salud ! 2196 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA

2nd Saturday Artwalk October 2018 by Stacy Davies

Fall rolls into the Downtown this month with a host of new creative works, and celebrations for those who prowl the night in search of innocent souls to damn into the darkness. There will also be Halloween parties.

The Latino Art Museum prefers a bit of daylight, however, and opens two shows, “Faces of Hope and Mind Games” from Ricardo Aguilar, and the group show, “Portraits Retratos,” featuring work from Peruvian artists in the museum’s permanent collection Mati Russo, Juan Carlos Boxler, Victor Ruiz de Somocurcio, Luis Portilla, Manuel Vasquez, Milagros Zuniga, Marlene de la Cruz, Adrianna Anselmo de Oliveira, Akira Chinen, Eduardo Deza, Javier Arriola, Julio Gomez Natalia Bacal, and Maryla Hinostroza.

Metro Gallery embraces the October season by treating us to more eye candy from one of our favorite local artists, RT Pece – who’s decided to get interactive this time around and seeks our assistance in “Name Some Paintings.” Featuring his signature Dr. Seuss on LSD creatures (our description – but still not a name), these untitled images are certain to elicit some creative (and hopefully PG-13) responses. Also, the winners get a free glass of wine! The losers also get a free glass of wine. The wine is free.

R. T. Pece, Metro Gallery

R. T. Pece, Metro Gallery

R. T. Pece, Metro Gallery

R. T. Pece, Metro Gallery

The School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) carves out a gang of ghoulish goods in “Horror,” a collection of work from over 50 of the school’s digital and visual arts majors, grades 6-12. This ought to enhance their college admissions interviews.

Jenneyda Rojas, The Gallery at the Downtown Center

Jenneyda Rojas, The Gallery at the Downtown Center

Gallery 57 Underground goes way more than six feet under in “Ancestral Recall,” a group show of oddities and devilry that has arrived, according to them, “just in time for the Apocalypse.” Yay! Yay? Curated by Manny Sifuentes and featuring work by Grimm Beatz, Angie Shen, Alex Diedyesterday, Jason LaMotte, Adam Bellhouse, and Michelle Garduno, this festering fiesta promises to snatch you into the seamy dark side via “the splattered mania of six sovereign beasts.”  Yes, basically just another day at the office.

The Alley Gallery knows what to do with you once you fall into that dark side in “Fangoria,” a blood-curdling bash billed as “the ultimate horror art show.” Stifle your screams as Joded lures you through a lair of gruesome mural installations and other horrific arts, and be sure to wear your most demonic duds – Cosplay is welcome and there are prizes for best costume, including the coveted “most disgusting.” Keywords: “vegetable. soup.”   

The California Design Firm joins the shriek-fest with “It's in Our Blood,” an epic showcase sure to tantalize your wicked pleasure with artwork by Bokiso, Crodas, Deadman, Jorge Meza, and Pete Lomas, live art by Reibot, and live music by Come Culo, Colored Houses, Joshua Bloom, King Mala, and NKriot – who’ll weave together your perfect pagan-party soundtrack. 

Progress Gallery continues Professor Conchi Sanford’s “50/50, FIFTY/FIFTY: the Creative Magic of Collaboration,” an exhibition exploring transformation through collaborations between educators and creators via their multisensory, collaborative works of installation, performance, and visual art. 
-by Stacy Davies