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

The Slummin' Gourmet is now open!

We have a new restaurant in Downtown Pomona and we’re super excited about it! Fig & Ricotta Toast, American Kobe Beef Burgers and Honey Walnut Shrimp Tacos are just a few of the items on The Slummin’ Gourmet’s menu. Located at 224 E. 2nd St. Check them out!

2nd Saturday Artwalk September 8, 2018

Artistic reverie abounds as the Downtown breaks ground on new spaces and engaging exhibitions.

Longtime Pomona art innovator George Cuttress celebrates the grand opening of his most recent art space for The Progress Gallery – the East Gallery – which adds 1400 square feet of display for Progress. For their inaugural show, the gallery welcomes Professor Conchi Sanford’s “50/50, FIFTY/FIFTY: the Creative Magic of Collaboration,” which explores transformation through collaborations between educators and creators through their multisensory, collaborative works of installation, performance, and visual art.

57 Underground presents “The Pulsing Beat” by Jeanne Andersen, featuring vibrant paintings and illustrations of urban street life from today and yesteryear, and the School for Arts and Enterprise (SAE) welcomes the first of its professional guest exhibitions with photographer Angeline Herron in “Inamorata.”

 Jeanne Andersen, 57 Underground

Jeanne Andersen, 57 Underground

 Jeanne Andersen, 57 Underground

Jeanne Andersen, 57 Underground

Metro Gallery opens “Dense Karma,” a solo show by rising printmaking star Denise Kraemer, whose work continues to be more impressive with each passing year. Keep your eye on this artist as she pushes further into complexity and symbolism through her whimsical prints, breaking into new levels of creativity and, most assuredly, heightened regional recognition.

 Denise Kraemer, Metro Gallery

Denise Kraemer, Metro Gallery

Latino Art Museum unveils three new shows: “Zoomorphism, Come and Play,” an interactive “playful” exhibition of found, recycled and purchased objects from Jose Angel Hernandez; 


“Tradiciones Mexicanas,” a group show from Mexican artists Naty Medina, Jorge Madero, Laura Rivera, Sergio Cueva, Miguel Mendez, Leticia Martinez, Fernando Arredondo, Dolores Carrillo, Ruth Ramos, Salvador Jaramillo, Uriel Nieto, Manuel Reyes, Gabriel Laris, and Fabricio Gros, and curated by Jorge Madero of Maestros Plastica Mexico; 

and “Hispanic Heritage,” a group show that celebrates Hispanidad (Puerto Rico, Philippines, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Columbia) through the works of Charisse Abellana, Jose Angel Hernandez, Celeste Illaski, Mauricio Cardona, Carla Chavez-Keller, Maria de los Angeles Espinosa, Rosa Elena Osicka, Mati Russo, Danelle Rivas, Yolanda Londono, and Luis Molina.
                                                                                                      -Stacy Davies



Run for a ‘Healthier Pomona’ returns to downtown this October

By LISET MÁRQUEZ | lmarquez@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
PUBLISHED: August 24, 2018 at 3:16 pm | UPDATED: August 24, 2018 at 3:17 pm

Runners will once again converge onto the streets of Downtown Pomona this October.

Registration is now available for the second annual Pomona 5k/Walk for a Healthier Pomona, which will be held 8 a.m., Oct. 20 at Shaun Diamond Plaza.

Last year’s inaugural event drew more than 700 participants and organizers are hoping to exceed that figure. The event is meant to encourage residents to be physically active and, along the way, get to know other city residents and possibly become involved in other Pomona community activities.
It is being co-organized by the Pomona Valley Runners — formerly known as We Run Pomona — and Day One, a nonprofit that works on public health education, intervention and policy development.
Organizers are also looking for volunteers to help setup the day before the run as well as Saturday morninng.
Registration for the 5k is $40. To register or volunteer, visit www.pomona5k.com/

 Runners and walkers warm up before Pomona’s first We Run Pomona 5K Run/Walk at the Shaun Diamond Plaza at Second and Thomas streets in downtown on Saturday, Oct. 21. The run is meant to serve as a community building event, bringing people together in taking part in healthy and physical activity. Photo by James Carbone, Contributing Photographer)

Runners and walkers warm up before Pomona’s first We Run Pomona 5K Run/Walk at the Shaun Diamond Plaza at Second and Thomas streets in downtown on Saturday, Oct. 21. The run is meant to serve as a community building event, bringing people together in taking part in healthy and physical activity. Photo by James Carbone, Contributing Photographer)

Meet Rene Contreras, whose Viva! Pomona Crosses Musical Lines

 Rene Contreras is the promoter behind Viva! Pomona, a music festival downtown that mixes local and international bands. (Photo by David Allen)

Rene Contreras is the promoter behind Viva! Pomona, a music festival downtown that mixes local and international bands. (Photo by David Allen)

By DAVID ALLEN | dallen@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
PUBLISHED: August 14, 2018 at 5:58 pm | UPDATED: August 14, 2018 at 6:02 pm

When the first Viva! Pomona music festival drew 400 paying customers to two downtown restaurants and a club, no one was more surprised than its young promoter – although he didn’t let on.

“I was just faking it. I had no idea what I was doing,” Rene Contreras recalled. His inexperience was clearer the second year, 2013, when the festival moved outdoors to Second Street and many people, rather than pay admission, just watched from the public sidewalk. “I was so angry,” the good-natured Contreras said, laughing at the memory.

Still, with its seventh iteration this weekend, expected to draw 1,400, Viva! Pomona is now a tradition. It attracts up-and-coming rock bands, locally and internationally.

And Contreras is carving out a niche for himself in the indie music industry, bridging the gap between Spanish and English-language rock. Viva led to a job curating the Sonora stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where he mixed indie bands with Latin American musicians, and the Chella concert last spring for Indio-area Latinos.

Rene Contreras is the promoter behind Viva! Pomona, a music festival downtown. One site is Shaun Diamond Plaza, where this Pomona-themed mural is seen. (Photo by David Allen)

I’d heard of Viva but hadn’t known of Contreras until reading about the Sonora stage. A story notedthat when Contreras got a text from Coachella’s Paul Tollett inviting him to talk, Contreras had to beg off because he was at Cal Poly Pomona in an economics class. (He’s since been hired by Tollett’s company, Goldenvoice, after completing his degree – at fellow Bronco Tollett’s insistence.)

I met Contreras last fall at the LA County Fair, where he booked bands to perform in an area named Mi Poco, aimed at drawing young Latinos for music, food and coffee. The curly haired, personable Contreras and I talked at length and I resolved to write about him when his annual festival rolled around. So we met up last week for a more formal conversation.

He didn’t start Viva to make money – it does little more than break even – or to make a name for himself.

“It comes from sincerity,” Contreras said. “We were just trying to have an affordable music festival in Pomona.”

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Proudly born and raised in Pomona, the first-generation Mexican-American grew up on the south side in what he describes as lower-middle class comfort. He played Little League at Ralph Welch Park, skateboarded around town, made art projects with his friends and volunteered in the Pomona Teen Values Council, which sounds like something out of the 1950s.

Every year his family made a road trip to visit relatives in Michoacan. But he associated Mexico and the Spanish language with aunts and grandparents, not with his life as a young American, where he was handing out flyers for concerts at the Glass House and organizing backyard concerts.

That is, until he got a Facebook message from someone in Tijuana offering him $800 if he could book three bands and haul them south of the border for the All My Friends Music Festival. Somehow, he made it work, even though, as he put it, “I was 20 years old and looked 15.”

More significantly, he found young Mexicans with whom he could converse about shared interests. “To talk to them about food or Radiohead or art,” he said, “it was a mind-blowing experience.”

He opened up to Latin culture in Pomona and Southern California, learning that there were underground bands with the punk vibe he liked who were fellow Latin Americans. Because they might sing in Spanish, acts were pigeonholed by promoters as if they were playing banda music.

Perry Tollett, Paul’s brother and the owner of the Glass House, was already backing Contreras’ ventures, including Viva! Pomona. Tollett encouraged him to add Spanish music to Viva if that’s what he liked.

The second year, he booked a Mexican-American band from San Ysidro, a move that “opened this enormous portal I never knew existed,” Contreras said. Via Facebook, a band from Mexico City, Los Blenders, contacted him asking to play in Pomona.

“They probably thought Viva! was like Woodstock or something,” Contreras said sheepishly. “It was billed as ‘three stages of music!’”

An early champion of Chicano Batman, booking them for shows after its Rialto-based guitarist handed him a CD at the Glass House Record Store while mumbling, “You don’t have to listen to it if you don’t want,” Contreras began branching out from the Inland Empire and L.A. He attended international festivals for emerging bands, like Hermosa Rudio in Colombia and Epicentro in Costa Rica, to listen to music and chat up musicians.

“He’s just a very likable guy,” Perry Tollett told me. “He met bands and would get invited to visit other cities and see other shows. He’s very interested in music and doing music from an indie point of view, not a corporate point of view.”

Bands from Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Spain have performed at Viva. For many, it was their first time playing in America. If L.A. wasn’t interested, well, Pomona looked close enough.

“These bands wanted to make it in the United States,” Contreras explained. After getting a foot in the door at Viva, “promoters from L.A. see they played Pomona and give them a shot. Dumb as it sounds, it gives them credibility.”

When we met last year, he had just returned from Colombia, where he’d sat on a music panel. The shy Contreras was surprised at all the attention he got, with girls being extra nice to him or touching his shoulder. Later he learned that some were under the impression that he owned Coachella and was rich.

In fact, the budget for Viva is small, and headliners don’t return because they’re on to bigger and better things. Sometimes much bigger.

Cuco, a Hawthorne dream-pop singer whose real name is Omar Banos, and who headlined Viva in 2017, has since played Coachella and is touring Europe. Contreras showed me a recent photo of a promotion for Cuco’s new album. “He’s on a Times Square billboard,” Contreras said, delighted, “and he played his first festival in Pomona. It’s crazy.”

Viva’s audience is mostly aged 16 to 25, with many performers in the same range. At 28, Contreras said, he’s having to work a little to relate to a demographic he’s aging out of. “I’m used to being the young kid,” he marveled. The days when he organized street teams to hand out concert flyers at high schools must seem prehistoric to today’s teen bands.

Viva takes place Saturday and Sunday, starting at 4 p.m. at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St. Tickets are $25. Of the 49 bands on the bill, about half are Latin. Some switch back and forth effortlessly between Spanish and English. The Marias, for one: The bilingual singer is from Puerto Rico and the rest of the band is from the San Fernando Valley.

Contreras still lives in his parents’ home. He began Viva! Pomona to promote hometown pride and do something for local bands and fans who got the cold shoulder in L.A. The increasingly Latin tinge, he said, simply reflects life today, in which young people move fluidly between those worlds.

“It’s not a Latino festival or a Latinx festival, where everybody speaks Spanish,” Contreras said. “I’m not about banging down the door or closing people out. It’s about bringing people together.”

David Allen writes Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, pulling people apart. Email dallen@scng.com, phone 909-483-9339, visit insidesocal.com/davidallen, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook, follow @davidallen909 on Twitter and buy “Getting Started” and “Pomona A to Z.”

2nd Saturday Artwalk August 11, Along With A Few Other Things

The scorching, sizzling hand of Mother Nature may still be whacking us down, but resistance is not futile! Dodge the diabolical dame by heading downtown for some refreshing multicultural art experiences, and a plethora of delectable cuisine and thirst-quenching beverages!

First, swing by the Latino Art Museum for “Breaking Silence: Puerto Rico Responds with Art,” billed as Southern California’s first Puerto Rican collective art show. Filled with vibrant paintings, ceramic sculptures, enamel, digital pigments, and resin on steel plate mixed media, these works from international artists such as sculptor/painter Julia Rivera, ceramicist Diana Davila, and mixed media creator Eduardo Cabrer, focus our attention on the complex and enigmatic sociopolitical reality of Puerto Ricans as American citizens. Proceeds from the exhibition, curated by Carmen Flores, directly aid the artists in the island territory who lost their homes during Hurricane Maria through CERF+ Responds to Disasters.  

The Museum also presents “Neglected Assumptions,” a solo show by Steven Rushingwind-Ruiz, and he'll also be joining the High Spirits Flute performance during the opening reception.

Next, stop off at the Metro Gallery, where longtime Pomona artist Denis Thorp presents his solo photography show of Aztec/Mexica dancers engaging in spiritual expressions of history, culture, and communion with the planet. 

Now, round off the evening at one of Downtown’s many New or Improved unique eateries – where you can find something for everyone! 

The famous Rookery Ale House and Grill recently moved to a new location – just a few doors down from the original spot – and not only still offers its mouthwatering appetizers (from IPA battered asparagus and pickles to spicy fried potatoes) and burgers (try the “El Iron Tummy” jalapeno, “The Gunslinger” ale reduction and pepperjack, or “The Vegetarian” with garlic alioi, among others) – but now they even have an intimate back patio filled with woodlands ambiance! Don’t forget to try the craft beer, of course, since that’s the Rookery’s specialty, and on a day like today, we’d definitely say the “Beachwood Blendery Dia De Los Mangos” and “North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout” already have our mouths watering. 

For some International fare and groovin’ nightlife, check out Fuego Cocina and Cantina for a wild Cuban/Mexican experience, and try their experimental delicacies, as well as traditional cuisine with a twist. The Cantina also offers a wide variety of specialty drinks and entertainment, including a dance floor!  


Every Gen Xer and older Millennial (we know you’re really Gen Y!) can find a bit of digital Heaven on Earth retro style at Paradox Arcade + Bar, a wild blast from the past of 1980’s and 90’s classic arcade games merged with craft beer, wine, sake – the perfect spot to toss back a few and get your Galaga or Donkey Kong on!

Fan-favorite Big D's Burgers is opening a new location at 183 W. 3rd St., bringing their famous organic, grass-fed angus burgers and monolithic milkshakes to the Downtown – and for the party crowd, they’re even adding an underground dance bar called The Basement!

The Slumming Gourmet is opening just across Garey St. on Antique Row, which is fantastic news for anyone who wants the “Fancy, without the Schmancy.” Yes, your ballcaps and short shorts are welcome at this posh-light eatery that offers snooty-tooty food without the rudey-rudey waiter dude, including walnut shrimp tacos and kobe beef sliders, which were top faves on the Slumming Gourmet food truck. That’s right, the food truck isn’t going away, but it is getting a home when the TSG opens its first brick and mortar location – that also means you don’t have to hunt them down anymore!

Also coming the Downtown is Dia De Los Puercos, another a food truck and catering business, this time arriving from Covina and featuring an LA Street Culture scene. The bangin’ cuisine features such hits as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Tacos, the Homie Burrito, Los 5150’s Nachos, Ese Borracho (LA-Style Hot Dog with bacon), and a phat line of unique drinks such as the Agua-Net made with fresh agua de pepino, the OG Flacho y Sas, and the Horchake – an horchata with a kick!

                                                                                     -Stacy Davies

LA County Arts Commission's Free Summer Concert Series Presents The kings of 88

Saturday, August 11, 7-10pm in Shaun Diamond Plaza

Since its inception in 1947, the Arts Commission has administered funding for free concerts at venues throughout LA County as part of the Free Concerts in Public Sites Program. From June to October, concerts are held in parks, outdoor amphitheatres, community centers, libraries, museums and more, and feature LA County artists representing a broad range of genres including Americana, blues, Caribbean, cumbia, mariachi, jazz, klezmer, pop, rock and R&B.

The program provides support to organizations presenting accessible, quality music programming that represents the diversity of the region. Artists who perform as part of the Free Concerts in Public Sites program are chosen by the concert presenters from the Arts Commission’s Musicians Roster, a vetted list of over 100 LA County-based groups representing a range of musical styles.

Covering everyone from Billy Joel and Elton John to Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis, the Kings of 88 are a tribute band to the legends of piano rock. Unlike other tribute acts who perform works from one specific artist, these four professional musicians present iconic classics of the genre as a whole, in addition to contemporary artists who are continuing the piano rock tradition.

Downtown Pomona business owners denounce initiative that could allow marijuana shops in the historic core

By LISET MÁRQUEZ | lmarquez@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
PUBLISHED: August 5, 2018 at 7:25 am | UPDATED: August 5, 2018 at 9:55 am

A group of property owners in downtown Pomona is making it very clear: Despite a proposed measure on the November ballot that could usher marijuana businesses into town, they don’t want them in their neighborhood.

Earlier this year, proponents of an initiative that aims to overturn Pomona’s ban on commercial marijuana operations completed the first step in getting the measure on the November ballot. The signatures are under review by the City Clerk and could be placed on the ballot in the coming weeks.

In an open letter dated Aug. 1, Larry Egan, executive director of the Downtown Pomona Owners Association, said there was never any input from property owners about the initiative.

“No one was ever consulted by the cannabis industry,” he said by phone Friday. “We’re not anti-cannabis. We’re not anti-marijuana. It’s just not a good fit. We want to see a comprehensive plan that doesn’t put it all in the downtown.”

Arts Colony developer Ed Tessier raised the issue with the association’s board after learning some in the community believe the business district is behind the proposed ballot.

To the contrary, property owners take issue with it because the cannabis act seeks to throw out the zoning plans that have guided the development of Antique Row, the Arts Colony and Western University since 1994, Tessier said.

Tessier didn’t mince words: The proposed ballot measure is “a direct threat to all the ways the downtown is helping to improve the reputation of Pomona.”

While the property owners recognize recreational and medical use of marijuana is the “law of the land,” Tessier said, that doesn’t mean cannabis-related businesses should locate “in the heart of our historic downtown.”

Pomona banned commercial marijuana operations in late 2017.

In recent weeks, the City Council has had umerous discussions about the resident-backed proposed ordinance. It would amend Pomona’s laws to allow commercial cannabis use in two new zones: a self-described “safety access cannabis” zone in the middle of downtown and pockets of industrial areas throughout the city.

The safe access zone, which would be two blocks north of the Civic Center and in a portion of the business district, would allow storefront, retail, micro-business and distribution uses in the area bound by Monterey Avenue, Third Street, Locust Avenue and Parcels Street; 100 parcels are within this zone.

The ballot measure could allow as many as six dispensaries in the downtown, Councilman Rubio Gonzalez said. Pomona leaders are considering putting up a competing ordinance which would allow activity in other parts of the city, not concentrated in the historic core.

“The City Council’s cannabis ordinance, which is guaranteed to be far more conservative, would at most put one dispensary downtown,” said Gonzalez, who is also an alternate member of the downtown association’s board of directors.

The association’s board of directors unanimously voted their desire to be “a cannabis-free downtown,” the Aug. 1 letter stated. Gonzalez, Councilwoman Adriana Robledo and Kirk Pelser, Pomona’s deputy city manager, and planning Commissioner Carolyn Hemming abstained.

The resident-backed proposed initiative would prohibit cannabis businesses within 600 feet of a school, daycare, or youth center as defined by state law. Because of that, Tessier said the cannabis measure would concentrate marijuana activity in Pomona in just a couple of blocks on the east side of Garey Avenue between Second and Fourth streets.

In the last decade, Egan said he’s heard of about three or four shops that have opened illegally downtown. But weeks before the ballot initiative was presented, a cannabis operator approached a property owner on the north side of Second Street, proposing to pay $3 a square foot for a 5,000-square-foot space. A downtown spot, on the high-end, might rent for $1.10 a square foot, Egan explained. The property owner declined the offer, he added.

“We’d like the council to come out with a more thoughtful ordinance,” Egan said. “We think a well-regulated cannabis ordinance will work for the city and bring in new revenues.”

After long absence, Cafe Con Libros returns for seconds in downtown Pomona

 Adi Bautista, left, and Pati DeRobles, owners of Cafe Con Libros, a nonprofit bookstore, lending library and meeting space in downtown Pomona on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Adi Bautista, left, and Pati DeRobles, owners of Cafe Con Libros, a nonprofit bookstore, lending library and meeting space in downtown Pomona on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

By DAVID ALLEN | dallen@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
PUBLISHED: July 27, 2018 at 4:15 pm | UPDATED: July 30, 2018 at 11:55 am

If someone hadn’t been to the Pomona Arts Colony in a couple of decades, they might be pleased to see that Cafe con Libros was still in business, albeit in an unfamiliar location. And that Adelaida “Adi” Bautista and Patricia “Pati” DeRobles remained as owners.

In fact, the bookstore and meeting spot, which opened in 1997, closed in 2002. Last fall, after an absence of 15 years, the business returned, as if it had never gone away.

I’m one of those who remembers the original, although from a distance, as I never stepped inside. Still, when the name Cafe con Libros suddenly appeared last summer on the exterior of the former Futures Collide vintage furniture store, it was like a blast from the past. The store opened in October and has been establishing itself anew.

“There are people who think we’re new, and people who remembered the original bookstore,” DeRobles said.

Cafe con Libros was the brainchild of Bautista and DeRobles, who met as students at the University of La Verne. They connected as Mexican-American immigrants, first-generation college students and women studying to become teachers.

A few years later, their lives took a turn during a conversation with their friend Vern Mascorro. He had opened Postal Xtra in the fledgling Arts Colony, the portion of downtown west of Garey Avenue whose newly renovated buildings were now home to artist lofts, live-work spaces and galleries.

Mascorro asked them: “If you could open a business, what would it be?” A bookstore, they decided. “Then why don’t you?” he challenged them.

Inspired, the pair rented space on Main Street between George Cuttress’ frame shop and the dA Center for the Arts, sharing a loft and opening their bookstore below. They took its name from the bookstore in the Robert Rodriguez movie “El Mariachi.” It’s a play on cafe con leche, coffee with milk. They made it Cafe con Libros, coffee with books.

Coffee, however, was not a strong component. “We’re not really coffee people,” Bautista said. They sold coffee beans and had an urn of black coffee for events.

The focus was on books by and about women and children of color. “We were told there was no market for that. Well, we’re the market for that,” DeRobles said.

Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz and the performance troupe Culture Clash were guests. A lesbian Latina group needing a safe space met there. Reading time for children was incorporated. Eldridge Cleaver, the Black Panther minister of information who lived out his last months downtown, was a fixture.

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The pair had one employee and helpful friends who filled in while they worked their day jobs. Bautista moved on, while DeRobles relocated the space to the corner of Third and Thomas streets before deciding to pack it in when her third child was born.

The two remained friends and kept in touch. DeRobles said her children often brought up the store and asked when it was coming back. “Sometimes things live long in your imagination,” she said.

Last Mother’s Day, she was showing her children the two previous locations for Cafe con Libros when she noticed the original had a “for lease” sign. She texted Bautista and asked if she’d be game for relaunching the store. She was.

They met with friends to brainstorm ideas and narrow them into a vision of a social space, lending library and bookstore. One motivation for returning was to push back against their personal feelings of helplessness as immigrants. In Bautista’s words, “How do we maintain our sanity and our dignity in this political environment?”

Ultimately they opted for a space at 280 W. 2nd St. around the corner from their first spot, one with hardwood floors and exposed brick walls. (Bautista notes that the store has been located on three sides of the same square block.) They decorated with donated and reclaimed furniture and interior and exterior murals by Edmar Orozco.

Cafe con Libros is different this time. “We thought we might be more sustainable as a nonprofit,” DeRobles said. A board of directors helps meet the rent. Letting go of the profit motive has sharpened the mission. “We’re more intentional about our work in the community,” DeRobles said.

New and used books are up front, most by writers of color, but also including the Hunger Games trilogy. The store also has T-shirts, posters and crafts with Frida Kahlo and Selena imagery and consignment jewelry.

“People who walk in, their first question is: ‘What is this? Is it a library, a bookstore, an art gallery?’” DeRobles recounted.

“Four or five people a day come in and ask for coffee,” Bautista added. They now have a table with bags of coffee for sale. “We’re still working on the ‘cafe’ part,” she said.

Cafe con Libros isn’t really about selling things or making money — which may prove to be a problem. The pair are trying to provide an inviting space for open-mic nights, writing workshops, clubs and other events, and simply face to face contact. “It’s a very Mexican thing, to be welcoming,” DeRobles said.

They also want to increase access to books, an anchor in both their lives and a counterpoint to an electronic society. “Anyone who walks in can walk out with a book, whether they buy it or borrow it,” Bautista said.

When I visited Wednesday, a half-dozen young people were using the plush, well-worn sofas and chairs as they worked on laptops or chatted.

“If you want to host an event here, they encourage it,” said Mirabel Escobedo, 23, who meets high school students there for mentoring. “The environment is very peaceful and calm.”

Her friend Selena Pacheco, 23, called it one of downtown’s “places of thought,” like the dA and Mi Cafecito. “People really want places like this,” she said. “It’s also great that it’s centered on Latino culture.”

Arts Colony developer Ed Tessier told me later that he’s fond of both Bautista and DeRobles and happy about Cafe con Libros’ return. “It feels like a family reunion,” he said. “They really helped define the character of the neighborhood. It’s great to have them back and exciting to see all the collaborations they’re working on.”

Most of the labor is by volunteers, some of them board members. DeRobles said she and Bautista don’t consider the store theirs but rather are trying to encourage volunteers to take spiritual ownership of it.

One reason is time: Bautista, 47, is a speech pathologist in Downey and DeRobles, 48, is an assistant principal in Riverside. Another is that younger people have good ideas and may be able to keep the store going into the future.

“They have energy,” DeRobles said. “They have social media savvy,” Bautista chimed in. With a self-deprecating chuckle, DeRobles added, “They have more brain cells.”

David Allen writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, killing brain cells. Email dallen@scng.com, phone 909-483-9339, visit insidesocal.com/davidallen, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook, follow @davidallen909 on Twitter and buy “Getting Started” and “Pomona A to Z.”


A vote of confidence in downtown Pomona as business district is renewed

 Larry Egan, executive director of the Downtown Pomona Owners Association, helped win its renewal for another decade. (Photo by David Allen)

Larry Egan, executive director of the Downtown Pomona Owners Association, helped win its renewal for another decade. (Photo by David Allen)

 David Allen July 19, 2018, 8:00 pm

Downtown Pomona’s business improvement district will stick around through 2028 after property owners voted overwhelmingly to keep paying for extra security, cleanup, marketing and events like the Christmas Parade and Second Saturday Art Walk.

Nearly 100 property owners agreed to continue assessing themselves a collective $1 million per year. The vote was 78 percent in favor, up from 74 percent when the Downtown Pomona Owners Association last came up for certification in 2009.

While City Hall is the largest property owner in the district, the affirmative vote of private property owners — including Western University of Health Sciences, the Tessier family and the Tower office building — added up to 67 percent, according to DPOA executive director Larry Egan.

The new boundaries are Garey and Monterey avenues and Main and First streets, a modest expansion, plus the old YMCA at its new owner’s request over to Gibbs Street.

There were dissenters, including a glass shop owner near Gibbs who’ll have to pay $5,000 a year for what she considers scant benefit. One attorney who owns multiple properties on Mission Boulevard got two ballots and split his vote, telling Egan he saw the district’s benefit for one but not the other.

Overall, though, there was little overt opposition compared to 2009, the first renewal after the district’s 2004 formation. The City Council accepted the results Monday.

What’s ahead in the next 10 years? “We want to stay on the same path we’re on now — safe and clean, and make downtown conducive to development,” Egan, executive director since 2007, told me Wednesday. “The goal is to be out of business, ‘We don’t need you anymore.’ Then we’ll have done our job.”

Egan, by the way, had planned to retire June 30, but while recuperating from a health scare earlier this year, he got restless. “I don’t want to resign. I need a purpose,” Egan, 75, recalled thinking. “What am I going to do, clip coupons?”

The board of directors hired him back. Apparently, they still need him. The coupons can wait.

2nd Saturday Artwalk July 2018

July may be the hottest month of the year (hence the name Dog Days of Summer), but there’s plenty of awesome weaved in there, too. Not only is it National Blueberry Month (break out the granola and/or pie crusts), it’s also National Cell Phone Courtesy Month -- which sounds like blissful, wishful thinking. The second week of July is Nude Recreation Week (because who doesn’t want to roast all of their delicate bits), but most importantly, it’s National Anti-Boredom month. That means it’s basically illegal to be bored in July (“only boring people get bored!” mother used to wail) and the galleries in Downtown Pomona can ensure you don’t get cited for displaying ennui if you trek on down to the Art walk to give your brains a bump. 

Metro Gallery opens “Detour,” a solo show by Charisse Abellana, an American-Filipino artist whose paintings are inspired by the values and cultures of both sides of her heritage, and 57 Underground presents the work of ART LAB GROUP in “HARMONY + ART = PEOPLE.” Curated by Oscar Leal, the project features paintings created by differently-abled artists as they listened to a variety of music styles, including classical, country and hip hop, and painted what they felt. The result is a fascinating exploration of how music influences creativity and produces unique understandings.

 Charisse Abellana, Western Wilderness3. 24 x 30 Oil on Canvas. Metro Gallery

Charisse Abellana, Western Wilderness3. 24 x 30 Oil on Canvas. Metro Gallery

 Charisse Abellana, Western Wilderness1. 18 x 24 Oil on Canvas. Metro Gallery

Charisse Abellana, Western Wilderness1. 18 x 24 Oil on Canvas. Metro Gallery

 57 Underground

57 Underground

The Latino Art Museum presents the group show “Independence vs Independent,” featuring the work of Mati Russo, Eduardo Medrano. Charisse Abellana, Rigo Rivas, Lina Garcia, Carolina Garino-Tabit, Celeste Illazki, Juan Carlos Boxler, and David Cruz in their Main Salon East, as well as a Fundraising exhibition from their permanent collection of “Art on Paper,” in the Main Salon South.

 Angie Culosso,  Untitled . Acrylic on Paper. Latino Art Museum

Angie Culosso, Untitled. Acrylic on Paper. Latino Art Museum

 Graciela Horne Nardi,  Are not guilty,  d o not do more harm . Latino Art Museum

Graciela Horne Nardi, Are not guilty, do not do more harm. Latino Art Museum

 Rigo Rivas.  Inside, Looking Out . Latino Art Museum

Rigo Rivas. Inside, Looking Out. Latino Art Museum

 Elisa Armendariz  La Infanta-La Menina . Latino Art Museum

Elisa Armendariz La Infanta-La Menina. Latino Art Museum

 Charisse Abellana.  Blue Perfume Bottle.  Latino Art Museum

Charisse Abellana. Blue Perfume Bottle. Latino Art Museum

Progress Gallery opens “InBetween,” a group show from Azusa Pacific University MFA graduate students Daniel Hall (installation), Norris Archer Harrington (photography), Diana Isho (narrative illustration), Brianne Witt (narrative drawing), John David Yanke (mattress spring sculptures), and Molly Zakrajsek (fine art pattern and design). Focusing on the spaces in-between art and understanding, the exhibit offers up images and objects for viewers to reconsider, and reflect upon the way connections are made between multifarious worlds.

 Progress Gallery

Progress Gallery

 Progress Gallery

Progress Gallery

 Progress Gallery

Progress Gallery

The Alley Gallery dips into the spicy side of life and art with “Bondage Art Exhibition,” focusing on the exotic, erotic, and fetish worlds that create their own kind of artistic expression. Guests must be 18+ to attend.

Last but not least, the dA Center for the Arts continues last month’s group show “Sanctuary,” which explores the current climate of fear and isolation thrust upon vulnerable populations in our own country and across the world, offering love, hope and solidarity with those seeking refuge in the light. 
                                                                                -Stacy Davies

 Celine Jacques,  I'll be a Living Sanctuary for you . dA Center for the Arts

Celine Jacques, I'll be a Living Sanctuary for you. dA Center for the Arts

 Eric Almanza,  In Search for a New Home . dA Center for the Arts

Eric Almanza, In Search for a New Home. dA Center for the Arts

The Kings of 88 come to Downtown Pomona August 11

 The Kings of 88

The Kings of 88

LA County Arts Commission's Free Summer Concerts

Since its inception in 1947, the Arts Commission has administered funding for free concerts at venues throughout LA County as part of the Free Concerts in Public Sites Program. From June to October, concerts are held in parks, outdoor amphitheaters, community centers, libraries, museums and more, and feature LA County artists representing a broad range of genres including Americana, blues, Caribbean, cumbia, mariachi, jazz, klezmer, pop, rock and R&B.

The program provides support to organizations presenting accessible, quality music programming that represents the diversity of the region. Artists who perform as part of the Free Concerts in Public Sites program are chosen by the concert presenters from the Arts Commission’s Musicians Roster, a vetted list of over 100 LA County-based groups representing a range of musical styles.
The Kings of 88 will be performing in Shaun Diamond Plaza during the 2nd Saturday Artwalk, Saturday August 11, 7pm-10pm