Bridging Communities with Street Artist in Residence
By Evan Senn
Of all the many iterations of art subcultures and subgenres in contemporary art today, street art is often considered the most intimidating. Bred in sync with a tradition of rebellion and illegal activity, it used to be common to associate street artists with gangs and crime. But in 2018, seven years after the first museum retrospectives for the movement that is known as street art, street artists are now passionately and purposefully driven to engaging the local and global communities, helping others find artistic inspiration and creative outlets, and beautifying the world with the help of others. It has become a movement for and of the people.
In the art world, street art is moving toward acceptance and accessibility, often giving underprivileged or at risk communities an avenue to express themselves, giving dissatisfied people an opportunity to express their feelings in beautiful ways, and broadening the understanding of what art can be. Some of the most humble, kind and hard-working artists I’ve ever met are street artists, and it is no wonder that organizations that wish to promote all of the core values of public art in an accessible way also involve these down-to-earth, honest and striking artists as well. Although Los Angeles has been offering public art projects to talented street artists with help from organizations like Branded Arts and Art Share LA, the Street Artist in Residence (SAiR) in San Clemente is the first and only ongoing street art centered residency program in Orange County. This organization is taking on the task of bridging counties and communities in its effort to bring internationally recognized street art to the collective Southern California masses.
SAiR began as a simple dedication to give talented street artists wall space and new project opportunities at House of Trestles, the newly refurbished community hostel in San Clemente. House of Trestles has dozens of murals scattered in its rooms and all over its property and has helped passionate artists create large scale murals throughout the city of San Clemente as well as all over Orange and Los Angeles counties. Originally started as a secondary component of House of Trestles, SAiR has now evolved into a fully functioning nonprofit organization with a flexible residency program with a variety of international artists and fantastic public art projects and exhibitions for the artists involved.
The residencies range from 30-90 days and the artists chosen for the residency get to stay at the House of Trestles, interact with a variety of international travelers, given wall space at House of Trestles, as well as at least one larger public art project, and one or two gallery exhibitions at Gallery 1315 in San Clemente, which is also in the House of Trestles family.
The SAiR has hosted internationally renowned street artists since its inception in 2016, including REMIO, Bandit, SMOK, Francisco Camilo, Petre 06, the HA Crew and, most recently, Fiona Lake and Mike Kershnar. The SAiR has also collaborated with other organizations to bring the amazing art of other international street artists–like Teachr, Megzany, Balloonski, Jason Ostro, SkidRobot, Charmain Olivia, Alex Demarco, Honor One, h2dk, Leba, Phobik, Cyrus the Virus and WRDSMTH–to the masses in either public art installations or gallery exhibitions. The next major collaboration planned for the SAiR is in April with the “Latin Invasion” with Gabba Gallery and SmileSouthCentral which will feature Latin American street artists like Erre, Toxicomano Callejero, Lesivo, Binho Ribeiro, Iskar and more.
The SAiR’s reach has spread to the far-reaching corners of our Southern California cultural landscape, evolving from just a single hostel with big ambitions and a lot of great art. It now not only has art projects in multiple cities and counties in SoCal, but it is also has expanded into multiple gallery spaces, including the hidden gem of a space, 1315 Gallery, also in San Clemente. The 1315 Gallery is a gorgeous geometric space–much like House of Trestles–that offers multiple installation options in the tiered facility, including a bar area, two gallery rooms, and vast hallways with wide walls. 1315 Gallery also include 1315 Studios which houses the art studios of artists Charmaine Olivia, Alec Demarco and C/Greed, offering visitors an opportunity to not only dive into the worldwide community of street art and the innovative projects that are coordinated by SAiR but also connect with real artists in real time in their private studios.
Charmaine Olivia, Alec Demarco and C/Greed are all very different artists, but are all incredibly welcoming, open, and want to connect with people interested in art. Olivia is a talented painter working with oils and acrylics mostly, and has an ethereal, surreal, Lisa Frank-meets-Alex Grey-meets-Mister Cartoon style of art that empowers the feminine energy in all of us and inspires creation, reflection and play. Demarco seems fascinated with typography as well as the history of humanity. Inspired by the fine art of tattooing, mandalas and calligraphy, Demarco has created a variety of patterned work that fully encompasses the viewer, references history and a multitude of cultures and touches the human spirit through calligraffiti-style two-dimensional expressions. C/Greed is a multimedia artist who sculpts, paints, builds and bends his work into completion. Often utilizing a social and cultural commentary in his work, his style is bright, bold and references pop culture imagery and iconography in innovative street art-inspired fine art pieces.
With a bold range of styles represented at the main SAiR space at 1315 Gallery, the assortment at House of Trestles, and a wide variety of projects scattered all over the SoCal area, the SAiR is not only creating more opportunities for street artists in Southern California, it is also giving the public a chance to get to know renowned street artists from all over the world. Additionally, through its projects and outreach, it is changing the way the community sees street art and street artists, and is inspiring communities to accept and embolden art and voices of all kinds.
Street Artist in Residence
House of Trestles, 2717 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA