Articles written by TheVistaPress.com Staff
Tom Robertson • Paige Torres • Winter Sierra • Jeffrey MGrew • Vicky Marie Juram
Art is alive and well in Vista, as shown by this weekend’s return of the Alley Art Festival to Downtown Historic Vista. This event, headed by the Vista Art Foundation and President Maureen Barrack and Labrador Enterprises, were successful in bringing back a not normal art walk that celebrated the creativity of art found off the beaten path. Maureen, with numerous volunteers like Jonathan Cuyno – Executive Director of the Vista Village Business Association – created a high energy, interactive art festival that had something for everyone.
Photos by Carolyn Robertson
Maureen said she wanted to create an event that “had lots of moving parts. An event that was totally art focused that people would enjoy and walk away having had an ‘Oh Wow’ moment.” She said this year’s event was a lot bigger than last year’s event, the weather was cooperating and they have added many new visual and interactive sections to the festival. Side streets and alleys in Historic Downtown Vista were the scenes for an array of art styles and activities. Over 30 sponsors supported the event including the City of Vista Art Commission.
This year’s festival included a “Big Ass Art Show and Sale”, a Film Festival, live music, a Poetry Slam contest, an Interactive mural painting, an Artists market, a Re-cycled Art Show, Alley Man and Alley Cat Stages with continual performances, a Fashion Show, Daycation Theatre sketch comedy performances, Origami graffiti, Art Box, Before I Die Wall, Face Off make-up artist Marco, Lil’ Busy Bodies for the kids, button making, and much more, all going on at the same time. The Avo Theatre was also used for numerous activities for the day.
The Day began at 11 am with a short creative parade beginning at Allen’s Alley and ending in front of the newly installed Alley Cat steampunk art piece installed at the corner of Hanes Place and Main St. The parade featured representatives from the North San Diego County Young Marines, the Hidden City Derby Girls roller blading team, skateboarders, Twisted Heart puppet works large cat faces, Ballet Folklorico dancers from Rancho Buena Vista High School, a large motorized cupcake advertising Maker Faire San Diego and many uniquely dressed participants. T-shirts could be seen, “Make Vista Weird”, to support to artistic theme of the day.
At the Alley Cat statue, designed by Rick and Jayden Randall of Vista, parade participants and observers gathered to hear City Councilman John Aguillera read a proclamation honoring the Vista Village Art Association and Labrador Enterprises for the day’s events and supporting the arts in Vista, declaring Saturday, September 5, 2015 as Day of local Young and Creative Artists Day. A community photo was taken and the art festival officially began. Rick and Jayden Randall also designed and constructed the Alley Man metal statue next to the parking lot on S. Indiana and Main Street, which was made for last year’s Art Festival. Rick said he is already designing the piece that will be installed for next year’s art festival. The theme is a secret.
During the day, work continued on another building wall mural, this one on Crozier’s Flowers facing the parking lot. In speaking with Jackie and son Chris Koop, owners of Visions in Art Gallery and Custom Frame and Art Restoration on Hanes Place since 1990, she was excited this event returned to downtown Vista. She feels it brings new people to the Historic downtown area and exposes them to all of the new development going on in the downtown area. Jackie is especially proud of her role in bringing in many of the wall murals Vista is famous for and our unofficial city title, the City of Murals. One of the murals, painted in 2005 by Clayton Parker, depicts the Vistacado Lane Parade from the 1950’s, and is one of the longest murals in the world painted by a single painter. Lots of Vista early history and memories can be seen in the mural. The mural begins at the back of Mother Earth Brew Company, facing out to the parking lot and stretches 561 feet, covering the backs of all of the buildings facing the parking lot. This and the other wall murals in the downtown area showing the creative side of the residents of Vista.
Winter Sierra….The second performance of the day at the Alley Main Stage featured Rancho Buena Vista High School’s Ballet Folklorico dancers. RBV’s very talented Ballet Folkorico team performs traditional Mexican dances at both school and community events. RBV math teach Paul McEwen has proudly run the program for years.
Photos by Winter Sierra
Make-up Artist Marco held his Face Off all day long at the festival! Marco is only 15 years old, and aspires to be a professional makeup artist. He already did makeup at Comic Con in San Diego this year! Kids were lined up throughout the day for his seriously cool makeup designs!
Paige Torres…Fashion Runway at the Alley Man Stage
.At 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 5th, the Alley Man Stage lit up with the highlighted Fashion Show, put on by Marcus Noel and Catherine, with music by Michelle Bella.
The show featured collections from five talented Palomar College Designers, drawing large crowds to the catwalk with fun, spunky music, kimonos, bohemian dresses, 70’s Scooby-Doo inspired styles, and floral prints, galore!
Vicky Marie Juram ….Poetry Slam at Alley Art Festival
On September 5th, Vista celebrates its art by taking part in the 2nd Annual Alley Art Festival.
Not only was there live music, interactive art, a “Before I Die” wall, and other amazing activitiesbut there was also a Poetry Slam, which took place at the Avo Theater.
The Poetry Slam consisted of three rounds: the first round with about 15 poets, the second with 8 poets (eliminating 7 from the first round), and the final round with the top 3 standing poets. 3rd and 2nd place winners left with a cash prize, while the 1st place winner received both cash prize and a trophy.
Poetry is one of the most beautiful forms of art and is a wonderful way to express one’s feelings. Many of the poems heard in the Avo Theater were really moving and you can tell how important the poems meant to its poets. From topics about first loves and heartbreaks to topics on terrorism, suicide, and domestic violence.
1st place winner, Fitz, spoke of how much he loves Vista and states that“I never want Vista to not be my home.” His first poem on Vietnam veterans and second on domestic violence helped him get through the first couple of rounds. However, it was his last poem about the sounds of his surroundings that helped him win the competition. Fitz claimed that he’s “more of a pedestrian than a driver” for he believes that when you’re driving, you miss out on what’s going on around you. This was the first time he’s competed in a poetry slam after stopping for a few years and is very proud to have won his first ever poetry slam in Vista, his home.
Photos by Vicky Marie Juram
Jeffrey McGrew ….Vista Finds Its Artistic Footing
Vista begins to find its artistic identity at this past Alley Art Festival. Vista natives and visitors alike had the chance to not only see some unique and local art, but to participate in some of their own as well. The festival offered painting mini skateboards and a “before I die wall” along with several others at the Big A$$ art show. Where one could express their own abilities gathered from their North County inspiration. This was a huge public display of artistic affection for the whole community. However, even with this great turnout of people, art, and music I was still able to capture some interviews and quotes from our two downtown art suppliers.
My first stop was at Artbeat, and there I was able to speak with our local artists and see a good portion of their art. I spoke with Kait Matthews, and several others regarding their vision for Vista’s artistic growth along with their own contribution to it. I was guided throughout the gallery and was taken back by the variety and skill that was presented. Artbeat contained sculptures, pottery, paintings, sketches, and jewelry. Honestly, they had it all, including a wine lounge in the back that also offered outside seating in their garden. The overall environment of the gallery was laid back yet inspirational, and small but satisfying. I can easily recommend the venue because of the artists’ friendly demeanor as well as their impressive talents. Kait also mentioned to me how excited they were to have the festival and offered a booth to show live demonstrations of paintings and other art techniques.
My next stop throughout the festival was Visions in Art, run by Jacqueline Koop and her son Christopher Koop. I had the opportunity to speak with her for some time in between the heavy flow of visitors to her extensive collection of art. I spoke with her regarding the change in the art scene in Vista and the greater North County area. She told me of how diverse art has become, especially since she has a passion for classical European art and Baroque art. Her own collection of art can easily be compared to that of a museum. She has collected some from her own trips to Europe and has greatly influenced the growth of Vista. She brought much of that passion for art back with her when she served as the first public arts commissioner. As a result she had a huge part in the “Journey through time mural” or “Vistacado Parade Mural,” that depicts Vista’s history on the back of the businesses on Main Street. I must also mention that it is 562 feet long and in 2005 was possibly the biggest in the world! During my time with her, I learned how exciting Vista’s recent growth is, but how great its history is as well.
“We need to come and work together as a community,” Jaqueline said with eager eyes, and that we need to learn how to “blend.” With my experience at the festival, I saw a genuine show of diversity for the sake of art, and it was exactly what Vista needed. Even Jacqueline said that it was “a successful day,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Later, after going through another procession of music, food, and art, I spoke with several North county natives about the festival. The first was Lauren Collanes, an Oceanside resident who had heard about the event a month prior at a coffee shop. She told me that she was looking forward to the event since that time, and mentioned how impressed she was with the effort put into the venue. Next, I spoke with Travis, a native of Carlsbad. I asked him what he thought about the festival, especially with Carlsbad’s background in art, and he told me “it’s really great they’re doing this! We need bigger events!” His positive response was exactly what I know the artists and city wants. The last person I spoke before my departure was Rachel of Wavelength brewery. Her input was also a great perspective of what the event achieved for its participants. She told me how this event was a “witness of active change in art, which is the same that Vista is going through.” With our large expansion projects of homes, apartments, restaurants, and breweries, it’s easy to see that this large festival was a direct result of our growth.
However, with that growth comes a lot of work and change. As both a witness and native of this wonderful city, I can say that the future looks promising and exciting for us who are a part of it. For those of you reading who did not have a chance to come to the venue I would strongly suggest to come to downtown, because we don’t just celebrate art, but we also celebrate our community’s progress in the many events held in Old town Vista.
As Fashion Club President at Palomar College, Izabella Catrach explained, the fashion designers “with all their different styles, have worked extremely hard on their designs to put on the show.”
Though it is certainly true that the clothing of each designer was very unique, the different clothing styles created an intrigue among audiences, which drew them to the stage to admire the amazing fashion pieces the designers worked so hard to create.
Jon Cuyno, V.V.B.A. Ex. Director, stated, “this art festival is a one of kind event in San Diego County. Vista should be proud. No other city has an event quiet like this.” Dr. Rick Barrack, husband of Maureen, was busy assisting Maureen in what he referred to as lifting and toting. When asked about his reaction to the event, he gave a tribute to his wife, a former nominee for Vista Business Person of the Year, “None of this is possible without the incredible effort of the most spectacular woman I have ever met and I am blessed to be her husband. This is an example of selflessness at work.” The work of Maureen and others went a long way in making the 2nd annual Alley Art Festival a success.