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October 29, 2013

Turn Up the Vote! Art and Music Provide a Backdrop for City Council Candidates in San Bernardino

Written by  Kimberly Johnson
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Luis Iturralde at Turn Up the Vote! Luis Iturralde at Turn Up the Vote! Kimberly Johnson

The youth of San Bernardino have taken the anger and frustration created by stifled opportunities and misguided leadership of entrusted politicians, and are now fueling and fine-tuning the plan of attack that will be used in regaining control of the city.

“I’ve lived in cockroach-infested homes, lived day to day on welfare, and you have the audacity to tell me at 14 years old I had not seen enough of the world to know what I believe in?”

18-year-old San Bernardino resident Erika Ruiz opened the October 20th Turn Up the Vote event with a descriptive and emotional poem.

Hosted by political arts activist group San Bernardino Generation Now, the event was a family friendly art and music festival that also offered an open invitation for city council candidates to address their community on some of the very apparent and pressing needs of the people.

The above words by Ruiz are just a small excerpt of her emotionally fueled poem, which included several choice words for the “you” she mentions in her elegantly written ode to the city council.

Of the current 11 mayoral candidates, Karmel Roe, Rikke Van Johnson, Richard T. Castro and Concepcion Powell, were present for the event. Each addressed the audience in short, informal speeches with information on their political platforms and main goals. (To review speeches from all 11 mayoral candidates and better aid in making an informed decision come Election Day, please go to http://www.youtube.com/user/SBgenerationNOW/videos.)

Intertwined in the political activity, several of the community’s finest graffiti artists attracted some major foot traffic. With their own stylized interpretation of themes relating to San Bernardino and the efforts involved in its renewal, they documented several words of not only encouragement, but of accountability. “Educate the Youth,” writes artist Stain as he finishes off the last addition to his piece. Behind him, artists Luigi Valarezo and Chris Garcia discuss the finishing touches to their visually demanding mini mural denoting the word, “CREATE,” as Gilbert G909 gives one last touch to the word “VOTE.” Farthest left of the group, artist BEHVSE is hard at work on his monochrome rendition of the words “SAN BERDOO.” “It’s a community given name and term of endearment almost,” responds BEHVSE.

As the crowd grows wider around them and the reminiscent hum of aerosol cans fill my ears, it is made achingly apparent that here and now is where change will occur if it is to take place—with those who will in follow in Erika Ruiz’s vocal lead, and those who will champion for accountable demands like Stain and his peers.

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Special thanks to our conference host, Copper Mountain College!




Drs. Ernest & Dorothy Garcia


Arts Sustainers

Randy Polumbo

KOA Corporation Planning & Engineering

San Bernardino Art Association

The Ranch Projects Publishing

Joshua Tree Music Festival


Arts Advocates

Paulson Orthodontics

Mojave Desert Land Trust

Cultural Planning Group

Gruen Associates

The Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art

The Ontario Museum of History and Art

The Community Foundation

The Noah Purifoy Foundation

Harrison House Music, Arts & Ecology

Pappy & Harriets

Bobby Furst 

The Joshua Tree Inn


Arts Friends

Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency (JTHAR)

Chaffey College, School of Visual & Performing Arts

High Desert Test Sites

Elwood & Associates

Inlandia Institute


Special thanks to Copper Mountain College for our hosting the conference this year!









The Garcia Center for the Arts
536 W. 11th Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410

Tel: 909.381.1900

mailing address:

5500 University Parkway
Visual Arts Building, Rm. 308
San Bernardino, CA 92407

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