The regranting funds are for small arts organizations in the Inland Empire to experiment with new approaches to arts engagement. Grants are intended as risk-capital for very small arts organizations, agencies, art collectives and groups to pilot projects that focus on:

1) reaching low-income and/or ethnically diverse populations that have been traditionally underserved by nonprofit arts organizations

2) offering active engagement in the arts in which participants are making or practicing art, and/or

3) using nontraditional arts venues such as churches, store fronts and shopping malls, or open lots and other spaces not typically designated for arts use that are easily accessible and familiar to the public..

View the guidelines to see if your arts organization is a good candidate for an ARPIE grant.

Maximum request is $10,000. The deadline is August 1, 2014.



This Friday the second annual Redlands Festival of Arts will take place at Smiley Park. The festival, a celebration of both the visual and performing arts, was co-founded by Jerry Bean and Shirley Harry in 2013 to promote the arts in Redlands and its surrounding areas. Bean saw a need to showcase art from the East Valley and realized that Redlands was the perfect place to do this. According to Harry, the closest outdoor art festival of this size is held in La Quinta.

Last year there were over 39 artists present at Smiley Park, and this year it looks like there will be over 70 local artists and over 59 not so local artists–some from as far away as Arizona and Idaho. The ultimate goal of the festival is to be able to raise funds for arts education in Redlands while promoting the arts in the community. The Redlands Arts Festival also boosts a juried art show in which the winning entry receives a $6,000 prize. In addition to the art, there will be art related booths, food trucks, a beer and wine garden, and activities for families. One thing that will be different this year is that each festival day will end with a concert from 3:00pm – 5:00pm. Saturday’s concert will be kicked off by The Tornadoes, a famous surf rock group from Redlands, and Sunday will close with a Broadway Block Party.

To Harry, outdoor art festivals are a fun opportunity for artists to exhibit their work. When I asked her why art was important, she didn’t hesitate to respond with, “Artists make statements that last. We have artwork from centuries and it has lasted, and still speaks to us. [Art] says something about a way of being.” Indeed this weekend at Smiley Park there are sure to be many statements made.

For more information about the Redlands Arts Festival please visit



Celebrate life. Be kind and caring. Easy enough in theory, right? Is it as effortless in practice? Well, after experiencing it first hand at the 12th Annual Spring Joshua Tree Music Festival, my answer is a resounding YES.

In addition to an incredible music experience, the family friendly, communal event included live art, yoga classes, food, beverages, artwork, crafts, and boutique clothing. Kidsville offered a daily schedule of activities for children – including a pirate ship on wheels that sailed around a lake. With three stages and no overlapping performances, you had the opportunity to enjoy the entire line-up of performers. There were too many bands to mention each one in this short piece, but I will highlight a few.

The Magic Beans out of Nederland, CO kicked off the Festival on Thursday night; the band was full of bluegrassy, playful vibes that had the first night crowd grooving and reveling in the possibilities of the weekend to come.

Friday was chock full of exciting concerts, including Liesl, the Joshua Tree based girl with her bass. Via genuine song lyrics illustrating her life experiences, at times your heart breaks and laughter tumbles out simultaneously. While gifts of cupcakes packaged in “love” boxes are distributed to the crowd, she sings that she gives us cupcakes to make us happy, which in turn makes her happy, so really she is selfishly doing it for herself.

Saturday was just as incredible, with one awesome performance after another. Elle King from New York, NY graced the stage with a smoky, smooth punk sound and sweet demeanor. Elle called attention to her newly purchased skirt and gave a shout out to its creator Shari Elf, a local artist with a booth at the Festival. Shari creates unique fashion and art out of recycled items – think the horrible pink blanket that you hide in the back of your linen closet turned into a fabulous mini-dress with “I LIKE MYSELF” plastered across the front. Elle moseyed through the crowd after her set, giving hugs and smiles; we shared a few laughs and I snagged a couple of shots with her.

As the heat of the day subsided and the sun continued its magnificent desert descent, Kraak & Smaak, out of the Netherlands, kept the party going into the night with their house dance mixes that had the crowd on their feet dancing up a sand storm; it was unavoidable, the beats were contagious. The evening wrapped up with The Selections, a live karaoke band that rocked the night sky and made stars out of everyone who took the stage.

Sunday kept right on rocking; between partner yoga, swinging my cares away on Piper Robison and Gabba Evaro’s “More Love Swings” installation, stuffing myself with Pie for the People and washing it down with Jahlia’s fresh lemonade with muddled lemon basil, my dusty dancing feet became exhausted, and I sadly headed back in the direction of reality.

As I removed the Joshua Tree Music Festival image from the banner on our Arts Connection homepage today, my heart sank a little. The gypsy ease and lighthearted bounce was fading from my step as I walked my dog, Danzig, along the grassy lined streets of Redlands. While he searched for lizards to chase and bugs to eat, he was oblivious of the Festival’s amazing events and the new friends that were made. There’s a leftover piece of Pie for the People chillin’ in the fridge, the hula hoop is on order, and there’s a song in my heart – who cares if only I can hear it?

A huge shout out to all who make the Joshua Tree Music Festivals possible! There were so many incredible offerings throughout the Festival, it was impossible to touch on all of them – so my advice is to experience it for yourself! Save the date and be a part of the fun at the 9th Annual Fall Joshua Tree Music Festival October 9-12, 2014.



“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

For many around the globe, May 31 will likely hold trivial significance as the passing of another month; the fading of days chronicled on a calendar, stockpiled beside repetition, redundancies and rudimentary action. But for the community of San Bernardino, May 31 holds the ability to be a day of inspiration, opportunity and a deviation from the typical and the norm.

“I’ve actually never been to an event in San Bernardino quite like what I’m envisioning for this event,” said 22-year-old Michael Segura – San Bernardino Generation Now member, newly appointed San Bernardino Arts Commisioner and Director of Media for May 31’s CommUnity Fest.

The Cal State San Bernardino graphic design and fine arts major is just one portion of the well-oiled and politically conscious machine known as San Bernardino Generation Now. Formally founded in 2013, SBGN members have taken it upon themselves to be socially and politically active by closely engaging with the community, it’s political representatives and the land itself – organizing community clean ups among other commendable deeds.

The team is now extending their fight for communal betterment by coordinating CommUnity Fest – which is gearing up to be a one-stop-shop for local musical talent, yoga sessions, the live production of public murals and even a civic lounge to better aid in getting to know this year’s candidates in the state primary election; the crew has kind of thought of it all, but I’m not surprised.

Like Segura, SBGN is jam-packed with scholars whose specialized skills play key roles in keeping the unit on the road to progress and ultimate success.

Matt Greenleaf, 27, received his Bachelor’s in political science. His first attempt at exploring his passion for the intersections of legal policy and community empowerment came in the form of wanting to up-start a non-profit. Entangled in the tresses of his exploration of the local political scene, Greenleaf crossed paths with SBGN. “I just started going to meetings really,” notes Greenleaf. “I was concerned about San Bernardino, wanted to get involved and somehow, make an impact. You know, leave San Bernardino with it being better than when I came in.”

Luckily for us, Greenleaf and the entire SBGN team wield the gift of creative minds; ones that find value in the transformative, expressive and communal nature of art.

“Art inspires people and literally makes them think differently,” said Segura. “We’ve become so programmed to think standardly which does nothing for us.” “I love the way art can bring communities together,” said Jennica Billins, 28, head honcho and first chair coordinating May 31’s festivities. “Every time a mural is painted, people come out; they want to see it.”

Billins is the outwardly proud homeowner of San Bernardino’s UNITY house. Her residency inherits the name from a mural baring the word “UNITY” painted along one of her home’s outer walls. The 2013 work is the product of none other than members of her SBGN family.

While working with the group, Billins – an MFA recipient focused on public health – is happily putting her schooling to work. “I received my Masters in Public Health focusing on global public health. There are different forms of public health you can focus on, but global health is a lot about communal development and asks ‘how can we strengthen the community?’”

Whether it be through engaging it, enlightening it, stimulating it or just offering encouragement, the foundation for social change in San Bernardino has been accessed by simply asking the right question: How can we strengthen the community?

As May 31 creeps nearer and we prepare to watch May come to a conclusive close, remember the question and optimistically seek out examples of the answers hiding in the form of murals, disguised as humble community activism, and – but of course – camouflaged as a day at the park.

CommUnity Fest will take place May 31 between 10am and 6pm at Perris Hill Park in San Bernardino. All ages welcome and free for the whole family.



Wonder Valley is the last point of habitation east of Los Angeles before stretches of desert meet the state line. Moving away from the megalopolis, the diminishing density of population and infrastructure peters out into this landscape of sporadic shelters and characteristic “jackrabbit homesteads.”

One of the subgroups of inhabitants in Wonder Valley are those who wish to remain in Southern California, but who cannot afford to live in the Los Angeles basin. Thus Wonder Valley was a felicitous location for the issues addressed in Spectacular Subdivision, a three-day art event on affordable housing and compromised work/live spaces. Organized by Jay Lizo of Monte Vista ProjectsHigh Desert Test Sites and UCIRASpectacular Subdivision invited forty artists to explore the questions: “What does housing mean to artists in relation to their practice? How have forms of domesticity and shelter shaped artists’ practices?” and “How does an artist find balance between work and living space?”

The event took place from April 4-6 at two sites – a house owned by the Sibley Family on El Paseo Ranch and Ironage Road, a 40 acre undeveloped parcel of land owned by HDTS. Together these spaces explored the tension between domestic and natural, human habitation and inhospitable environment.

The small house on El Paseo Ranch had drawings, photographs, sculptures, and performances ranging in subject from urban borders and suburban house facades to the housing market and building material. While the work here was innocuously subsumed by the domesticity of the space, the effect was important to the tensility between sites.

One of the projects that worked well in the first site was Carl Pomposelli’s “Almost Rhombus Studio Home.” Two shadow boxes were made out of the same drywall it encased, obliterating the division between frame and subject. It’s mundanity blended well in the bedroom space it hung inside because the quotidian context mirrored its own process. The drywall in “Almost Rhombus Studio Home” was first used in 2012 as a sculpture for Monte Vista Projects; thereafter, it was repurposed into pedestals and added to a wall with the intention of making a studio space into a more private homespace. Through multiple iterations, what remained of the material became autobiographical. A type of affective labor, the work discusses its own embedded conditions wherein studio/domestic and physical/psychological spaces blur into one another and the everyday proliferates. At Ironage Road, site-specific installation and performances were spaced out in an unassuming manner, giving precedent to the desert. The strong anchors at the site were works like Pomposelli’s that dealt with psychologically or physically negotiated home or art spaces, as well as those which observed the qualities of the desert and its role in American ideology and identity.

Near the road and hence near the “entrance” of the Ironage site was “The Icebox,” by Olga Koumoundouros. A vertical refrigerator door made out of wood board, on its surface was what appeared to be a collage of various flyers, papers, and drawings, some defaced, torn, or badly faded. This reference to ordinary objects displayed a disparaged perversion of the typical family refrigerator door. “The Icebox” uses “bondage as constriction and metaphor for economic and social precarity” in order to “depict the inherent sadism in our neo-capitalist system.” The displaced domestic good in the desert, while connoting middle class loss, also displayed a solidarity.

Also about loss, “Deep Cut,” by Marcos Rios was inspired by a series of prescient events in the artist’s life – the passing of his grandfather, his own brush with death, and the macabre subject matter at the gallery where he works. Additionally, Rios was tired of an old sculpture, “Rigor Motors,” which had been separated from its coffin counterpart; for the last ten years the sculpture had done little but collect dust and become a psychological burden. Ready to be rid of it, Marcos explains what solidified the idea of its burial: “During the week I was installing the death exhibition, Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995) was playing on TV. I was listening to it in the background when I heard the line: ‘But it’s in the desert where lots of the town’s problems are solved…’Got a lot of holes in the desert and a lot of problems are buried in those holes.’ To mark the occasion, Rios put a grave marker that reads “Marco Rios, Rigor (Not Motors), 2004-2014.” Thus “Deep Cut” used the desert in a timeless application as a site to purge and create new beginning.

Not far from “Deep Cut” was Jay Lizo’s cardboard home, “Catan Firework House (L.A. Market 2001-2006)” which provided people with shelter and water. Inside the structure, the cool sand and the sun cast shadows filled the interior with kaleidoscopic colors reminiscent of stain-glass cathedrals. “Catan Firework House” is described by Lizo as a “darkroom or theater” whose form takes from the basic shape of a settlement in Settlers of Catan. The cut outs in the walls were a fusion of the pyrotechnic and the graph mark of housing sales between 2001 and 2005. Lizo has been interested in the inflation/deflation value of a house according to the perception of appraisers, homeowners, and neighborhoods. He states, “The goal of the piece was to immerse viewers in a room of spectacular color explosions of speculation and consumption.”

Some ways from Lizo’s impermanent house was a human size carrot half buried in the ground. It had a chain link fence (untied) around it, and brought to mind Mungo Thomson’s “The American Desert (for Chuck Jones),” an insightful study on the beautifully represented desert landscape in Looney Tunes. This piece by Matthew Usinowicz, titled “Left at Albuquerque,” was a humorous tribute to the surreal and cartoonish inspiration this barren place provokes, yet the carrot’s enclosure grounded it in the realities of property, territory, and human entitlement. Usinowicz discusses his inspiration for the piece: “I roamed the streets of Wonder Valley, 29 Palms, Desert-lands, California and became fascinated by the use of chain linked fence. What I saw were plots…surrounded by high fencing with intimidating barbed wire…Coming from San Francisco the idea of protecting land – especially in a place where there is plenty – is absurd. ‘Left at Albuquerque’ references Bugs Bunny on his way to Pismo Beach, where there are ‘all the clams you can eat!’ – an ideology most Americans share.”

Candice Lin’s “Grub/A Meal For Lizards” was an organic installation sensitive to the ecology of the desert and its indigenous animals. The artist placed vegetables and insects for lizards to consume in reptile-scale clay bowls and wooden table. Lin was interested in how shared meals could bridge species differences, in hospitality through nutriment, and in complications of home/security. Lin explains: “When I visited the site of the Iron Age Land and walked around the desolate landscape, I kept caving in the homes and tunnels of lizards and thought to myself, ‘Oh God, how inescapable that the idea of home involves the destruction of someone else’s home or security, or at least a kind of violence of taking-from-another when making oneself secure and safe.’…These kind of contradictions interest me – the hospitality and the violence within the idea of home…the body you are inhabiting, itself a kind of limiting home.”

The flux and insecurity of home seemed to be a common response in Spectacular Subdivision. Through High Desert Test Site’s base in Joshua Tree and 29 Palms, and Jay Lizo’s curatorial insight, Spectacular Subdivision brought together an eclectic group of artists and viewers who responded to the subject of housing in very personal ways. As Los Angeles and concentrated centers of cultural and capital production become less attainable to many Americans, peripheries such as the desert in neighboring San Bernardino county become migratory possibilities. All but one work in discussion here – burial and grave marker, a cardboard home, a large fenced carrot, a mock refrigerator door, drywall shadowbox, and a meal for lizards – remain in situ. The anonymity these objects assume post Spectacular Division mirrors the detritus traces of human activity that the desert (accepts) and reduces through disregard. It is the draw of this landscape, a place of seemingly unpollutable immensity, which offers an alternative perversion to the privileged and hierarchical spaces of capital we seek to escape from time to time.