Local tradition debuts to a larger crowd

By Eileen Gutierrez |StaffWriter|

As the day cooled into evening, the art scene in the Inland Empire sprang to life for the opening night of Saturation Fest.

Saturation is a bi-yearly “do-it-yourself” four-day festival. The event gives local bands and artists from the Inland Empire and beyond an opportunity to showcase their unique talents.

In 2001, Alaska Whelan started Saturation Fest as an experiment to feature local talents. The event has steadily grown year by year, from a few hundred to almost 10,000 people.

Saturation is organized in order for artists to display their work in a welcoming and encouraging local environment.

“Our concerts, exhibits, workshops and events are a prime opportunity for the audience to participate and create an experience,” says the organization on their website.

The event, which is held at several locations along University Ave and Lemon Street, featured artwork from over 40 artists. There were musical performances from three bands at the different venues.

In downtown Riverside, artists have the chance to show their works in Back to the Grind Coffeehouse, one of the main venues for the fest. The walls and basement were lined with original artwork.

The Back to the Grind Coffeehouse filled as time went on. By eight o’clock, there was a small crowd surrounding the doors to get in.

Inside featured many art vendors that showcased their work for purchase. The artists created knitted objects, uniquely designed white tees and leather flowers.

Most of the artwork in the coffeehouse featured a feminist ideal. Many of the subjects were strong powerful women.

In the basement, a three piece band played in the background as people conversed with each other and examined the artwork.

Three bands played at the coffeehouse: Clepto, Paul & Eric and Father-in-Law, who came all the way from Oakland.

A few pieces in the basement specifically caught my attention. One was a collection of photographs featuring two women dressed in flapper attire situated in a sleeping quarter on the train.

Another specific piece in the main lobby of the coffeehouse stood out. A Native American was portrayed vibrantly with hues of browns, her hair covering her chest. At the corner of the picture was Hello Kitty, native style.

At the Blood Orange Infoshop, a few doors down from the coffeehouse, the BOIS Opening Night occurred. Up a steep flight of stairs and in a small and cozy room, a band played on the floor as spectators sat near them.

Artwork by Eleanor Alvarez lined the walls of the room as incense burned. Alvarez is known for her mixed media artwork, and some of her pieces included avocado skin as her main media.

The weekend featured an Art Supply Swap and Craft, a Print work shop, and different shops to learn crafts. There were 11 venues along downtown Riverside. Times and locations varied with what was featured.

Saturation Fest is an eye-opening weekend for those not familiar with modern art and different types of music. The crowd is fairly warm and welcoming, ready to share their talents with others and be admired for their hard work.

The festival is proof that the Inland Empire really is a cornucopia of unique and alternative talents.



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