By Destiny Carter |Staff Writer|
I could tell that the vibe for the evening at the Garcia Center in San Bernardino would be very chill and laid back, which is just what I experienced.
There were 20 easels setup with canvases, art supplies, and soothing classical music playing.
People were talking among one another, grabbing glasses of wine and finger foods, and picking their seats for the evening.
The building opened as a cultural center in 1935 and was abandoned in 2008, thus becoming the target of vandals leaving the center empty, cold, and in ruins.
The center has since turned a new leaf thanks to the help of the community.
San Bernardino Generation Now is the leading organization that began the turnover of the center, along with associations like art departments and concerts helped with the cleaning operation.
Ernie Garcia, the former dean of education and his wife Dotty Garcia were the main reason residents and associations chose to help with the project.
The Garcias convinced the water district to lease the building for $1 a year for the next 99 years.
Once a month on Friday nights, the center offers the Spirits and Arts event combining wine and painting for something new and different to do.
Saniyyah Thomas is one of the collaborators in charge of putting on the event.
“We wanted something fun and relaxing for residents as well as non-residents to participate in,” said Thomas.
During this particular night the artist Elizabeth Flores chose to name the painting for the evening, “Colorful Romance,” featuring a couple embracing about to engage in a kiss.
“I take inspiration from different pictures and come up with my own,” said Flores.
Flores has been painting since 2009 and has currently painted eight murals around the county.
The artwork that stands out most in Flores’ mind is the 75 foot. mural she had the opportunity to do with kids at a local charter school.
Riverside native Sal Guerra is the director of communications for the Inland Empire Museum of Arts and heard about the event through word of mouth.
Guerra contributed $50 to the Garcia Center in hopes to be a part of the positive change for the center.
“My expectation wasn’t high due to it being held in San Bernardino. I did not think it would be similar to other arts in different counties, but it was. I am also enjoying the good company,” said Guerra.
Redlands couple and newbie painters Eugenia and Lodivieerne Livingston decided that they wanted to attend the event for something new to do.
“I was browsing the website for something to do on a Friday night and came across this event,” said Eugenia.
The Spirits and Arts event will take place at the Garcia Center once a month with different paintings each session.
T-shirts are available for purchase during the event to help support San Bernardino Generation Now.
More information about the event can be found on the Spirits and Arts FaceBook page or swing by the Garcia Center located at 526 W. 11th St., San Bernardino, Calif. 92410.