We are bringing back one of our favorite community events, the El Sereno Chalk Festival! Inspired by one of our first supporters award-winning chalk artist, and El Sereno resident, Ester Petschar, we wanted to create a day of art where kids can be free to create art while seeing artists at work in the chalk art competition. Still at Wilson High School this year, we are including live entertainment and the County of Los Angeles Library MakMo truck. With the continued support of our local Neighborhood Council, we are able to supply the kids and artists with free chalk. Local businesses supply the prizes for our chalking winners. Our Mercadito de Arte also returns with a pop up shopping experience, and the Community Booths provide information and crafts for continued family fun.
July was a busy month! Partnering up with Cal State L.A., El Sereno Community Arts was able to launch a pilot program for our STEAM camp this year. With the assistance of our board member Phillip Thomas, who is a professor at Cal State L.A., we were able to bring local school children to the university campus to learn both art and computer programming. The kids were divided into two groups. Ages five to ten learned the Scratch program developed by MIT, while the eleven to fifteen year olds learned how to make an APP. Both groups were able to learn about different types of art and created manual and computer generated art pieces. This was a great beginning to a program we would like to expand into a full month of learning activities in 2017.
From Art on the Streets to Gallery Walls by Angelica De La Torre
Armando Bobadilla aka Mondo 59420 sits comfortably at Holy Grounds coffee house in El Sereno. The outdoor seating area is as serene as his demeanor. He immediately states that all questions are open for discussion, and he welcomes them all. Most street artists relish anonymity, but this is a new age, and Mondo is no typical street artist.
Professionally he has spent over 20 years in the financial corporate world. But, it was back in the fifth grade that another student from New York exposed him to art in the form of graffiti. He was hooked. “I got chalk and drew it on the floor everywhere. And I just kept drawing from then. Anytime someone would ask what kind of gift I’d want…I wanted paper, colored pencils…I was done with toys at that point.”
From chalk he moved to permanent markers and whatever was available. With not much options or support to channel his artistic expression, he resorted to stealing supplies. “The hardest part was that I was a teenager and I couldn’t buy it. My parents wouldn’t buy it. So of course I would steal from garages, my uncle’s garage. I’d find a can in my parents’ garage, but then we would start to get it from the stores. And unfortunately we had to steal most of it.”
No matter what the limitation, Mondo transcended to keep exploring his art. “I have no choice but to paint and create. Even if I didn’t share it with anybody, and kept it in my own room, and was the only one that would be able to look at it, I wouldn’t stop. But, I would say that the first time that I showed in a group show in a coffee house in East LA was really a tremendous situation. Where I was able to sit and watch people look at my artwork, and that told me that, you know, even strangers can see that it’s, you know, decent work to look at. And I thought that’s pretty cool. I guess it gave me some type of answer that I was doing something that was making sense.”
Mondo’s transition to acrylics began at East LA College, where one of his professors motivated him to continue his arts education. An important theme that surfaced and continues to present itself is Dia de los Muertos. Skulls have a certain attraction for him. He explains that this comes from a need to strip away facades, all societal influences, as everyone looks the same as a skull. But Mando also admits that death has been on his mind for the past year. Getting instantly emotional he recounts how his wife Melissa has had to endure two surgeries these past few years. It was a time of uncertainty and fear. But he embraces these reminders of the brevity of life and transforms them into a positive creative force. “It expresses to me that your situation can go on forever. You don’t have to worry about this situation where you are living in the physical. I believe in the metaphysical, because that’s where love comes from.”
His family has become a big influence on his creativity, but his history with street art always resurges. When asked about artists he follows, he quickly references many street artists such as Crayola, Revok, Riff and the Seventh Letter crew, although he also appreciates Brian Mashburn and Bob Ross. Street art has definitely changed since he started, Mando explains. “People are willing to pay graffiti artists tons of money, to do their graffiti. Slick from K2S, he opened up a graffiti shop in Gardena. But, he still gets paid to go to Basel, to go to different parts to do his style. Before you wouldn’t have a fine art touch to graffiti, but now if you look at like Crayola, he has a fine art touch to graffiti. So at this point, I love the evolution.”
Mondo looks positively to the future. His dream is to retire with his wife, and thrive as a painter. He states that his wish is simply “to live a very easy going life, that’s all that I am looking for, but I think that is asking a lot, because art isn’t that easy....but I think that anything is possible if you have the energy to try.”
Mondo 59420's work is currently showing at Holy Grounds Coffee Shop. He also collaborated on the show "Being Ernest Shackleton" at AWOL gallery, which was covered by the LA Times, LA Weekly and Curbed LA. He is featured live artist at the El Sereno Dia de los Muertos Festival on Huntington Drive.
All photos provided by Armando Bobadilla
by Tess Hernandez Cano
Many former El Sereno residents can tell you stories about the American Legion Hall on Eastern Avenue. Local bands that still play around town, relate stories about ending their performance too early due to disturbances out of their control. Other friends have shared with me that they can recall actually seeing films at the hall.
I recall vividly when the marquee changed to read, “Mazatlan” and more festive events seemed to occur every weekend. Quinceaňeras and wedding receptions seemed to monopolize the weekend and a good time was had by all.
However, once the recession hit our neighborhood, using a hall to celebrate became a luxury. And sadly, the Mazatlan finally closed its’ doors.
But there is a new girl in town and her name is EAVA, which stands for Edward, Alla, Victoria and Arthur. Her parents, Alla and Edward Kalaydjian are a couple focused on serving our neighborhood. I spent a brief hour with Alla to find out more about their hopes and dreams for El Sereno.
Alla arrived from the Ukraine in 1989, when the politics allowed religious asylum for refugees. She shared with me that she studied choreography in Kiev, Leningrad. “Dance was my passion, my parents didn’t understand, but I didn’t care.”
“When I finally arrived in the United States by way of Italy, I went to school to learn medical billing. That’s actually where I met my future husband Edward, he was one of our patients! Even though I was engaged to someone else back home, my mother encouraged me to date him, and that was that!
Edward has many interests including art, and has worked in stained glass. He created the window at The Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas and also at an Armenian church in Glendale. Edward also has an electrical engineering degree from Cal State LA and owns Armenia TV 24/7-part of Armenian Media Group of America. But he’s also interested in investments like real estate and was looking through real estate ads when he found this theater. There was a tremendous amount of renovation that needed to be done and we worked together to create our vision”.
And what a vision it is! A modern sectional greets you as you enter the lounge area. Appointments in chrome, bright pop colors of red, tangerine, even lime are tastefully placed throughout the hall. Upstairs has a balcony to be claimed as a VIP lounge for events. All new light sconces continue the modern trend with various filters to create a rave environment if you so desire. Renovations to the bathrooms, stage, dance floor and walls combine to make one feel welcomed, but never stuffy or outdated.
Alla and Edward are very excited to open their doors to El Sereno. “Besides renting the hall for Quinceaňeras, weddings and other celebrations, we’re interested in having workshops here to provide entertainment and education for the children after school hours. As a mother of two wonderful children, Victoria and Arthur, I want parents to feel comfortable about picking up their kids here in case they have to work late”.
“I have a very clear idea of providing the very best to our customers, this includes our linens, tables and chairs”. She will be working with a wedding planner for further assistance and plans to provide entertainment for children when family events take place.
I, along with a few choice guests were invited to a soft opening of EAVA last Friday. Our very own jazz band from El Sereno Middle School played while delicious refreshments were offered.
An upcoming formal opening is slated for Sunday, June 5, 2016 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 pm. It will feature a live jazz band, a violinist and a ballroom dancing exhibition. I encourage all and everyone to attend. Both Alla and Edward are a very welcome breath of fresh air to our neighborhood and I guarantee you will be beyond pleasantly surprised by our new venue.
EAVA is located on 3355 Eastern Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90032. Parking is available on the street and more will be allotted per reserved event. Contact Alla via firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to reserve the hall.
Photography By Sylvie