Story and photos by Lilly Ball
Nestled between the skyscrapers and businesses of Downtown Anaheim, artists and craftsmen come together every quarter for the Art Crawl Experience, an arts festival and intimate celebration of culture and community. In the unceremoniously named “Downtown Anaheim Arts District,” ACE has provided local artists and performers with the opportunity to display their skills, whether they specialize in crocheted stuffed animals, or Halloween-themed paintings.
During ACE, Anaheim’s Center Street Promenade transformed its dull, business-like ambiance with live music and the excited chatter of festival-goers. Each booth displayed paintings and trinkets that ranged from the ostentatious to the quirky, such as neon art prints, vinyl stickers, and obnoxiously decorated Christmas sweaters. Though their products are unique, each featured artist is exceptionally friendly and approachable, eager to tell their story to anyone who stops by.
Kat Hinckley of Black Kat Creations has been attending ACE for several years now, specializing in what she calls “creepy cute” illustrations and paintings.
“It’s really a great exposure; [the Art Crawl Experience] does a lot of work to keep everyone entertained, and it’s a really helpful avenue for artists,” Hinckley stated.
Just as ACE provides opportunities to craftsmen of varying mediums, it also welcomes young artists to establish themselves within the community. As I approached one table with particularly whimsical art prints, I was enthusiastically greeted by two artists much younger than the rest. Darlene and Angeline Chen, artists from Morning Blossom Studio and self-proclaimed social entrepreneurs are only 14 and 11 years old, and have already created their own business with the help of their parents. Inspired by their childhood and travels, Darlene and Angeline create charming illustrations of princesses and animals, contributing to the eclectic mix of talent that makes up the Art Crawl Experience.
After browsing and spending more money than I had anticipated, I settled down in the center of the promenade to watch a show appropriately called “Alice in Wonderland on Fire.” Performers dressed as risque versions of the characters from the Disney film wielded flaming torches, waving them about, and swallowing the flames. The performance would have felt bizarre to watch at any other venue, but at ACE, all talents are appreciated equally.
Attending the Anaheim Art Crawl Experience is, well, an experience that is both mentally and culturally invigorating. While the last festival took place on November 12, ACE will be back next February, with more artists to debut.