In February of this year, we announced our California Creative Corps project and called out to artists and culture bearers to participate. We were overjoyed to receive 375 project submissions from artists working to build healthier communities across the state!
An independent panel of artists, educators, curators and cultural workers collectively reviewed these submissions and selected 14 visionary projects from each of the three state regions (Northern, Central and Southern California), resulting in a total of 42 Round One finalists.
These 42 artists and culture bearers are experienced in community and civic-based work, with practices ranging from ancestral art and ceremonies, documentary film, virtual and augmented reality, spoken word, dance, conceptual art, and community engagement. Project submissions are based in cities across the state, including Mt. Shasta, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Ysidro, Bakersfield, Palm Desert and Fresno.
- Community engagement workshops sharing regional art-making and craft traditions and techniques, zine and comic book creation, music-making and theater
- AI-assisted decolonization workshops
- Art-making and art therapy for building healthier communities
- And more
We’re delighted and honored to support this incredible pool of change-makers and community builders in their work.
Join us in congratulating our California Creative Corps Round One finalists!
Fredericko is a project based artist working through drawing, painting, mural arts, video, and curatorial practices. His work revolves around building with communities in the creations of site specific works.
Nathaniel Can Ancheta (Filipino-American, b 1987, Lancaster, CA) is a contemporary artist, designer, and curator, known for his large-scale outdoor installations that explore themes of identity, self, representation, and place.
ASTU is a Black, queer and gender expansive interdisciplinary artist - vocalist, songwriter, composer, actor and film director. They are co-founder of Boyish, a community-powered and artist-led organization based in Oakland with a mission to build sustainable lifestyle pathways and safe spaces that inspire creative freedom for artists, with an emphasis on Black queer and trans artists.
With a deep focus on the preservation of ancestral memory, Luna uses her artistic practice to build community and promote healing. She is particularly interested in using public spaces to create healing environments for marginalized communities.
DESERT HOT SPRINGS
Suchi Branfman is a choreographer, curator, performer, educator, and activist, who has worked from the war zones of Managua to Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and Kampala’s Luzira Prison to NYC’s Joyce Theatre. From street to stage, her work strives to create an embodied terrain grounded in storytelling, dialogue, listening and action.
Miki’ala is a Native Hawaiian mother, wife, sister, aunty, who began her life in art as a child, drawing portraits of anyone who would sit for her (and often convincing them to purchase them afterward). For nearly 20 years, she has been a co-director of Native Roots Network, applying Indigenous pathways in her community organizing work to achieve a more equitable world.
Audrey Chan is a Los Angeles-based artist, illustrator, and writer. Her research-based projects use drawing, painting, public art, and video to challenge dominant historical narratives through community-based allegories of power, place, and identity.
Melina Cruz Bautista
Melina Cruz Bautista is a 25 year old Photographer, Storyteller, Educator and a full time returning college student. Her photography work is tied to her communities in the city of LA but more importantly connected to the Zapotec communities that raised her family over in la Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Xico Xavier Garza
Mr. Garza is a culture bearer for indigenous and Two Spirit art, culture, traditional practices in California with emphasis in the Great Central Valley and southern Sierra Nevada mountains. He is a student of the lineage under Maestra Macuil Xotchitl from Sacramento Ca since 1994 and teaches basic Danza Azteca, drumming, regalia, and ceremonies to his pupils in central California since 2009.
Reanne Estrada & Mike Blockstein
Public Matters is a Los Angeles-based creative studio for civic engagement that uses socially engaged art to leverage greater inclusion, public participation, and transformative change. It embeds conspiratorial joy in projects that have addressed traffic safety, healthy food access, gentrification and displacement, and immigrant stories.
Michelle Glass is a Public Art and Social Practice artist that works alongside BIPOC communities to reclaim our ancestral histories and deepen our connections between the land and each other.
Heather Gray is a multifaceted artist, sound designer, recordist, musician and performer, based in Los Angeles. The motivation behind her diverse creative life has been transforming modern systems of relationality, healing and belonging through personal and collective practice.
Catherine Herrera creates impactful art that inspires dialogue and action by sharing unique stories with broad audiences. Coastal climate change is the focus of Catherine's current public art and documentary project Martins Beach, highlighting today's collaborative California Native Coastal Stewardship programs inspiring hope for mitigation and renewal.
Leelee Jackson (she/her/Leelee) is a playwright that work centers postmodern narratives of Black queer womxnhood. For the past three years, Jackson has committed to building community amongst Black artists with Black Light Arts Collective (BLAC), a nonprofit she founded and currently serves as artistic director. Jackson is a Bay Area native and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) graduate holding a degree in Creative Writing and Writing For the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside (UCR).
Ann Kaneko is known for her personal films that weave her intimate aesthetic with the complex intricacies of political reality. An Emmy Award winner, her poetic feature, MANZANAR, DIVERTED: WHEN WATER BECOMES DUST, premiered at the 2021 Big Sky Film Festival and broadcast on PBS POV’s 2022 line up.
Born in Trenton New Jersey, Duan Kellum is an educator, artist and activist. Kellum’s predominate mediums are screen- printing and stenciling. The primary focus of his works consist of social, environmental and political themes.
Arnaud Loubayi is from Brazzaville, Congo, where he started his artistic career at the age of 10. He took part in various courses and training in modern and contemporary dance and has toured with many companies as a solo artist, including the National Ballet of Congo. In 2006 He joined the traditional group Ngoma Za Kongo as a choreographer and toured in many places in Africa, Asia, and America.
Dan Kwong is an award-winning performance artist, playwright, director and video producer who has presented his work nationally and internationally since 1989. He has facilitated workshops, directed numerous
performances, directed & edited environmental music videos, and performed throughout
much of the U.S. with their touring productions.
Marissa Magdalena Sykes
Marissa Magdalena Sykes is an interstitial conceptual artist. Her artwork straddles mediums as object, image, live performance, and story. Marissa frequently builds conditions wherein viewers become participants, simultaneously causing them to reconsider the norms of social and physical space.
"As a documentary photographer, I look for moments that are un-mistakenly human, those universal emotions we can all relate with. I observe life unfolding and use the camera to capture that which is easily felt but difficult to portray: the aliveness of the human spirit."
Faith J. McKinnie
Faith J. McKinnie is a Black feminist curator & writer practicing on the ancestral land of the Nisenan. Her curatorial practice is rooted in prioritizing artists who find their work outside the traditional art historical canon.
Leo Mercer is one of the more unique artistic evolutions born and raised in Oakland Ca. Initially coming up as a poet according to his communities. He has rubbed elbows with plenty of celebrities, artists and community organizers, and has the drive to rub elbows with many more.
Brenda Montaño is a Xicana Indigena born and raised in California. She is a traditional birth worker and artist rooted in tradition and DIY culture, grounded by Reproductive Justice, Indigenous wisdom and grassroots organizing.
Lan Ngô and Hải Võ
Lan Ngô is a Bay Area leader who guides earth-based healing practices through ancestral gardening.
Hải Võ was raised by parents from two delta villages in southern Việt Nam - Mỹ Tho and Chợ Gạo (Tiền Giang). Hải identifies as a queer 2nd generation Việt Southeast Asian cook, seed saver, cultural artist, writer, and community organizer of the diaspora and is passionate about ancestral foodways, decolonization, and homeland connections.
Rashaad Newsome’s work blends several practices, including collage, assemblage, sculpture, film, video, animation, photography, music, computer programming, software engineering, community organizing, and performance, to create a divergent field that rejects classification.
yétúndé olágbajú (in flux)
yétúndé olágbajú (they/them) is an artist, educator, and residency director based in Los Angeles, CA. They utilize video, sculpture, photography, and performance as through-lines for inquiries regarding Black labor, legacy, memory, and processes of healing. Along with Meghna Mahadevan, they are a co-founder of in flux — a group that creates containers for pause, reflection and ideation for artists, collective builders, thought-leaders, and organizers.
Christina Charlene Quintana Olague
Christina Charlene Quintana Olague is a poet, activist, and organizer born and raised in the Central Valley, Yokuts Land. Over the past ten years, they've performed in local, regional, and international poetry slam competitions.
Mark Oliver is an award-winning artist and filmmaker. His projects reference aspects of cultural experience or history as they shift between Documentary, Narrative, and Experimental. He has received numerous residencies, grants, and awards for his films, theater and art. Mark produced and directed over 7 films while living in the Mount Shasta, Northern California area since 2000.
Maura Pellettieri is a writer and artist, creating at intersections of ecofuturism, queerness, and the personhood of land. She examines questions of intimacy among humans and their ecologies through poetry, fiction, hybrid text, art writing, video, performance, ritual, and sound.
David Peña is a multidisciplinary artist and cultural organizer from the border region between Tijuana and San Diego. He is co-founder of Tijuana Zine Fest, a large-scale festival which celebrates self-publishing and independent art.
Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea
La Doña, born Cecilia Cassandra Peña-Govea in San Francisco, California, is a solo reggaeton singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. La Doña combines her deep roots in Latin folk traditions like corridos and rumba with the propulsive modern sounds of reggaeton, cumbia, and hip hop.
Artist, art therapist, and transcultural adoptee Nicole Rademacher (she/her) considers her adoption and reunion (with her biological family) as the point of departure in her art practice where she explores concepts of intimacy, identity, and belonging through visual and community engagement works.
Alicia Rojas (1976) is a Colombian-born artist, living in Orange County, CA. She participates in movements of immigrant rights, anti-gentrification, social economic equity and ecology.
Josué Rojas is a SF raised and bred artist with over two decades of experience in
fine arts, muralism, community arts, and arts leadership in the SF Bay Area and beyond. His work and vision have been characterized by a commitment to California’s cherished values of community arts, civic engagement, social justice and empowerment for migrant communities and marginalized communities at large.
Nyingv Jae Saechao
Nyingv Jae Saechao is a Khmu + Iu Mien artist, storyteller, community educator and culture worker. As an intergenerational bridge-builder, artist-apprentice to the ancestors and a word-weaver of divine, diasporic wisdom, Jae’s art/work centers around belonging, culture-keeping + culture-shaping, ancestral healing, and community liberation with emphasis on fat, queer, Indigenous Southeast Asian femme and gender-expansive issues.
Romus Simpson has been published in Callaloo, Stanford University Black Arts Quarterly, Air/Light Magazine, University of Southern California Anthology, and Voices From Leimert Park. Simpson’s poems were featured by the Los Angeles county Library System and displayed at the Compton and Manhattan Beach Libraries respectively in 2022.
Elizabeth Spavento is curator and artist living in Bakersfield, CA. Together with Jared Haug and Meg Hahn, she started the curatorial collective, Border Patrol which examines the relationship between contemporary art and corporate aesthetics. Border Patrol has staged exhibitions and events in a former dentist's office, burrito shop, shopping mall, and cemetery.
Shinpei Takeda is a visual artist working in a wide array of mediums including installations, film, text, public projects in order to shift perceived history by materializing forgotten personal memories.
Nur Yavuz, a transdisciplinary artist with a passion for architecture, arts, healing, and cross-cultural interaction. With a diverse background spanning Turkey, Greece, NY, and the Bay Area, Nur brings a unique perspective to her work.
Jenny Yurshansky’s practice is deeply informed by being a refugee, born stateless to parents fleeing from Soviet-era Moldova. Through a research-based approach, she explores the trauma of displacement, interrogating notions of belonging and otherness within the frames of landscape, historical documents, and social constructs.
Ethel and Carlo Zafranco
Ethel and Carlo Zafranco are multimedia visual artists and art educators collaborating as a muralist duo under the alias of AQMNI (Aquarius + Gemini). Ethel is first-generation Mexican-American and received her BA from Loyola Marymount University and has worked 10+ years as a corporate creative professional providing her photography and cinematography services. Carlo is first-generation Filipino-American and is an art director and animator that's worked with companies like Disney, Marvel & Hulu.
Jayna Zweiman is an architecturally-trained multidisciplinary designer and social entrepreneur. Her independent practice combines architecture, art, craft and new media to focus on experiences that overlap physical, virtual and conceptual spaces. Her work is about civic intimacy, accessibility, and joy.
WHO WE ARE
18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA has been fueling the impact of artists on society since 1988. Conceived as a radical think tank in the shape of an artist community, we are a globally recognized catalyst for deploying artistic imagination to meet society’s needs. We curate projects where artists and the public directly engage in creating experiences and partnerships that foster positive social change.
18TH STREET ARTS CENTER CALIFORNIA CREATIVE CORPS PROJECT
In January 2023, 18th Street Arts Center made a call for 40 California artists and culture bearers (collectively known as ‘artists’) to develop impactful arts and culture projects that foster community wellbeing in regions throughout the state that are located in California Healthy Places Index (HPI) Quartile 1 ZIP codes. Over 375 artists and culture bearers already working to strengthen community wellbeing in California pitched their ideas, and an independent panel of reviewers selected 14 visionary projects from each region of the state (Northern, Central, Southern) resulting in 42 Round One finalists.
Starting in April, the 42 Round One finalists will participate in a month-long series of professional development workshops. Led by 18th Street Arts Center staff, and guests from partner organizations Clockshop, USC SLab, Healthy Places Index and Rand Corporation, workshops will take grantees through the process of developing a complete proposal for their project and offer an introduction to and best practices for proposal creation; including budgeting, surveying and evaluation, outreach and communication strategies, documentation, culture mapping, community engagement, and partner development.
In addition to workshops, grantees will have access to a virtual space for discussion and resource sharing with fellow grantees and staff and partners.
Round Two culminates in a second round of review of the now complete and comprehensive project proposals for funding consideration. A total of 18 proposals will be selected for funding, receiving a production budget of up to $50,000 and a year-long salary of $65,000, medical and dental insurance (at no cost to the artist) and the option to join 18th Street Art Center's SIMPLE IRA plan with employer match for one year. The 42 Round One finalists will all receive a $1,000 stipend for participating in Round Two and have full ownership of their proposal to seek funding elsewhere should their proposal not be selected.
The 18 funded Community Engagement Art Project artists will form a year-long cohort whose projects will contribute to a statewide California Culture Map. 18th Street Arts Center believes culture mapping is essential infrastructure for successful collaboration between arts and culture producers and community leaders seeking to foster well-being among neighbors at the local level.
The final cohort of 18 will be announced in mid-June. (Updated May 2023)
California Creative Corps is a pilot program funded by the California Arts Council as an engagement campaign designed to increase public awareness about issues of public health, water and energy conservation, civic engagement, social justice, and more. This activity is funded by the California Arts Council, a state agency.