As artists streamed in or knocked on the windows, Sean Gutierrez knew he was on to something when he opened the doors of his new business on Georgia Street in downtown Vallejo.
Curious, and looking for ways to show their art work, a growing number of artists have been finding their way to the Artiszen Cultural Arts Center at 337 Georgia St. since it opened several months ago.
“When we open our doors stuff just happens,” said Gutierrez, a construction contractor who also does mosaic tile art work.The Artiszen center is one of the latest arts-related businesses to open in downtown Vallejo’s growing arts scene. Other recent additions include The Hub and Temple Art Lofts. A new bookstore, Koham Press, is also on the horizon. “It’s building on this art engine that is really starting to move forward in the downtown and he’s part of what is an overall vision,” said Erin Bakke, Central Core Restoration Corporation executive coordinator. On any given day, the Artiszen art center could serve as a spot for a singer who wants to learn to paint, or for kids who come in to dabble in art. Others may be on hand hanging paintings, performing or displaying jewelry, and fiber arts. The place is more than just an art gallery, but is also a spot for artists to congregate and find ways to help Vallejoans in need, Gutierrez said. In November, artists, poets and singers showed art and performed from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the 11th day of the month. Bakke and others said the event drew more than 100 people of all ages and backgrounds.This month’s 11th day event (Wednesday, Dec. 11) promised the same. “This is really important. We’re all about the whole renaissance of art in Vallejo,” Gutierrez said. “But it’s more than that. We’re operating on a deeper level. We’re making a change as people, creating a family and encouraging each other,” he added.A 20-year Vallejo resident, Gutierrez and his wife have made the city their home, sending their two children through local schools. He also coaches for Greater Vallejo Recreation District, and is a past counselor in group homes in Marin County. He moved into the 300 block of Georgia Street intent on devoting more time to his mosaic art, but the venture evolved into something more, including greater community involvement. “This is a very open door venture, very organic,” he said.Coming to the aid of the poor and needy in Vallejo is an important aspect of the center, Gutierrez said. The spot was open Dec. 1 for World AIDS Day celebration in Vallejo.Georgia Street neighbor and downtown Vallejo veteran, Harold Beaulieu called the center a “great” thing for the area, and something sorely needed. Since Gutierrez still works full-time, he gets help from Mark Headley, a painter who opens the center throughout the week, and is on hand throughout the day. A few months ago, Headley got wind of the Artizen center and dropped in to say hello. He delved into art after he got ill and his children bought him a gift card to Michael’s craft store. His “Love” paintings are on display at the center. Headley has also led some workshops for those wanting to know more about painting. For Gutierrez, the building is an artistic palette, offering various opportunities for promoting artists, and helping others.The arts center is open most days at 11 a.m. and earlier on Saturdays when the Farmers Market is open. Donations of canned food and coats are encouraged. For more details call 510-815-6824.