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Best of ArtWalk 2017

Credit: Jocelyn Brossia / The Foothill Dragon Press

An outlet for normally unrecognized artists to stand in the spotlight, Ventura’s annual ArtWalk is a staple cultural event that gathers thousands every year. The event showcases over 500 artists, more than 30 galleries and is organized by a dedicated volunteer group who keep the event interesting for people from all walks of life.

The ArtWalk is known for its Bowl Hop fundraiser, Global Artist of the Year, Artist of Distinction and its various venues, but perhaps the most significant and popular are the PODS galleries created by local artists. In these galleries, artists showcase their work and offer it for sale, and have the opportunity to speak with visitors who come to admire their work.

The PODS containers were dispersed throughout Main Street, and each contained a fresh, different lens of life through art. Below are a few of particularly exceptional PODS exhibitions from the show, organized alphabetically.


California landscape painter Christina Apostolina Beirne’s PODS gallery mainly showcased oil paintings, both on canvas and wooden boards.

“Light, I think, is my motivation. I see light and I want to share it,” Beirne said about her paintings.

On her painting of the Humboldt Shoreline, Beirne said she “felt like I was there while I was painting it because I loved being there so much.”

Artist Christine Apolostine Beirne laughs next to her 36x48 painting of the Humboldt Shoreline. Credit: Jocelyn Brossia / The Foothill Dragon Press
Artist Christine Apolostine Beirne laughs next to her 36×48 painting of the Humboldt Shoreline. Credit: Jocelyn Brossia / The Foothill Dragon Press

Music also inspires every stroke from Beirne’s brush, and this was strongly prevalent throughout her exhibit. She likes to listen to Bach’s Goldberg Variations and System of a Down.

Beirne proudly showcased a performance piece inspired by the music from System of a Down. “I really putting paint all over myself, and dancing to System of a Down and having a splash on the canvas.” She didn’t expect to sell the piece, but gladly presented it because of her fond memories from its creation.

Not only does the Art walk raise money for local artists and galleries, it gives Beirne the opportunity to talk to new people. “I’ve met people from Pasadena, from Coronado[.] Ventura gets known as having good art. I think [the Art Walk] is very important.”



“I started painting when I was a little girl,” Shumaker recalled about her colorful past. “I’ve always been drawn to color and images, and I feel like [painting] is an expression.”

Normally, Shumaker showcases her work through Plum Boutique, but this year, she was also able to display her work in a PODS exhibit. In the exhibit, she presented several pieces of her art, along with her signature paper dolls which were adorned with beautiful decorations to symbolize animals or were accompanied by a meaningful quote that encapsulated the essence of the art.



In the boutique, Shumaker centered her work around the legacy of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Many portraits of Kahlo, painted with amazing precision and vibrant color, brought light and attracted visitors as they hung around the store.

However, her most beloved painting is of a Native American chief that she had created in a portrait class. In order to avoid making her portraits look like “moon-faced girls,” as Shumaker described, the face of the chief was painted upside down in order to “paint with shapes, rather than ‘here’s the eye and here’s the nose.”

“I let myself go and had fun with it,” Shumaker said. “I feel like it just turned out really good!”


Artist Micheal Swank first pursued art when he uprooted and went to Mexico City to become a photographer.

Using chemicals such as acetone and turpentine, Swank focuses on additive and reductive processes to modify his print. He then goes back in with layers of oil pastel, markers, ink, different varnishes and more to create texture in his work.

Swank’s PODS gallery showcased a series that he entitled the “Queer Saints,” featuring Bacchus and Sergius, Joan of Arc and Saint Sebastian. Swank saw that in order to be considered saints by the church, their “sexuality was removed from the story.” He beautifully refuted this in his series.

Artist Michael Swank next to his painting of Joan of Arc, which s part of his "Queer Saints" series. Credit: Jocelyn Brossia / The Foothill Dragon Press
Artist Micheal Swank next to his painting of Joan of Arc, which s part of his “Queer Saints” series. Credit: Jocelyn Brossia / The Foothill Dragon Press

Swank brought Saint Sebastian’s eroticization to light, gave Joan of Arc “masculine energy with beauty from femininity,” and reclaimed Bacchus and Sergius’s relationship and sexuality.

“As people, we’re complete people. So, if they’re heroes, they should be celebrated as all of the things as a part of who they are.”

During the election season of 2016, Swank noted how language was being used to separate people. Swank felt like now was the time to “claim the moniker of queer again,” and his series was born in the process.


At the ArtWalk, many exhibits were noted and admired for their art, but what made artist Cassandra Tondro particularly stand out was the fact that all of her work was generated from more eco-friendly materials, especially leftover house paint that would have gone to waste.

“I would say [my work] is what I call ‘process painting,’ so I’m interested in the materials and what the materials will do,” Tondro says.

What is perhaps the most fascinating aspect is that Tondro creates one-of-a-kind art using iron oxide and leaf prints, resulting in art with an amazing resemblance to nature.


One of her favorite paintings is called “Biosphere,” and the name gives away exactly what the painting resembles. Using metal objects to create rust patterns, Tondro was able to bring a canvas to life.

Like many of the artists who participate in the ArtWalk, Tondro recognizes the significance of the event to spectators, artists, and Ventura culture as a whole.

“I think a lot of the artists on ArtWalk are people whose work you wouldn’t see otherwise, like myself,” Tondro commented. “This is my one big show in Ventura locally a year.”



Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled artist Micheal Swank’s first name. The article was corrected at 8:15 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2017.

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Best of ArtWalk 2017