2nd Saturday Artwalk June 8, 2019

May gray is on its way out and by the look of things, SoCal may just skip all the June gloom and head straight for boiling – but not yet! Before the pavement curly fries your toes, head on down to the Pomona Art Walk and breeze through an array of wild and whimsical works by artists bent on giving you the visual ride of your life!

Progress Gallery kicks things off in their West Side space with one of Pomona’s iconic masters (and all-around awesome dude) Manny LeGaspe in “The Long Ascension,” a collection of vibrant and inspiring cubist works of the mystical and mundane. Their East Side space hosts “On and Off the Street,” a group show featuring photographic works from Cindy Bendat, M. Robert Markovich, William Purcell, Tommi Cahill, Douglas McCulloh, and Philip Adam that examines “public, private and personal space in street photography.”

Bull , Manny LeGaspe

Bull, Manny LeGaspe

Fish , Manny LeGaspe

Fish, Manny LeGaspe

On and Off The Street- Progress Gallery

On and Off The Street- Progress Gallery

The Latino Art Museum opens three new shows: “Metamorphosis” in the Main Salon South, featuring the work of Alicia Ricciardelli, Analia Laxague, Azul Makk, and Lilia Mota; “World Oceans Show” in the Main Salon South, presenting mixed media works from Mati Russo, Rigo Rivas, Juan Carlos Boxler, Aura Suarez, Hernando Carrizosa, Amanda Unzueta, Paola Carcamo Cotero, and Erika Boxler; and in the Grand Salon West, Paola Carcamo Cotero’s selection of traditional Huipil garments worn by indigenous women from Guatemala are on display in the “Huipil Exhibition.” 

Erika Boxler-Latino Art Museum

Erika Boxler-Latino Art Museum

Juan Carlos Boxler-Latino Art Musem

Juan Carlos Boxler-Latino Art Musem

The School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) at the Downtown Center presents “Futures,” the first professional art show of four of their brightest graduates, Lu Orona, Dulce Ochoa, Daisy Egan, and Andrea Perez, and over at the Metro Gallery, artist Stevie Love opens “Fantascapes,” a collection of supernatural mixed media pieces using flexible sheathes of acrylic paint backed by faux fur, inspired by the colorful and shifting landscape of the glorious SoCal mountain dessert. 

Stevie Love , Mojave Dreamin’,  18 x 26, Metro Gallery

Stevie Love, Mojave Dreamin’, 18 x 26, Metro Gallery

Last, but certainly not least – Pomona is thrilled to welcome back into the downtown abstract artist extraordinaire, Fr. Bill Moore! Yes, Fr. Bill has returned to the congregation, opening a studio behind the SAE Middle School and launching the Fr. Bill Moore Foundation, a non-profit that supports emerging artists in Southern California. Get all the tea at his new website: https://fatherbill.art !

-Stacy Davies .

Alejandro Aranda Day in Downtown Pomona

Alejandro’s homecoming visit to Downtown Pomona was a huge success. The community really rallied together and welcomed him with open arms. A special thank you to the following; City of Pomona, Pomona Police Department, Pomona Public Works Department, Fox Theater Pomona, DPOA Board of Directors, DPOA Maintenance Team, organizers and volunteers which include: Mark Gluba, Rene Gurerro, Sam Lama, Larry Egan, Ismael Arias, Sally Egan, Mary Prendergast, Adriana Robledo, Linda Farman, Jessica Leon, Pomona Public Library, PUSD, Carol Glass, James Dale, Pomona Valley Hospital, Western University of Health Sciences, Elite Car Club, Mark Alcala, Ralph Alvarado, Anthony Limon, Garey High School Marching Band and Drill Team, Anthony Bonner, and the entire Downtown community of businesses and residents for their generous hospitality. Most of all a huge thank you to Alejandro Aranda for sharing his day with us. Pomona truly supports you!

Alejandro Aranda's Pomona Homecoming Parade and Live Performance


American idol's Alejandro Aranda.jpg

Join us for a Hometown Parade and Free Concert in Downtown Pomona on Tuesday, May 14th. Beginning at 10am, multiple streets in and around the downtown area will be closed due to the planned events. Please plan accordingly and follow City of Pomona, Pomona PD, and Downtown Pomona on social media to get the latest updates. (This note will be updated periodically.)

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (subject to change without notice):
• 3 p.m. - Public is encouraged to start lining the parade route (see map)
• 4 p.m. - American Idol cameras begin filming parade route (bring your signs!)
• 4:30 p.m. - Parade starts at Thomas & Second St. and ends at Fox Theater
• 5:30 p.m. – Presentation to Alejandro Aranda in front of Fox Theater
• 6:30 p.m. - FREE outdoor concert

SHUTTLES to and From Parade/Concert
Pomona Valley Transportation Authority (PVTA) will be providing FREE shuttle rides OPEN TO ALL starting at 3 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, 5/14. All under 18 years of age need to be accompanied by an adult. The following are the three locations where you may catch a shuttle:

1. Pomona High School (475 Bangor St.)
2. Ganesha High School (1151 Fairplex Dr.)
3. Freemont Academy (725 W. Franklin Ave.)

For general ridership questions, please call the PVTA at (909) 596-7664 during regular business hours. Afterhours calls at 909-212-5300.

• Public parking in downtown will be FREE
• Obey all parking signs posted in and around the area. Failure to do so may result in your vehicle being towed
• Park in designated spots/areas only
• Do not leave valuables in your car or in plain sight
• Link to Downtown Pomona’s post on FB: https://www.facebook.com/DowntownPomona/photos/a.265996830103781/2354533341250109/?type=3&theater

• 10am: Third St. between Garey Ave. and Thomas St.
• 3pm: Garey Ave. between Mission Blvd. and Monterey Ave.
• 4pm: Second St., Third St., and Fourth St. between Gordon St. and Locust St. AND Main St. between Mission Blvd. and First St.
• Street closures may remain in effect until 8pm

Street closure details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-city-of-pomona/street-closures-hometown-visit-parade-and-free-concert-may-14/2606564152705071/.

Please follow City of Pomona, Pomona PD, and Downtown Pomona on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the most up to date details. Let's make our community proud and show the nation what Pomona is truly about.

See you on Tuesday!

2nd Saturday Artwalk May 11, 2019

Just like the merry month of May, the Downtown blooms this month with an array of technicolor wild abandon! 

Progress Gallery kicks things off with Sumi Foley’s “5,000 Year Retrospective,” a series of mix-media impressions of the 5,000-year-old Bristle Cone pine tree that Foley feels serve as a reminder of our own time on earth, and the thousands of years of human art-making.

Sumi Foley,  Old Love, 12x19.  Progress Gallery

Sumi Foley, Old Love, 12x19. Progress Gallery

Sumi Foley,  Years Ago , Progress Gallery

Sumi Foley, Years Ago, Progress Gallery

The Latino Art Museum celebrates one of the most iconic and beloved of surrealist artists in “Frida Kahlo: Symbolism and Iconography,” a group show featuring a variety of mediums, including photography, watercolor, oil, acrylic and mix-media from artists from Peru, Mexico, Columbia, El Salvador, Uruguay and the U.S. that includes Marisol de las Casas, Aura Suarez, Hernando Carrizosa, Alma Moctezuma, Mara Odette, Isela Garcia, Kat Gaddis Trevino, BJ Lane, Nancy Heins-Glaser, Peggy Scuder, Jeanie Curtright, Gina Abdelrahman, Mati Russo, Alberta Walker, Rigo Rivas, Mariana Montes-Shaw, and Paola Carcamo-Cotero.

Marisol de Las Casa,  Feminista , Latino Art Museum

Marisol de Las Casa, Feminista, Latino Art Museum

Arturo Martine,  Fridamania,  Latino Art Museum

Arturo Martine, Fridamania, Latino Art Museum

- Isela Garcia Magdalena Carmen, 20 x 30 2016. Latino Art Museum

- Isela Garcia Magdalena Carmen, 20 x 30 2016. Latino Art Museum

The School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) presents its “3rd Annual SAE Arts Festival,” an exhibition highlighting the work of students grades 6-12 that also features creative musical and artist performances, workshops, and, of course, selected student pieces that showcase the dynamic and award-winning arts programs of the SAE. 

The dA Center for the Arts is also spotlighting students this month in their “12th Annual Emerging Artists” exhibit, featuring selected watercolor works from students in the Pomona Unified School District, with the opening reception held on Art Walk night, and Metro Gallery continues “Imaginary Birds and Fantastic Creatures,” a showcase by Marthe Aponte of hybrid whimsical creatures created through surrealist automatism, a method of art-making that incorporates randomness by allowing the hand to perform unguided.

-Stacy Davies

Homecoming Parade for Alejandro

Hey everyone, our Pomona local, Alejandro Aranda, is on his way to making it into the finals on American Idol. Let's make sure we get him there by voting for him on Sunday, May 12. If he gets through to the finals there will be a homecoming parade in Downtown Pomona on Tuesday, May 14. We need you all to come out and support! Lets' show Alejandro how proud we are of him. More details to follow such as time of day etc. So get your signs ready for Alejandro and let's win this! 

Downtown Pomona Artwalk April 2019

Downtown Pomona bursts out the bohemian blooms this spring in an array of color, texture, and themes that provoke the exploration of worlds both internal and peripheral. 

Kicking things off, the Latino Art Museum presents “Fire and Ice: Protect Our Universe,” a multimedia group show featuring paintings, drawings and collage from Rebecca Nabarrete, Juan Carlos Boxler, Rigo Rivas, Karen Pinto Monroe, Alberta Walker, Carolina Garino-Tabit, Aida Guerra de Heiras, Olga de Leon, Tom Fontanes, Alberto Leon, Amanda Unzueta, Mati Russo and Claudia Cogo, all of whom deep dive into the struggles and triumphs of the human experience. There’s also a solo show of ambient abstractions from museum owner and curator, Graciela Horne Nardi in the main salon, and on the last Saturday of the month, the museum opens for “Paint, Drink and Have a Good Time,” where new and hopeful artists can dabble in the craft of creation amist a group of friendly and frolicky peers.

Progress Gallery keeps it local this month with an array of works from the 57 Underground gallery artists in “East & West,” while the 57 gallery itself hosts a duo show, “Submerged: Ocean-Inspired Artwork,” from ceramist Desiree Engel and painter Elizabeth Daron Redmon. Engel’s installation focuses on the effects of climate change and pollution on ocean life, and the inspiration for her clay pieces is draw directly from natural forms. Redmon’s “nonobjective” paintings are a departure from her usual portrait work and through this adventurous journey she plays with color, shape, value and design, finding new intersections as she frees herself from precognition and plan. 

Metro Gallery spotlights the work of Marthe Aponte in “Imaginary Birds and Fantastic Creatures,” a showcase of hybrid whimsical creatures created through surrealist automatism, a method of art-making that incorporates randomness and allowing the creative hand to perform unguided, and the School for Arts and Enterprise (SAE) opens its annual “Digital/Visual Advanced Placement Senior Showcase” at the DTC, featuring works from 18 of their top graduating seniors.
-Stacy Davies

2 New Restaurants Coming to Downtown Pomona

Less than 7 months under new ownership, Mission Promenade ready to welcome two new restaurants

Owner John Pena branches out with El Jefe, pictured, and in the near future Senor Sushi, both located in Mission Promenade. His first business was at age 15 throwing house parties for $85 a day, but his goal was to buy his mom a house which he did at 22 years old. The Pomona, Calif. restaurant is photographed Thursday, March 28, 2019.

Owner John Pena branches out with El Jefe, pictured, and in the near future Senor Sushi, both located in Mission Promenade. His first business was at age 15 throwing house parties for $85 a day, but his goal was to buy his mom a house which he did at 22 years old. The Pomona, Calif. restaurant is photographed Thursday, March 28, 2019.

By LISET MÁRQUEZ | lmarquez@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin PUBLISHED: April 1, 2019 at 5:17 pm | UPDATED: April 1, 2019 at 5:18 pm

For the past decade, John Peña has been on a mission to not only invest in Downtown Pomona but create a nightlife scene.

In that time, he has opened Krazy Js, the Carnaval Nightclub, and Big Ds — all three establishments are located in the core of the historic neighborhood. Peña said he’s spent between $18 million and $20 million to date, scooping up properties, becoming the largest downtown employer in the evening and late hours.

And now Peña, 44, is taking on his biggest project yet, a rejuvenation of the long-troubled Mission Promenade, a three-story mixed-use building on the northwest corner of Mission Boulevard and Garey Avenue.

“I’ve always thought it was an amazing investment, I just never thought it was going to go for sale,” Peña said last week, as crews put on the finishing touches to an outdoor patio. “Not just because I own it now, but I personally believe it’s the best location in the city.”

Since purchasing the property in August for $5.75 million, Peña has been busy signing long-term leases with existing tenants, bringing in new ones, and even opening two new restaurants: El Jefe and Señor Sushi. The restaurants will have separate interior spaces but a shared patio, which features a 300-year-old aak tree as the focal point.

El Jefe, a 6,500-square-foot indoor and outdoor modern Mexican restaurant opens Wednesday, with a grand opening set April 25.

“Knowing that this corner was available,” Peña said, referring to the former Sakura Ichi spot, “I wanted to bring something that I knew was needed in Pomona, because of the look and the location. There are a lot many amazing restaurants in Pomona, but I wanted to bring a landmark to Pomona. To make El Jefe and Señr Sushi into landmarks that 10 to 15 years from now is a place to be at.”
Built in the early 2000s, the Mission Promenade was a project of a private developer with financial assistance from the city’s now-defunct redevelopment agency.

Things were so bad that the city referred to the property as “distressed asset” as late as last year because the building was 50% vacant and 50% of the first and second floors needed tenant improvements.
On top of that, the second phase of the project, a parking structure, was never completed, which means it will be harder for the owner to attract leases from national companies, Kirk Pelser, deputy city manager, said last year.

As for the occupancy rate, Peña said it’s now at 85%.

Larry Egan, executive director of the Downtown Pomona Owners Association, said Peña solved the parking problem in part by purchasing 18 spots from the parking district, so that his employees can park offsite, freeing more spaces for customers.

“It needed more than an absentee owner,” Egan said, referring to the Promenade. “He’s got his own sweat and blood, working very hard to succeed and succeed correctly.”

Peña has not only come up with the design of the restaurants, he’s also had a hand in the menu for El Jefe.

The interior of El Jefe features a bar with a retractable wall that opens up to the outdoor patio, dark hardwood flooring and ornate blue and white tile accent walls. A stickler for detail, Peña even added a ring light in mirrors of the women’s restrooms so they can touch up their makeup — or take a selfie.

Initially, he was going to call the modern Mexican restaurant Mission Oak, for the tree on the property. After talking to friends and acquaintances, he pivoted.

“This has been a dream of mine. The name of my company when I was kid was called Boss Entertainment, and in Spanish boss means ‘El Jefe’. A dream of mine was to one day open up a bar or lounge called ‘El Jefe.’ Even though I’ve opened up restaurant and bars, I’ve never used that name,” he said.

El Jefe’s menu will be split into three categories: traditional, modern dishes and vegetarian and have a price point that compares to other restaurants.

“I don’t want us to be known as the place that’s expensive,” Peña said. “But the younger generation also goes to a restaurant for the ambiance, they want something that’s more trendy and modern.”

Señor Sushi, which will be about 3,000 square feet, is aiming for a soft opening next week and a grand opening May 2. Last week, Peña and his crew were still deciding the menu, but he said it will bring original Japanese and Korean sushi to a mariscos setting, meaning the sushi and sashimi rolls will have a Latin flavor.

While he’s also bought properties in Pomona and relocated the operations of his own company, JP Management Group, from Pasadena into a Main Street building he purchased, his love affair with the city started when he was in his teens.
Peña grew up in Pasadena and started out by promoting house parties at the age of 15. He then became a nightclub promoter, at one point working with Perry Tollett, co-founder of Coachella, of Downtown Pomona events.

“I had a chance to know the community, and then I fell in love,” Peña said.

Nice Work Homage Brewing!

10 Under-The-Radar Craft Breweries To Watch In Spring 2019

GRACE WEITZ FOR HOP CULTURE Outer Range taproom in Frisco, CO

GRACE WEITZ FOR HOP CULTURE Outer Range taproom in Frisco, CO

According to the Brewer’s Association, there are now over 7,000 craft breweries in the United States, and the openings show no sign of slowing down. With all the variety, consumers are glutted with choice, it’s more difficult than ever to find the standouts. But if you can only travel to one brewery a year, you could do a lot worse than visiting one of the places on this list. Although they make a variety of styles, the breweries here are similar in that they represent the authenticity, creativity, and quality that have characterized American craft brewing over the last half decade.

Barrique Brewing and Blending

Nashville, Tennessee

Barrique is Nashville, Tennessee’s smallest brewery, and one of its most niche. The brewery gets its name from a common term for a French wine barrel, which owner Joel Stickrod uses to age every one of his beers. The result? Complex, acidic sour beer that rivals some of the best in the country. If you ever visit Barrique, talk to Stickrod about music — in addition to running a brewery, he’s a sound engineer for Darius Rucker. 

Brix City Brewing

Little Ferry, New Jersey

It’s not uncommon to hear, “I never knew there was a brewery in Bergen County.” But this small taproom in Little Ferry, New Jersey, has a big personality. It specializes in New England style IPAs, the style of beer that causes connoisseurs to line up for a few cans. Try Heady Jams, a thick, juicy IPA that easily hides its boozy 8.5% ABV


Asheville, North Carolina

Beer fans have long been excited for the opening of DSSOLVR, an Asheville, North Carolina-based brewery founded in part by former brewers at Burial, one of the South’s most respected beer makers. Although it’s not yet open, the folks at DSSOLVR have been building press by collaborating with other breweries across the country, including Night Shift in Boston and Hoof Hearted in Columbus. When they launch, the brewery will specialize in three areas: traditional German and English ales, barrel-aged sours, and new school IPAs and stouts.

Hidden Springs Ale Works

Tampa, Florida

Florida was late to join the craft beer party, but they’ve been making up for lost time. The Tampa-area has been a big part of that shift, with breweries like Cigar City and Angry Chair that regularly see lines for their bottled stouts. But it’s Hidden Springs Ale Works that’s the hidden gem. With crazy creations like Man Child (a peanut butter and jelly Berliner Weiss) and Deja Moo (a milk stout with smoked chipotle peppers and cocoa nibs), a visit to Hidden Springs is bound to show you something creative. After you visit Hidden Springs, be sure to head next door to Garagiste, one of the best meaderies in the world.

Homage Brewing

Pomona, California

Brave the L.A. traffic and head to east to Pomona, California, where you’ll find Homage founder Matt Garcia making some of the country’s best sour beer in his light-filled taproom. Inspired by the lambic beers of Belgium, Garcia is often behind the bar himself, serving bottled beer out of a wicker lambic basket. The baskets keep the bottle at an angle to avoid pouring the sediment that develops inside the bottles of traditional, unfiltered sour beer. Keep an eye out for Wild Pink Robots, a barrel-aged sour conditioned on whole organic strawberries.

Mikerphone Brewing

Elk Grove Village, Illinois

Founder Mike Pallen got his start in home brewing before training professionally at Chicago-area breweries Pipeworks and 18th Street. His pedigree shines through at Mikerphone, where every beer is a music reference. Try the Jagged Little Pils or Check 1, 2, and be sure to check out Pallen’s “Smells Like a Beer Fest,” which annually raises thousands of dollars for area youth programs. 

Outer Range Brewing Co.

Frisco, Colorado

Emily and Lee Cleghorn met in Manitou Springs, Colorado, while they were both in the army. Four months later, they were married. They moved from Tennessee to New York, but Colorado was always in their hearts. After two years of brewing school and an internship at the now-famous Other Half Brewing in Brooklyn, the Cleghorns settled in Frisco, Colorado to open a brewery. Their motto? “Leave the Life Below.” Their warmth and authenticity come through in the beers, and their IPAs are some of the best in the country.

TrimTab Brewing Company 

Birmingham, Alabama

Alabama was the last state to make home brewing legal (in 2013!), and it’s not often that you hear someone say, “I tried the most amazing beer in Birmingham.” But the young brewers at TrimTab are changing that. “We believe that beer is a springboard for creating community and that as brewers we hold a special role and responsibility,” they write on their website. Their flagship TrimTab IPA is complex and balanced, and helps define what “southern beer” looks like.

Vitamin Sea Brewing

Weymouth, Massachusetts

Co-founder Dino Furnari has been a fixture in Boston’s brewing scene for years, but it wasn’t until early 2019 that Vitamin Sea finally got off the ground. And the community responded — thirsty fans flooded the taproom, and the brewery sold out of its stockpile of cans on the day they opened. Grab an IPA at this South Shore brewery and talk to the staff. You’ll be hard-pressed to find nicer people in the industry.

Invasive Species Brewing

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Traditionally, Fort Lauderdale has been a town where grandparents move for retirement, but a new generation is making the city a destination for young people. Owned by four Florida natives who love beer, the brewery makes progressive styles that are rooted in brewing tradition. They take full advantage of Florida’s agriculture, often visiting local farms to pick the fruit they use in their beer. And they’re big contributors to the scene themselves — they currently have 65 hop plants growing hydroponically at the Urban Farming Institute in Oakland Park.

-Kenny Gould

2nd Saturday Artwalk March 2019

Downtown Pomona marches into spring this month and drops another batch of stellar shows, beginning with 57 Underground’s "Backyard Botanical," a duo show by Sharon Algozer and Karen Duckles of artwork inspired by nature. Duckles’ paintings represent flora found right outside her door, and burst with raucous vitality and energy, using gestural paint application to suggest growth and change. Algozer’s bamboo and floating botanicals are inspired by the masses of staunch fibery plants that populate her backyard and the pods, leaves and prickly things that drift to the ground “begging for attention and appreciation.”

Karen Duckles, Flower Leaves, 30 x 30,  oil on canvas

Karen Duckles, Flower Leaves, 30 x 30,

oil on canvas

Sharon Algozer, Bamboo Madness #4, 30 x 30, pipe cleaners, mixed media

Sharon Algozer, Bamboo Madness #4, 30 x 30, pipe cleaners, mixed media

The School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) hosts the “Middle School Visual and Digital Arts Spring Student Exhibition” at The Gallery at The Downtown Center featuring student art that explores the techniques and imagination sparked while attending the 2018-19 school year at The School of Arts and Enterprise Middle School.

Progress Gallery offers a triage of fascinating work in "Transparency," an exhibition by Duncan Simcoe, Clovis Blackwell, and Steven Felix-Jager, all of whom explore the mechanisms behind the visible through personal, societal, symbolic and linguistics, penetrating the layers of meaning in complex formations. 

Duncan Simcoe,  Girl Walking

Duncan Simcoe, Girl Walking

Clovis Blackwell,  Where Do We Go

Clovis Blackwell, Where Do We Go

Steven Felix-Jager,  Judith & Herodias , Oil on Aluminum, 2018

Steven Felix-Jager, Judith & Herodias, Oil on Aluminum, 2018

Latino Art Museum celebrates the “15th Women International Show,” featuring work from Aida Guerra de Heiras, Alberta Walker, Alicia Riccardelli, Antonia Rodriguez, Ayumi Dickson, Beatriz Hidalgo de la Garza, Betina Attas, Carla Chavez-Keller, Carmen Teal, Carolina Garino-Tabit, Cherie Redlinger, Claudia Cogo, Conchi Sanford, Elizabeth Sides-Preston, Iris Vodopivec, Kareene Alprecht, Karen Pinto de la Calle, Marcello Boza Carcamo, Maria Arisi Demaria, Maria Sanford, Mariana Montes, Mati Russo, Michelle Spencer, Olga de Leon, Paola Carcamo Cotero, Patricia Aizcorbe, Paula Gimenez, Rebecca Nabarrete, Rosa Elena Osicka, Rosario Lopez Ercoli, Sabina Zamudio, Sharon Turner, Silvia Amezaga, Silvia Garcia, NS Veronica Buccio, as well as continues their solo show of the works of Claudia Cogo. This month the museum will also highlight their Women of the Year 2019, presenting awards to artist Beatriz Hidalgo de la Garza and businesswoman Paula Lantz.

Finally, Metro Gallery presents the geometric abstracts of Latino Art Museum owner Graciela Horne Nardi in "Never is the End - Hard-edge," offering a look at the talents of one of Pomona’s most revered citizens, and The Alley Gallery pumps up the volume in a solo show of illustration, spray paint, graphic design and more from intuitive creator Daze1Arts.

-Stacy Davies

Graciela Horne Nardi, Hard-Edge 6-15-18 Acrylic on Canvas, 30x40

Graciela Horne Nardi, Hard-Edge 6-15-18 Acrylic on Canvas, 30x40

Graciela Horne Nardi, Hard-Edge 10-17-17 Acrylic on Canvas, 24x30

Graciela Horne Nardi, Hard-Edge 10-17-17 Acrylic on Canvas, 24x30

Dia de los Puercos serves up Chicano-style food and memories, now in Pomona

Dia de los Puercos (day of the pigs) has a menu that includes vegetarian options at this downtown Pomona, Calif. location. The change was triggered by owner Rick Garcia’s type 2 diabetes diagnoses. Photographed on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Dia de los Puercos (day of the pigs) has a menu that includes vegetarian options at this downtown Pomona, Calif. location. The change was triggered by owner Rick Garcia’s type 2 diabetes diagnoses. Photographed on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Cindy Yamanaka, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Dia de los Puercos serves up Chicano-style food and memories, now in Pomona
Owner doing it in part through cuisine described as Mexican food dishes served Chicano style.

By LISET MÁRQUEZ | lmarquez@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily BulletinPUBLISHED: February 17, 2019 at 7:34 am | UPDATED: February 17, 2019 at 2:08 pm

It’s taken six months, but food truck-turned-restaurant Dia de los Puercos is finally making its downtown Pomona its own. The restaurant has gained city approval after a months long quest to finish an Aztec mural, the lighted sign has been installed along the wall facing Garey Avenue and the menu is getting an upgrade.

Behind all of that is owner and chef Rick Garcia, whose goal is to make Chicano and non-Chicanos alike focus on family time. He’s doing it in part through cuisine described as Mexican food dishes served Chicano-style.

“Our concept is based on our culture, the flavors of the food, drinks, the music, artwork of our culture. We make you feel like when you’re with family,” said Garcia, who was nicknamed “El Chefe” – a combination of chef and jefe (Spanish word for boss) – during his days as an executive chef for Hilton.

It’s why the inside of the Pomona location is filled with communal tables and piñatas hang from the ceiling. Visually, it’s an homage to Boyle Heights. Graffiti-style art and a photo mural of the Sixth Street bridge line the walls, also decorated with replica street signs for Sixth Street and Brooklyn Avenue.

Outside in the patio there are mock light poles with a pair of sneakers hanging up.

Food-wise, Garcia is serving such dishes Artesa Papa, which are fries with gauca salsa and cojita cheese. There’s also the Ese Borracho, Garcia’s take on the L.A. Style hot dog which has a bolilo, grilled onion, mayo, mustard, ketchup and cojita cheese.

The weekend brunch menu offers a Chismosa, a sparkling wine with Tampico orange juice —  a staple in many Latino household refrigerators.

The bilingual menu is also a true reflection of how Garcia communicates, who spoke Spanglish during a recent hourlong interview.

Dia de los Puercos, in a prominent corner location on Garey Avenue at Second Street, took over a spot associated for nearly two decades with Joey’s BBQ, succeeded by the Rookery from the same family. The Rookery moved last year a few storefronts west.

Garcia was first recruited to the Los Angeles County Fair in 2017 by Fairplex CEO Miguel Santana and then to downtown by the Tessier family, which owns the building. He gave up his lease in West Covina to head east.

Not long after opening the 150-seat Pomona location, Garcia established a counter-based outfit at Riverside’s Food Lab, a food hall developed by Jerry Tessier. There are 21 employees between the two locations, but Garcia knows his staff could grow.

Although there have been some challenges, the past year has been a departure from his 20-hour days when Dia de los Puercos operated as a food truck.

“We’re still figuring it out,” he says with a chuckle.

Adding more culture to the actual building, though, proved harder than he’d expected. Garcia brought in graffiti artist Mike Rios to create a mural 13 1/2 feet tall by 40 feet wide on a blank brick wall facing busy Garey Avenue.

The mural will be an artist rendition of the legend of Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, two volcanoes 45 miles from Mexico City, Garcia explained at Cultural Arts Commission meeting last month, which approved the completion of the work.

The duo were once humans in love but were separated and never reunited before Iztaccíhuatl’s untimely death. The image is of Popocatépetl kneeling by Iztaccíhuatl’s side.

“We thought that art was a very important aspect of our culture, so with the restaurant we wanted to share our culture in a classy way,” he said recently.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Garcia said it was his hope to have the mural done by month’s end. On this day, he was five weeks into his plant-based diet – and by all accounts loving it and might make it permanent.

If you know him, it’s not necessarily the normal path you’d expect from Garcia, who on his birthday would always set out to find the biggest steak. But he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes brought on by his diet as well as the everyday stress of being a business owner.

At first, Garcia said he took the diagnosis lightly. His uncles, who also had diabetes, ate and drank whatever they wanted. But the more he thought about it, the more he noticed how their quality of life ultimately declined, and he didn’t want to follow suit.

“I want to reverse it because I want to see my kids grow up and I want to live,” said the 45-year-old father of four.

Garcia is waiting until 90 days pass on his new regimen to gauge the health benefits, but already he’s noticed improved sleeping patterns, less soreness and an end to moments of dizziness.

Initially, he said had no cravings but backtracked to acknowledge he misses his Double-Double burgers from In-N-Out and laments the lack of late-night options.

His change in eating has also inspired a new concept that may be part of the Dia de los Puercos business family. Garcia didn’t want reveal too much at this point.

The restaurant has always served vegetarian-friendly choices such as calabaza with Soyrizo, huitlacoche, also known as corn mushroom, and tacos de camote or sweet potato.

Some new items he’s working on are the “Baraflora,” a flower-based protein braised in pastor and barbacoa marinade. He also plans on adding “Nasada” and “Al impostor,” which will resemble carne asada and al pastor flavored meats. He’s also working on developing an alternative to fish n’ chips with the goal of adding these new items by Lent, or as he said it, Cuaresma.

His goal is for 80 percent of his menu to offer a plant-based alternative.

Garcia said making changes to the menu might be easier than changing the public’s perception about his restaurant’s name, which means Day of the Pigs. But the name has nothing to do with food. Rather, it’s a play on words.

“A lot of the local plant-based vegans and vegetarians are intimidated by our name. They see ‘puercos,’ and they just think it’s all pork,” he said.

A bit of a workaholic, Garcia said he’s always busy working with staff to make changes. For example, he finally caved in and bought television screens for the front area after numerous requests, despite thinking they’re a distraction.

He’ll launch a karaoke night with oldies, and on Valentine’s Day, he put together a $40 buffet with a Pachuco Baile-tines pechanga, or dance party in English.

Despite some possible opportunities, and the Chinese New Year’s lucky tie-in, Garcia doesn’t expect to do any more expansions in the near future.

“We’ll work it all out this year, the year of the pig. It’s our year,” he said. “I’ve got some stuff for 2020.”

2nd Saturday Artwalk February 9, 2019

In the Spotlight: Kai Mao, Superior Animals at Metro Gallery

Sometimes, a thing is just so mind-blowing you need a double-dose. That’s the case I’d make for Metro Gallery’s continuing show for the month of February, “Superior Animals,” a robust and inspiring collection of surreal anthropomorphic sculptures and paintings by artist Kai Mao. Blending the earthy, serene and spiritual elements of man and beast, Mao introduces us to rabbits, roosters, monkeys, and more in postures that, while unfamiliar in their animal kingdom, transpose with elegance into our human realm. Evoking poignant reflections on the very nature of our divisions and affinity, Mao’s creations offer a unique bridge between these two worlds and an innate sense of hope Likewise, Mao’s hypnotic paintings, most of which feature humanity center stage, float us into ethereal realms where inner cores manifest into outer dreams. Subtle and sedate, these portraits of porcelain women with elongated necks (and a few forest creatures sporting the latest fashion) ask us to read below beauty’s surface to witness desire and doubt manifest.

New shows this month come from the School of Arts and Enterprise (SAE) with their “High School Digital and Visual Spring Show,” featuring a variety of art styles and themes from students that have been developed in class and in their personal time.

Local talents take over Progress Gallery this month, photographer Jill Carol’s “That’s So Second Street” in the East Gallery that offers up a veritable Pomona family album through snaps of local events and peeps over the last few years that chronicle the diversity and artistry of the downtown scene, and in the West Gallery, local painter and award-winning Native American musician Steve Rushingwind Ruis puts on display an array of his still life paintings that celebrate the very act of living.

The Latino Art Museum presents three new colorful shows: “Mapa del Arte de Mexico,” a group show of 37 artists hailing from our southern neighbor; “Mardi Gras in Pomona,” featuring work from Rigo Rivas, Mariana Montes, Juan Carlos Boxler, Mati Russo, and Cherie Redlinger; and a solo exhibition “Brushstrokes” from Argentine painter Claudia Cogo.

Also on deck this month, the dA Center for the Arts presents its annual “Simply Red” group show extravaganza.
-Stacy Davies

Happy Lunar New Year!

Cbinese nes year 2019-2.jpgChinese new year


They say people born in the year of the Pig think logically and are able to fix whatever problem they're in. They aren't good communicators, but they're kind and able to provide for the family. Most of them are wealthy. Their only obvious fault is that they lose their temper easily.

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