18th Street Arts Center, a 30-year-old artist residency and contemporary arts center in the Pico Neighborhood, holds its third major Pico Block Party community festival focused around youth artists and empowering youth voices on Saturday, May 19, from 3-6 p.m. The family-friendly artistic festival will feature youth-led art-making workshops, performances, open studios with resident artists, exhibitions, food trucks, and other creative activities.

The Pico Block Party series grew out of 18th Street Arts Center’s in-depth community outreach programs, including its bilingual neighborhood oral history project, CultureMapping90404.org. That project spurred the creation of a Neighborhood Advisory Council in 2018, who helped shaped the content for this Pico Block Party along the theme of “Empowering Youth Voices.”

With many Santa Monica high school and college-age youth deeply invested in political activism and organizing, but also facing challenges such as a school achievement gap and lack of youth services, focusing on youth artists and empowering youth voices became a priority for the Center’s community programming in 2018. 

Past Block Parties have drawn upwards of 600 people to the Center’s large campus, and have provided a platform for the artistic and cultural vibrancy of the Pico Neighborhood to intermingle with LA-based exhibiting artists and international artists in their visiting artist residency program.


Art Workshops

Create your own Pico Neighborhood Loterίa cards with the Santa Monica High School MEChA Student Group. Work with exhibiting artist Mariángeles Soto-Díaz and area youth to screenprint slogans on fabric banners for your next protest march, and customize them with your own messages. Paint your own tote bag and collaborate on a community map of your neighborhood with Visiting Artist in Residence Asia Sztencel. Collage your own ‘zines with youth from Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica College, and UCLA. Create LED electrical artworks with Camera Obscura artist in residence Brittany Ransom. Participate in free movement classes with teachers from Continuum Movement Studio!

Performances (on the main stage)

Dance it up with the Hype Squad with Ebonicia Fischer. Groove to the stylings of Rondalla Sueño Romantico, a youth band from St Anne’s Church. Let your voice rise with the SMC Jazz Vocal Ensemble. Holla for the original rhymes and beats of the Pico Youth and Family Center youth MCs. In the Gallery, Artist Lab ResidentPaul Pescadorwill perform with his signature costumes as part of his exhibition Going West, or 15 Years in Los Angeles.

Food & Vendors

Soulistic Vegan Soul Food, Brewtique, Chili Chili Mango, Taco Cartel, Hustle & Dough, Oaxacan Ice Cream, Fine Oaxacan Embroidery and Garments and Beautiful Things LA.

Visit https://picoblockpartymay2018.eventbrite.com for more information. 

Submitted by Emma Jacobson-Sive