The Coast News Group
The inaugural Art in the Garden is Oct. 21 at Escondido’s at Heritage Garden Park. Courtesy photo
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Escondido art scene takes step forward

The city of Escondido, for most, does not evoke images of an art mecca or a place to come and experience artistic flair. If it’s up to the city’s Chamber of Commerce and its main arts and culture coalition, though, that could change soon.

At the center of this plan sits the organization Museums & Arts Growing Escondido Culture, or MAGEC, a constellation of Escondido-based art galleries, museums, a performing arts center and an array of restaurants which have teamed up to try to promote one another’s businesses. And in the process, they hope, it will bolster the city’s cultural landscape blossom, as well.

Since its founding in March 2016, MAGEC has focused primarily on its Second Saturday Arts & Culture day, which has historic walking tours, as well as museums and art galleries which stay open until the late-afternoon or early-evening (and night, in the case of some art galleries). The city’s Chamber of Commerce has embraced Second Saturday and served as a platform for those participating to promote their work, as well as those who live in the city or who are visiting to come see the arts and culture which the city has to offer.

As an add on to its Second Saturday offering, MAGEC and the Escondido Chamber of Commerce have announced the launch of the first Art in the Garden, which will be a component of the broader Grand Avenue Street Festival run by the Chamber of Commerce and is set to take place on Oct. 21 at the city’s Heritage Garden Park.

Carol Rogers — gallery manager of the Stone and Glass Gallery in Escondido and chairwoman of the volunteer-run organization — said that she hopes it will be a smaller version of the ArtWalk events which take place annually in Little Italy, Carlsbad and the Liberty Station. Like ArtWalk, Art in the Garden will be a juried event with awards for best in show in a variety of categories.

It will be the first event of its sort in the city, according to Rogers. The goal, said Rogers, is to attract about 20 to 30 artists to participate in premier version of Art in the Garden.

MAGEC began, said Rogers, as a means to show those who live in North County that Escondido is indeed an art mecca if you know where to look. Rogers said that the problem, for now, is just that the “world does not regularly see Escondido that way.”

“An art show has been a goal for MAGEC since our inception,” Rogers told The Coast News. “We believe the art show will give artists an affordable avenue to show and sell their work in North County Inland and that the synergy of bringing artists together in this way invites a new audience to our historic downtown.”

The Escondido Chamber of Commerce agrees, adding that Art in the Garden is just one of the multi-faceted components planned for the day for MAGEC.

“We put on the Grand Avenue Festival twice a year, in May and October, and for this year’s October event we’re adding several new activities that will hopefully be a way of attracting more people to the event, keeping them more active and engaged, and something fun for them to enjoy, such as the Creative Kids Corner, Dogs on the Lawn, and Art in the Garden,” explained Chris Cochran, communications director for the Chamber. “Live music from a variety of musicians and bands will also be taking place as background music for Art in the Garden to make it an ideal setting. The Chamber of Commerce certainly embraces the role that art plays in our community and our city, and we’re proud to bring Art in the Garden to the Grand Avenue Festival to further showcase how important the art community is to our residents and visitors alike.”

Rogers also explained that MAGEC has encouraged member art galleries to extend their hours on the day of Art in Garden, for those who want to expand their art experience that day in Escondido beyond the event itself.

Artists who participate in Art in the Garden and put their work on display must pay a fee, Rogers explained, and that money will go toward MAGEC’s ultimate goal. That is, hopefully by the first quarter of 2019, paying the necessary fees to register as a nonprofit organization.

With a nonprofit status, Rogers laid out, the organization will more easily be able to apply for and receive grant money, perhaps eventually hire staff down the road, and pay for all of the other things nonprofit entities must do in order to keep afloat. In turn, Rogers said that will ideally help fast-track the goal of expanding the reach and visibility of the city’s artistic community.

If all goes well at the first ever Art in the Garden, Rogers said that she hopes it can be a twice-annual affair as part of the Grand Avenue Street Festival.

Artists present at the Art in the Garden are set to include many hailing from North County. They include Virginia Holt of Del Mar, Martita Foss of Escondido, Carrie Foster of Escondido, Kerry Ray of Oceanside and Katherine Zimmer of San Marcos.