Santora Building Studios Torn Down After Artists Evictions

santorabuilding_artistsevicted.jpg
Wiki Commons

See update on Page 2 about the walls of the Santora building being torn down.

ORIGINAL POST, January 31, 8:00A.M.:It's hard to say when the beginning of the end for the Santora building started. It could have been a couple years ago, when news of the possibility of Newsong Church buying out the building threatened the cultural vitality of the artists, or when the contract agreement that guaranteed at least 80 percent of the building be dedicated to the arts ended in 2011, bringing in more non-art tenants like law offices within its walls. For those not closely paying attention to the ownership issues, things definitely must have gotten real when the mural adorning the walls of the Santora building's basement was painted completely over in white, an ominous sign of what was yet to come.

Yesterday, news broke out that Studio El Sotano and Green Door Gallery, longtime tenants of the Santora building, have been given eviction notice to leave from the ownership. Matt Southgate, owner of the Studio El Sotano space, in an email forwarded to The Weekly states that he was not delinquent in rent payments nor given the opportunity to discuss alternate lease options.


"Clear communication about changes in creative direction for the Santora between existing tenants have been virtually non-existent," Southgate wrote. "There has been much hinting and gesturing by new ownership as to 'New Life' and a 'New Aesthetic Approach' to be brought into the building that has for almost two decades served as the 'cultural heart of Santa Ana' but with virtually zero actual proof of these assertions being realized or validated by the new ownership."

The action comes off as an abrupt affront to the artist community from Jack Jakosky, the Newport Beach-based owner who purchased the building back in 2011 and promised to increase the number of artist tenants, touting his desire for the building to go "back to its roots." The mural being painted over was contradictory to his words, inciting protest from the artist community and inspiring distrust in Jakosky, who offered no comment or explanation of the change and hasn't responded to a Weekly request for comment.

But evictions of the artists from the building has also given artists cause to worry, as the future seems uncertain for their community. "This hits hard, because [Santora building] is not just a gallery, its a space for activists to practice our freedom of speech," says artist and Santora building tenant Alicia Rojas. Rojas has been an active member in the Santa Ana Community Artists Coalition, and works with many of the artists in the building. "Property owners have no regard for the history of the building and are really only out to service commercial ventures and Thomas Kinkade-esque artists."

All this comes on the eve of the monthly Downtown Santa Ana Artwalk, where the Santora building serves as a regular stop for visitors to check out some art. In the last couple of months, the variety in gallery spaces within the historic building has already started to look pretty sparse. "It is very sad that property owners can dictate the look and feel of a community without ever caring for it," Rojas continues. "It truly is the beginning of the end of an era."

UPDATE Feb. 4, 2:49P.M.: The walls of two Santora building studios have already started to come down.



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53 comments
anthonyross1
anthonyross1

I am a former tenant of the Santora Building, Ross Studio, and reading about the demise of the Santora as an arts building is sad, but not shocking. 


While not one of the first artists to relocate to the Santora back in the 90’s, I was part of a student collective from Santa Ana College that had a gallery in the basement, Legacy Arts, and after a few years had my own studio next to Joe Musil’s Salon of the Theaters. 


From the beginning it was clear the artists had a hard time coming to a consensus about the direction that the “Village” was going to take. There were arguments, threats, fights, hugs over everything from putting displays on the 2nd street promenade to what is art. 


My goal, and I vocalized it many times back then to the consternation of other artists, was to make money. Hey, I like eating and sleeping indoors. Also, my philosophy could have been seen by some as “Kincadeish”, art for profit. I also believed the only way for the Village to survive is to have artists that brought in patrons who buy art, not just look at it. There is nothing wrong with creating work that creates controversy, and there were many back then. It creates buzz and brings in people. But it doesn’t pay the rent.


But the death knell for the Santora was written years ago because the proponents of unsellable art won. There’s nothing wrong with not selling your work as long as you realize that rent is due and the landlord is not your benevolent patron. 


Those who could sell moved on, tired of the infighting and low bar for entry. You may call me an elitist but I wanted to make a living with art, not just using it as a trust fund hobby.


The owners of the Santora, back then and now, are looking to also make money. And the only way to do that is to bring in businesses that can do that. Yes, having an art community was the city’s Kumbaya effort, with much help from Mike Harrah. But that can only last so long before economic reality sets in.


Artists can be their own worst enemy. 

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Quite frankly, the only person who truly deserved eviction from the Santora was that pervert who kept groping girls and women. But I also recall folks being more pissed at his victims for speaking out about the abuse because it maligned the reputation of their precious historical building.

Kyle Hojem
Kyle Hojem

This explains a lot of what happened the last few weeks in downtown, particularly with Memphis leaving.

ctorri
ctorri

 There are a few things going on here that you don't have to be an insider to figure out.  First, there really isn't any Santa Ana culture, specifically.  For more than a few decades the city has been the result of many a self-starter envisioning his, her or their dreams of possibilities upon a backdrop that has always been a somewhat sleepy and inconsequential place in Southern California.  Basically a blank canvas on which to paint one's personal expression among many others--the opposite being a place such as "master planned" Irvine.  Many are the stories of highly creative, magical places in their own right which don't exist any longer; to be replaced by other visions after a fashion.  I am sure many of you have your own stories going back many decades through multiple generations of friends, relatives and acquaintances.  Second, almost all of those visions were realized by people who saw a chance to capitalize or take advantage of a situation where they saw they could exploit a flaw or depressed area.  It is very difficult to sustain high traffic in an area where there isn't really anything to capture people and keep them wanting to make a journey there.  Ever heard of famous books about Santa Ana?  Any memorable movies?  Or how about interesting and famous residents?  Santa Ana has never had the kind of high energy as other urban centers to spark peoples' romantic inclinations from the outside.  Sure there's plenty of residents, past and present, who regard certain places with high affinity and sentiment.  But that momentum eventually fades without myth and legend that spreads to far corners--it only remains close to the hearts of the locals, and maybe a few ingenious visitors.  The rest could not care less because there is no instantly recognizable attraction.  There is plenty of heart but no real soul expressing on the dance floor, as it were.  Lastly, without a legendary history collectively... the story of Santa Ana is actually a collection of short stories without a collective presence that ignites fires in others--the outliers who observe from a distance.  Some may be interesting but the readers of those stories are searching for more cohesion and more legendary qualities to possess them into making a journey.  In a word, meaning.  So instead it all remains a revolving door, ad infinitum.  Now there are new dreamers and players in the neighborhood.  But they too have fallen into the same endless scheme, given life only by their fertile imaginations.  They too will certainly slow down, rust and fade.  Only to be taken over by new fools with new illusions of grandeur.  It isn't so much a bad thing as it is sad to see it play out... over and over again.  I do feel bad, and somewhat annoyed, about how the tenants in the Santora have been treated to this unfortunate exclusion.  But I know that they at least have a fighting chance....

Michael Patrick Rooney
Michael Patrick Rooney

Given some of these comments, I'm assessing that people are confused by the terms "art community" and "gentrification" and how they are inextricably linked.

Steve Manciet
Steve Manciet

I heard a Coffee Bean and tea is going in on the corner there.

Steve Manciet
Steve Manciet

The "art" district of Santa Ana never really worked out? I knew this would happen. On to more progress!!

Benjamin Ferenc
Benjamin Ferenc

Ugh, this is horrible.. Wtf is happening in SA!? Heather, what a shame..

Gilberto Torres
Gilberto Torres

Not my favorite gallery!? No reason to stop by the Santora anymore.

TEDDY
TEDDY

PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE UPSET WHEN THEY REMOVED THE CAROUSEL FROM DOWNTOWN SANTA ANA 


PEOPLE FROM SANTA ANA KNOW WHAT IM TALKING ABOUT

Derek May
Derek May

Read the comments by Pocharte at the end of the article. Get with it people.

pocharte
pocharte

This is truly a sad development. Matt's gallery was a much loved gathering place and his murals were beautiful expressions of our local artists' vision. Now all this has gone the way of the gorgeous Caio Trattoria murals created by dozens of Artists Village tenants in the '90's & painted over by Chapter One when they moved in. All these exquisite moments are lost to us now...like tears in rain.

But in lamenting our glorious past, let's not fall prey to unsubstantiated spin & unfounded hysterics. This can only foment more division & discord.

What isn't mentioned in this article is that many long-time Santora tenants are staying: Joe Hawa, Atilano, The Art Bar & Firouzeh. Also, some Santora newcomers are being embraced by the new owner: the prolific Jenny Doh of Creciendoh Studio, the dynamic OC Creatives & the talented Tweena's Tunes.

This OC Weekly article also doesn't mention Jackosky's recent meetings with MOLAA & other local art leaders to bring in high-quality art spaces that reflect Santa Ana's diverse culture or his upcoming collaborations w GCAC and other art groups. These are endeavors far from "Thomas Kincade" grade art fluff.

Also left out was Jackosky's invitation to have Studio del Sotano tenants relocate to the new Art Colony he's building near the train station. Housed in an expansive industrial parcel a few blocks from the depot, these spaces would be a better location for working artists as they are more easily open to partnerships w Amtrak & out of county art collecting groups.

This story also neglected to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the Santora's restoration & repair: fixing the leaky rooftop air conditioners that had been flooding galleries for over a decade, cleaning the historic ironwork, uncovering the original skylights, patching & repainting the entire building, replacing all the broken glass & rotted wood. Those don't sound like the actions of someone who has no love for the building or what it represents.

So it appears @OC Weekly left quite a bit out when running with their sensationalist one-sided "report" largely based on the comments of one person who has never lived or worked in Santa Ana. Also, not mentioned was that the artists evicted were the ones most active in joining her belligerent & misinformed attacks on the new owner in the press. Cause & Effect folks.

I hope in the next round, a broader range of local artists & arts professionals will be interviewed by the OC Weekly. Also that they would more closely examine the source of propaganda & their motivations before running w it.

As a Santa Ana native and nationally recognized artist, I see many things long-needed for a healthy arts scene finally coming to fruition here: the forming of an Arts Commission, local agency support for the arts & live/work housing, city cooperation on arts grants & arts commerce studies, a commitment to daytime cultural events & markets, new incubator spaces, public art programs & so much more.

I urge anyone wanting to get involved in Santa Ana Arts to move out here (or open a business in SA) instead of spreading more hate and poison from your sour grapes perch in HB, Irvine or Costa Mesa. Get some skin in the game!

Santa Ana's Art Future is what we make it. If folks can work together without petty tantrums & ugly attacks on local residents, then we can build a true blossoming of the best this City has to offer.

<3 Viva Santa Ana! <3

OC Anarcho
OC Anarcho

Just take over the building. Make it a community art center. Organize and take back the power.

Yanira Barajas
Yanira Barajas

Armando Barajas Yesenia Barajas and santa ana is officially ruined

Dena Arellanes
Dena Arellanes

Another greedy Newport buyer that does not belong in Santa Ana. Shame on Jakosky, not everyone likes your Thomas Kinkade taste in art. Sad for the art culture that is being wiped out by cretins like Jakosky.

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

Will the liar and bs blogger, Art, please leave the room! Your are an evil, twisted boy.

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

You are absolutely wrong. WTF! The Artwalk tonight was awesome and still going on!

skitch
skitch

Progress to what?

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

Good. Bye, bye.

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

That whole 4th street was a disaster but now getting better! Carousel? Come on. That whole side of downtown had been so dead, stores way behind in rent to property owners, drugs, hookers, idiots just hanging out. Stupid. So much better and more to come!

AndrewGalvin
AndrewGalvin

Be sure to also read alicitarojas's reply to pocharte.

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

That was awesome! Thank you!

aimee_m
aimee_m

@pocharte there's a big difference between fixing a leaky roof and respecting the space of artists. There's been no communication going on between Jakosky and the long time artists who have been there, and no rhyme or reason as to why he'd be keeping some artists and serving eviction notices to others who also been there for long. 

As to your 'cause and effect' comment, are you saying that because they are voicing their displeasure with Jakosky, they're going to get evicted? If so then that's quite a shitty move on Jakosky's part, maybe even a form of censorship.

For the record, I am a Santa Ana resident since birth and live five minutes away from Santora. I respect your comments and questions, but there is still something to be ticked off about here.

MatthewTCoker
MatthewTCoker topcommenter

@pocharte If Jackosky got back to the reporter, his spin would have been in the story.

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

No way, not with all the new businesses coming this year. Do your homework.

artpedroza
artpedroza

@dubyadawg  That is easy for you to say behind the comfort of an anon name.  At least I have the huevos to use my name when I comment.

WideStance
WideStance

Movies? per examiner.com, "Legally Blonde" was filmed on the steps of the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana. These steps were suppose to be the steps to Harvard Law School. By wrapping fir trees around the already planted palm trees it was instantly transformed into an east coast school. Also at the Old Courthouse per IMDB, "Catch Me if You Can" (2002) with Leonardo deCaprio and Clint Eastwood, and"Gideon's Trumpet" (1980) with Henry Fonda . The Santa Ana train station was the backdrop in such films as Chevy Chase's" Memoirs of an Invisible Man" and in "Rain Man" when Tom Cruise says goodbye to Dustin Hoffman.

WideStance
WideStance

And from examiner.com, via Google, -

For example, Legally Blonde was filmed on the steps of the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana. These steps were suppose to be the steps to Harvard Law School. By wrapping fir trees around the already planted palm trees it was instantly transformed into an east coast school. (And I vaguely remember some major film being shot INSIDE the courthouse - anyone help?-WS)

The Santa Ana train station was the backdrop in such films as Chevy Chase's Memoirs of an Invisible Man and in Rain Man when Tom Cruise says goodbye to Dustin Hoffman.

alicitarojas
alicitarojas

Allow me to put some perspective to Pocharte’s comment.

Fact: Matt Southgate has not gotten an offer to relocate by Jakosky. He has asked me to comment regarding this. So he has no idea what Pocha is referring to.

Fact: Studio Del Sotano was on a month to month lease and Greendoor had just a couple months left. Remaining galleries all have valid leases left raging from one year to 3 for some of the new comers. Let’s hope she is right here and that these galleries will be extended leases.

Pocha’s comments are contradictory since according to her theory this is retaliation for speaking out regarding Jakosky whitewashing the Santora Community mural and other art around the building. Why would he offer to relocate the artists if it’s cause and effect? Confused here.


Let’s see who is the one with an agenda here:

Maybe it’s time I send the OCWeekly copies of emails and texts where Pocha Pena callously starts rumors to run against Councilwoman Martinez (councilwoman who represents Downtown Santa Ana) to the point of getting her cousin Councilman Sarmiento involved in these rumors. The purpose of these rumors was to get an appointment in the upcoming Arts Commission in Santa Ana in return for not running against Martinez. The sad part here is that she didn’t need to go there and use the collective work of the artists for personal gain.

Matt is not only a great artist and a caring community member, he is a friend. I guess we find out who our true friends are in times when we are down.

pocharte
pocharte

Jackosky is just one part of a vast landscape.

Why weren't the majority of Santora artists (who are staying) not consulted? Why did the story "sources" withhold info of the many recent repairs & the invite to relocate? Why were leaders of local art orgs like ArtsOC, OCCCA, GCAC, GCS & UASA completely left out of the discourse?

You are a professional reporter Mr Coker & know better than fall prey to hidden agendas.

Due diligence reporters! Don't get chumped.

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

Never said that, the drugs are just not being sold out in the open from degenerates.

artpedroza
artpedroza

@GustavoArellano @pocharte  You have to wonder if Pocha pushed Jakosky to evict these artists.  She apparently has his ear and we know she has an issue with artists who speak up for themselves.

GustavoArellano
GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@pocharte Pocha: You stick to art; we'll stick to reporting. Fact is, Aimee reached out to your beloved Jackosky for comment...and nothing.

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