Downtown Vallejo is experiencing a rebirth. Gone are the late night loiterers, the dark alleys, and depressed vacant establishments. Instead, one is welcomed to a bubbling art community with ornamented trees, newly opened (or soon to open) art stores, and Vallejo Art Windows exhibits spread throughout the area.
Over the years, the city of Vallejo has undertaken efforts to revitalize downtown. But it seems as though it will be the community-led art movement that will help the city achieve that goal. Call it serendipity, but downtown with its beautiful classic architecture and vacant business lots was the “perfect location” for such a movement, as commented by Don Bassey, manager of the Empress Theatre and an artist in the community himself.
The art movement has spurred development in the downtown area. The 101 year-old Empress Theatre was extensively renovated in 2008 and now hosts a variety of musical and dramatic arts performances. The area has also seen crops of art stores, bookstores, and music stores open their doors in recent years.
City initiatives meanwhile helped bring about Temple Arts Loft, a new multi-unit building that seeks to offer “artists and creative professionals an opportunity to live and work in a community focused on art and creativity.” The building provides residents with amenities such as on-site art studios, street-front art galleries, and a grand performance hall.
Perhaps an emblem of the art movement is “The Hub,” a new art space in downtown. The Hub is a place where artists and creatives co-create together and network. It is self-sustained through the sales of works of the artists in the building. The Hub also provides art classes and equipment rental; and hosts live music on weekends and an open mic night.
Indeed, central Vallejo is experiencing a renaissance and transformation as the heart of the city’s Art District. Bassey notes however that it should be the community’s responsibility to sustain the success of the movement.
For Empress Theatre performance schedule, please visit: www.empresstheatre.org
For more information on The Hub, please visit: www.thehubvallejo.com
If interested in the Temple Arts Loft, please visit: templeartlofts.com