Six ways to enjoy art and culture in NELA this August

Six ways to enjoy art and culture in NELA this August

Carlos Almaraz (1941-1989) is one of many significant Chicano artists who worked in studios in Highland Park. Efforts to secure historic cultural monument status for those studios will be discussed at a national conference this month on historic preservation. | Still from Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire.

By Pablo Nukaya-Petralia 

Art and culture offerings in NELA in August include historic preservation events, a street fair, a live-music jam and outdoor theater performances. Here are six picks, including a reminder to artists and art nonprofits that applications for grants are now being taken by the Eastside Arts Initiative.

“The Lady of Rockhaven” is a statue on the grounds of the Rockhaven sanitarium. | Photo by Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Historic preservation/Rockhaven 

On Sunday, Aug. 8 at 2 p.m., the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society (ERVHS) will host a webinar and virtual tour of the Rockhaven Sanitarium in Glendale, established by women in 1923 to treat mentally ill women. The meeting will include a Q&A session with  Joanna Linkchorst, president of the Friends of Rockhaven 

Rockhaven, known as “America’s first feminist asylum,” was an  antidote to the prison-like atmosphere in asylums of the time. Efforts to restore its lovely grounds and charming cottages and to honor its legacy of compassionate care bore fruit this year, when State Senator Anthony J. Portantino secured $8 million in the state budget to renovate the property into a mental-health museum.  

The ERVHS says that an exciting announcement will be made at the meeting on Aug. 8 relating to the sanitarium’s future. To access the Zoom link, meeting ID and passcode for the event, scroll down to the meeting announcement on the ERVHS homepage here.   

The event is free for all, although donations can be made to support the historical society or to help preserve the sanitarium.  

Jamie Tijerina, President of the Highland Park Heritage Trust, will be a presenter at a nationwide conference on historic preservation. | Photo by Gary Coronado / L.A. Times

Historic preservation/Chicano Arts Collective  

Jamie Tijerina and Alexandra Madsen of the Highland Park Heritage Trust (HPHT) will be featured presenters on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at 3 p.m. at “Beyond Integrity in (X)”, a virtual conference of historians, architects and activists to explore historic preservation in the United States and worldwide. Tijerina and Madsen will discuss HPHT’s nomination of the Chicano Arts Collective of Highland Park for historic-cultural monument status and how it relates to issues of equity in historic preservation.  

General admission to the virtual conference is $25; $10 for students. Tickets allow you to view all of the presentations at the conference for up to a week after the event.  Register for the conference here. 

El Mercacdo street fair returns to Highland Park 

Local merchants, artists, artisans and makers will come together on Saturday, Aug. 14 for the return of the Mercado Arts and Craft Fair, an outdoor market on York Boulevard from Avenue 50 to Avenue 52. Sponsored by City Councilmember Kevin de León, the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce and Avenue 50 Studio, Mercado will run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.  

Vendors interested in participating in the fair should email the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce at as soon as possible. 

Performance/Children’s theater at Occidental  

The students and alums of  Occidental College’s acclaimed Occidental Children’s Theater will give outdoor performances of  their latest mash-up: “The Boy Who Cried Wolfman” every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Aug. 21 at the college’s Remsen Bird Hillside Theater (also known as the ‘Greek Bowl.’) 

Tickets can be purchased at this link; $9 for children ages 2 to 12; $12 for adults. Children under age 2 are free; discounted tix available for Oxy alums.  

You can join in the jam at the Audubon Center in Debs Park | Photo courtesy of the Audubon Center at Debs Park

Live music at Debs Park  

The Old Time String Jam Band returns to the Audubon Center at Debs Park on Saturday, Aug. 28, noon to 3 p.m., with an outdoor concert of American folk under the pepper trees in the Children’s Woodland.  The jam band sets up under the pepper trees in the Children’s Woodland; you can find more information here 

Musicians interested in joining the band should contact Joe Wack at, and must be vaccinated to participate.  

Grants for artists and arts organizations 

The Eastside Arts Initiative, the grantmaking program of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, is now accepting applications for grants from artists and nonprofit arts organizations in the visual and performing arts in L.A.’s eastside neighborhoods.  Grants range from $2,500 to $50,000. Past grant recipients have included several individual artists in Northeast L.A. as well as NELA-based organizations, including the Arroyo Arts Collective, the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. Click here to apply online for a grant. Deadline: Sept. 15, 2021.  

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Pablo Nukaya-Petralia is a writer and editor from Los Angeles, CA. An Eagle Rock native and graduate of Occidental College, he regularly covers local art and culture while also working as the social media manager for the Boulevard Sentinel. Feel free to contact him at with tips and news.

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