Leaving Their Mark: New gallery seeks to invigorate the art community of Santa Ana


In many areas all over the world, the dirtiest, grimiest places are also the places where the creative people are. Whether it be for low rent, more space, the love of the metropolis, or to invigorate communities through gentrification, sometimes the art is just better in the shitty neighborhoods. With low brow art movements originating in grimy areas of cities like NYC, L.A., Paris, Berlin, etc—Orange County is no different. The grimiest of grimy cities is also our beloved art-hub, the glorious downtown Santa Ana.

The most beautiful, provocative and innovative art can be found here in this filthy city, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Downtown Santa Ana has had its fair share of murders and shoot-outs, robberies and gang fights, but the culture of Santa Ana is bright, colorful and persistent. 4th street in Santa Ana has been separated from the Artists Village, just mere blocks away, for years; but, over the last five years, boutiques, businesses and interesting restaurants have been spreading out past the limits of the original Artists Village, helping Santa Ana grow into a larger area for art and culture than ever before.

Newest addition to this messy but amazingly creative community is the Marcas Contemporary Art gallery (MCA). Owners Steven Daily, Ale Astoquilca and Dana Jazayeri are excited to join this vibrant community.  “We’re not the first to do this, Santa Ana has a lot of great art throughout its history, but there’s nothing like this here,” Astoquila says. “To me, Santa Ana has the most metropolitan city in Orange County. Santa Ana has that kind of feeling—that gives this area a great energy. There’s history and culture and people here.”

Jazayeri and Astoquilca also own Orange County’s only independent art & design bookstore/gallery As Issued, located in the LAB in Costa Mesa. As Issued is known for their tiny but indie-star-studded exhibits, and great selection of zines and books.

Steven Daily is a well-known L.A. painter, specializing in pop surrealism. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums all over, but being a working artist, he had never been on the other side of the art gallery before this new venture. “Me and Steven have known each other for a while, and we just started talking about how artists are getting disenfranchised in the gallery scene, a bit stifled, they get pigeon-holed into this one genre, this one style,” Jazayeri explains. “A lot of them want to grow, evolve and change, and they have interests in other things. That’s where we kind of started talking about the artist’s perspective. I mean, I’ve been an owner of businesses for almost 12 years, and I’ve gotten to watch the scene just blow up—which is nice, it’s just now it’s more of commodity, consumerism—it’s just pushing and packaging artists into little boxes that are easy to market and sell. So we wanted to bring it back. Take the ego of the galleries out of it…”

“We kind of all bounce ideas off one another. Steven’s the working artist, on the other side of it. Not everything I like, he likes. Aesthetics verses technique, he’s technique based, I am more aesthetic-based. But let’s teach people—let’s teach collectors, the public, don’t just buy into what you think is great because they have 125,000 followers on instagram, lets understand what we’re seeing,” Jazayeri says.


MCA’s programming will vary slightly from As Issued, but in a similar line of intent and style. Jazayeri is particularly fond of exhibiting artists who may not be as well known here. Truly backing the art they show, the programming tends to venture toward low brow style work, which is unintentional, Jazayeri says. But, this space will interact with the public in interesting ways in the future, holding seminars, classes, lectures, meet-and-greets with artists, and even getting the city behind some upcoming mural projects, hand-painted signage, and utilizing the theatre just next door to them to screen projects, films, and documentaries in line with their programming.

“After Grand Central changed leadership, it kind of left a gap, and your options are kind of limited…” Astoquilca says, it’s nice for us to be able to fill that gap in art here in OC, so people don’t have to drive out to L.A. all the time. We’ll be doing seminars too, we’ll have artists paint and you can meet and learn their techniques and style in person.”

Their inaugural exhibition “Corrective Course” opens this Saturday, July 5, in conjunction with the First Saturday Art Walk in downtown Santa Ana, and will feature over 40 amazing artists: Dan Quintana, Alex Garcia, Nikko Hurtado, Mat Hurtado, Kevin Peterson, Jasmine Worth, JoKa, Adrian Dominic, Shawn Barber, Tom Haubrick, Sylvia Ji, Michael Mararian, Steven Daily, Olivia, Nicomi Nix Turner, Ekundayo, Jason Gallo, Gabe Larson, Laurie Lee Brom, Gustavo Rimada, Reece Hobbins, Brendan Monroe, Victor Reyes, Remio, Cryptik, Travis Louie, Albert Reyes, Zach Johnsen, Bwanna Spoons, John Casey, Tomi Monstre,Julia Sonmi Heglund, Lucien Shapiro, Jade, Troy Coulterman, Adam Feibelman, Andres Guerrero, Amir H. Fallah, Colt Bowden, Lettercatsigns, Karen Hsiao, Ben Eine, Bob Dob & David H. Cook.

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