Southern California is full of wonderful cultural and culinary opportunities, and the creative spirit and great eats boldly collide in the Santa Ana Artists Village. Located in Downtown Santa Ana, the Artists Village is home to galleries, “make and take” studios geared towards paper arts and mixed-media, street corner food carts, and fabulous restaurants.
A bit grungy, bohemian and decidedly urban, the Artists Village also has beauty and charm galore. From the distinctive architecture of structures like the Santora Building, to the “slice of life” peek at locals going about their business, the Artists Village is a sight to see. With its varied eateries, you’ll definitely want to take a bite out of the Artists Village!
The Santa Ana Artist Village is home to many galleries, ranging in size from very small to very large, and the most common mediums shown are paint and sculpture. Some studios offer hands-on experiences and classes, and two of my favorites are Studio Crescendoh and The Art Bar. Geared towards those of us who love paper arts and mixed-media, Studio Crescendoh and the Art Bar offer a wide variety of classes – from lettering and art journaling to painting. I recommend these venues if you’d like to make art – not just look at it!
Grand Central is one of the anchors in the Santa Ana Artists Village.
Colorful paintings grace the walls of Studio Crescendoh, but they offer classes in a variety of artistic mediums…
I certainly haven’t been to all the eateries in the Artists Village, but I’ve really enjoyed those I have visited. Two of my favorites are the Gypsy Den and Memphis.
Gypsy Den: Budget-friendly, this is the most artsy and bohemian of my three picks. Their baked goods are delicious, and the coffee house feel takes me back to the Beatnik scene in the 60’s – though I hadn’t even been born yet!
I love the decor at the Gypsy Den – so eclectic and colorful!
It’s only right that some artwork should grace the walls…
There’s plenty of seating to enjoy a bite. I took this photo just after they’d closed on New Year’s Eve day, so it’s customer-free.
Memphis: A bit pricier than the Gypsy Den, Memphis has fab food and a great, modern interior. I love that the afternoon sun creates wrought-iron-shaped shadows in the restaurant’s interior windows, and having breakfast for lunch was a treat!
A bit of the interior at Memphis, including the wrought iron work up top…
I opted for breakfast, though it was after 2 p.m.
Eggs over easy, French Toast, and chicken-apple sausage. Yum!
I’ve also heard great things about Lola Gaspar, but haven’t made it there to taste their food for myself yet and hope to change that very soon. Located just down the way from Memphis, and across the courtyard from the Grand Central Building, this restaurant is right in the center of the action…
The Artist Village really comes alive on the first Saturday of each month, when many of the galleries throw open their doors and welcome in the public. From larger galleries with special shows to single-artist studios displaying their on-going work, the Art Walk is a great way to see a variety of artwork. You can also sip some wine and nosh on the snacks folks often lay out, if you’re just looking for a nibble.
Architecture & Ambiance
One of my favorite things about the Santa Ana Artists Village is the look of it – all the the little details that give it a unique flavor. Naturally, architecture and some historic buildings play a big part in that. In my mind, the gorgeous Santora Building is the grand dame of the village, and the center of it all. Built in 1929, it’s Spanish Ultra Baroque Design delights me.
The ornate stone work combined with wrought iron (seen elsewhere on/in the building) is lovely…
An interior photograph of the Santora Building.
A clock tower in Santa Ana…
Bare branches reach out to the Grand Central Building.
It’s more than the big structures, though. It’s the old street lamps, the trees, and even the streets themselves. These are some of my favorite things about the Santa Ana Artists Village, and if you’re a fan of details like this, it’s best that you visit during daylight hours to take in all the lovely visual details that make this area unique.
The base of an old lamp post beckoned to me.
Gritty, yet still beautiful – near the Santora Building.
Hope to See You There…
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek at the Santa Ana Artists Village. If you live in Southern California – or if you’re planning a trip to Orange County – I hope you’ll stop in for a visit!