I'm waiting here at the Fullerton Train Station for the 7:59 Amtrak to Santa Ana. I don't own a car, so I'm taking the train. I have a little notebook with Frida Khalo on it and a copy of Tolkien's The Silmarillion to read while I wait.
As I write, Gonsalo, Fullerton's unofficial recycling program, walks by with a miner's light on his head, pulling bright cans from the dark bins. Gonsalo, an immigrant from Mexico, is one of Fullerton's more effective public servants. Every day, he digs through all the dumpsters and trash cans downtown pulling out all the bottles and cans from Fullerton's myriad bars and restaurants. What would otherwise go into the Brea landfill, Gonsalo saves. He is probably Fullerton's most effective environmentalist.
Drunk men with tight black tees hurl insults at him: "Trash digger! Beaner!"
But Gonsalo toils on, putting our collective waste toward new and better purposes.
A freight train rumbles by, BNSF, the big orange and yellow one. I wonder about its freight.
My train will arrive in 20 minutes to take me to the Santa Ana art walk. Not having a car prevents me from getting out of Fullerton too much, but tonight I am on assignment for a new web site about art in Orange County, and I am off to review an art show.
This is sort of a new endeavor for me. I am usually the one putting on art shows at Hibbleton Gallery and Bookmachine, but tonight I get to just casually stroll in and see the labor of other people's hands.
I guess I'm in a unique position as an art critic in Orange County. I know how tremendously difficult it is just to keep an art gallery open, regardless of the quality/content of its shows. If the folks in Santa Ana are anything like us, they don't make money. They don't get paid. They do what they do out of a crazy mixture of love, passion, and dogged optimism that they can help change the culture of the OC, Los Angeles's kooky/conservative neighbor.
I suppose that's why I'm here waiting for this train, despite the fact that I'm really tired, after having spent 12 hours yesterday putting on an art show here in Fullerton. I'm off to check out the art, but more than that I'm going because I want to help build bridges between galleries in Orange County, and I think that is the purpose of this new web site, OC Artists Republic. I'm not getting paid for this. I'm doing it to raise awareness, to be part of a growing community/movement that stretches from Fullerton to Santa Ana, to Laguna Beach, to San Clemente...young artists and galleries making and re-making culture, fighting back against complacency and stereotypes, fighting for our collective future.
I'm taking this train because I want to be a part of something larger than myself.
My friend Steve Elkins once said, "Artists attempt to draw lines between orphaned constellations." I'm heading out to draw some of those lines.
Tonight I am drawing a line, following the railroad track. I'm drawing a line between Fullerton and Santa Ana. Artists and gallerists in Orange County--we may be orphans, but we are not alone.