Brawley’s First Friday Art Walk showcases local artists and musicians



Paul Nilson and Ron Peeks perform at The Rock Coffee Shop and Cafe Friday night.


BRAWLEY — Brawley’s First Friday continues to grow as a vibrant, downtown walkable art show, immersing patrons with intriguing art, engaging performances, and great food. This budding cultural destination offers not only a connection to the arts, but a connection between people from all backgrounds. Once a month, tourists and locals flood downtown to view galleries, peruse outdoor vendors, and enjoy bands and street performers.

One of the eye-catching layouts among the artwalk strip was an array of stencil and pop art by Michael Franco. For two years, Franco has been trying his hand at such styles, gaining a fan base on social media sites. Reflecting on his own experience, Franco encourages all aspiring artists to pursue their passion.

“Supporting the arts is a good thing. A lot of people are on the threshold of whether or not they should invest their time into their passion. I say get out there and go for it,” encouraged Franco.

Another artist showcasing his work this month was photographer Sergio Bastidas. For the past ten years, Bastidas actively pursued all aspects of photography.  He has come far since his Brawley High School teacher, Jonathan Archer, first put a camera into his hands. Bastidas has achieved academic excellence in his photography courses at Imperial Valley College.

At the Art Walk, Bastidas promoted some of his work through an interactive project called “Existence.” Bastidas’ vision behind “Existence” was to photograph and capture the uniqueness of one hundred different faces. He hoped to draw attention to the rawness of each face, capturing the individual’s true self and underlying emotions. The photographer began his project in 2011, and it now totals 67 faces. His personal goal is to photograph one hundred faces by October in time for the Imperial Valley Film Festival.

This month, The Rock Café showcased two ’70s folk-rock musicians in its lounge. Holtville natives, Ron Peeks and Paul Nilson covered artists Neil Young, Ween, and other similar musicians in their acoustic performance. Peeks, on lead guitar, has been playing guitar and involved in music since 1967. Four years ago, Peeks joined together with mandolin player, Nilson. The two now actively play for small church events, friends and family.

Organizers are hoping Brawley’s First Friday’s Art Walk will be able to hold one closing event in June before the heat of summer arrives. Meanwhile, Imperial Valley art lovers will look forward to the season kickoff in the fall of 2015.