In hopes of bringing more people to visit downtown Hammond, Raymundo Garcia hosted the Arts on the Avenue event on Friday at his building, EAT, on the southeast corner of Sibley Boulevard and Hohman Avenue.
Arts on the Avenue showcased audio, visual, culinary and performance arts from noon to 8 p.m.
Garcia’s parents opened El Taco Real, a restaurant in downtown Hammond, and Garcia has a manager’s role at the business even though he introduces himself as the busboy. Garcia believes that every city or town’s downtown area is the soul of that area. He also believes that downtown Hammond is not held to the same esteem as it was in the past.
“People no longer have respect for downtown Hammond. Things happened. People stopped coming, and people stopped caring.” Garcia said. “I got it in my head at El Taco Real that I wanted to keep this area clean, and I thought that I can bring that to the EAT as well.”
One of the main attractions for the event was the graffiti-art sprayed alongside the EAT. Felix Maldonado and Ishmael Muhammad Nieves spray-painted several paintings at the event to illustrate modern issues. The inspiration for their work came from Pablo Picasso’s painting “Guernica.”
“Guernica,” was painted in response to the bombing of Guernica, Spain, by Germany and Italy at the request of Spanish Nationalists in 1937. They addressed social media issues, human trafficking and attacks on the LGTBQ community. The paintings will remain on the side of the EAT until the Arts on the Avenue event next year. Maldonado was grateful that there was an event where he could display his talents.
“There’s not a lot of festivals in the area that especially cater to the artists, and that’s what we want to bring in at this event,” Maldonado said.
Regular musicians from Paul Henry’s Art Gallery next to EAT performed at the event. Local bands RAVE and Colonel Buster’s 3-Piece Dinner also performed.
Several local restaurateurs and chefs sold food. Turon Cummings, owner of Creative Concepts, sold bread cones that buyers then chose what toppings to add, including rice, beans, different meats, cheese balls and more. Creative Concepts also had vegan options. Cummings hopes to have a food truck for his business by the end of the year.
Two local comic book artists, Derek Hursley and Julio Guerra sold their original paintings and prints at the event. They have had their work published in the comic book “Judges,” and they plan on debuting their own comic book series, “Super Deadbeat Dad” at Northwest Indiana Comic-Con on Feb. 20.