Actifest combines art, music, and activism

Photo Courtesy of Jen Querques

Photo Courtesy of Jen Querques

By Abby Gentry | Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

On Sunday, Sept. 13, down the street from campus on Sports Arena Boulevard, hidden in a parcel of land across the way from Kobey’s Swap Meet, Grassroots Oasis held their first  Actifest event. Grassroots Oasis is a community space used for progressive events through the sharing of visual art, music, and conferences. Actifest was held to raise awareness of the homeless issue in San Diego while supporting local artists and musicians. The Grassroots Oasis center truly grasps what it means to be a community by combining the power of art, music, and social justice into one spectacular event in order to make a difference.

When walking into the event space, the first thing that catches one’s eye is the large variety of art on display. From interesting interpretations of celebrity portraits to bright and striking flowers, the gallery has it all. Artists do not come to the event with the intent to sell their art. Instead, they come to share, contribute, and display the beauty they have created.

Artist and first time presenter Jen Querques shares how she came across this opportunity and what brought her to share her art.

“I heard about this event through Facebook; [Grassroots Oasis] is a great resource for local artists,” Querques said. “It’s cool because it’s all about activism which is good since I’m spiritual and I know it’s for a cause. This is my first show and first time really showing my art which is exciting, and I’m also putting some paintings in a gallery downtown that are in the same collection as my rose painting.”

After some time walking around the gallery and appreciating the array of art on display, the homeless awareness panel began. This panel consisted of a moderator and four current activists discussing their organizations and what they do to help the homeless community. Amongst the panelists were Elaine Therrien, the president and founder of Living Spoonfuls, Jennifer Elizabeth Crone, the founder and CEO of Brunch Club, Saviana Martin, a 2006 Poverty Scholar nominee, and Jon Derryberry, the executive director of Townspeople. Each presenter first discussed their organization and how it serves the community.

After hearing about each company, the panelists answered several questions presented by the panel moderator. These questions discussed the homeless issues around America and San Diego and what people can do every day to help.

Each panelist continued to emphasize the fact that one person can use their gifts and abilities, such as art, music, or the ability to start an organization, to make a difference. No matter what gift one has been given, it is possible to use that talent to make an impact.

Crone, the CEO and founder of Brunch Club, encourages others to use their talents to make a difference.

“People don’t get involved because they don’t think they can make a difference, and then one day I decided to do something to make a change and immediately my community came around and supported me,” Crone said. “With their support, eventually I was able to make a difference. Everyone has a gift and you need to figure out how to use it to help.”

Actifest truly exhibits how different communities can and should merge into one big community in order to make a difference.