Stay Gallery Presents “Dogbite”

Corey Ocasio, Writer

The Stay Gallery, an art mecca located within the heart of Downey, has blossomed from just starting off as the small-scale space it was in 2012 to an outlet where people of all ages can express their creativity through art while being provided with an environment where they can be themselves. Along with giving students within the city a chance to display their work and earn some exposure, the Stay Gallery occasionally holds events where local bands such as Downey’s own “Dogbite”, who played on Friday, April 27, can perform as well.


Prior to the performance, staff and volunteers from the gallery, including senior and Stay coordinator Nathan Lopez, began to fill the walls with various forms of art consisting of photographs, paintings, and drawings created by students attending schools within the city of Downey on April 24. With pieces exclusively made by students, Stay Gallery aims to showcase what the youth of Downey has to offer as well as making their talents known the community.


“I’ve been volunteering here since sophomore year, but I’ve been coming around since freshman year and yeah, I like it alot,” Lopez said. “It was exciting seeing all these people wanting to get involved in art and how happy they were to be displayed in the gallery.”


Josie Estrada, the executive director for the Stay Gallery, has only been there for three months and is already in love with her job and appreciates being able to work in a setting that benefits the community of Downey. To her, the gallery is not only a place for displaying art, but a haven for students to demonstrate their creativity and get a break from the challenges of school life.


“What I love about my job is that I get to work with the community and especially with the schools and give them an opportunity to showcase their art,” Estrada said. “I think the Stay Gallery unites the community and it allows the kids to have a safe place where they can come and express themselves for who they are.”


Of the many students whose work was placed on the walls of the gallery include Leyvi Barron, 11, who submitted an oil painting titled “Sus Historias” inspired by Mexican culture. She was glad to be given the opportunity to have her work displayed as an amateur artist along with her twin sister Nahomey and hopes that she can inspire others through her paintings.


“The painting took me two days to finish and it represents the a few symbols of the Mexican culture, my culture,” Barron said. “Painting is one of my favorite things to do, so one day I decided to paint something about Mexico with most of the symbols being ideas from my mom and other people which is why the piece is called “Sus Historias” which means “Their Histories”.


Barron and her sister have even become more open to sharing their work with others since having both of their paintings displayed in the gallery and are now currently showcasing their art to the world through social media.


“Most of the art my twin sister and I do is for us and we rarely display it,” Barron said. “After having the art piece at Stay Gallery, it encouraged my sister and I to share our paintings with others. We have since then created an Instagram account and feel more encouraged to paint.”


Issaia Beltran, 12, the guitarist for “Dogbite” has been playing alongside additional band members Chris, Isaac, and Andres for some time now and always been passionate about music. His main influences includes musicians like Alex G and Syd Barrett who he claims to have helped him develop his own style of music and shaped him into the guitarist he is today.


“I play lead guitar and rhythm guitar and I’ve been playing for about three years,” Beltran said. “My biggest inspirations would have to be Syd Barrett and Alex G because they have a cool sound and they’re just both really good.”


Unlike most people who would be somewhat reserved to do anything in front of a large crowd, Beltran is never nervous when it comes to playing in front of an audience, since it will be his second time performing with his band at Stay, and just does it to have fun with his bandmates instead of wanting something in return for his work.


“I feel good about the performance and no. No real nervousness. I also think it’ll help considering I’ve played at the gallery before,” Beltran said. “I like playing for fun. It’s been a while since we’ve performed and we [Dogbite] kinda miss playing for a crowd.”


With five dollar admission as well as a performance taking place on a friday night, the Stay Gallery expected to primarily bring in the youth of Downey which they sure did drawing dozens of students from both Downey and Warren. Amongst attendees were those, such as Nicolas Velasco, 12, who were eager to see Dogbite on stage, and others like Talia Orozco, 12, that just wanted to meet up with friends and have fun.


“The performance was sick and a lot of fun,” Velasco, a friend of the band members, said. “I just wanted to see them play because I really like their music a lot of people were going too.”


“My artwork was there so that’s kinda why I was at the gallery on Friday,” Orozco said. “Also, a lot of my friends were going and I thought it would just be a good opportunity to hang out for the night.”


In case anyone missed Dogbite’s performance on Friday night, April 27, the Stay Gallery will still hold other events and exhibits such as “The Digital Project” running from May 3-11 as well as “562 Fest” taking place in July and featuring artwork, live bands, and movies. In the meantime, the Stay Gallery is always looking for some extra help and encourages anyone wanting to help out the community to come down and volunteer during their free time.