El Cajon art-centered fundraiser is the cat’s pajamas

Painted Guitar by John Agostini

Sponsored by the Downtown El Cajon Business Partners and St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center the 12th Annual Alley Cat Art Walk is on Sept. 15 from 4-8 p.m. in the Historic El Cajon Downtown Arts District. This free, family-friendly event spotlights local art galleries, art studios, the Wieghorst Museum, and other local business as the public enjoy the local arts, crafts, live music, and refreshments.

SMSC Development Associate Wendy Morris said that the event has changed over the years to a one-day event from its original two-day event. She said the event was created to highlight the arts in downtown El Cajon. Some of the participating art shows during the event include Sophie’s Gallery & Gift Shop’s “The Music in Me” exhibit, “Color” at Silver Creek Fine Art & Gallery, “Beyond Impressionism” at The East County Art Association, Glamour Girlz Boutique, Rob’s Brewpoint, the El Cajon German American Societies, Inc., who will hold a beer tasting at Sophie’s Gallery, and a display of Native American themed art at the Wieghorst Museum.

“You are able to walk through all the galleries that are in the neighborhood,” said Morris. “Everyone has a special show for Alley Cat. You can go in, see the galleries and studios and learn about the art scene here. Each place will have food and refreshments. The East County Art Association will have wine tasting, and there will be live music at the Art Association and outside of Sophie’s.”

Morris said the event has grown over the years, and it is a little bit of a different feeling since they do not close the alley anymore, but it brings a lot of activity to Main Street.

SMSC Arts Program Manager Erin Perschbacher said over the past two years, since COVID, the event has been extremely well attended with both its existing customers and supporters, as well as many new folks that come down and check out the gallery while attending the event.

“It is a popular event, and people were really happy when we brought it back,” said Morris.

Perschbacher said Sophie’s is holding its 19th Annual Passageways show opening the night of Alley Cat.

“That show has always celebrated self-advocacy, self-expression, self-determination, so this year our theme is music and musical instruments,” she said. “Artists have painted musical instruments. They have done wonderful drawings inspired by music. We have some great embroidered iron-on patches, some wonderful weaving done on CDs, handmade guitar straps, printed bandanas and dish towels made with the artist’s drawings inspired by music. It is a great mixed media, diverse show. The great thing about being open during Alley Cat is that it lets our artists be part of a community event. Guests that have never been to Sophie’s and seen the wonderful art done by people with disabilities create. It is a great way to bring the community to our artists and our artists get exposure to the community.”

Morris said Sophie’s also has some guest artists from Korea, featuring artwork from artbrutkorea, a collective of South Korean artists on the autism spectrum.

“This is a great way to support the local small businesses,” said Perschbacher. “Here at Sophie’s, having people come support the art, purchase the art, the sales of the art go back to the artists that we support with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is a great way to support our artists and see the wonderful art El Cajon has to offer.”