Mission Fed ArtWalk finally returns to Little Italy this weekend. What you need to know

Folks check out artist booths at a previous Mission Fed ArtWalk Little Italy event.
(Paul Nestor)

The annual festival, which was canceled in 2020 and postponed to October in 2021, is back with its regular springtime date and in-person format


This weekend, hundreds of artists will fill the streets of Little Italy for Mission Fed ArtWalk.

Now in its 38th year, the Mission Fed ArtWalk Little Italy brings artists and art lovers together for a two-day festival. Hosted by title sponsor Mission Federal Credit Union, ArtWalk also has editions in Liberty Station and Carlsbad.

Mission Fed ArtWalk Little Italy gives visitors and artists the opportunity to connect and chat about art.
(Candace Audick)

After two years of cancellations and adaptations, the 2022 edition will be fully in-person and is back to its regular springtime date. (The event went on hiatus in 2020, and last year’s festivities were postponed from April to October.)

Artwork by Vanesa Castillo
Artwork by Vanesa Castillo
(Vanesa Castillo)

The self-proclaimed “largest and longest-running arts festival in Southern California” attracts both locals and visitors. More than 250 artists will partake, setting up booths along India Street that showcase their available pieces for sale. Represented mediums include painting, sculpture, glass work and photography, among others.

Artwork by Chula Vista artist Czarina Scolari
(Czarina Scolari)

Arguably one of the most popular attractions is “Artes de Mexico,” a designated area that highlights the work of Mexican artists. This year’s section features five artists: Vanesa Castillo, Debora Levy, Alejandro Martinez-Peña, Czarina Scolari and David Silvah. From Castillo’s mixed media projects to Silvah’s oil paintings, each artist’s style is unique — yet all draw inspiration from Mexican tradition and culture.

"El Caballero," an oil painting by David Silvah
(David Silvah)

Scolari, a seven-time ArtWalk participant who’s been painting for 10 years, will be bringing a 15-piece collection that highlights her signature style: female faces with bold features and strong personalities.

“(My art journey) started off with painting my girls — with their big eyes and their big hair,” said Scolari, a mother of three daughters. “And it just progressed into a certain style of mine. ... I like to evoke emotional effects on my perspective of beauty.”

Artwork by Chula Vista artist Czarina Scolari
(Czarina Scolari)

The Chula Vista resident, who also owns a home in Mexico, primarily uses acrylic paints and adds gold, silver and copper leaf accents. But she also likes to experiment and see what sticks — like creating a 3-D effect with thick, black car paint for her first painting of a bull. Her subject matter is influenced by her daughters, Mexican heritage and visits across the border to visit family.

Artist Czarina Scolari, who is one of the artists featured at Mission Fed ArtWalk Little Italy, poses with her paintings.

“My mother has some Spanish (ancestry) in her, so I like to paint a lot of Spanish subjects: Spanish dancers, matadoras, bulls — I really like that style, that part of me,” she said, adding that her paintings hang in homes from Switzerland to Italy to Mexico.

“We’re always really excited to partner with (‘Artes de Mexico’) artists,” said Courtney Pendleton, the public relations and community manager for Mission Federal Credit Union. “It’s such an important part of our community, and it’s a really nice inclusion (to ArtWalk).”

Artwork by Chula Vista artist Czarina Scolari
(Czarina Scolari)

Though visual art takes center stage at ArtWalk, the open-air affair also features activities for kids, street food vendors and performance art, including live music from local bands.

New this year is the Gator By The Bay stage. Named after the San Diego music festival — which is hosting its 2022 edition next week — the main stage is located at Piazza della Famiglia. It will host live performances of New Orleans-style music from the likes of The Sea Monks, Billy Lee & The Juketones, Sue Palmer, Euphoria Brass Band and Bayou Brothers.

A musician performs at a previous ArtWalk Little Italy event.
(Dan Audick)

“I think it will bring a lot of excitement through the streets (in Little Italy) and liven things up a lot more, too,” Pendleton said.

The event is also for a good cause. Each year, ArtWalk partners with ArtReach San Diego, a nonprofit that provides visual arts education to K-8 schools. Works created by local artists are auctioned off to raise money for the organization.

“It’s no surprise that the arts in general continue to be, unfortunately, one of the least well-funded categories ... but it’s so important to support,” Pendleton said.

ArtReach, which has previously auctioned off painted guitars and surfboards, will offer vinyl record art this year. The painted works are created by everyone from well-known San Diego artists to local high school students. Those who can’t make it to ArtWalk in person also have the option to view and bid on works online.

Hundreds of booths will be set up along India Street for Mission Fed ArtWalk Little Italy.
(Paul Nestor)

In addition to supporting artists — through the purchase of original pieces and donations to ArtReach — ArtWalk also prides itself on being an educational avenue. While the art world may feel intimating for newcomers, one of the main goals of ArtWalk is to make art accessible to everyone.

“It’s not like you’re going to this art gallery where you feel like everyone knows so much more about art,” Pendleton said. “This is just an amazing place to check out some amazing local and international artists — the perfect opportunity to really learn about art and soak it in.”

Mission Fed ArtWalk

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Throughout Little Italy

Admission: Free