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Founded in 1992, Side Street Projects’ mission is to give artists of all ages the ability and means to support their creative endeavors.

We are a mobile, artist-run organization that supports artists, projects, and programs to foster leadership through socially engaged art and a DIY ethos. We are social entrepreneurs who work with communities to solve real world problems.

The culture of working, learning and sharing is a defining characteristic of Side Street Projects. We creates a space for cyclical dialogue with our community. Through this dialogue, we pledge to commit to furthering social justice. To accomplish this, it is essential that we work  with artists who have a full spectrum of cultural experiences and identities. We employ artists to teach in schools, and pay our artists working in communities. The artists at Side Street Projects share what they have learned to strengthen the field of artists who work with communities, schools and organizations.

We are working to address the needs of artists, youth, and the community at large. Our work employs horizontal pedagogical methods in order to break down hierarchies so that we can make space for folks to truly be creative. We work to fill the gaps in service in our community, educationally, programmatically and geographically.  Equitable access to the arts is essential to the mission of our organization. Equitable access to the arts is an issue of Social Justice.

Through consistent rejuvenation, the organizations core values remain the same: Side Street Projects connects artists and communities in facilitating dialogue, collaboration, and creative problem solving within a hands-on artmaking context.


Our Story

Founded in 1992, by Karen Atkinson and Joe Luttrell. Side Street Projects began as a community fabrication shop and exhibition space located in the 18th Street Arts Complex in Santa Monica, California. The goal was to support artists who create work outside of the traditional gallery system.

In 1997 Sheila Dawson, the inventor of “The Woodworking Bus” passed her programmatic model onto us, expanding our mission to supporting artists of all ages. We continue to function under the original vision of a creative laboratory that balances hand and high technologies and acts of risk taking and responsibility to promote innovation in arts and education. Our scrappy versatile model allows us to quickly evolve to meet the needs of the community and the field. We often work as an innovator and a connective tissue supporting important movements including business support for artists, socially engaged art, and mobile programs.

Everything that we do encourages creative problem solving and self-reliance within a contemporary art context, which is reflected in our unusual operating model. After moving 6 times in 16 years Side Street Projects transformed into a completely mobile, self-sustaining community arts center in 2007. In 2010, our mobile facilities were recognized as the “most innovative artist space in the nation” by Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) a collaboration including: MIT, NEA, the Ford Foundation, and the MetLife Foundation.


Our Team

Side Street Projects is artist-built and artist-run. #artistsworkhere


Emily Hopkins, Executive Director
Emily works to develop sustainable, community-based systems that connect working artists directly to communities. She is an advisor to PUSD and, the Vice President of her Neighborhood Association. Emily has a BFA & MA from CalArts.


Amy Ruvalcaba, Director of Operations
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Amy Ruvalcaba is a multidisciplinary artist. She joins Side Street with over sixteen years of leadership roles within nonprofit organizations, foundations, and private companies.


Estela Sanchez, Community & Artist Programs Manager
Estela Sanchez is an artist, educator, and healer whose work creates inclusive spaces for collectively manifesting decolonized, cosmic narratives. They grew up in the Coachella Valley and graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in Studio Art and a minor in Mathematics.


Max Goldman, Facilities Manager
Max Geldman is Los Angeles born woodworker and educator, who received his formal training at the Krenov School in Fort Bragg, CA. A tinkerer and experimenter by nature Max’s personal work interrogates traditional forms and explores solutions for individual and cultural utility. His spirit animal is the racoon.


Sarah Espinoza, Professional Development & Curriculum Specialist/Teaching Artist
Sarah has +15 years of experience developing and managing educational programs that serve our community. She’s been teaching with Side Street Project for over 10 years and brings creativity, fun and engaging approaches to empowering diverse communities in the creative arts. Sarah loves the outdoors, traveling and being an awesome mom!

Margaret Adachi, Teaching Artist
Margaret Adachi was born in Los Angeles, California. She has an MFA from Claremont Graduate University. She is a sculptor and installation artist.


Kelly Austin, Teaching Artist
Has spent 14 years at Side Street Projects and 30 years as a Professional Organizer and Bookkeeper, guiding financial and logistical processes with individuals and small businesses.


K. Bradford, Teaching Artist
K. Bradford is a writer, performer, arts educator, cultural worker and mover/shaker at large, whose work incites livewire social space through poetics, sound, objects, and spectacle.

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Lila Chu, Teaching Artist
Lila is an artist, teacher, and gardener. Often working with reclaimed plants and materials, she loves building communal structures and spaces that challenge institutionalized space. She moved from NYC to LA to attend Occidental College where she earned her BA in Studio Art and Art History with a minor in Mathematics.


Rose Hoffman, Teaching Artist
Rose lives and works in Los Angeles taking care of goats, a donkey, a llama, and sometimes, a potbelly pig named Hilde. For the last three years, she has been working as a carpenter doing house framing, set building, and fabricating general repairs. Rose is interested in sustainable building techniques, economic/social relations, and enjoys marbling paper, oil painting, and fishing. 

Tracee Johnson, Teaching Artist
Tracee is an artist and educator. She is trained as a landscape architect and graduated from Otis College with a MFA in Public Practice.


Frances Kao, Teaching Artist
Frances loves “education through recreation” and inspiring people to D-I-Y. She lives by a motto once said to her while jumping off a rock: “If you aren’t tryin’ you’re dyin’!” Frances has been with Side Street since 2013.  


Jason Kartez, Teaching Artist
Originally from Freeport Maine, Jason is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and comics creator.


Stacy Kroot, Teaching Artist
Stacy is an interdisciplinary installation artist using multiple mediums. Working professionally in fine art, freelance visual design and teaching field for over 26 years. She received a BFA with distinction from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a second BFA Interior Architecture and Design from California College of the Arts.


Felecia Lenee, Teaching Artist
Felecia Lenee, better known as Fe Love to her fans is the co- founder of Compassionate ARTS IN ACTION. She works as the Youth Program Director and Creative Strategist for the national project, Posts for Peace and Justice. She is a graduate of CALARTS where she trained as an actress. Her goals are to support youth, with a focus on health, public safety and social justice and climate change issues. She recently completed an Artist in Residency with Side Street Projects focusing on When Black and Brown Go Green, a campaign to bring people of color into the conversation concerning climate and environmental justice for more sustainable practices
To learn more


Jennifer Rodriguez, Bookkeeper
Born in the Philippines, raised in Los Angeles. Non-profit financing has been Jennifer’s career for the past 15 years. However, creativity brings out the best in her.


Elena Roznovan, Teaching Artist
Elena is an interdisciplinary artist based in LA. She received her MFA in Sculpture/4D from California State University, Long Beach (May 2018) and her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art (2012). She is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Werby Endowed Scholarship. She has most recently exhibited at ESXLA (2018), Torrance Art Museum (2017), University Art Museum (2017), the Kopeikin Gallery (2017), and Brea Art Gallery (2016).


Morgan Street, Teaching Artist
Morgan Street is a Los Angeles based artist, designer, teacher and fabricator. She makes objects, prints and sounds. She holds a BID from Pratt Institute.


Alyson Toon, Teaching Artist
Alyson is a surface textile designer and artist whose work focuses on encouraging others to be creative everyday. She joins SSP after working many years in the New York City fashion industry. Hailing from the Midwest, Alyson earned a B.F.A. in Fashion Design from Columbus College of Art and Design in her hometown.


Darlene Valencia, Teaching Artist
Darlene is an artist, writer and poet who loves playing with branches. Her work touches on identity, nature and self.


Clio Wilde, Teaching Artist
Clio is a woodworker, soft sculptor, and musician who has inhabited many pastoral landscapes prior to winding up in sunny los angeles. wilde graduated from lewis & clark college (‘15) with a BA in studio art and has been woodworking professionally since the fall of 2016. most of her creative work has to do with conceptions of the home, inhabiting space, comfort, disenchantment, and narrative.


Mobile Fleet

Mobility allows us strategically to serve at-risk youth where there is the most need. Our Mobile Youth Education program teaches tool-based design and fabrication aboard mobile fabrication studios housed in buses and trailers. To learn more, visit our Mobile Education page.

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Sheila, Bus 1 (retired)
Sheila, originated in Long Beach and found a new life as a woodworking bus in 1997. She wore her love of art on her sleeve as you can see from the fun images of children playing on the exterior in the mural designed by artist Gilbert “Magu” Lujan. Sheila was named after Sheila Dawson the inventor of the woodworking bus. She retired in 2012 and gave her heart and soul (and cabinetry) to Bus 3.

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Dawson, Bus 2 (retired)
Dawson (Sheila’s Brother) also originated in Long Beach and started a new career as a woodworking bus in 1997. Dawson was invested in the history of California and its people as is evident in his mural featuring California poppies and a Mayan snake designed by artist Francisco Letelier. Dawson retired in 2013 and donated his organs to Animal Salad, Bus 4.


Woodworking bus, Bus 3
Bus 3 originated in Compton, CA and migrated to Pasadena to fulfil her lifelong goal of becoming a woodworking bus in 2013. Bus 3 is still discovering her identity and eagerly awaiting a new paint job. Her hobbies include sanding, hammering in nails and sawcuts. She visits up to 6 schools a week and serves up to 200 students per week.


Animal Salad, Bus 4
Animal Salad started their career as a school bus in Silverton Oregon. They moved to California to start a new life as a woodworking bus in 2013. Animal salad is very invested in the community and the local ecosystem so they are adorned by animal drawings from neighbors and friends in a mural led by artist Blue Broxton.

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Spartan 1953 Imperial Mansion (Main Office)
‘53 waited eagerly in a storage lot of the vintage trailer gurus Funky Junk Farms in Ventura County until she moved to Pasadena to become Side Street’s main office in 2008. She was lovingly renovated by a team led by furniture designer Ed Stevens. She is exceptionally proud of her black walnut trim featuring a fancy solid walnut breaker box.

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Spartan 1949 Royal Mansion (archive trailer)
‘49 Royal Mansion retired as a vacation home at a trailer resort on the Colorado River in the 1980’s. He was left to pasture in a storage lot where he was coated in layers of house paint and his wheels were buried in mud up to the axles. In 2007 the Side Street Crew came to rescue him and dig him out. When he arrived in Pasadena he was relieved of layers of old paint, polished and restored.


Spartan 1949 Mansion (executive trailer)
‘49 Mansion served as the home of Architect Christian Bear in the foothills of Altadena until her landlord raised the rent and she had to move. She was taken in by the friendly artists of Side Street Projects. She shares her back room with our executive director, and her galley functions as a shared space artists to meet and collaborate. She is a big fan of shag rugs.


Solar Trailer
Solar Trailer is a cosmic being who began their career as a diesel mechanic shop in Norco complete with a crane to pull engines. After a rough battle with termites Solar Trailer recovered and transitioned to become the glorious creature that they are now. They are a generous spirit whose only goal is to bask in the sun and give out power to those in need.


Rosie The Truck
Rosie is fondly named after Roja aka “Rosie” Side Street’s original dog. She shares Roja’s joy of wind in her face and rolling in the mud, and is not a fan of sudden loud noises. She was born in 2008 and was immediately adopted into the Side Street family. She has a strong back and spends her days moving the woodworking trailers between schools. She loves a good trip to the lumberyard.

Blue Trailer “Karen”
Karen was the first of the new generation of woodworking classrooms her shell was built in Hurricane Utah but her soul was realized in 2010 when she came into herself as a mobile fabrication studio. She sports a sharp mural by artist, Jonathan Stofenmacher featuring hand done pin striping and silverplating. She was named after our founder Karen Atkinson, and is equally a fan of getting her hands dirty.


White Trailer “Joe”
Joe also came from Hurricane Utah but was built to be taller than Karen. Joe was named after our founder Joe Luttrell and is a pretty good carpenter himself. His favorite thing to do is sit on school yards and teach students about kinetic sculpture and creative problem solving. He has been thinking about a new paint job, but can’t decide on what color.

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Thing 1 Blue Container
After a long journey across the ocean from China, Thing 1 had a lot of time to think about what they wanted to do with their life. Stacked with a large community of containers they realized that serving the community was most important to them. Stocked with every art supply (digital and analogue), Thing 1 likes to open up their doors and walls and make space for art making.


Thing 2 Green Container
Thing 2 along with their sibling, Thing 1 were styled into a new life with the help of Architect Jeremy Levine and the IPME fabricators. Thing 2 is very pragmatic and likes to keep things very organized and safe. They house the Side Street woodshop. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are very close siblings and sometimes open up, unfold and connect to become a even bigger thing.


Board of Directors

Ashley Gibbons,
Board Chair, Marketing Consultant
Los Angeles, CA

Slade Belum, Treasurer
Director of Finance and Operations,
Armory Center for the Arts
Los Angeles, CA

Julie Ward

Attorney (Retired)
Distinguished Community Leader
Pasadena, CA

Jeremy Levine
Jeremy Levine Architecture
Los Angeles, CA

Dianne Magee
Attorney (Retired)
Distinguished Community Leader
Pasadena, CA

Mark Steven Greenfield
Artist, Distinguished Community Leader
Altadena, CA

Emily Hopkins
Executive Director
Pasadena, CA

Advisory Board

Christine Mckay
Venn Negotiation
Los Angeles, CA

Debbie Fisher
Leadership Council,
International Medical Corp
Malibu, CA

Elana Mann
South Pasadena, CA

Glenna Avila
Executive Director
Los Angeles, CA

John Agnew
Vintage vehicle expert
Funky Junk Farms
Altadena, CA

Steven Butcher
Vintage vehicle expert
Funky Junk Farms
Ventura, CA

Rick Lowe
Artist and founder of Project Row House
Houston TX,

Mel Chin
Asheville, NC


Thank you for your interest in working with Side Street Projects!

There are no open positions currently, however we do hire Teaching Artists on a regular basis. If you are interested in having us keep your resume on file, please send a cover letter and resume to