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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 and Operations Manager at Side Street Projects. She joins Side Street with sixteen years of leadership roles within nonprofit organizations, foundations, and private companies.


Estela Sanchez, Community Outreach Manager & Teaching Artist
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.


Trinidad Ruiz, Communications Manager
Trinidad Ruiz is a Chicano, visual artist, community organizer, educator, programmer, and collaborator working at the intersection of creativity, community and tenant activism. He is co-founder of VyBe (Vermont y Beverly) Local of the LA Tenants Union and graduated from UCLA with a BA in Art History and Chicano/a Studies. He is an avid cyclist.


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.


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.


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.

Champoy Lim, Teaching Artist
Champoy is from the Philippines. He has a BFA in Advertising Arts and loves making things with his hands and drawing on things.


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.


Brenda Cruz, Teaching Artist & Curriculum Specialist
Brenda Cruz is a Pasadena based Printmaker by trade and continues exploring classic techniques in building accessible printing mechanisms: how to create proper registration without an industrial press. Has a Masters in Art Education from CSULA.

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.


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).


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


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.


David Sumner, Teaching Artist
Davy Sumner is an installation artist, experimental musician, producer, Maker, audio engineer, and educator based in LA. He specializes in imagining atypical technologies and custom instruments that become animated and unpredictable when introduced to the physical world.


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.  


Sarah Espinoza, 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!


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.

SSP_TeamPhotos_Lila Chu.jpg

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.


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


Mobile HQ

Mobility allows us to strategically 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.


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

Dr. Sujal Mandavilla M.D.
Los Feliz, 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