A former travel magazine editor, 29-year-old Midwest native Jess Hoffert is taking a 6-month break from the cubicle life to become immersed in the colorful culture of Southern California.

Photo tour: The most colorful neighborhood

Photo tour: The most colorful neighborhood

When I walked through downtown Santa Ana for the first time, it was love at first stroll. The Artists Village and East End districts that form the core of the city's dining and retail district are within walking distance of Príncipe de Paz. I find myself heading over there multiple times a week to grab ice cream cookie sandwiches at 4th Street Market, take in a movie at The Frida (an independent cinema named after Frida Kahlo, whose face and namesake you'll find all over the city), or simply get some steps in before I head to bed.

This neighborhood has changed drastically over the past few years. It used to be a place where you wouldn't want to walk after dusk. Gangs and drugs were a common presence. But ever since the city "cleaned up" the area, it's become a diverse district of African-Americans, Asians, Caucasians, Hispanics, and most visibly...artists. The gentrification of the area has caused some long-time locals to feel alienated, and I'm doing some work to help rebuild bridges between some members of the church and the area that they no longer feel is for them. I'll share more about that in my next post, but for now, I want to share some photos I took at the city's evening ArtWalk, taking place the first Saturday of each month. It's a night when many of the district's art galleries stay open late, and it's a chance to really absorb the incredible talent and beautiful diversity in Santa Ana. Enjoy the tour!

Looking for a few good neighbors

Looking for a few good neighbors

Finding your jam in a surround-sound world

Finding your jam in a surround-sound world