Shopping local and giving back: an exploration of artists in Highland Park

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Local jewelry designer Hanna Ketai’s handcrafted necklaces in her studio in Los Angeles, CA. Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Jasmine Mack/The Occidental

York Boulevard is home to an array of charming boutiques, vintage shops and clothing stores, many of which display paintings, jewelry, garments and other works of local artists who reside in Highland Park.

The artists who produce these works give back to the community by bringing in money and culture. Some of them, such as Hanna Ketai and Cambria Guevara, contribute to the community further by providing Highland Park residents with art therapy and donating to local organizations.

Ketai, a jeweler, therapist and Highland Park native, combines her passions of jewelry making and mindful living to empower members of the community to heal through art.

“My vision is to have people physically come in [to my home] and do a healing session around whatever’s going on in their life,” Ketai said. “Either creating a painting that symbolizes what they’re moving through or a piece of jewelry that symbolizes, ‘I’m working through the end of a relationship or a loss.'”

Local jewelry maker Hanna Ketai’s beautiful works in progress in her studio in Los Angeles, CA. Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Jasmine Mack/The Occidental

Ketai explained her desire to turn her home into a healing space for the community where they can connect with crystals. Her pieces represent empowerment and change, and customers often come to her with ideas for jewelry that represent personal aspects of their lives they want to commemorate.

Her jewelry combines the intrinsic beauty of stones she hand selects from local gem fairs with personal accents using metallurgy. Ketai produces rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets that draw influence from nature itself.

Local jewelry maker Hanna Ketai describes her work and inspiration at her studio in Los Angeles, CA. Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Jasmine Mack/The Occidental

Similarly to Ketai, Cambria Guevara is a print maker, fashion designer and another Highland Park native who has made a positive impact on the community by donating some of the proceeds of her work to local charities and organizations.

Guevara highlights her prints on a multitude of mediums such as t-shirts, stickers, tote bags and pins. She combines vegetal patterns, depictions of the human body and animal drawings with provocative phrases to create art that makes a statement.

Guevara created a “my body, my choice” shirt featuring her printmaking and donated $5 of each sale to Planned Parenthood. She expressed her desire to do even more work to better the community in the future.

“I would like to try to do more. As an artist, we need to do that. People look and people listen if you put yourself out there, then people will see it and actually care,” said Guevara. “It’s hard to get people to care when they’re not seeing it.”

Local artists like Ketai and Guevara display their goods at stores such as Mindfulnest, an artisanal craft store on York Boulevard. Kain Enholm, an employee at Mindfulnest, offered some insight on the importance of giving local artists a platform to share their work.

“Nowadays, it’s really difficult for artists to make a living out of their work,” said Enholm. “Usually when someone says they’re an artist, it means that’s what they do on the side.”

Mindfulnest also provides a space where consumers can support the art of their neighbors, thus bringing money back into the Highland Park community. The store itself, on York Boulevard, is a quaint space filled with ornate pieces of jewelry, clothing, artwork and other crafts.

“I’d like to see this place [Mindfulnest] being an area where these people who traditionally live here and still produce this kind of art are, again, able to make a more reasonable living out of the art itself,” Enholm said.

By supporting local artists from Highland Park, the people of Highland Park can further contribute to the economic and cultural bettering of their home.