Tag Archives: Xico

More than Margaritaville

Even the floors at Xico in Chandler are covered with artwork

For too many Americans, Cinco de Mayo is merely one more excuse to drink beyond reason. For others, it’s a friendly reminder to spend more time exploring the diverse arts and culture of Latin America. For those of you seeking more than Margaritaville, I’ve assembled a humble rundown of a few places you can explore Latin American arts and culture here in Arizona.

  • Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center in Phoenix presents visual and performance art. Their “2nd Annual Latina Art Exhibit and Festival” and “What Do Kids Want?” exhibit open today. May’s “First Friday” lineup at ALAC includes the performances by Mystic Events Dance Group, ethnographer Sarah Amira de la Garza and dance group Unidos en Amistad. A Jeremy Gillett play titled “Black & 25 in America” premieres at the center May 12. Learn more at www.alac.mouthtomouthmedia.com.
  • Phoenix Art Museum has a permanent collection of Latin American art that includes more than 400 works of art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries including religious paintings, colonial furniture, decorative arts and more. Featured artists include Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera — plus many contemporary artists. Learn more at www.phxarts.org.
  • Tucson Museum of Art has more than 1,900 works in its permanent Spanish colonial and folk art collections, in addition to oil-on-tin retablos and Mexican provinical paintings. Current exhibitions include “Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Murray,” “Tesoros del Pueblo: Latin American Folk Art” and “Frida’s Style: Traditional Women’s Costumes from Mexico.” They’ll present a free screening of the film “Frida” on May 10, and partner with UA to present teacher training in Latin American art. Learn more at www.tucsonmuseumofart.org.
  • Xico in Chandler sponsors the region’s oldest “Dia de los Muertos Festival” — a free event that “showcases community performers, folk art vendors, storytelling, cultural music, children’s activities, a community procession and community altar. The 2012 festival takes place on Nov. 3. They also present community exhibitions and “meet the artist” events featuring works by Latino and Native American artists. Xico offers classes with professional artists to underserved youth, plus printmaking workshops (“an art-form with a rich history among indigenous artists”). Learn more at www.xicoinc.org.

Click here if you’re looking for family-friendly Cinco de Mayo celebrations, and here to learn more about an Arizona organization called Friends of Mexican Art.

— Lynn

Note: Click here if you’re celebrating Keith Haring’s birthday today and here to watch Robert Booker on PBS’s “Horizon” (Booker heads the Arizona Commission on the Arts). If you just like clicking things, simply fondle your remote control.

Coming up: The best pies in Glendale?, Art meets Austria

Update: Works by 2012 Arizona Doodle 4 Google finalists will be exhibited at the Tucson Museum of Art June 1-Aug 31. You can vote online for your favorite Doodle for Google through May 10 by clicking here. 5/4/12; Click here to read “Rescuing the Stories Behind Latino Art” by Holland Cotter published in The New York Times. 5/12.


A celebration of life!

Stilt walkers from the Taylor Circus performing at a Mesa Arts Center festival
Remember that you have me…. by Felipe M. Carranza
Grand Memories by Erica Lucci and Chris Altman
Inspirational Memories by Socorro Hernandez
The Daughter of Time by Skye Wilster
Detail of an offrenda in the “Adorned in Memories, Written in Stone” exhibit
A work by Moisés, designer of this year’s print for the CALA Alliance Festival
Ganas O Muerte by Ernesto Yerena
A sampling of unique items available for purchase at XICO gallery in Chandler
Part of the Loteria Series by Lalo Cota
Proof that the folks who give “Best of” awards need a category for best floor
Giant Katrina puppet commissioned by Xico gallery for El Dia de los Muertos
— Lynn
Note: Works of art were photographed at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix and Xico gallery in Chandler. Xico carries several Day of the Dead books, as well as a coloring book, for children — and is presenting a free El Dia de los Muertos festival on Sat, Nov. 5. The library’s “Adorned in Memories, Written in Stone” exhibit of artist-made altars runs through Sat, Nov. 5. Click here to learn more about the Taylor Circus, here to learn more about Mesa Arts Center and here to learn more about CALA festival events.
Coming up: A blast of blue!

What’s your border?

L to R: Michael Van Liew, Andrew Valenzuela and Kathryn James in "Amexica: Tales of the Fourth World"

In the opening scene of a stirring play titled “Amexica,” penned by the Valley’s own James E. Garcia and Alberto Rios, we hear people with different perspectives completing the following sentence: My border is….

One thing is immediately clear — the border isn’t some abstraction devoid of human meaning. It’s the people who live on and around it, and the years of individual and collective histories they carry with them.

Playwright Garcia and poet Rios seamlessly weave poetry and performance art together in “Amexica: Tales of the Fourth World” to create a unique work that’ll appeal to lovers of words, history, art and culture.

The world premiere run, a production of New Carpa Theater directed by Barbara Aker, continues at the Mesa Arts Center through Sun, Nov. 6. Aker is a retired acting and voice teacher who counts Andrew Valenzuela among her former students in the theatre program at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Raynell Gonzales (L) and Andrew Valenzuela in "Amexica: Tales of the Fourth World"

Valenzuela plays Javier, a recent college graduate and poet who decides to forego graduate school after learning that he was born in Mexico and adopted two weeks later by parents Dan (Michael Van Liew) and Tina (Kathryn James) of Oregon.

Javier travels along the border region in search of his roots, his identity and the mother who left him behind — encountering all sorts of people in his journey. The cast of 14 includes an elementary school student, a middle school student and a high school student. Each delivers a strong performance with true professionalism.

I was disappointed, while attending last Saturday’s matinee, to find that far too many seats were empty for a work of this caliber — and hope those who support the accurate depiction of border life, poetic reflection on the human condition and youth participation in the arts will make plans to see “Amexica” this weekend.

My daughter Jennifer, a cultural anthroplogy major at ASU, asked me one evening about the term “fourth world.” Like many, she’s more familiar with the term “third world.” So I got in touch with Garcia, eager to learn more about the choice of a title.

Seems Garcia first heard the term “fourth world” as a journalist working during the ’80s for a daily newspaper in Laredo, Texas. He recalls seeing the word “Amexica” on the cover of a 2001 issue of TIME magazine. In images, says Garcia, the border is two-dimensional. Nowadays, some border depictions in film boast 3-D images. But now, it seems, there’s a fourth dimention too.

Raynell Gonzales in "Amexica: Tales of the Fourth World" at Mesa Arts Center

“The fourth world,” says Garcia, describes the evolution along the Mexico/America border of a whole new culture. It’s a culture characterized by complexity, he says, reduced too often to “images of people coming over the fence.”

“The Mexican people,” observes Garcia, “have a long memory.” Also mixed feelings about their neighbors to the north. Though citizens passionately recall the conquest of Mexico and prior battles with the United States, they modeled their own goverment after American democracy and seek in some ways to emulate American culture.

The smart, sensitive treatment of border-related issues rarely finds its way to mainstream media — so we’re fortunate that Garcia and Rios have partnered to present a picture of the people who populate the border. “Amexica” is a compelling counterpoint to the caricatures that too often invade our discourse and decision making.

— Lynn

Note: “Amexica: Tales of the Fourth World” also features choreography by Michèle Ceballos Michot and original score by Quetzal Guerrero (whose CD I saw just yesterday at XICO gallery in Chandler). Click here for show and ticket information. The production includes brief violence and language best viewed by teens and above.

Coming up: Sandbox tales, A celebration of life

Art meets Americas

It’s the inaugural year of a biannual festival presented by the CALA Alliance — which champions the importance of Latino art and culture, from both North and South America, to Arizona.

Alliance partners include the Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center (ALAC), which has an exhibit and performance venue called “Galleria 147” just across the street from Symphony Hall in Phoenix. Also XICO, which promotes Chicano artists. And Chicano Por La Casa (CPLC), which works to empower families in economically deprived communities.

Teatro Bravo presents a play about Frida Kahlo as part of the fall CALA festival

“Celebracion Artistica de las Americas,” also dubbed the “CALA festival,” takes place at various venues Sept 16-Nov 6, 2011. Its mission is “to create shared arts experiences that encourage cultural understanding between people of the Americas.”

Several arts and cultural organizations were selected through a jury process and given awards of various sizes to present their works during this fall’s festival.

These organizations include the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center (ALAC), the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, the Cultural Coaltion, the Desert Botanical Garden, the Heard Museum, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), the New Carpa Theater Company, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Phoenix Boys Choir, the Scottsdale Cultural Council, the Scottsdale International Film Festival, Teatro Bravo! and XICO.

Festival offerings will include visual art, theater, music, film, dance, poetry and more. Many include experiences and hands-on activities for youth. Two educational initiatives, supported by Target (the festival’s presenting sponsor), are expected to reach thousands of Valley school children.

Phoenix Art Museum docents will read a book about artist Diego Rivera to students who will then get to take home their own copy of the book. They’ll also create their own mural. Childsplay will perform “The Sun Serpent” by Jose Cruz Gonzeles for students, some of whom have never before experienced live theater.

Children. Creavity. Collaboration. Community.


— Lynn

Note: Learn more at www.calaalliance.org. Head to “First Fridays” at ALAC Fri, Sept 2, for a 6pm-10pm line-up that includes visual artists Juan Chawuk and Carlos Navarrete, poet Maria Rodriguez-Pope, filmmaker Valeria Fernandez, dance group Ballet Folklorico Esperanza, musician Cisco Arvallo and a Teatro Bravo presentation of “Frida.” 

Coming up: Celebrating “Day of the Dead” arts and culture style, Orchestral dreams, Student discount alert!

New season “sneak peeks”

Families can enjoy a taste of Broadway in Arizona this month as ASU Gammage in Tempe presents their 2011-2012 season preview event Mon, July 25 at 7:30pm. The event features a free “sneak peek” at the upcoming season — which includes classics like “West Side Story” and “South Pacific” plus newer works like ‘Million Dollar Quartet” and “American Idiot.”

ASU Gammage promises pre-event family activities in the ASU Gammage lobby, special guest appearances and free dessert after the preview event. The preview event will be your first opportunity to purchase mini-package subscriptions if you’d like to attend only some of the shows in this season’s line-up.

Tempe Center for the Arts presents their “TCA Fall Arts Kick-off” Fri, Aug 19 from 6-8pm. It features live music, artist demonstrations, gallery tours and more. Fall season information and special advance ticket pricing will be available.

Popular TCA programs include the Lakeshore Jazz Series, Performance With a View, Poetry in April, Songwriters’ Showcase, Sonoran Chamber Music Series, Tempe Symphony Orchestra and Walk-in Wednesday Open Mic Night.

Several “partner groups” perform at the TCA — including A Ludwig Dance Theatre, Arizona Academy of the Performing Arts, Arizona Wind Symphony, Childsplay, CONDER/dance, Desert Dance Theatre, Tempe Community Chorus, Tempe Live! Theater and Tempe Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

The last “sneak peek” event I attended was presented by Mesa Arts Center, which has a lovely complement of founding resident companies including Ballet Etudes, East Valley Children’s Theater, Mesa Encore Theater, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Sonoran Desert Chorale, Southwest Shakespeare Company, Symphony of the Southwest and Xico Inc.

I had a great time gathering information about diverse programs, meeting fascinating artists and chatting with fellow art lovers. The next MAC preview event is a three-day “Season Kick-Off Festival” taking place Sept 9-11.

Keep an eye on Valley venues like Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts because many hold fall or spring “preview” events that offer a taste of their dance, music and theater menus. Who doesn’t love a free nibble now and then?

— Lynn

Note: A “Fall for the Arts Festival” presented by Arizona Broadway Theatre and Leadership West Oct 8 from 10am-4pm will feature live performance by various arts groups, creative activities for children and more.

Coming up: Introducing kids to classical music, Disney musicals on Valley stages, Art promoting peace

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Artwork from ALAC in Phoenix

Some of the Valley’s richest cultural resources are tucked away in places you might not even know exist. I stumbled on one just the other day as I was parking for the Phoenix Symphony/Phoenix Theatre performance of “The Music Man.”

It’s the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center, just across the street from Phoenix Symphony Hall.

The center, also known as ALAC, is a consortium of local Latino groups and artists featuring Galeria 147 — which includes art exhibit spaces, a multi-use performance venue and a gift shop/bookstore. Their current exhibit, “La Phoeniquera,” features the works of Latino & Latina artists in Phoenix.

I wasn’t able to enjoy it because it’s closed Sundays and Mondays, but I look forward to touring the space in the future — perhaps during one of Artlink Phoenix’s “First Friday” events. I’m also eager to see their exhibit of newspaper sculpture and costumes by Christopher Plentywounds, which is titled “The Fine Art of Fine Print.”

"Hechale" by Eduardo Oropeza

ALAC is one of several organizations identified as a partner by the CALA (Celebracion Artistica de las Americas) Alliance, which will hold its kick-off event on Sept 24 at Phoenix Symphony Hall — a “signature concert featuring the exciting Grammy Award winning Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band.”

Plans are underway for the first bi-annual CALA Festival — a two-month Valleywide celebration spotlighting “the vibrant artistic, musical and culinary offerings of the regional Latino community through various exhibits, concerts, street fairs and more.” Interested artists can visit their website to learn about the jury process.

"The Love That Stains" by Maya Gonzalez

Other alliance partners include XICO, which “promotes Chicano artists by nourishing the appreciation of the cultural and spiritual heritage of Latino and indigenous people,” and CPLC (Chicano Por La Causa, Inc.), “an organization dedicated to the well-being of Arizona’s economically-deprived communities by providing the tools to empower people and families to achieve their aspirations.”

If you’re eager to learn more about Hispanic culture, you’ll have plenty of opportunities during National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated Sept 15 through Oct 15.

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, notes that the month “celebrates the cultures of Americans who trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

Local family-friendly events include “Fiesta Surprise” on Sept 18 and “Tempe Tardeada” on Oct 10. “Fiesta Surprise,” being held at the Surprise Stadium, features live music and dance, a kids’ fun zone and more. “Tempe Tardeada,” taking place at the Tempe Community Complex (near the Tempe Public Library), features music, dance and art exploring Tempe’s Hispanic roots and culture.

"First Aztec on the Moon" by Santiago Perez

Stay tuned to local venues — including museums, community colleges, universities, performing arts centers, libraries, parks and recreation centers, and bookstores — to learn about National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations in your area.

Online resources include www.pbskids.org, www.smithsonianmag.com, www.smithsonianeducation.org, and www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov — which notes that “the observance started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period.”

September 15 is the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries, while Mexico celebrates independence on Sept 16 and Chile celebrates independence on Sept 18. Columbus Day (Oct 12) also falls during the 30-day period designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

"Cumpleanos de Lala y Tudi" by Carmen Lomas Garza

If your organization or venue offers events and activities to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, please feel free to comment below to let our readers know.


Note: To enjoy more Latino art, visit www.latinoartcommunity.org.

Coming: More season previews

Lemons from lemonade

Earlier this year, a non-profit known as the Metro Phoenix Partnership for Arts and Culture decided to cease operations. But not before assuring with its main funders, the Flinn Foundation and the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust–that remaining monies would be put to good use.

The Flinn Emergency Fund for Arts Organizations made one-time grants totalling $500,000 to 21 arts and culture organizations. Grant amounts were based on each nonprofit’s annual operating budget, and designated “unrestricted” so recipients have freedom in deciding how to use the funds.

The Flinn Foundation Emergency Arts Grants, announced in April, went to several types of organizations noted below:

Museums: Arizona Science Center, Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum
Dance: Ballet Arizona
Music: Arizona Opera, Phoenix Boys Choir, Phoenix Chorale, The Phoenix Symphony, Symphony of the Southwest
Theater: Actors Theatre, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, Arizona Theatre Company, Black Theatre Troupe, Childsplay, Phoenix Theatre, Theater Works
Visual Arts: Xico, Inc. (featuring the work of Latino and Native American artists)
Other: Herberger Theater Center, Scottsdale Cultural Council, West Valley Arts Council

The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust anounced 11 awards totalling $1.2 million through its Arts Restructuring and Transformation (ART) Fund on August 11. Recipients were chosen from among the 37 previous Piper arts and culture grantees invited to apply.

Funded organizations/projects include the following:

Museums: Desert Botanical Garden (for website improvements), Heard Museum (to expand retail space, add bookstore and coffeeshop), Phoenix Art Museum (to develop a center for film)
Dance: Ballet Arizona (to establish a community school of dance)
Music: Arizona Opera (for construction of theater, education wing and artists space), Phoenix Conservatory of Music (to promote a strategic alliance with Ear Candy), The Phoenix Symphony (to restructure marketing and development functions)
Theater: Arizona Theatre Company/Actors Theatre of Phoenix (to explore a strategic alliance), Childsplay (for increased patron participation and expanded technology), Theater Works (for arts storage and rental facility)
Other: Chandler Cultural Center (for youth training in arts and arts administration)

Stay tuned to the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and Flinn Foundation websites for details on an upcoming four-day town hall they’ll be co-sponsoring during April 2011. The four-day conference will focus on the impact of arts and culture on Arizona’s economy.


Note: Stay abreast of various grant opportunities by tuning into websites for the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts.

Coming up: Finding films in unexpected places