By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center (OKLCC) is partnering with Oklahoma Contemporary to hold a Celebration of Latino Culture. This free, family-friendly event will take place on Saturday, October 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Oklahoma Contemporary, 3000 General Pershing Boulevard, at the State Fair Grounds.
The celebration takes inspiration from the Día de los Muertos, a holiday with indigenous roots that occurs in several Latin American countries encompassing Latin cultural traditions.
The day-long event will feature creativity that celebrates Latinx arts and culture, including three special exhibitions, a story time, and drop-in studio activities. The term “Latinx” is the gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina.
There will be live performances by the Yúmare Folkloric Dancers, Mariachi Orgullo de America, singer/songwriter Lincka, and the Academia OK Shidler Elementary Student Mariachi band. DJ Maverick will provide sounds of Latin America as a backdrop to the event.
At 2 p.m., guests can meet artist Chris Ortiz, creator of the Portraits of Latinx Identity / Retratos de la identidad Latina photography exhibit. Chris’s main goal is” to document what it means to be Latino.”
Complimentary food and drinks will be served from 12 – 2 p.m. The full schedule of events is available online.
“As a Latino, I fell it is important to have an opportunity to celebrate my culture. It is also important to have an opportunity to tell ‘our’ story,” said Narciso Argüelles, Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center director and co-founder. “As an artist I love to make art related to my heritage and culture.”
From October 20 through November 2, the “Contemporary” gallery will host the following exhibits: Day of the Dead / Día de Los Muertos, from an open call to Latinx artists in the region; a photography exhibition by Chris Ortiz: Portraits of Latinx Identity / Retratos de la identidad latina, which shows the wide range of people who identify as Latinx; and an exhibition of prints by Self-Help Graphics, an LA-based community art center.
“For my fellow Latinos it is important to support organizations like the Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center in order to grow the organization,” said Argüelles, one of the curators of the Day of the Dead exhibit.
“It is also important to support our partner Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center. They have been very generous to us.”
The Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center, Inc. was founded in December 2017 in response to the growing need for Latino cultural events and functions in the Oklahoma City metro area.
According to Argüelles, he and two friends had a dream to build the first sustainable Latino Cultural center in Oklahoma. Argüelles, along with Wilmari Ruiz and Ricardo Sasaki Cajías, had each been working independently towards this goal for years. The three first worked together on a film project for Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s (OVAC) Art 365 exhibit.
Narciso recalls, “There is a section in the film that addresses the lack of a Latino cultural center in Oklahoma, and Ricardo and Wilmari have been talking about starting one.” So, they soon joined forces. Narciso had an idea to approach the Oklahoma Contemporary Art Center to form a partnership in which the OCAC would provide a venue for the newly formed OKLCC’s programs.
OKLCC celebrated its launch in February 2018 during the Anita Martinez Mariachi Festival, held at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center. OKLCC’s goal is to encourage and facilitate artistic growth and cultural exchange within the state.
“Everyone should come out and help us celebrate Latino culture,” Narciso said. “We love to share our art, music, theater, craft, and food – all will be on display on Oct 20.”