A new cultural center has joined forces with Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center to champion Latino arts and cultural exchanges.
Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center officially opened with a mariachi festival at the beginning of February, and already has an art exhibition up and running called “CHROMA: Artists of Color in Oklahoma” at CHK|Central Boathouse.
The center, which has been years in the making, is the latest effort to promote Latino arts in the metro. Executive Director and Chicano artist Narciso Arguelles moved to OKC more than a decade ago, and wanted to seek out the Latino arts culture here.
“(Among others) I met with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, OETA, Oklahoma Contemporary – and everybody was so welcoming, so happy to meet with me,” says Arguelles (pictured below), but with no cultural center, finding a strong Latino arts base was difficult.
As an art teacher at Deer Creek High School and artist, Arguelles was selected for OVAC’s Art 365 exhibition, for which he created a short film called Imaginary Spaces that featured a Latino cultural center housed in a tent. “It was surreal, but people got it and some thought it was real,” he says.
This vision has become a reality as Oklahoma Latino Cultural Center, or the “Centro,” is officially open … but, as yet, has no brick-and-mortar base. However, the group does have a residency at Oklahoma Contemporary and is also free to hold events and develop relationships with other organizations.
“It works right now because we are not tied to one location, so we are free to hold events in Tulsa or Norman, for example, but eventually we would like a place of our own,” says Arguelles. He also added that they already have had some interesting offers, which are being explored.
Arguelles says the center’s core team, which includes Robert Ruiz from bilingual firm Enye Advertising, his wife, artist and musician Wilmari Ruiz, and their associate and local musician Ricardo Saski, along with many community helpers, is working on a number of exciting events, including an international art exhibition and an international music program.
They also are working with La 29, a nonprofit helping to improve growth for businesses along SW 29th, on a number of community murals.
Oklahoma Contemporary’s artistic director Jeremiah Matthew Davis said the partnership would help forge a platform to showcase and advance the amazing creative vibrancy of Latino peoples and cultures.
“As Oklahoma Contemporary grows, we are consciously focused on building an inclusive arts center that reflects the true cultural and creative diversity of our state,” he says.
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