Last week I was lucky enough to attend a discussion led by David William Foster, professor of spanish and women and gender studies, about his latest book, “Glimpses of Phoenix” at The Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center. Just down the street from Taylor Place on 2nd St. and Adams St., the center’s Galeria 147 is currently featuring “Los Veteranos de Arte: A Chicano Art Legacy Tour.”
Passing by two Dia de Los Muertos statues at the entrance a few minutes before the discussion began, I walked around the gallery which featured works from José Andrés Girón, Roman P. Reyes, Mike Moroff-Burciaga and Ignacio Gomez. Each piece showcased the artists’ personal narratives of what it means to be Latino in their individual perspective. Vivid and vibrant, the paintings were captivating, but the gallery went on to display more than just traditional artwork.
Illustrating a vast array of Latino culture, gallery workers passed out a variety of food (my favorite being the empanadas) and wine produced from various local artisans. Statues and tapestries lined tables and shelves, displaying the different mediums used in popular Latino art.
Visitors soon began filing into the far-most room to the right as 7 p.m. drew near, eagerly awaiting Foster. Albert Toloso stepped on stage, declaring that “this evening is about Phoenix, but not the Phoenix you see on the cover of [tourism] books.” After a brief introduction, former Arizona Republic writer Jon Talton introduced Foster and began asking him questions about “Glimpses of Phoenix.”
Tackling the difficult topic of Phoenix’s history, Foster spent a decade collecting and fact-checking a narrative for his novel. Foster focuses on the cultural growth and expansion of Phoenix through a number of local narrative works, about 40% of which are from Latino creators. Exploring barrios and early racism, Foster commented that this “Old Phoenix” is still evident in “our street names … in buildings … [and] in memoirs.” He goes on to state the sad fact that there is hardly any evidence of the Asian or African-American community in Phoenix.
Closing with the importance of maintaining one’s culture and history, Talton opened the floor to audience questions which led to a debate on the future of Phoenix. Rich in art and free expression, the city is believed to further develop in years to come so long as Phoenicians remember their heritage.
With Hispanic Heritage month ending next Tuesday, October 15, I would highly encourage any students interested in Latino culture to visit The Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center. “Los Veteranos de Arte: A Chicano Art Legacy tour” ends on October 26, so stop by before the end of the month!