Thursday, Nov 5, 2020 at 12:00pm
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This year, the Firehouse Art Center presents a new take on its annual Día de los Muertos exhibition. As 2020 has presented communities across the country with economic hardship, social unrest, and racial injustices, we look to our local history to help guide us through these troubling times. Curator and artist Grace Gutierrez, a Longmont native, recognizes the importance of learning local history. She took on the task of researching the significant events addressed in the exhibition. She has asked four Colorado based Latinx artists, Cal Duran, Javier Flores, Adrian Raya, and Ramon Trujillo, to create three Día de los Muertos altar installations to celebrate the lives and legacies of local Latinx individuals we have lost. These artists turn to our lost loved ones for answers, asking for guidance to lead us through social unrest and policy reform. Día de los Muertos 2020-Our Past and Present becomes an urgent reminder to learn from our history and reflect on the ways our ancestors stood for justice. Ultimately, we offer a space to celebrate the lives and legacies of influential Latinx individuals that have shaped this community.
Artists Adrian Raya and Ramon Trujillo
Jeffrey “Beaver” Cordova and Juan Luis Garcia
Adrian Raya and Ramon Trujillo, friends and artistic collaborators, are painters of vastly different styles. Raya’s practice challenges the ways in which the Western art canon has omitted minorities from its central discourse. His ability to mimic the masters is his way of poking fun at art history and rewriting a vital role for Latinx individuals. Trujillo takes a different approach with a more contemporary style, emphasizing color and lively expression. With their collaboration, the artists present an altar for two friends, from two friends, honoring great loss.
Their ofrenda of remembrance is dedicated to two Longmont men who were tragically shot and killed by police on August 14, 1980. The two men, Army veteran Jeffrey “Beaver” Cordova and Juan Luis Garcia, were close friends since childhood, born only one day apart. The altercation between police and these two men was ruled a misunderstanding, no justice was brought to the families, and the two officers were not criminally charged. Following the incident, a group of 12 Longmont Latinx community members created El Comite, a group advocating for police accountability and increased opportunities for Latinos of Boulder County. With the disparities of police related deaths in black and brown communities 40 years later in 2020, artists Raya and Trujillo examine the continued importance of Cordova and Garcia’s story, and the community action that was taken afterwards. The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Andres Guardado and countless others have fueled this opportunity for communal growth and change.
Javier Flores - Los Seis de Boulder
Javier Flores is an art educator and multimedia artist specializing in printmaking. He is very active in community art projects, teaching for MSU Denver, Museo de las Americas, and Access Gallery. His work recontextualizes ancient indigenous imagery and Aztec codices to discuss modern topics and social issues. His ability to discuss his own adversity makes for approachable and compassionate work. Flores will create an altar for Los Seis de Boulder, a group of six Boulder activists that were killed in a series of car bombings during the Chicano movement of the 70’s.
On May 27, 1974, a car parked near Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder exploded with so much force that it shook buildings and homes for miles around and could be heard throughout most of the city. The explosion killed the car’s three young occupants: 26-year-old Reyes Martinez, Una Jaakola, age 24, and University of Colorado student Neva Romero, age 21. Two days later another car mysteriously exploded in suspiciously similar fashion in a Boulder parking lot. Killed in this second blast were Francisco Dougherty, 20, Heriberto Terán, 24, and Florencio Granado, age 31. Government entities such as the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local law enforcement insist that the six young activists possessed poorly constructed homemade bombs and the explosions were accidental. However, friends, family, Boulder’s Latinx community and the Latinx community at large, believe that Los Seis were killed because of their political activism and, in some cases, leadership roles within the Chicano Movement. Activism and protest are fundamental tools leading to change, and Flores celebrates the contributions Martinez, Jaakola, Romero, Dougherty, Terán, and Granado made.
Anti-Klan protests of Jose Hilario Cortez
With strong ties to ancestral practice and craft tradition, Cal Duran creates objects to celebrate his cultural identity. A ceramic sculptor, painter, and mixed media artist, Duran embraces his spirituality in all his works to authentically reflect his experiences and truths. With his altar installation, Duran will address Longmont’s racist history of Ku Klux Klan presence, telling the story of the locals that organized to fight back against white supremacy.
During the 1920’s, the KKK’s presence in Longmont was substantial, and many important city officials openly admitted their involvement. In 1925, engagement in the group was at its highest, and their hate was aimed towards the Latinos of Longmont. Despite displays of overt racism, a local activist and advocate for Latino residents, Jose Hilario Cortez stood up to the Klan. Hilario Cortez was a Longmont resident active in politics, and often held political meetings in his home and encouraged Latinos to vote. According to local legend, sometime in the 1920s, there was a confrontation between the Klan and a group of Latino men led by Hilario Cortez. The incident concluded with Hilario Cortez promising to protect local Laintos from any violent acts the KKK had planned. Duran’s altar confronts Longmont’s history of Klan presence while celebrating the citizens that challenged xenophobic practices.
For More information https://firehouseart.org/exhibitions/.
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Monday, Nov 2, 2020 at 7:00am
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Monday, Nov 2, 2020 at 10:00am Mountain Time
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