One of the great things that happens every year when the students of the Visual Arts and Design Academy (VADA) take the information that has been shared with them and then translate that information into a visual representation. The banners that they create, and then carry in the parade, are long enough that they are able to be both project based and cooperative in nature. Individual ideas work to produce a visually cohesive statement.
Last year the parade and jamaica were focused on the years of 1947-1955 so they were pachucos, images from the Epoca de Oro of Mexican Cinema, all sorts of points of common experience, too.
This year the focus is on 1840-1860. Adults living a generation earlier had begun the 19th century living under Spanish Rule, lived through Mexican independence from Spain, and were a part of those who lived on the Ranchos of the Southwest. We're used to calling those folks Californios. Writing about history can be like writing about fashion; labels come and labels go. 'nough said, we know who we mean. Though fictional character, the students were intrigued with the idea of Zorro - they learned about him via the movies. This answered their question about how art and history might intersect.
Those living in the region from 1840-1860 saw an influx of foreigners; first, those who came for the land and then those who came for the gold. They knew of the independent Republic of Texas. There were those who fought in the U.S./Mexican War (1846-1848) and who were well aware of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. They experienced the immense surge in population that was a result of a move away from more cosmopolitan areas by some and the move to the gold veins of California.
Among those living in California at that time was a teen who began writing locally in the Los Angeles Star, a bilingual newspaper, and later became editor of El Clamor Público. Franisco P. Ramirez was about the age of most of our high school seniors when he worked as editor and writer. In his writing he demanded Mexican equality, the abolition of slavery, and supported the education of women. Evidently this resonated with at least one student. There'll be a concise column about Ramirez written by journalist, and Pasadena resident, Luis Torres in our parade & jamaica brochure.
They students were given an academic port of entry, have done their exploring and will share their interpretation with us on October 6th.
At Latino Heritage we try to have a bit of education in everything we do. We usually also try have fun while we're at it. Happy to share that there are a lot of people in our community who not only appreciate the work that we do, but offer support.
Jeff Penichet has long been active in the Latino community. He serves on the Creative Advisory Board of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and was recently appointed to the Board of Administration of the Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System. He has produced films and was a former teacher. Beyond all this he has served in the Peace Corps, established Bilingual Educational Services and has served on the boards of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation and the California Association of Bilingual Educators.
And tonight he has offered a home to us to use for our Tequila Tasting.
Because the time period our parade and jamaica is focused on is the mid-nineteenth century, the evening will begin with a little bit of dance from the Islands.
Why, you wonder. Well, at that time some "Californios" would send their children to the Sandwich Islands - Hawaii - to learn English. There was no safe means of going directly across the United States and the other way to get to the East Coast was taking a ship that traveled on both sides of the Americas.
Eighteen year old Maritza Canto Espinoza, one of Altadena's gems, dances the Tahitian Otea with her group Keiki O ka 'Aina. Over the years Maritza has learned about the dances of Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Samoa. She has also learned about the culture of each of these Pacific Islands. She is well versed in Hula, Otea, Swings Maori poi (dry and with fire) and is an award winning Siva Afi (Samoan Fire Knife) Dancer. One of her favorite memories was performing in the 2011 Rose Parade along side the Dole Float designed by Raul R. Rodriguez.
We will also enjoy appetizers and nibbles from El Patron and Mota's Mexican Restaurants - both in lovely Altadena.
El Portal and Doña Rosa have donated fine bottles of tequila to be a part of our sampling.
It will be a night that will be rich in color and taste.
It will be a night where we have fun while we raise funds for the work we do in the community.