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Sounds of Cultura (SOC) A HORIZONTE Special

Airdate: 2009-07-16
From the Phoenix Symphony performing a Spanish opera to the art of mask making by Zarco Guerrero, join us for a HORIZONTE special, Sounds of Cultura (SOC), showcasing Hispanic culture in Arizona.

Guests:
  • Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez
  • Kathy Cano-Murillo
  • Patrick Murillo
  • Silvia Sayers
  • Luis Carrillon
  • Vicky Westover
  • Rudy Joffroy
  • Norma Carbajal
  • Zarco Guerrero
  • Michael Christie
  • Kelly O’Connor
Category: Culture



View Transcript
José Cárdenas:
Good evening, everyone, and thank you for joining us for a special edition of "Horizonte." In the next half hour, a number of stories we have covered, stories about culture, people and events in Arizona and right here in the valley. Pop artists, known as the Crafty Chica, displaying a life sized of their fantasy home. How it can create a unique setting.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
The craftiness family in the valley has a new home, creating an exhibit depicting the kind of CASA they dream of having. It's essentially their home away from home.

Kathy Cano-Murillo:
Every piece I put a lot of thought into it, of just wanting to make it over the top and to the fullest, the shiniest it can be, and that's always been my philosophy on life as well. And what I want to teach my kids.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
It's been eight years since Kathy and Patrick have been making arts and crafts with a touch of Latino flair. Now they've got the opportunity to showcase their art. For Kathy and Patrick, this is their opportunity to create their dream home for all to see.

Kathy Cano-Murillo:
The art room is really -- really reflects where it all comes from. And I mean, these other rooms, they're like our fantasy room, but that art room, that's really what our artwork looks like. We have our sketches all over and it's a true reflection of what we do in reality and see it staged as a shadow box and part of the artful exhibit makes me feel good.

Patrick Murillo:
When I walk into the room, I feel at home. You know, because this is like what it is like in our heads. You know, in our hearts.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
The exhibit was designed and created by this couple. The pieces are embellished or original pieces of art designed by Kathy and Patrick.

Patrick Murillo:
If you can walk into the kitchen and feel my grandmother's kitchen, I did my job. Walk into our living room and feel you're in a fantasy landscape, almost like a cartoon, we did our job. Go to the bedroom and feel I Dream of Jeannie or the gallery, all of these things cause emotions and affect the senses.

Kathy Cano-Murillo:
I hope that people who say they're not artistic or crafty, they can come in here and get over 500 ideas because there's over 500 hand-made pieces we have. And it's a place for them to start. I hope it makes them feel happy and motivates them to go home and make something for themselves.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
The exhibit is expected to last through the summer of 2009. And there is talk that it may do a national exhibit tour.

José Cárdenas:
Mexico is a country full of culture and tradition. One company is turning the art of Mexican culture into fashion and style.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Purses, scarves, dresses and shoes and men's ties are all part of the fashionable attire, but what is unique is their story. The stories seen in colors and prints and designs. This is the collection of a fashion line inspired by the culture, art and tradition of Mexico.

Silvia Sayers:
It goes from famous Mexican painters all the way to art, which is one of the surviving groups still in Mexico. It's very rich in colors, the texture is phenomenal. It's silk, and there's a whole bunch involved in every painting or drawing or detail they do. With the material, with their fabric.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
The necktie and scarf collection have become their trademark. They're inspired by the art of Mexican artists, the patterns and designs are inspired by Mexico's indigenous people.

Silvia Sayers:
Behind every woman that likes fashion, there's going to be another guy that's going to love it too. So the main point is the designers wanted to keep the traditional, the luxurious look.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
It was founded in 1996 by Christina and Ricardo, who developed a way to express their love of art and heritage through fashion.

Silvia Sayers:
They were commissioned by the museum of anthropology to start with this project, the first one, generate employment for artisans and people that were unemployed for a long time, and the second one to open a new vision of Mexico to other people around the world.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
When someone comes into each boutique, they're not only introduced to the product, but to the message and history behind each style.

Silvia Sayers:
They get drawn by the colors and once they find out what's their favorite color, here, we have a floral print. That's a festival we have in Mexico every year, and in OAXACA, one of the southern states or this one that represents paintings.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
They are sold in resorts, airports and galleries around the world, including Italy and Japan and Florida and Texas and several locations throughout Mexico and in Scottsdale, Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
This year, the university of Arizona film institute sponsored a film festival highlighting the best of the past and present in Mexican cinema. Hoping this can become the premiere filming event in the United States for Mexican films.

Luis Carrillon:
The golden age of Mexican cinema occurred between 1935 and 1959 when the cult and economic success of the cinema of Mexico reached its peak. Now it could be called a Renaissance of sorts, with critically produced films being produced each year and hoping to become the premiere showcase for this rich body of work.

Vicky Westover:
To the best of our knowledge, there's no ongoing Mexican film festivals in the United States, but none that focuses specifically on Mexican cinema.

Luis Carrillon:
Vickie is the director of the film institute and her office is the driving force, and the efforts to make it the premiere event of its kind.

Vicky Westover:
Of course, this amazing body of work coming out of Mexico and it had its golden age as well. Why Tucson? The history, the demographics, the proximity to Mexico, it should be the home of the Mexican film festival.

Luis Carrillon:
The concept behind the programming is simple. To show the best of the cinema along with the group of films that highlights the classics from the past.

Vicky Westover:
Basically what we've included are those films that have won top prizes so they've won a lot of critical claim. There's one, "Silent Light" that's won a lot of top prizes and won the 2007 Cannes jury prize award. Other films, "Remember Lake Tahoe," won a prize. We're trying to show the films that really are receiving critical praise. And they can be narrative and docs.

Luis Carrillon:
One of the documentaries that will be featured is for "the Fallen, Silent Collapse."

Rudy Joffroy:
My name is Rudy, from Sonora. This film, which is the original title, the fallen, the silent collapse, is basically a feature length documentary that talks about government and corporate repression against the labor force. It focuses on one industry, which is the mining industry.

Luis Carrillon:
The presentation of this documentary as well as several of the other films will include a discussion with the filmmaker. This is part of the overall mission of the festival, which is to serve the community.

Norma Carbajal:
I think that is the result of encourage of all the young actors we have in Mexico and for the young directors that are very interested about just bringing back the cinema industry in Mexico.

Luis Carrillon:
Norma says that the resurgence is the result of a new generation of artists and filmmakers reclaiming a rich cultural legacy.

Norma Carbajal:
They've experienced a boom with the films and actors and actresses, so there are films that are going to be featured are the best that Mexico currently has so it's great to feature these films and include this important part, to promote the sci-fi Mexican films. We're going to have three. For me, would be like the best part of the festival.

Vicky Westover:
Costumes are fantastic. If you're interested in production design and costumes from the '50s and '60s, you'll enjoy these films. They're available on 35 mm with English subtitles for the first time. I know a lot of people in Tucson and the Hispanic community has told me they've seen them on Spanish language TV but they've never been available for the big screen with English subtitles so I think that's going to be fun for the audience.

Luis Carrillon:
Vintage Mexican sci-fi, and those who have yet to view this genre, the opportunity to view these cultural relics, and Mexican cinema, should not be missed.

José Cárdenas:
He's long been a community arts advocate and known worldwide. I had an opportunity to talk with Zarco Guerrero. But first, a sample of the masks made by Zarco Guerrero. Zarco, you've been around for a long time.

Zarco Guerrero:
That's right.

José Cárdenas:
And your art has evolved over time. You've always done masks. PBS did a documentary on you. But let's talk about the evolution of your mask making.

Zarco Guerrero:
I think my artistic career started in the early 1970s during the civil rights movement and during Cesar Chávez farm workers movement of which I became active as a young man straight out of high school and that movement inspired me to research our history, our culture, and, of course, the art of ancient Mexico, as well as the art of the muralist, of post-revolutionary Mexico. So I began to participate in that artistic movement during the farm workers movement and I was motivated to go to Mexico and study the art and particularly of muralism.

José Cárdenas:
You have a famous mural at Stanford.

Zarco Guerrero:
Exactly, I spent a lot time in Mexico studying muralism and I had the idea of working with another artist who I did meet and he died shortly after we met and I worked with a sculptor in Mexico City.

José Cárdenas:
And he was a great influence.

Zarco Guerrero:
On many artists to this day. And shortly after that, I began an interest in masks, not only because of the beautiful specimens of the masks in the museums of Mexico, but the masks used by indigenous people of Mexico.

José Cárdenas:
Now the early masks seem to have a lot more focus on animals. You have the fur, the ears and so forth and teeth. And the newer ones, some of the ones on the screen are different.

Zarco Guerrero:
When I began making masks was in Mexico and the essence of the masks in Mexico was the relationship between man and his environment. So I translated it into a wearable mask. It was at once human, at once animal, that expressed our kinship to the beast. We've lost that whole consciousness that we're related and we're part of the animal kingdom. So I wanted to make a statement with my artwork, going back and resurrecting ancient philosophies and ideologies of our ancestors and putting them into urban chicano culture.

José Cárdenas:
I'd like to discuss how you think this reflects an evolution of your work.

Zarco Guerrero:
Well, this is a mask I do continually, and I have been doing so for many years. In Mexico, it represents rebirth, regeneration. And we use this mask for our celebrations and in this country, we grow up and think of the skull as a symbol of death, poison, danger. But Mexico, it has a different connotation.

José Cárdenas:
Almost a happy aspect?

Zarco Guerrero:
Yeah, a happy welcoming smile. Somewhat of a sinister smile and, of course, it represents our ancestors as well. And it's highly decorated and painted with bright colors, so that when we wear the mask, we get a chance to look death in the face and smile back and accept death as an integral part of life.

José Cárdenas:
You've got other ones that I want to take a quick look at. If you can get them out. But we also want to talk about upcoming trips you've got to Mexico -- to China, rather, and the connections between that experience and the ones you've had overseas in the past. For example, I know you studied with mask makers in Japan.

Zarco Guerrero:
Uh-huh.

José Cárdenas:
Let's start there.

Zarco Guerrero:
Well, I learned a tremendous amount about life in general, particularly art and culture, in Japan, because Japan has maintained the ancient tradition of mask making that goes back 500 years, so I wanted to go to Japan in order to investigate what mask making must have been like in ancient Mexico. And in Japan, I learned about the sanctity of the mask and the Japanese believe in the power of the mask to transform the person who wears the mask into someone or something else. And also they have the highest standards in carving the masks and I wanted to adopt those standards. And I adopted not only the standards, but that Japanese and Asian aesthetic that I saw parallels between the ancient art of Japan, Indonesia, that I saw parallels.

José Cárdenas:
And these are referred to as know masks.

Zarco Guerrero:
They're the ancient ceremonial art of the samurai and derived from the ancient masks of China. The Buddhist imagery. From the temples of ancient China and the Japanese saw the power in those MOTIFs and recreated them in ritual theater. And this is the oldest continually living mask art form in the world and that's why it was important for me.

José Cárdenas:
A number of years, the Communist government was suppressing the mask making.

Zarco Guerrero:
Exactly. The mask in so many parts of the world has been relegated to primitive ancient pagan societies. I prefer to call those natural societies. And so you have three dominant forms that have suppressed the mask art form. One being communism, the other Islam and the other Christianity. And these are three forces that have suppressed and tried to obliterate the mask art form as something of the occult, pagan, negative.

José Cárdenas:
And you're going to China?

Zarco Guerrero:
Yes.

José Cárdenas:
In a way, its circling back, as you said. You said you encountered in Japan, the Chinese mask making tradition. What do you hope to do in China?

Zarco Guerrero:
I have been fascinated with the question, the first civilization of ancient Mexico. Everything I do is derived from the aesthetic of that. And there's many parallels between that and Chinese imagery. Again, there was a lot of study and published --

José Cárdenas:
A Mexican artist.

Zarco Guerrero:
An anthropologist. I've been the kind of artist, I want to see firsthand that evidence. Those examples. The first trip I made was 23 years ago before China opened up.

José Cárdenas:
You're not going as a student or tourist. You're going to perform?

Zarco Guerrero:
Yes, I've been invited to perform at a summer program and conduct workshops so I'm very interested in, just as I portray my own culture and heritage, our society in my mask performance, I have this idea to express and interpret the Chinese themselves.

José Cárdenas:
And you're going to need to express that in the 30 seconds we have left.

Zarco Guerrero:
This is one of the types of masks I invented. I call it the invisible mask. It's meant to disappear. It's the type of mask that's unknown in China. So I'm going to introduce them to my chicano tradition of making masks.

José Cárdenas:
You're leaving soon?

Zarco Guerrero:
In July.

José Cárdenas:
Thanks for being here on "Horizonte." We'll have you back to talk about how the trip went.

Zarco Guerrero:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
The Symphony of Phoenix last presented an opera sung in Spanish. What makes this opera unique?

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Dramatic, passion and sadness, all three ingredients and although Italian may be the traditional language, this opera is a classical art performed in Spanish. This dramatic performance is a story of a Spanish dramatist and poet who was killed in 1936. An up and coming opera artist plays a role created in 2003 just for her. Because of her distinct dark mezzo soprano voice.

Kelly O’Connor:
It's something that's different and new and I think it's a great voice for opera. I think if people think coming to an opera, they might be surprised, but that's great.

Michael Christie:
I hear all of these sounds that I don't usually hear. The Latin percussion and the flamenco guitars and we add elements that are emotional and stark and that's exciting to bring into a performance that you can only get in the moment.

Kelly O’Connor:
He's there, every time. [Laughter] He wouldn't miss a performance of an opera about him. I don't think. So every time before we do it, I say, ok. Let's go. And he's there. And I feel because -- that way it's not about you, it's about the message in general. It becomes more liberating as an artist, and for the audience, it's much more enjoyable.

José Cárdenas:
I'm José Cárdenas. Thanks for matching this special edition of our show. For all of us here at "Horizonte," good night.