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Profile of a woman in long dark hair a dark open coat, her hands in her jeans pocket standing in a gallery looking at a canvas with brown barklike strokes under a canopy of wooden green plants.

Art project connects Latino communities in Contra Costa County

on October 17, 2023

Unlike some still art, the bright and geometric vines of Bay Area-born muralist Richard Muro Salazar’s piece “Pahtiā” appear to be devouring the rest of the flat, rust-colored painting.

And that’s exactly what the artist wants. 

“We are now in the time of climate change, so I want to bring back more elements that stick with this theme.”said Salazar, a self-identified xhicano who crafted this piece from wood that was illegally dumped or tossed out in Richmond. 

Salazar is one of seven artists who have received a grant from the Cultural Corridor Project, which was made possible through a 2022 grant from the East Bay Community Foundation. The project, on exhibit through the end of the month at Bridge Storage Arts & Events, aims to connect the Latinx communities of Richmond and Concord through art.

A three-demensional spray paint acrylic on wood of a brown potted cactus plant.

Cultural Corridor Project

Where: Bridge Storage Arts & Events, 23 Maine Ave., Richmond

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, until Oct. 31.

Cost: Free

“The goal for the Cultural Corridor Project is to bring the group of grassroot arts advocates together and give them space to share their compassion for their culture,” said Jenny Balisle, a local artist, instructor and executive founding Director of ARTSCCC.

The project, which received an $18,000 grant, is one Balisle hopes to bring to other diverse communities in the county.

Artist Silvia Ledezma is excited to feature her portfolio, which includes a photo of a Mexican girl in Chiapa de Corzo who dressed up  as a “Parachico” to celebrate the traditional Great Feast.

An artist wearing a gray top and gray and white striped pants with along fringed red, white and green striped scarf stands next two of her framed photos hanging on a wall, they are of a person with a yellow cap and robes of black and red but you can't clearly see the images
Silvia Ledezma with her photography (Jenny Balisle)

The Great Feast, Ledezma explained, originated from a Mexican legend of a Spanish woman who traveled to Chiapas to seek a cure for her son’s mysterious paralytic illness. “To amuse the boy, a group of local people disguised themselves as Spaniards with masks, danced, and kept saying ‘para el chico,’ which means ‘for the boy.’”

“Joy and family-oriented is something most compelling to me in Latino culture,” Ledezma said. “I captured all these secluded, traditional and mystical cultures through my lens.” 

The girl in her photo was among those who paraded down Main Street in Chiapa de Corzo in January, which is when the feast is celebrated. Her other pieces also celebrate Mexican culture. 

Meanwhile, Salazar has sought to capture the struggle over duality through his series of  plant acrylic artworks, which unlike “Pahtiā,” blends real plants with meticulously crafted nature backgrounds to achieve a harmonious fusion.

“When I feel not being accepted by both American and Mexican groups, all these questions of who I am, what’s my ancestry, open up to me,” he said.  “It made me eager to study our indigenous culture and I wanted to represent those heritages through arts.” 

That’s why he gave all of his artwork in this exhibition Mexican names. For example, the name ‘Pahtiā’ comes from Mexico’s Nahuatl language, he said, and it means “to cure.”

More information about the exhibition is on the ARTSCCC Facebook page

(Top photo of Richard Muro Salazar’s “Pahtiā” by Sophia Sun)

The story was updated to correct the location of the Great Feast parade.

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