Tequio Aqui, Tequio Alla
Los Angeles- The City of Angels is home to a huge, vibrant and striving Latino community. Residents and I benefit from the wealth of cultural influences of the various Latino communities. This was apparent for the William Grant Still Arts Center’s Tequio Aqui, Tequio All new exhibit. This event brought together artists who are involved in sustaining or examining the Oaxacan practice of tequio in a post-migration urban context. The exhibition examines how this internalized tradition of service manifest itself in the civic, familial, and cultural lives of Oaxacan migrants.
The opening reception for the new exhibit was held on Saturday, October 5, 2013. A tequio is a call to a pueblo to perform communal work for a mutual benefit: it is essentially a mandatory community service project that asks residents to contribute their labor free of charge. When Oaxacans in Los Angeles speak about these exercises in mutual aid they often describe something that goes far beyond supporting infrastructure projects in their hometowns. Instead, they are describing a way of life which is dedicated to ensuring the survival of their traditions and spiritual customs. The artists represented in this exhibition have all participated in various manifestations of tequio in their respective communities.
Daniel Godinez Nivon and the Asamblea de Migrantes Indigenas de la Ciudad de Mexico (the Assembly of Indigenous Migrants of Mexico City) present their illustrative tequiografias which is modeled on the Mexican state-sanctioned educational monographs for school children. These tequiografias are reclamation of these monographs and depict alternative educational lessons as explained by indigenas living in Mexico City.
The Los Angeles based female painting collective Mujer de Barro, Mujeras de Hierro (Women of Clay, Women of Iron) operates under the guidance of Oaxacan painters Calixto Shibaja and Maricruz Shibaja and uses painting as a vehicle for uplifting immigrant women and building strong female bonds. Collective artists Alma Cadilto, Ana Santamaria, Daisy Ocampo, Magally Catalan, Marilu Hinojosa, and Maria Plata.
Photographer Jeseca Dawson visits the Mujer de Barro, Mujeras de Hierro studio and teams up with the painters to begin the documentation of their collective process.
Christina Sanchez and Cayetano Juarez exhibit their video Tequio Aqui, Tequio Alla, featuring interviews with Los Angeles based Oaxacans from multiple Oaxacan municipalities to reflect on how tequio practices are sustained post-migration.
Oaxacan artists Noel Vargas Hernandez and Maricruz Shibaja contribute prints and paintings which pay homage to their Oaxacan roots.
The program for the new exhibition got underway with a colorful procession led by the neighborhood multigenerational Banda Alma Del Valle based in West Adams. Alma Del Valle was joined by the folkloric dance group Ballet Princesa Donaji led by Aldo Cruz. The Ballet Princesa Donaji performed several traditional dances during the procession-Chinas Oaxaquenas and Jarabe Mixteco to the music of Jarabe Del Valle and Jarabe Mixteco. The crowd and I dined on some delicious bean and cheese pupusas with red sauce and curtido (shredded cabbage).
The opening reception also featured a special performance by Los Angeles based Son Jaracho group Conjunto Jardin. Conjunto Jardin is headed by Libby and Cindy Harding, the daughters of renowned Latin American scholar and musician Timothy Harding, who began playing jaracho music as children. Conjunto Jardin played two wonderful, upbeat, energetic and entertaining sets of traditional music from Veracruz, neighboring State of Oaxaca. Son Jarocho features an assortment of musical influences, Spanish, Indigenous, and African from the music’s roots across eras in Veracruz. Conjunto Jardin members are Libby Harding-jarana, Cindy Harding-requinto, Rick Moors-bass, Gary Johnson-harp/keyboards, and Gino Gamboa on cajon. Their engaging and educational set features tunes from their recent CD’s Nuevo Con Jaracho, Floreando and Yerba Buena. The highlighted tunes performed during the first set were “El Siquisiri,” “El Pajaro Carpintero,” “La Guanabana,” and “El Pajero Cu.”
The party continued during their second set with the tunes “El Cascabel,” El Chuchumbe,” “La Bruja,” and the famous tune “La Bomba.”
Fans of Jarocho music should not miss out on the 12th Annual Encuentro De Jaraneros on Saturday, October 12th at LA Plaza De Cultura Y Arts. For more information visit http://www.facebook.com/LAPlazaLA scroll down the screen for the link.
The William Grant Still Arts Center is located at 2520 West View Street, Los Angeles, CA. 90016. Their hours are Tuesday through Saturday; 12 noon-5PM. Contact the Center (323)734-1165.