Juliet Torrellas coordinates the Latino Art Exhibit

The Latino Art Exhibit represents the “beauty, richness, and diversity” of the community, says Juliet Torrellas, featured artist and exhibit coordinator at The Halle Cultural Arts Center. Support for the Apex Latino Arts Festival is “growing,” says Vladimir Flores with arms open. Standing in front of a room full of people with another key member of the Apex Latino community, Pastor Jose Luis Villasenor, Torrellas and Flores describe how differences can unite. Artists, family, art lovers, sponsors and plenty of cameras to document the kick-off celebration, make up the crowd. Villasenor reads through a long list of sponsors, the naming of some receives cheers from the crowd. The Latino Art Exhibit, on view at The Halle Center through June 1, 2013, features work from fourteen, local artists, with roots in eight Central and South American countries.

Cornelio Campos, Mascara Azteca, 2011

The works of Cornelio Campos — a local artist making noise in the Orange and Durham County art scenes — provides a striking center point for the show. He approaches traditional Mexican iconography with a contemporary reimagining to create fresh interpretations of immigrant life. In Mascara Azteca, 2011, for example, Campos makes prominent the familiar image of Tonatiuh, the sun god, by removing all surrounding noise, floating it on a bright blue background. It’s affronting gaze mixed with the almost trance-inducing swirls of the stone earrings ask the viewer to face and consider deeply its meaning, and for Campos, a native of Mexico, the remembrances of his past and the collective unconscious of his people. One of Campos’ works can currently be seen hanging in the UNC Campus Y.

Photo by Gabriel Vientos

Look out for future works by Gabriel (Gabe) Vientos, one of the Youth Participating Artists in the show, whose inspired eye and technical savvy (experience he learned as the Sound Technician for The Halle) has landed him a spot in the Photography program at Savannah College Art and Design, class of 2017. This summer Vientos will work on developing his online presence with a website dedicated to his art. His goal is to explore photography from an artistic perspective and blend it with the art of photography. Other art works on display in the exhibit include mixed media, fiber works by Ana Summer of Sew Unique Art, who uses a machine to create the detailed “under painting” of her pieces and further embellishes them with hand stitching.

On the last day of the visual art exhibition, June 1, 2013, The Halle will host families for free crafts, art activities, and the breaking of pinatas from 3 to 6 pm. Then the food and fun begins. The Apex Historic Depot until 10 pm, across the street from The Halle, will become the site of the 4th Annual Latino Arts Festival, a culinary fest and bazaar with samplings of authentic, Latin American foods, dance performances, and music. El Viento Canta, a local group from Hillsborough, will be sharing their music of the Andes region which they’ve performed in over 40 countries worldwide.

Upon the purchase of a $3 ticket, participants receive a “passport” to visit the flavors of twelve Latino countries, home made savories and sweets by volunteers from the community. Last year Mayor Keith Weatherly recognized the Apex Latino Festival as an official festival and there were 600 people in attendance. Organizers see support and attendance growing, like Flores said, and I believe their commitment to local, community-driven arts will keep it a unique and diverse experience that will grow with the town and its multicultural population.

Feature Image: South To North, Cornelio Campos