Archive for the ‘Museo de las Tres Colonias’ tag
If an artist sings deep enough, he takes you to the frontiers of your soul.
—Wynton Marsalis, 2009 Nancy Hanks Lecturer
How can I be me without allowing you to be you?
After our month of finding home and discussions of art, identity, history and community, I was reminded of Wynton Marsalis’ lecture and performance of The Ballad of the American Arts at the 22nd Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy earlier this year. For Marsalis, the arts tell us who to be, and throughout his lecture, he discusses how American virtuosity rose from its diverse class roots to show us that who a person is, is always more definitive than what a person is.
Marsalis also asks us to assess the value of an artistic heritage, arguing that music, as does all art, carries memory and therefore, meaning. Spirituals, and their singing, for example, give community a purpose, making people believe and providing them with a home. Tracing an entangled social and artistic history through many of the turning points of emerging cultural identity and progress in the US, Marsalis provides an inspiring, enlightening and humorous portrayal of a people’s struggle through and for their artistic heritage.
Just as our arts call to us on a very deep, spiritual, emotional and physical level, so do our festivals. I never really understood the power of a good festival until I lived in Japan. As I watch the cherry blossoms bloom over the last few weeks, I am transported back to celebrating Hanami, which for me, always indicated Spring had arrived. Hanami (flower viewing), involves gathering with friends and family wherever the trees bloom to feast into the night. There are processional walks through larger municipal parks and the flowers provide an opportunity to reconnect with the community after the winter and renew people’s spirits.
Summer and early Fall though, is real festival time. There is barely a weekend without some deity being celebrated at local temples where everyone gathers in the warm evening air to eat, drink, pray and come together. Some of my most powerful memories of Japan involve the smell of grilled mochi, yakisoba and teriyaki from the festival stalls, shaved ice drinks for walking with the processions, the smell of incense which clouds the temples, wearing yukata and the dark, dark blue of the sky against the brightly lit paper lanterns which swing in the evening breeze.
One of my all time favorite festivals is the Kurama fire festival, one of the three most famous in Kyoto. In the evening, watch fires are lit at the entrances to local houses in this little town, and at 6:00 in the evening, the town is lit up with torches carried by children. Soon after that, the local people, wearing straw warrior sandals, parade through the streets carrying larger and larger torches, including the great torch weighing near 100kgs, and yelling along the way until they gather at the sacred precincts of the shrine. Two portable shrines are hoisted on shoulders amid the sparks from the torches. It’s spectacular, primal and communal and it connects you to past and present experiences of home in extraordinary ways.
If there are no good fire festivals, cherry blossoms or temples near you though, how about a pillow fight and/or neighborhood party? Believe it or not, April 4 was World Pillow Fight Day. Next year we need to get Fort Collins on the map for this event. If Boulder can do it….you get the picture…Follow the link above for a how to guide! For something on a smaller scale, we had the pleasure of attending a friend’s neighborhood party this weekend, a pot luck affair where complete strangers brought an international dish to share with everyone that lived in the area. The weather was not great and a group of people completely unfamiliar with each other found themselves thrown into a kitchen and conversations. What was most astounding though, was how quickly friendships and community connections sprang forward so that after three hours, a new set of friends spilled back out into the neighborhood, brought together by food, drink and small children bringing a piñata to its knees. Imagine if as a community, we all decided to have a ‘neighborhood party weekend’ and every neighborhood held a party simultaneously. Makes you wonder what would happen with the collective consciousness (there have been studies connecting collective community meditation and a simultaneous reduction in violence in large metropolitan areas, you know).
Through song, nature, history and food, we reconnect with each other and realize how we need each other to live to our fullest potential as individuals and as a group. As we march through spring and into summer, how can we hold onto the conversations started in our ‘finding home’ series? What new promises can we make to take different routes around our community and explore the hidden gems of where we are? What diverse cultural contributions can we celebrate and bring into our ‘homes’ for our children? I’m going to the Museo de las Tres Colonias. Where are you headed?
Remember – art is part of our everyday life.
Look at the photo on the left. It is a photo of a mural from the wall of the Guinness factory in Dublin, Ireland. The picture is particularly meaningful when we consider what it means to be ‘at home’ and to find ‘a home’ as we consider our multiple diverse stories in a community.
Last week, we previewed a sample of the Finding Home series and we hope you had an opportunity to enjoy the art on display last Friday on the Gallery Walk (one of my colleagues exhibited some of his work which we are all very proud of!), the Fort Collins Museum’s presentation of “The Move to Fort Collins: Local History Series of Immigration” in collaboration with OpenStage Theatre, and of course, the inaugural open house of the Museo de las Tres Colonias on Saturday!
As we move through April, the Traveling Heritage Quilt Project continues in our community as does the season of Anon(ymous) at the OpenStage Theatre & Company. On Wednesday, April 8th, Science Café will meet to discuss differences in migration patterns among Latin Americans. If you have not attended the Science Café before, it is an international community of scientists and interested citizens who meet monthly for informal discussions of lively and interesting issues in contemporary science. They host top-notch local and internationally recognized scientists, from academia and industry, in a quest to transform scientific discourse into “polite conversation.” This is no mean feat!
This week, the Science Café will be held at the Stonehouse Grille and the evening begins informally at 5:30 with a chance to order some refreshments and meet other participants. The lecture by Dr. Fernando Riosmena, an Assistant Professor of Geography and Faculty Associate at the Population Program in the Institute of Behavioral Science at UC-Boulder will begin at 6pm, followed by group discussion, and of course, a lively Q&A session! Participation is free of charge and the Café concludes at 7pm. Wednesday’s lecture will specifically explore the different reasons Latin Americans come to the US as well as the challenges they face on arrival. Dr. Riosmena’s research examines the relationship between migration and social mobility, well-being and development in both Latin American societies and immigrant communities of same in the US. As we have discussed in earlier blogs, these issues of social mobility, well-being and development depend heavily on the creative community resources present for immigrant populations as they adjust to life in a new ‘home’.
Our ‘old home’ continues to be celebrated in multiple ways as well over the next week, with the Museo continuing its open house this weekend and on Monday April 13, Poudre Valley Regional Library District will present its panel discussion entitled “Immigration in Colorado: The Historical Diversity in Colorado from it’s Earliest Beginnings”. This discussion on the nature of immigrants, how immigration has impacted Colorado from its earliest settlement and how things are different today will feature a range of voices including professors, lawyers, historians and members of the immigrant community. The event will be start at 6:30pm and will run until 9pm at the Elks Club at 140 East Oak Street in Fort Collins. It will be moderated by Dr. Paul Alexander, Director of the Institute for the Common Good at Regis University with English/Spanish interpretation provided by Irene Romsa. We look forward to learning how our collective past can influence our collective present and future as community members!
As always, you can find out the details for any of these events on our Finding Home Series Calendar. We look forward to seeing you this week at our discussions of new and old homes, as well as new and old communities!
With thanks to johndecember for his wonderful image!
Wherever you go, there you are!
Last week when I interviewed Tom Borrup and he discussed the impact of globalization as well as the ways in which all communities have often untapped and obscured pockets of creativity, I was reminded of the ways in which my own community manages to surprise me on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Recently I read a research brief by Maria Rosario Jackson on the impacts on arts on communities. Sometimes we think that the creativity of a community lives in artist neighborhoods, amateur arts practices and companies, even audience participation in downtown venues and events; but in fact, creativity lives and runs through not only these events but some more ‘mundane’ places and practices as well. For both Tom Borrup and Maria Rosario Jackson, these pockets of everyday cultural creativity are reservoirs for the creative spirit and presence of multicultural diversity in ‘our homes’. They can be festivals, gatherings, community celebrations, informal but recurrent gatherings in parks and community centers, church based artistic activities — anything that maintains and invents group traditions. As Maria Rosario Jackson puts it, these are ” often important aspects of communities that go overlooked and are missed only when they are gone.”
These simpler forms of community arts and creativity provide important grounding devices for newcomers as well — they communicate home, help build social capital and individual as well as collective efficacy in terms of making a home for one’s family. They also socialize newcomers into dimensions of work and the working life of the community, mitigate crime and improve public safety. I remember living in Japan and even in the early hours of the morning, there were always lights on in houses, people out in the streets talking and walking. You were never alone. Someone was always watching for you. You were always safe.
When we first moved to Fort Collins, we lived in Colorado State University Village where many international families make their homes. The same sense of community prevails there also. Residents attend multicultural events, celebrating all their diverse cultures; children learn new games and ways of working with diverse others and languages; residents share belongings, food, toys, children run around all day between the buildings, in and out of homes, gardens and communal spaces. Everyone shares in the responsibility of the community.
This weekend I went to the International Children’s Carnival and as always, I am amazed at the diversity of people present. Sometimes when I attend these events, I can barely believe that this is the Fort Collins in which I live. The rich tapestry of peoples, languages and performances that surrounds me at these events ground myself and my family in what we consider ‘our world home’ and remind us of the often unseen gems of our community. Over the course of April, we encourage you to take some detours in your everyday life and walk some less familiar paths, sharing in some diverse celebrations of art, crafts, narrative, architecture and performance. Just this week alone, the Traveling Heritage Quilt Project presences itself in our community, there is our usual First Friday Gallery Walk on the 3rd, the Fort Collins Museum and Open Stage Theatre present “The Move to Fort Collins – Local History Stories of Immigration” and we celebrate the first open house of the Museo de las Tres Colonias this Saturday. Finally, OpenStage Theatre & Company begins their season of Anon(ymous) which will run over the course of this month.
Remember…Wherever you go, there you are!