¡Viva La Cultura! If you lived in town for an extended period, you’ll notice a sort of pipeline runs between Oaxaca, Mexico, and Eugene, Oregon, with locals, snowbirds, writers and artists crossing paths back and forth across the border. Additionally, Lane County has a slow-but-steadily growing Hispanic population, increasing from 7.4 percent in 2010 to 8.5 percent in 2015, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.
Mija Andrade, artist and development director for Oregon Supported Living Program’s Art & Culture Program, for one has taken note and curated a show focusing on the portraits of Eric Mindling, an American photographer and author who has lived and worked in Oaxaca since 1992 and who, for a two-year period, photographed locals, honing in on what they wore, in more than 50 villages in the area. The collection of distinctive photographs, mostly shot outdoors with an off-camera flash, will culminate in the release of his two-volume book in October. In the meantime, catch the 20-plus portraits at the Living Threads exhibit, running Sept. 2-30 in the Broadway Commerce Center lobby (44 W. Broadway) with an opening reception with the artist 5:30 to 8 pm Friday, Sept. 2.
“When I saw Eric’s images, they just touched something so deep inside of me,” says Andrade, who is Mexican-American with roots in northern Mexico. “It was kind of like a reconnection with a part of myself that has always been there that I didn’t really know, a part of my heritage.”
Andrade says that growing up in the states, there was a drive to be American. “There was a removal from our culture and from its source,” she says. “Bringing him here and sharing him with my community was also a hope to inspire people to connect with their own heritage so it won’t be lost.”
Originally from California, Andrade says the homogenous demographics of Eugene took some getting use to.
“At first it was pretty unsettling when I moved here; I was used to a bigger Hispanic population,” she recalls. “I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve seen it grow tremendously.”
Earlier this year, Lane Arts Council awarded Andrade a $1,500 grant to produce this show, and there will be a free presentation by Mindling noon to 1:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Eugene Public Library’s Bascom-Tykeson room. Mindling will also teach a free photography workshop for teens on Sunday at the OSLP Art & Culture Program studio.
While Mindling’s work will fill the first floor of the Broadway Commerce Center, a complementary show — Sacred Seed — will hang on the second floor for the month of September. Sacred Seed will honor Flordemayo, a founding member of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, an international group of indigenous elders who work together on issues like the environment and human rights. Flordemayo will also give the keynote at the PeaceJam Slam at the University of Oregon Sept. 24.
These art shows help kick off Fiesta Cultural, Lane Arts Council’s month-long celebration of Latino art and culture, during the Sept. 2 First Friday ArtWalk with mariachi music, a salsa dance party, a dance performance by Azúcar, kids art activities led by Jessica Zapata (of Eugene Arte Latino) and fútbol shoot-outs for kids at Kesey Square (5:15 to 8:30 pm), as well as bilingual guided tours of art galleries downtown.
Art walks in Springfield, South Eugene, the Whiteaker neighborhood and Cottage Grove will round out the month of festivities as well as a Ballet Folklorico Tlanese performance Oct. 9 at Oregon Contemporary Theatre. For the full lineup of events, visit lanearts.org/fiesta-cultural.
In conjunction with Fiesta Cultural, the UO Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art opens Cuba Ocho Sept. 17, featuring nine artists and their reflections on Cuban history.