Experiencing the 100% Cultura Mural Celebration
An incredible evening of art, music, and hope in Española, New Mexico to support the 100% Rio Arriba initiative.
On Saturday June 25, Española showed its native brothers and sisters and several visitors the importance of art, murals, and culture to the 100% New Mexico initiative. It was a beautiful display of deep cultura de España, and an inspiration for communities across New Mexico.
The event was the unveiling of two murals. First, was a mural, five years in the making, titled “Treasures of Cultura,” where artist Cruz López y familia shared what the images on the wall meant to him, and how he used art to honor and be proud of his culture – a lesson imprinted on him by his parents, and one he is passing on to his son. The beauty of the art was matched by the support from friends and family, who arrived in pure Española style: in low-riders, choppers, and Harleys that were a work of art in their own right. His brother, Diego López, executive director of Hands Across Cultures, had organized the entire community event. Everyone showed up as the light, New Mexico rain blessed the land, which was pointed out by the father who blessed the mural, the culture, and the 100% Rio Arriba initiative. New Mexico State Senator Leo Jarmajillo then spoke to the gathering, sharing his pride in the artists and their vision of hope for the community.
In addition to Cruz’s unveiling, artist Alejandro López revealed his mural titled “Sacred Earth, Caring Community,” the newest mural in Española. The colorful mural showed images of the peoples and history of the Española River Valley, where everyone was together and working in harmony with the land and each other. Nurturing the earth that provides life was a theme, and it honored current events as well, with a tractor representing grain farmers in Ukraine and the children lost in the Uvalde tragedy. A flooding river highlighted the reality of climate change, while snow and rain were in abundance in light of the fires that had burned so much of New Mexico’s mountains as the paint went on the mural walls.
So how can mural events help the 100% New Mexico initiative, now in 15 counties across the state? First, the murals are catalysts for convenings, raising awareness of the 100% New Mexico initiative in the communities that make up a county. Second, as these murals grow across the state, so too will the shared vision, goals, visibility, and support for the initiative designed to ensure that all families have access to the ten vital services for surviving and thriving. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the mural events are an opportunity for a community to share their unique culture and heritage through art, which brings people together to support one another. I witnessed this first hand on a rainy Saturday evening in Española, serenaded by music and joyful conversations.
Many people before me have viewed the images that make up the murals and talked to the artists, and many people after me will do the same. These images will have the power to inspire pride in the community, which will work together toward the goal of taking care of their people, their familia.