Esperanza’s Cultural ContinuumLos Angeles, CA
Through Esperanza Community Housing Corporation’s Cultural Continuum project, Mercado La Paloma will become a place to explore and experience the indigenous cultures of the diverse residents of South Los Angeles with fixed media exhibits, film screenings, music performances, dance, workshops, cooking classes, tastings and lectures, creating a cultural focal point in this south Los Angeles neighborhood.
Damon Turner, Art & Cultural Programming Coordinator for Mercado La Paloma, brings us this update on the project:
TURNER: Today I would like to share some of what I believe to be exciting about our project. It has been so much work that I haven’t been able to honestly sit and reflect on the excitement of the project; but, as I sat down to write out my thoughts, I realized that I am doing some really amazing work and so today I will share a few of the highlights!
Mercado La Paloma completed the first festival and event series of the Cultural Continuum, celebrating Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This event brought out more than 3500 visitors from all over Los Angeles and Southern California throughout the 11 hour day. During the festivities, we launched our I Dove Mercado card. This is our frequent visitor program providing discounted goods for loyal supporters! The first event was a success and taught us several valuable lessons about new ways to transform the Mercado into a mega space for art and cultural events. And is solidifying us as the go-to place to explore and experience the indigenous cultures of the diverse residents of South Los Angeles.
The behind-the-scenes details of preparing for the next cultural festival, Celebrating Holidays from Around the World, are exciting because this event will bring together a diverse range of performance artists that are perfect for the vision we have for our project. I am really looking forward to the energy and talent the next round of performers will bring to the Holiday festival in December! The musical talents we have cultivated for this event are brilliant and a juxtaposition of the festival’s title Celebrating Holidays from Around the World. We are working with the Taiko Project, an ensemble of Japanese Drummers, Yuval Rom Ensemble a middle eastern group, Garifuna Wanaragua a Honduran dance company, and Los Angeles’ very own, La Santa Cecilia. It is exciting and energizing to see the talent and beautiful diversity in our Mercado thriving through the Cultural Continuum. The process working with our partner Alliance for California Traditional Arts has been a huge plus in our process of finding quality artist to contract with.
I have also realized there is beauty and fascination around the minutia of the planning; the upcoming holiday event will include Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) which is a Oaxacan tradition celebrated on December 23rd where radishes are intricately carved into amazing sculptures and scenes. The event will require more than 250 pounds of large radishes that have been growing for months specifically for carving. In Oaxaca the radish is used to carve during Christmas similar to pumpkin carving in America. Our Noche de Rábanos event is the only other radish carving event celebrated outside of Oaxaca. Visitors have come from as far as Chicago to participate in this tradition. We are planning a carving workshop where we will teach people the art of carving beautiful radishes.
A lot of the preparation and behind-the-scenes planning for the Cultural Continuum has been a heavy amount of work, but as the old adage goes, “Anything worth doing is usually difficult but seldom impossible.”
PHOTO: A shot of this year’s Dia De Los Muertos event