Esperanza’s Cultural ContinuumLos Angeles, CA
Mercado La Paloma, an economic development project of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, is a vibrant, dynamic, non-profit community marketplace in South Central Los Angeles that provides space for emerging entrepreneurs specializing in culinary, homemade, handmade, and cultural items.
ArtPlace spoke with Beth Rodin, Director of Economic Development for Esperanza Housing Corporation and the Manager for Mercado La Paloma, about their ArtPlace project.
ARTPLACE: What is your elevator pitch when you describe your project to people?
RODIN: We are seeking to turn Mercado La Paloma into the go to place to explore and experience the indigenous cultures of the diverse residents South Los Angeles and their present day manifestations within and outside their countries of origins; each other month we will celebrate a different cultural group through fixed media exhibits, film screenings, music performances, dance, workshops, cooking classes, tastings and lectures, that will make known the deep and rich traditions that come together to form the tapestry of our local community.
ARTPLACE: How do you expect to increase vibrancy in the place you are working?
RODIN: South Los Angeles is relatively devoid of large, authentic, creative public gathering spaces. We have a diverse and talented population; however, there are very few spaces for the creative capital of our community to be expressed and shared en masse. Mercado La Paloma has already demonstrated the vibrancy that can be created by allowing culinary artists to share their talents with the community. We are excited to further increase that vibrancy through ArtPlace by organizing a series of events that will share the wide range of other artistic talents in our community from fixed art, to performance art to film.
Vibrancy begets vibrancy. We will bring in a group of diverse artists. By introducing the space to them they will in turn introduce the Mercado to other artists looking for space to share their work. In meeting one another new collaborations will form and emerge. As we introduce art enthusiasts to the space they will in turn introduce it to their family and friends. An increased customer base will increase the energy of the space and the community while supporting the small business community.
As we explore the rich cultural tapestry of our community through our programming, we hope to increase the pride of community members for where they come from and to increase the acceptance and appreciation among other community members of our diversity. By exhibiting a range of types and styles of art we hope to influence and inform existing artists and inspire new artists as well.