A little bit of new color was added to a Toledo neighborhood that already catches the eye.
The fifth annual Barrio Latino Art Festival brought energy Sunday to the corner of Broadway Street and Western Avenue outside the Providence Center for Social and Economic Empowerment.
There were paintings, wood carvings, sculptures, jewelry, and more for sale, along with face painting, a jalapeño contest, and beer. Cecilio Garcia, a sign artist and muralist, was given the Artist Award, which the festival gives out each year.
Festival President Linda Parra of Nuestra Gente Community Projects said that business and community leaders often get recognition, but artists rarely do.
“Why not recognize them?” she said.
IN PICTURES: Barrio Latino Art Festival
The festival also featured the creation of a new mural on the Providence Center, designed by Mr. Garcia. It joins a slew of others nearby, and many of the artists showing their work Sunday helped paint them. Ms. Parra said the festival was created because of the mural art movement in the neighborhood.
The Broadway corridor in the south-side neighborhood near downtown is lined with murals that portray Latino culture. The area near Western Avenue has a significant Latino population, and is home to several Latino community groups.
Mr. Garcia’s mural, called “Bird of Paradise,” is based on the Mayan artistic tradition. The public art in the neighborhood isn’t just visually appealing, he said, but also is an embrace of the neighborhood’s culture.
“I think it livens the spirit,” he said. “It creates a festive atmosphere.”
Delfina Zapata worked on a mural with the Toledo-based Organization of Latino Artists on the north side of the Providence Center. The art has increased interest in the south-side neighborhood, she said, with people visiting Broadway to view the murals and take pictures.
“I think it gives them a sense of pride,” Ms. Zapata said of how the murals have affected the neighborhood.
Rene Mejia traveled from Bellefontaine, Ohio, for the festival. A Spanish teacher at a career center, Mr. Mejia also is studying for a master’s degree and researching Chicano and Latino culture. He said he liked how the murals used those cultures’ themes, and presented the dual culture of immigrants and second-generation families who identify both as Toledoans and Americans, as well as Latino.
Many young people who grow up in the United States feel drawn away from their roots by the broader culture, he said, and lose their identity.
“Many of our young people deny themselves what they really are,” he said.
Public art such as the murals on Broadway help the community re-establish identity, he said.
Proceeds from the festival go to Nuestra Gente, the Providence Center, and SeaGate Food Bank of Northwest Ohio.
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