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Latino Art Now! event showcases Latin artists through May

March 26, 2019

Latino Art Now! Houston (LAN!) is a multi-month national event focusing on Latino visual artists in the United States. Through the end of May, there are exhibitions and installations throughout Houston showcasing more than 100 local artists.

In addition to the multitude of events, A LAN! Conference: Sight Lines & Time Frames, will be held on April 4-6 at the University of Houston Student Center South. This is the first year that LAN! has been held in Houston.

LAN! is hosted by the The Inter-University Program for Latino Research at the University of Houston Center for Mexican American Studies.

“The event began in 2005 and it was a recognition that even as the Latino population was growing, that its representation in the visual arts was still difficult to find,” Dr. Pamela Quiroz, the director of the Center for Mexican American Studies and executive director of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research, said.

LAN! was originally just the conference, but the last time LAN! was held, in Chicago in 2016, the organizers expanded it to include the Spring of Latino Art.

“It invited visual artists in the community and local art communities to participate. Throughout the three month period, you had all of these events going on. Our Spring of Latino Art is even bigger, because it incorporates all of the performing arts,” Quiroz said.

Some of the events as part of the Spring of Latino Art include:

Nueva Visión de Nuestra Cultura, Monday, April 1 through Friday, April 12, at the Third Space Gallery, University of Houston, 4188 Elgin St.,

Photography at its Limits: Marcos Lopez, Joiri Minaya, Oscar Munoz, through Sunday, April 28, at Houston Center for Photography, 1441 West Alabama, and

Female Power: Vibrant Energy, through Sunday, May 19 at George Memorial Library, 1001 Golfview Dr., Richmond.

A full list of events is available online at www.iuplr.org/lan-events.

A portable interactive digital board is also new to the event. The board, called Latino Cartography, maps out the temporary and permanent spaces of Latino art in Houston. It will be taken to classrooms, museums and neighborhoods.

The Conference will feature panel sessions, workshops, art exhibitions and a book fair. The keynote speaker is Mari Carmen Ramirez, Wortham Curator of Latino American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

“The conference attracts collectors, curators, artists and scholars. We hope some of the public will participate too,” Quiroz said.

Registering for the conference can done at www.iuplr.org/lan-houston. The cost for the general public is $50 and $25 for current students with ID.

Karen Navarro, an Argentinan-born fine arts photographer, now based in Houston, is one of the participating artists in LAN!

“I feel like many other artists are unrecognized. It is a good moment to highlight all of these artists in the area, because of the social political situation we are going through right now. It is good to have this time for us,” Navarro said.

Navarro’s notes that her photograph topics are about personal and social identity.

“People are initially attracted to my work, and then they start asking questions. They are able to find more meaning. That’s the perk of my work,” Navarro said.

Navarro said that she is interested in seeing what can happen after LAN!

“How do we integrate all of this? Let’s all keep working. Let’s do something else after [LAN!] is over,” Navarro said.

Navarro has two exhibitions that are part of LAN!: Poems, Protest and a Dream, ending Saturday, March 30, at MECA, 1900 Kane St, and Diversity & Richness, featuring artwork by artists from Sawyer Yards with connections to Latin American Culture, through Sunday, April 27, at Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards St.

“[LAN!] will be of the national conversation to show the contributions of Houston’s Latino artists to the trajectory of visual art in the country. Latino art is American art. Part of the argument here is to have folks broaden their view,” Quiroz said.

Quiroz continued, “Art is seen as a luxury and not a necessity, but it reflects us, it stimulates our imaginations, expresses our deepest emotions and it is often a call to action. Art is absolutely essential. All artists suffer from lack of resources, but Latino artists, they often suffer even more, just like other communities of color. This is an opportunity to make the city aware to expand the arts economy.”

rebecca.hazen@chron.com