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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Artist Collective Solidarity

Mar 30, 2017 11:08PM ● By Dale Bruder

"Raices Taller 222 Gallery and Workshop is a collective of artists who built a movement on trust and mutual respect,” says Ceci Garcia, an original member of the collective. “We have a dual purpose of gallery and workshop.” The primary goal is to educate and promote the arts experience across social and cultural boundaries.

It’s about honoring and serving cultural traditions authentically, according to Garcia. “We offer a safe place where Dia de los Muertos, for example, is celebrated not with a parade but with a ceremony led by a Chicano Bourgos.”

The name Raices Taller translates into “roots workshop”. Garcia elaborates, “Our collective was founded by two artists who needed a workspace and gallery space.” Decades ago, Juan Enriquez and Jorge Arteaga established the space at 222 East 6th Street, thus the name Raices Taller 222. Like the downtown Tucson artist collectives and co-ops before them, Dinnerware and Central Arts Collective, Raices Taller 222 came together combining artistic, organizational and financial abilities to encourage support within the group. From an expansive 23 to a contraction of eight, the current roster of 23 artists sustains the collective vision.

The style of Raices Taller 222 collective’s commitment to activism is influential, nurturing ethnic pride by channeling energy through art. An inclusive focus on the traditional and historical cultures of Southern Arizona is integral to the collective’s activities. Latino, Chicano, Tohono O’odham, Pascua Yaqui and the European immigrants all receive attention.

Agrarian cycles thematically inform the gallery activities, promoting an appreciation of the traditional and historical cultures that continue to thrive in Tucson. Chubasco and Aguas Sagradas celebrate the rains. Altars honor comings and goings. Gatherings at exhibition openings are the zócalo of art lovers and creatives.

A recent Call to Artists was made, framed in the words of Cesar Chavez: “What could be more joyful than working to restore and preserve the sacredness of land, water and air? For patriotism is not protecting the land of our fathers, but preserving the land for our children.” The Corazón de la Tierra exhibit is hanging now.

The gallery has hosted over 50 exhibitions, some co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Art Department and the Department of Chicano/Hispanic Affairs, Self-Help Graphics, Xicanindio, Luz Social Services and Pima Community College. Tucson’s first bicultural international exchange with Ciudad Obregon, Mexico was realized by members of the collective and the Tucson Pima Arts Council. The gallery is a stage for film screenings, dance groups from local high schools, poets from the Tucson Poets Society and playwrights.

The workshop provides arts educators a platform to teach. Established artists conduct workshops with fellow artists and emerging artists. The events provide a valuable venue for interaction, exchanging of ideas, developing of techniques and gauging progress amongst the members.

Like agrarian cycles, institutional cycles have seasons. The collective is in an unexpected winter. Emphasis on artist individuation and as entrepreneur has affected the model. Uncertainty in grant funding, missing task milestones and, as long-time collective member Joe Rebholz declares, “Artists are focused first on their art,” is causing an internal evaluation.

Has the time come for a call to arms for guidance and assistance? The collective has deep community ties, strong solidarity and synergy evidenced in its illustrious history of accomplishments and an enthusiastic following. The call can be for a new administrative energy, an angel, to arrive in the institutional spring.

Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery and Workshop will hold an Art Auction Fund Raising Event, from 3 to 7 p.m., April 23, at the El Casino Ballroom, 437 East 26th Street, in Tucson. It is free and open to the public.

Raices Taller 222 Gallery and Workshop continues to function in the co-operative spirit that allows creation, critique and exhibition amongst member artists and the diverse community in which they live. “From the beginning, we felt it was important to establish an actual facility where we could combine our skills and resources for the benefit of all current and future members,” says Garcia. “We continue to seek out venues and physical resources allowing creative expression from individual members while, at the same time, encouraging understanding and appreciation of art through community outreach to children and adults.”

Raices Taller 222 gallery and workshop is located at 222 E. 6th St., in Tucson. Connect at 520-881-5335, [email protected] or Gallery hours are Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

Dale Bruder is a freelance writer interested in creative people, social and cultural movements and applications of ancient esoteric knowledge.
Connect at 520-331-1956 or [email protected].

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