Anderson Ranch honors Hispanic Heritage Month with community events, celebrations
Art — and accessibility to it — help foster connection between ranch and Latinx community
When a new mural debuts at Anderson Ranch Arts Center this weekend, the work will be the product not only of studio artist Nabil Gonzalez (a former artist in residence at the ranch who returned this August to teach a printmaking workshop; she’s back at the arts center starting Wednesday) but also that of local elementary school students participating in the project Saturday afternoon.
It will be a rather celebratory launch that kicks off the ranch’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, scheduled from 4:30-7 p.m. Saturday at the Snowmass Village arts campus. When families — and the general public — roll up, they’ll see not only a new work of art but also an open-air gathering full of free food, dancing, music, games and art activities that will encompass the community gathering.
It’s one of three upcoming programs organized by Anderson Ranch for Hispanic Heritage Month, all of them intended to bolster the connection with the Roaring Fork Valley’s Latinx community while inviting all members of the public to celebrate and learn more.
A “Dinner and a Movie” screening of “Like Water for Chocolate” is on the calendar for Oct. 13 from 6-9 p.m. at the ranch cafe, and an art-making event in honor of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) will take place Oct. 30 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
All are welcome at the events, but the multi-course meal of the movie screening will likely capture a different audience than the family-oriented Dia de los Muertos event at the library. Both the celebration on campus this Saturday and the art-making project in Basalt at the end of the month are free; the dinner is $75.
Aiding the accessibility mission is the location of that Dia de los Muertos event, which takes place midvalley and is easily accessible via local bus routes.
“I wanted to make sure that if we decided to do bilingual programming, we were doing it equitably and … (making it) accessible for families,” said Olivia Martinez, the Latinx arts community leader and children’s program coordinator at the ranch.
Hosting the event at the Basalt Public Library helps build partnerships between the ranch and other organizations while also fostering connections with communities who live downvalley and midvalley. (The Anderson Ranch campus, while accessible on the bus, does require a longer ride and a transfer for those coming from west of Brush Creek Road.)
Materials will be provided for participants to make Mexican nicho boxes, also called prayer boxes, that honor something or someone meaningful to them for Dia de los Muertos. It’s a flexible program, so busy families will be able to pop in as their schedules allow; there will be some informational materials and stories to provide context, but kids won’t miss out on the educational experience if they have to leave early or arrive a bit late.
“I feel like it starts a conversation,” Martinez said — one she hopes to continue through ongoing efforts at Anderson Ranch to bolster the connection with the valley’s Spanish-speaking communities.
Promotion for the events has been bilingual, with marketing materials in both Spanish and English, according to Katherine Roberts, the director of marketing and communications at Anderson Ranch.
“We’re really excited about that and really hope that we can reach new members of our community or maybe people that have heard of us but have never felt like there was something that we were doing that spoke to them, and we really encourage them to come participate and check us out,” Roberts said.
Promotion also has involved connections with organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley that serve the area’s Latinx community — groups like English in Action and Valley Settlement — as well as outreach to local Latinx families, according to Martinez. It has been both effective and exciting, based on the enthusiastic feedback and responses she has heard so far.
“A couple days ago, I sent an email to a parent just to follow up, … and the mom responded, she’s like, ‘Oh, my god, she’s so excited, she’s so proud to be bilingual, and I have so many Latinx families in the valley I can’t wait to show that,’” Martinez said. “I was just like, ‘proud to be bilingual,” … that’s really good energy, I think, going into the event.”
It all plays into Anderson Ranch’s broader efforts to strengthen community through artmaking and education, according to Peter Waanders, the organization’s president and CEO. Waanders sees art as the “perfect medium” to “communicate culture and personal thought and experience” and create “a place where everyone is welcome and everyone can come and meet on an even playing field where they can get to know each other better,” he said.
Part of that effort involves bringing on trustees and staff like Martinez who have connections with both the arts and Latinx communities, and part of that involves offering events like the ones on the calendar this month that create an authentic sense of belonging for everyone on campus.
“We see these as community events that are celebrating Latino arts and culture. … This is for our whole community; everyone should come and learn about these things and connect with people that they share those experiences with,” Waanders said.
For more information, visit andersonranch.org/events.
Roaring Fork District schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt are heading into the new school year more fully staffed than in recent years.
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