Celebrating Fiesta Cultural in Florence

Mariachi del Sol, from Springfield High School, played the half-time show at Siuslaw High School on Sept. 23. The event is part of Lane Arts Council’s Fiesta Cultural, with three additional events scheduled in Florence this month. (Photos by Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News)

Lane Arts Council extends months-long celebration beyond metro area

Oct. 5, 2022 — 

Lane Arts Council is honoring the eighth annual Fiesta Cultural, a celebration of Latino/a/x/e arts, culture and heritage, from September to December 2022. For the first time ever, Fiesta Cultural will have events in Florence.

On Sept. 23, Springfield High School's Mariachi del Sol performed at the Siuslaw High School football game, as well as for the Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County. Mariachi Del Sol is the second oldest school mariachi in the state, and is in its 15th year of making music. The Florence Community PTA provided dinner for the performers.

“We are so blessed to be able to share this with our families and grateful to all involved for being able to participate in this cultural experience,” Boys and Girls Club wrote on its Facebook page. “We are the first rural area in Lane County to be welcoming any associated (Fiesta Cultural) programming.”

Several partners came together to help Lane Arts Council bring the celebration to Florence. These included Western Lane Community Foundation, Siuslaw Public Library District, Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, Florence Regional Arts Alliance (FRAA), Oregon Community Foundation and Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace.

According to Siuslaw Public Library Director Meg Spencer, Lane Arts Council had long considered expanding Fiesta Cultural beyond the metro area of Eugene/Springfield.

“They got funding from Western Lane Community Foundation and chose us, Florence, as their first place to do it,” she said. “It is super exciting.”

It was several people’s idea to bring mariachi to the football game as the inaugural event.

“That's a place where folks would love to see that — and it seemed to go well,” Spencer said.

But the music was just the start. Additional Fiesta Cultural events in Florence will take place this Saturday, Oct. 8.

“Throughout October, along with National Arts and Humanities month, we're going to be doing all kinds of programming around town,” Spencer said.

First is Siuslaw Public Library’s demARTS from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1460 Ninth St.

The annual demARTS is a free selection of demonstrations by artists showing their craft.  This demARTS features Latino/a/x/e artists as a part of Fiesta Cultural.

From 11 a.m. to noon, there will be a demonstration of Charrería and a talk by Antonio Huerta about the tradition, dating to the 1500s, of horsemanship, roping and cattle work.

Then, from noon to 2 p.m., there will be a leather workshop with Jessica Zapata. Participants will work with a piece of leather to complete a small wallet and learn basic cross-stitch sewing, patterning and some basic vocabulary in Spanish.

There will also be screenprinting demonstrations by VRGNZ (Valentina Gonzalez) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. VRGNZ is a visual artist whose work centers around social constructs and subversion by creating murals, immersive installations and screenprinting.

“We’re doing ‘demARTS meets Fiesta Cultural,’” Spencer said. “We’re going to start off with a Charrería display, so rope tricks, Mexican cowboy, super fun, in our parking lot. He’ll be talking about the history of the style and just playing. Inside the library will be screen printing demonstrations … and a leather work workshop.”

There will be a chance for people to win a screenprinted bag and make their own leather items.

The second big event is the Fiesta Cultural Art Exhibition at Florence Regional Arts Alliance, 120 Maple St., from 2 to 4 p.m. This free reception will feature work by three artists: handmade beaded jewelry from Bella Beads by Diana, a Queer Latinx artist with Zapotec roots; paintings by David CP Placencia; and mixed media pieces using the Repujado style by Rosio Diaz.

Diaz stated, “For this show, the pieces I have created use the Repujado style common in Mexico. Repujado art uses sheets of tin or copper where the design is pushed out from behind to make a raised image. The pieces are painted with patina or alcohol ink.”

According to FRAA President Kristin Anderson, “FRAA is going to have the three artists set up for a month. And then we're going to have a display in the pioneer museum.”

Siuslaw Pioneer Museum will exhibit a display of Charo clothing from artist Jessica Zapata.

Anderson said Western Lane Community Foundation’s grant to the Lane Arts Council provided the funding for the Fiesta Cultural events in Florence.

“Lane Arts Council had been trying to get us to participate, but we were having a hard time finding inroads into how to make it happen. But this grant made it possible,” she said.

Anderson also told the story of one viewer of the mariachi band.

“As the Mariachi del Sol played for Siuslaw, one little girl said, ‘I'm Mexican. This is so cool!’ I mean, that's the whole goal,” Anderson said. “The whole point is to have people feel like they're part of something that's important to them. And maybe we can actually find some artists that want to join in the event. But it's thanks to Lane Arts Council for making this happen.”

If people do want to get more involved in local arts, FRAA has an opening on its board. Learn more at.fraaoregon.org.

For more information on multicultural in-person and digital events happening September through December in Lane County, visit lanearts.org/fiesta-cultural/ or lanearts.org/fiesta-cultural-espanol/.