Culture

Meet Frederico Vigil, The Creator Of The Largest Concave Fresco in North America – Mundos De Mestizaje

When visiting the National Hispanic Cultural Center campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it’s easy to write-off the upside-down, bucket shape form rising from the ground. It stands alone with no distinguishing marks. There are no large crowds to hint at the remarkable secret hidden inside. Visitors will know they are in the right place when the gray asphalt and concrete beneath their feet morph into red—matching the building’s exterior.

Two, towering wood doors mark the entry into the nondescript building.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

When the doors swing open, it’s impossible to avoid looking up because the vibrant colors of the ceiling act as a magnet, drawing eyes upwards. Step into the 45-foot dome-shaped structure to get a better look, and there, in the small Southwest town of less than 1 million, the largest fresco painting in North America wraps around the ceiling.

El Torreón is the name of the structure which houses Mundos de Mestizaje.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The larger-than-the-Sistine-Chapel fresco made by Frederico Vigil. It took the Santa Fe native almost three years to have it approved and 10 years to complete it. The aerial artwork depicts thousands of years of Hispanic and pre-Hispanic history. Depending on your cultural background, some iconography is easy to spot and place in history. If you’re Mexican, La Virgen de Guadalupe, a portrait of the beloved civil rights leader Benito Juárez and the eagle, serpent, and nopal from Mexico’s coat of arms will stand out. But walk around the room, or sit in one of the lounging chairs that allow visitors to tip back and view the work at 180 degrees, and soon you’ll realize there are hidden figures among the more popular markers of Mexican and Indigenous identity.

“I’m a mixed man with many different bloodlines,” Vigil says on a phone call. “I’m mestizo. I wanted to show the history of what that means.”

For the project, Vigil consulted with seven scholars on Mesoamerican and Spanish historical culture in order to create an accurate depiction of the past.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

He says that just by looking at the Iberian Peninsula, there’s a mix of Romans, Celts, Muslims, and Phoenicians which is all tied into Spanish identity. Then, with the Americas, there’s Maya, Aztec and Toltec. The history of these lines iS not linear. They overlap, intertwine and blend together in a dizzying ride that Vigil worked to bring to life in Mundos de Mestizaje. 

The purpose is to show the viewer how interconnected and far-reaching culture is. Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd is depicted sitting next to Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, a Medieval Torah scholar, and physician. Chacmool, the pre-Columbian sculpture found throughout Mesoamerica shares space with George Washington and an African slave. 

“There are no purebloods, we are all mixed—or perhaps the only people who can say they are of pure blood are the Amazons or indigenous tribes that have lived in isolation,” Vigil says. “When people begin to study the past, they realize we, as a society, are not genetically one thing.”

Vigil learned the art of fresco painting from Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Pope Dimitroff. The couple might not be household names outside of the art community, but their bosses were. Bloch and Dimitroff were assistants to the world-renowned Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. 

Vigil connected with the couple thanks to the Santa Fe Council for The Arts.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

The organization reached out to Vigil to gauge his interest in a scholarship learning from the pair. Now in their 70s, the two aging artists were making strides to ensure their knowledge was passed down to a new generation of creators. Art lessons were accompanied by tales of the past that included Kahlo, Rivera, and friends such as Leon Trotsky. There, he learned the complicated and time-consuming process of fresco painting.

A surface is rough plastered with a mix of lime, sand, and cement. On average, a layer takes 10-12 hours to dry. A painter can go to work an hour into the drying process and usually has between seven to nine hours of time to complete their design. The art then needs 7-10 days between coats. If the painter messes up, they have to scrape off the layers and begin again.

“I’m a procrastinator but when the wall is wet, you have to paint,” says Vigil. “Each painting is a new experience. It doesn’t get old.”

Vigil is currently working on a new 2,500-plus square foot monumental fresco at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Credit: Courtesy of Ximena N. Larkin

His new work tells the tale of New Mexico’s history as the oldest state in the U.S. to produce wine. He says the piece could take four to six years to complete. He’s currently in his second year.

The hours for the Torreón (where the fresco is housed) are Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 p.m., plus it is open by appointment, which can be scheduled with Juanita Ramírez at Juanita.ramirez@state.nm.us or 505-383-4774. The NHCC presents concerts in the Torreón in partnership with the Pimentel & Sons Guitar Makers. The Torreón is available for rentals under certain circumstances and with some restrictions. 

READ: 20 Bizarre Nail Art Ideas That I Just Will Never Understand

Latinos Are Taking To Twitter To Call Out The Stereotypes And Tropes In The Criticized Novel ‘American Dirt’

Entertainment

Latinos Are Taking To Twitter To Call Out The Stereotypes And Tropes In The Criticized Novel ‘American Dirt’

Amazon / @jpbrammer / twitter

“American Dirt” is one novel grabbing all of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The book, written by a Puerto Rican woman, has been dragged for relying on stereotypes and tropes about Mexicans to tell a tale of migrating to the U.S. Several celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, have praised the book sparking a more severe backlash from people. The novel has led to a Twitter trend of Latinos writing their own Latino novels using the same kinds of stereotypes found throughout the book.

Latinos on Twitter are dragging “American Dirt” author Jeanine Cummins.

Credit: @jpbrammer / Twitter

Social media has been calling out Jeanine Cummins and everyone who has endorsed “American Dirt.” The main complaint has been the insensitive and stereotypical writing trying to tell a Mexican story from a non-Mexican writer.

It wasn’t long until Latino Twitter users took to the micro-blogging site to show how ludicrous the book is.

Credit: @mathewrodriguez / Twitter

Several creatives have shared paragraphs playing up tired and offensive stereotypes to shine a light on what they see in “American Dirt.” Some stars, like Salma Hayek, have had to apologize for promoting the book without reading it.

Latinos from all walks, not just Mexican, have joined in on the social media trend.

Credit: @livesinpages / Twitter

There have long been discussions about the proper representation of Latinos in media. From books to movies to television to comics, the conversations have long revolved around the lack of the people telling the stories. “American Dirt” is another example of someone not from an experience writing about the experience and totally missing the mark.

Some of the tweets are short and sweet but pack a punch.

Credit: @bodega_gyro_ao / Twitter

The backlash against “American Dirt” has been so strong and sustained that even Oprah Winfrey has had to change her tune. The media megastar has announced a deeper panel discussion about the book to really bring to light the underlying frustrations with the books.

Latinos have long been underrepresented and ignored but it seems critics are on track to win this battle.

Credit: @alexarriaga_ / Twitter

What do you think about the controversy around “American Dirt” and the celebrities who praised and promoted it without reading it?

READ: Here’s Why The Oprah Winfrey-Promoted Book ‘American Dirt’ Is Getting So Much Heat

Camila Cabello’s Performance At The Grammys Made Everyone Cry As They Remembered Kobe Bryant And His Daughter

Entertainment

Camila Cabello’s Performance At The Grammys Made Everyone Cry As They Remembered Kobe Bryant And His Daughter

camila_cabello / Instagram

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards was filled with tributes to Kobe Bryant after his tragic and shocking death in a helicopter crash with his daughter in Calabasas. Artists included tributes to the basketball legend in their performances last night but one performance made everyone think about the father and daughter who died.

Camila Cabello sang her new single “First Man” about the love between and father and daughter and things became very emotional.

Cabello’s song “Frist Man” is a song dedicated to the love between a daughter and father. A special love that cannot be explained to those who have not experienced it. It is a bond filled with trust, safety, protection, and appreciation.

Cabello sang the song to her father, who was sitting in the front row, and he could not contain his emotions.

Latino fathers aren’t known for their public display of emotions. It isn’t because they don’t feel the emotions but it is just a common thing for Latino dads to stay stoic and strong. Seeing Cabello’s father crying while his daughter sings to him is a touching moment.

Her performance was bringing social media users to tears.

Credit: @ashley_dawn31 / Twitter

You can see the emotions in Cabello’s eyes as she sang her sweet song dedicated to the love and sacrifices of her dad. It is a special reminder that our parents have done so much to get us to where we are.

The song had a special meaning since it was the same day that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant died in a helicopter crash.

Credit: @thekatiestevens / Twitter

On the morning of Jan. 26, 2020, before the Grammys, news broke that Kobe Bryant died when a helicopter crashed in Calabasas. The entertainment world was shocked when TMZ reported the crash. Bryant, who was 41, played for the L.A. Lakers for 20 years. His daughter was following in his footsteps and was part of the basketball community. In their rush to report the story, TMZ reported Bryant’s death before the family could be notified.

A mixture of the days’ events and the connection between fathers and daughters led to an emotional reaction from fans.

Credit: @GinnyBbadd / Twitter

There was a lot of build-up to the performance. Many speculated, based on the kind of hype the performance was getting, that Cabello might be singing a special song to Shawn Mendes. Mendes and Cabello fans are not-so-secretly hoping for the pair to become a couple.

Even parents felt the love in the song.

Credit: @DanLeach971 / Twitter

Who couldn’t text their parents or children after seeing this performance? The love between a child and their parent is something special. It is an unconditional love that comes with heartbreak when the child moves away. It is a bittersweet relationship filled with so many ups and downs but it is beautiful in its longevity.

The performance really hit home for some viewers who recently lost their own parents.

Credit: deblturner / Twitter

The loss of a parent is a hard moment in anyone’s life. They are the person who knows you best and has known you your entire life. Losing that kind of connection is tough and painful but a part of life.

So, take some time and call your parents today. They want to hear from you.

*cries in Spanish*

READ: Camila Cabello Has Apologized For Using The N-Word And Fans Are Pretty Messed Up About It