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

Google Launches Faces Of Frida So You Can Pass The Time Learning About The Artist’s Life

Culture

Google Launches Faces Of Frida So You Can Pass The Time Learning About The Artist’s Life

Google

Few artists have reached the level of fame as Frida Kahlo. The Mexican painter is more than an artist. Kahlo is a point of cultural pride that transcends nationality within the Latino community and unites Latino art lovers in their le of Latin American art. Now, Google, in the time of self-isolation, is giving everyone a chance to learn about the iconic painter.

Google wants to give everyone a chance to learn about Frida Kahlo with its online “Faces of Frida” exhibit.

Credit: Google

Anyone who visits the “Face of Frida” exhibit can browse through the artist’s incredible paintings. Kahlo is one of the most influential artists the world has ever known. Her fame and people’s admiration continue to this day with tributes still appearing around the world for the Mexican artist.

Viewers can decide which museum’s Frida Kahlo collection they want to explore.

Credit: Google

The exhibit is made possible by 32 museums from around the world collaborating to show Frida Kahlo’s impressive and iconic works of art. Museums across four continents shared Kahlo piece from their exhibits with Google to create an exhibit showing more than 800 paintings. Some of the museums include Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico, Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the United States, Nagoya City Art Museum in Japan, Fundación MAPFRE in Spain, and Buenos Aires Graffiti in Argentina.

The interactive exhibit is perfect for all Frida Kahlo and art lovers alike. While 3.4 billion people in the world are on lockdown orders, the incredible virtual exhibit of Kahlo’s work gives people a chance to see works of art they haven’t been able to visit yet.

The exhibit is easy to navigate and some of Kahlo’s works have been collected into their own themed galleries.

Credit: Google

Kahlo is most famous for using her own life as the inspiration for her works of art. The artist often played with the themes of pain and death due to her own near-death experiences. Her tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera influenced Kahlo’s work depending on where they were in their relationship. The couple was notorious for taking extra-marital lovers throughout their marriage.

“Faces of Frida” also offers art fans a chance to learn about Kahlo through editorial features.

Credit: Google

Kahlo was one of the most revolutionary women in the world. She moved through space unimpeded by society’s views on her gender and place in society. She was politically engaged and held onto a list of values that many still argue over today. Namely, there have been discussions and think pieces about the sudden commercialized usage of Kahlo’s image and what she might have to say about it. As someone who was opposed to capitalism, it seems safe to say she might not have appreciated herself being used for capitalistic gains.

You can visit “Faces of Frida” by clicking here.

READ: This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

Jessica Marie Garcia Talks Big Hoop Energy And Why She Screenshots Fans’ Messages

Entertainment

Jessica Marie Garcia Talks Big Hoop Energy And Why She Screenshots Fans’ Messages

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There’s no denying Jessica Marie Garcia’s vibrant, go-getter personality. She makes it known to audiences and fans both on and off-screen in her role as Jasmine in Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy, “On My Block.”

You know when Garcia walks into a room. She’s just as bold, daring and warm-hearted as she appears around Freeridge, the fictional Los Angeles neighborhood OMB is set in. 

Before season 3 started streaming, mitú caught up with Garcia in between breaks while filming on location in Burbank, California. She discussed big hoop energy, how she connected on a personal level with some of Jasmine’s most emotional scenes, and how she unearthed more of her Mexican roots after moving to Los Angeles. 

What audiences can be excited to see in season 3 is more dialogue between Jasmine and the ‘core four,’ especially with Jason Genao’s character Ruby Martinez in a will-they-or-won’t-they? crush dance throughout the current season. 

A character with as much wise advice and heart as Jasmine needed to be given more lines and fans appreciate it.

Dare we say Jasmine’s energy is big hoop energy?

Garcia talked about how Jasmine’s personalized earrings helped her step into some added fierceness before the camera started rolling.

“I was the one that had their ears pierced at three months old, ok. That’s just like a given. Especially for Jasmine, hoops hold a lot of power. And even as an actor, her ‘Jasmine’ earrings that say Jasmine in them, I put a lot of that in Jasmine,” Garcia says. “I put a lot of love and power on those hoop earrings. I always had hoops growing up. You had to be able to put your fists in them or they’re not realistic. That’s a thing. I want different sizes, different shapes. They’re important for anyone really.”

One of Jasmine’s most relatable qualities was her ability to always see the positive in the direst of situations.

Garcia was an advocate for her character to showcase this multidimensionality. She didn’t want to have a character like Jasmine relegated to being a tag-along character on the outer orbit.

Representation on TV is better for it, especially when it comes to showing love and curves.

“Being a love interest, being a thicker girl and not having to be like the ‘thing’ they always talk about means everything to me because I don’t think that we see that a lot on TV,” Garcia says. “You know I just don’t talk about being a thicker girl 24 hours a day, it’s such a strange idea that that’s all we can talk about, so I appreciated it, and I also felt a responsibility for all those girls watching, like ‘OK, you gotta do it for me.’ I’m just honored that it’s me.”

Ruby starts catching feelings for her in the show for who Jasmine is as a person and who she makes him feel when she’s around him. And isn’t that just the kind of amor bonito you want to wish upon some of TV’s best breakout characters?

Audiences can also tell throughout the course of the show’s three seasons that Jasmine is there for Ruby in a deeper sense than some of his fellow friends. As much as Ruby’s friends try to support him after his PTSD, Jasmine truly gets what he is going through because of her dad’s disability coming back from war.

Garcia knows as Jasmine that Ruby’s PTSD will always affect him.

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“I don’t think that that is something Ruby as a character is ever not going to think about. You see even in these beautiful moments when we won that dance competition, and he was put in that place,” Garcia says. “[It’s good] for kids to know that these situations don’t get cleaned up in 30 minutes. This is a lifetime of pain that he has to deal with and that’s going to affect him as an adult. That’s going to affect the choices he makes. And again, that loss of innocence, it’s a huge part of him. He’s never going to be season 1 Ruby. It was a near-death experience that will affect him—and the core four.”

Garcia was able to tap into that emotion for such a pivotal scene like bringing Ruby around her family because she experienced that moment. 

“I’ve lived with my grandparents my whole life and my grandmother had dementia when I was, I want to say 13 years old, she got a stroke and got dementia,” Garcia says. “She moved out here and I was taking care of her out here with my mom. And it was something strange to have friends over, because I had to tell them she might scream or she might try to leave. It’s never something that as a teenager, you want to feel more different, so having to explain that is always something that was scary to me. Because I was always like, are my friends going to be able to understand that?”

“So when I played that with Jasmine and I was introducing Ruby to her father, that was nerve-wracking because I wanted it to be something that I could be able to accept but a lot of people don’t understand what that’s like,” Garcia recalls. “It was definitely a scene that I cared about a lot and I freaked out so much filming it. Just because as an actor we’re neurotic and I always want another take, and I never think something is good enough,” she continued. 

It turned out to be one of the most-loved scenes by audiences of the show. 

Fans connected to it as they saw Ruby and Jasmine’s friendship blossomed. 

Garcia enjoys going through her fans’ messages and is known to reply back personally and even screenshot them. 

“I’m lucky enough to say I get them a lot [fan messages], and it’s really just the message of being able to see that they see themselves in me. That is something that I will never get over because growing up, I didn’t,” Garcia admits. “I had to look onto other people in order to see any kind of representation. I say this all the time—Khadijah in Living Single is the reason why I’m here today. Seeing a thick, beautiful woman not be apologetic for any of that is what I wanted to see—but thinking like oh, I’ll be that token person, you know? And I think if it’s a White show, you have a Black friend or a Brown friend, but you never have both. And that’s just not life. So the fact that we have a cast of people of color and not having to completely talk about that the whole time, just being real, is amazing. Those kinds of messages mean everything to me. I save all of them, I screenshot them. I love responding to fans. I love responding to beautiful people, yes!”

She loves to encourage her fans to learn more about filmmaking and writing in order to be the next generation of content creators.

“You can’t decide that we’re going to write for a certain demographic and then not have that demographic writing, it just doesn’t make sense. That’s why we have the same stories. It’s exhausting,” Garcia says. “I think we also have to encourage our youth to go into screenwriting and take film school and just write. That’s the biggest thing is write down everything, because you’ll learn that acting may be something you saw and saw yourself in and you’ll find this love of this other craft because there are so many departments that make this a real thing.”

Garcia has been able to explore more of her roots now that she is living in Los Angeles thanks to the show.

“When I was in Florida, it’s a pretty mixed bag. But as far as Latinos, you’re in Orlando, you’re Puerto Rican. If you’re in Miami, you’re Cuban. And like that’s it,” Garcia recalls of Florida. “They used to call me ‘Mexico’ all the time in Orlando because it was so weird that I was Mexican (I don’t know how it is now). Coming here, I was surrounded by people that looked like me, but I didn’t know their traditions or anything, and then I just felt like I was missing out this whole time. So it’s been a beautiful discovery actually. I don’t speak Spanish, which is probably the bane of my existence, but I also think I speak for a lot of first-generation Latinos who understand it all, but when I speak it it’s a little sad. I say a little prayer and a wish, but you know I’m learning, and that’s part of it too.”

Perhaps in season 4 Jasmine will get to practice her Spanish on the show in some phrases.

READ: Jason Genao Of ‘On My Block’ Talks Growing Up On His Block And His Secret To Making Bomb Empanadas