A day of flowers

First Street merchants celebrate Hispanic art and culture

Although Cinco de Mayo festivities will take place this week, local Latino groups and downtown businesses will present their own celebration of Hispanic culture a week later.

On May 12, several First Street businesses will collaborate for Dia de las Flores, or “day of flowers.” It won’t be a Cinco de Mayo celebration per se, but rather a day to celebrate the art and culture of various Latino cultures, according to Gallery Cui-ui co-owner Pamela Bobay.

Bobay said the idea for Dia de las Flores grew out of a gallery show that she and co-owner Ann Fullerton were organizing, which featured artists of Hispanic heritage. The more the two talked to the artists about Latino art and culture, the more they thought about turning the show into a bigger event. Some of the artists then got in touch with people and groups within the local Hispanic communities to drum up interest for the event.

The First Street businesses meet monthly to discuss ways to bring customers downtown, according to Elise Russell, co-owner of Parasols on the Riverwalk. Each business gets a month to host a special event, she said. Since Gallery Cui-ui’s and Parasols’ turn fell in April, they decided to co-sponsor the event.

Painter Ray Valdez, regularly shown at the Silver State Gallery, will do his first showing with Gallery Cui-ui for this event. Nationally recognized for his Native American art, Valdez said these paintings are more tied into Hispanic cultures. Valdez, who is of Aztec Indian heritage, said events like these help create awareness and generate respect for different cultures.

“It can’t do anything but positive [things] _ that’s why I got involved,” he said.

The event begins at 9 a.m. with a live radio broadcast of Universo Infantil, a local Hispanic culture program featured on KQLO. A low-rider car demonstration and display will follow. Vintage clothing store Paris-Vintage will have models strolling about the neighborhood throughout the day wearing authentic Mexican art-to-wear clothes.

At noon, there will be an artists’ reception at Gallery Cui-ui featuring painters Ray Valdez and Maria Jaramillo, gourd artist Tia Flores, ceramic artists Isabel Perez Judge and Laura Mijanovich and tag and tattoo artist Felix Gonzalez. International Folk Ballet with guest artist Horacio Espinosa, a dance director from the University of Guadalajara, will perform later that afternoon.

At 6 p.m., Parasols will host a fashion show with Na-Ta-Ya designer Enga Nataya Yantha. The evening concludes with the music of Grupo Terraza at the West Street Plaza, located between Java Jungle and the Century Riverside 12.

"We’re getting tremendous support from the Hispanic community," Bobay said. "It has turned out to be a lot of fun, and it has introduced us to a whole section of active, positive and contributing people [in] the Reno area."