The Truckee Meadows is made up of communities within communities. Here’s a look at how the Hispanic arts community grows.
Nearly 20 percent of Reno’s population is Hispanic—folks descended from the peoples of Spanish-speaking countries. They’re an integral part of the Northern Nevada community, but it oftentimes seems as though they exist as a community set apart. Perhaps it’s because of a language hurdle, or because for many years, the English-speaking population preferred to treat Hispanics as somehow separate. In some ways, this community set itself apart to help preserve comforting cultural differences. There are Hispanic businesses and business organizations, sections of town that are predominately Spanish-speaking, a vibrant nightlife and social associations, churches and ministries, athletic leagues—you name it.
But when you get right down to it, there’s more than geography to join the communities. There are social connections, people and networks to attach to other people and networks within the community at large. Our challenge was to present this in a way where the most residents could find the points where their personal networks connect to this community within a community within a community. For purposes of this social networking experiment, we chose the Hispanic arts community. And even the umbrella “Hispanic arts community,” is made up of smaller communities: visual arts, music, theater, and others. The result was the preceding family tree of people and organizations.
Here’s how it worked: I just called up musicians and artists and asked them a little bit about what they’re up to, and then I asked everyone I talked to, “Who else do you think I should talk to for this story?” And then they would point me toward someone else doing something interesting. This is a labyrinth that could be explored endlessly. There’s a lot going on.
It started with Ireri Rivas, the program director for the local non-profit organization PLAN (Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada). She’s also involved with other non-profit organizations, like Nevada Hispanic Services, the youth arts organization the Holland Project and many other things.
Over coffee, she rattled off a half-dozen people and organizations central to Reno’s arts and Hispanic communities, including the University of Nevada, Reno’s Latino Research Center and the bilingual theater company Brown Eyes Theater. Then I spent a couple of weeks playing connect the dots via telephone. I played a lot of unrewarding games of phone tag. And a lot of the people I did talk to just pointed me back around the way I came—it’s the nature of networks that information and personal connections flow in many directions.
This is an incomplete portrait. It’s a snapshot of some of the artists, musicians and arts administrators around town. The original version of this was a flow chart tacked up on a wall in my office, with arrows pointing this way and that, demonstrating a network of artists and organizations.
Many of these organizations have events coming up. This month, Brown Eyes Theater is presenting their annual Spanish language performances of the Vagina Monologues—a series of monologues, written by New York playwright Eve Ensler and performed by a number of women about different aspects of the body part. It’s performed March 13, 14, and 21 a 7 p.m. Call 830-6044 for more information.
David Bruce, aka DJ D Bruz, is playing obscure rock ’n’ roll, soul and R&B records starting at 10 p.m. every Friday night in March at Chapel Tavern, 1495 S. Virginia St., 324-2244. No cover.
Nevada Hispanic Services organizes the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration in Victorian Square, usually held the first weekend in May. This year it will be held on May 2 and 3 and will feature Ellas Son, an all-female Mariachi band from Los Angeles, as well as luche libre masked wrestlers and other Hispanic heritage cultural attractions.
In a lot of ways, a chart like this is reminiscent of social networking websites, like Myspace or Facebook. This loose, open-ended diagram, a maze of branches and names, comes close to approximating the loose, organic, open-ended tree of connections that eventually form one community that attaches to another that joins to another that bonds to the individuals who make the Truckee Meadows community.