“The purpose of the event
is to promote the art and talent we have in our community,” said
Linda Parra, president of the festival committee. She is
also founder of Nuestra Gente Community Projects, Inc., a
non-profit, Toledo-based organization that provides educational,
social service and public safety services to the Latino
Longtime local artist
Robert García was the recipient of the Barrio Latino
Distinguished Artist Award. The glass award was shaped like a
Ms. Zapata was one among
several local artists featured at the event, which also
included: Martinez, Rubén García, Mario Dario, and Cecilio
Garcia. The artists are members of the Organization of Latino
Artists (OLA), a local group that promotes multicultural art by
helping local youths develop their artistic skills and using art
to beautify Toledo.
”We do have some great
talented artists in Toledo,” said Ms. Zapata, who serves as
president of the artist organization. “But we don’t see a lot
of our Latino artists represented out there in local galleries;
we need to push for that.”
Ms. Zapata is a
multi-talented artists who not only a canvas painter, she
creates a variety of unique, hand-made products ranging from
jewelry, wreaths, wooden skulls that are popular during the
holiday El Día de los Muertos. She also uses a variety of
items, such as cowboy hats as a canvas for her artistic talents.
“I have creative Attention
Deficit Disorder,” Ms. Zapata joked. “I get bored of painting,
so I put down the brush and move to the next thing to keep
things fresh. “I think anything can be considered art. I’ve seen
installation art strung from ceiling.
“It’s all about creativity
and how far you can push it.”
Many people are artists
but don’t realize is, she said. People who do print-making,
air-brushing and metal work sculpting are all forms of art.
This year’s festival
kicked off with some opening remarks by Toledo Mayor D.
Michael Collins and a noon blessing by Padre Juan
Francisco Molina, priest at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic
Church. Father Molina is a strong supporter of art programs and
the positive impact it can have on people, especially youths.
Art provides youth an opportunity to express themselves, he
“A high school student may
not have exposure to all the mediums of art,” said Ms. Zapata.
“OLA’s goal is to reach those students – they could have talent
and not even know it.”
Performances by El Corazón
De Mexico folkloric dance group had festival attendees cheering
loudly and prompted drivers passing by Broadway to pause and
watch. The dance group, which has youth and adults, took turns
performing dances native to the various states of Mexico.
14, a 9th grader at Toledo’s Early College, has been
dancing with the group for 9 ½ years.
“It’s cool to be involved
with traditional dances and share your culture,” the young
of Toledo founded the dance group in 1996 with nine members,
which included her husband. Today the group boasts over 50
dancers who perform 140 concerts per year. They have performed
in 11 states.
Proceeds raised during the
festival will be given to four local non-profit organizations,
including The Toledo Seagate Foodbank, OLA, The Providence
Center, and Nuestra Gente.
The Festival Committee
included: Ms. Parra, Ms. Zapata, Jennifer Jacobs, CEO of The
Providence Center, Mindy Rapp, program manager at Toledo Seagate
Food Bank, and Robert Torres, executive director of the
Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.