Updated 07:58 AM EDT, Mon, Jul 24, 2017
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18th Annual Art Exhibit of La Virgen de Guadalupe Opens in Dallas

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La Virgen en el telefono
Outside the Oak Cliff Cultural Center a long-abandoned payphone booth was transformed into a shrine to La Virgen by artist Jose Vargas for the night of the reception being held for the annual artists' tribute to La Virgen de Guadalupe. (Photo : David Wilfong)
The Oak Cliff Cultural Center sits next to the historic Texas Theater in Dallas. (Photo: David Wilfong)
The Oak Cliff Cultural Center sits next to the historic Texas Theater in Dallas. (Photo: David Wilfong)

The Texas Theater on Jefferson Avenue in Dallas was thrust into the national spotlight in 1963 when Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested there following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But many years have passed since then, and the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas has seen many changes. Once considered quite the fashionable place to be seen, Oak Cliff fell into disrepair. Then it slowly evolved into a very Hispanic neighborhood. Today, it is a mix of hipsters, old-timers and quite a diverse ethnic blend. But the Hispanic culture remains strong, and amidst the mix of taquerias and quinceañera dress shops the Oak Cliff Cultural Center offers up a revolving selection of exhibits highlighting different aspects of the community.

Jorge Vargas visits with attendees at the reception for the Virgen de Guadalupe exhibit at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center. (Photo: David Wilfong)
Jose Vargas visits with attendees at the reception for the Virgen de Guadalupe exhibit at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center. (Photo: David Wilfong)

Eighteen years ago, Jose Vargas began doing an art show dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. At that point in time, it was simply held in the home of one of his friends. In the years since it has moved from private homes, into two other cultural centers in Dallas, and as of late has been a popular attraction at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center. Vargas, an artist himself, invites numerous other artists to come and share their work dedicated to "La Virgen" in whatever form or media they choose. The selections are always unique, different and popular.

"Virgencita de Guadalupe," by Jacinta Hernandez (Mixed Media).

The show actually started on Nov. 19 and will run until Jan. 3, 2014. An artists' reception was held on Friday night. The exhibit is free and open to the public. This year's artists include: Virgina Bravo, Diane Torres, Jacinta Hernandez, Mayra Vivianna Zamora, Genaro Hernandez, Nancy C. Bass, Barbara Lee, Marcela Mihaloglou, Eva Azul, Reyna Flores, Carlos Quadra, Terry Mosher, Lilia Estrada, Lucia Perez, Kate Schatz, Jose Vargas, Kim and Samuel Torres, Santiago Lopez III, Eva Romero, Maria de Lourdes Osorio, Carlos Donjuan, Prescilliano Romero,Tina Medina, and Alfredo Calderon.

OCCC Manager Rafael Tomayo welcomes guests and introduces Tina Medina, a participatin artist and college teacher who gave a media presentation on the history of La Virgen de Guadalupe.
OCCC Manager Rafael Tamayo welcomes guests and introduces Tina Medina, a participating artist and college teacher who gave a media presentation on the history of La Virgen de Guadalupe.

Tina Medina, who is one of the artists participation in this year's exhibit, is also a college professor and teaches art appreciation. She took the opportunity at the reception to inform visitors on the history of not only the Virgin of Guadalupe and her appearance to a common indigenous man which is recognized by the Catholic Church as a genuine appearance of Mary, but also the history of the art dedicated to this iconic figure in Latin culture, and how the Spanish utilized elements of existing indigenous religion in the representation of the virgin. Elements of which can be traced back to the "Mother Earth" goddess adored by Pre-Columbian Americans.

"El Vato con La Virgen" by Samuel and Kim Torres depicts the prevalence of tattoos to the virgin among Latinos. (Photo: David Wilfong)

During the artists' reception, the cultural center provided a plentiful sampling of Latin cuisine with Spanish-language music ranging from folkloric tunes to Juanes. The artists who were displaying their work had the opportunity to mingle with the crowd which had gathered, and a handful of people who had originally arrived to attend a screening at the movie theater next door made their way in to peruse the exhibit. Friday was the closest available weekend night to Dec. 12, a holiday dedicated to La Virgen in Mexico.

Visitors make their way through the gallery of artwork dedicated to La Virgen de Guadalupe. (Photo: David Wilfong)
Visitors make their way through the gallery of artwork dedicated to La Virgen de Guadalupe. (Photo: David Wilfong)

Following the art exhibit of La Virgen de Guadalupe, the Oak Cliff Cultural Center will be hosting an exhibit by Abebe Zelelew, who creates paintings done on carved wood panels. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Abebe has produced more than 3,000 works and has exhibited his work around the globe, including Ethiopia, France and China. In 1996, Abebe's work was included in the Ethiopian modern art exhibit "Aethiopia," which toured throughout Europe.

"Homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe" and "Ojos de Dios" by Precilliano Romero (wood carving).

The renovated OCCC opened in August 2010, replacing the Ice House Cultural Center which provided cultural services to the neighborhood for more than a decade. The OCCC is open Tuesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

(For more information, click HERE)

Local artist Eva Azul visits with attendees at a booth showcasing her work on Friday night. (Photo: David Wilfong)
Local artist Eva Azul visits with attendees at a booth showcasing her work on Friday night. (Photo: David Wilfong)

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