Southern California picks from Mariah Green

Cliff Notes

Each week, our regional Cliff Notes columnists Mariah Green, Vanessa Perez Winder, Jas Keimig, and Sam Wrigglesworth pick the most exciting events and exhibitions on the West Coast.

Mucho Gusto: a music festival without borders
Riverside, CA
September 23

In a conversation with musician Eduardo “Eddie” Valencia ahead of the MUCHO GUSTO music festival in Riverside, California, Valencia noted this year’s theme is Piñate Surrealism: celebrating all the beautiful moments Black and brown folks share within their cultures and communities.

Valencia said, “as the piñatas break, different candies are flung in all directions. Parties with piñatas were often birthday celebrations and it wasn’t unusual that these families were immigrants from Latin America. The surrealism comes from the fact that these joyous celebrations with loving families still suffered from internalized forms of suffering. Whether it be homophobia, anti-black or anti-indigenous racism, or the ever present patriarchy of double standards, members of our own families were at times not accepted or not discussed.” 

The MUCHO GUSTO fest is about collectivism inside Afro-Latin diasporas where borders are no longer familiar. The festival’s producers, Cosme Cordova, Ulises Rodriguez, Richie Velasquez aka Deladeso, and Valencia, envision the gathering strengthening solidarity across the Inland Empire. They want to acknowledge fellow community advocates engaging in what matters most to them as well. Valencia talks about a future worth celebrating when we all invest in our future together.

Riverside’s beloved artist Deladeso is behind the promotional fliers and will be displaying piñata-inspired pieces during the festival. I look forward to moving and sweating together to the sounds of Arenas (from Chicano Batman), L Perla, Orchestra Gold, Cumbiation, Mediopicky, Jeremy Sole, Niño Francois, MILPA, La Papaya Club, and Quitapenas!

“What if, much like breaking a piñata, we did the work to break apart these elements that are preventing us from authenticity; would we be rewarded?” —Eddie Valencia

Reflections: What do you dance for? Who are your favorite music cultural collectives and how do you support them as community liberation resources?

Alexa Vazquez: i don’t want to be funny anymore photo exhibition and book launch
Division 9 Gallery, Riverside, CA
September 15

The power of memory whispers to you from afar. As if you were at a park with one ear to the telephone listening from the pipeline connecting you to the voices of your past selves. From the touch of old family photos to the sound of the shutter capturing a self timed portrait, Alexa Vazquez has built a playground of entanglement for their past and present self inside their first printed book 

I don’t want to be funny anymore maps a vast personal journey of Chicanx experience and identity through archived family memories, soft and sharp edged self explored portraits, the blooming of gender queerness, personal writing, tattoos, and stencils as a means of self expression. Vazquez invites us into their journey as a photographer capturing everyday scenes in the Inland Empire. 

Pre-order the book from Curious Publishing.

Reflections: What spaces and places from your memories do return to? Does memory get activated through smell, touch, taste? Who do you return to? How do you now return?

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