On September 15th at 6 p.m., the San Bernadino County Museum, in conjunction with the Inland Empire Latino Art Association, opened a new temporary art exhibit called Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America. The event celebrating the exhibit’s opening was made free to the public due to the support of sponsors US Auctions and Manny Serrano. The artwork of the exhibit itself is a collection of works by twenty-one Inland Empire artists, many of whom were present at the event. The museum also provided entertainment in the form of a live mariachi band and a group performing folk dances later that evening.
The main theme and focus of the exhibit, according to a press release from the museum, is a recognition of “the significant achievements of the Hispanic community in politics and industry. Located within the Pulp Culture exhibit, visitors to the art show view art by Latinos today whilst surrounded by an exhibit about the migrant orange grove workers of their past. “The museum is a space for community interaction with history,” said Museum Director David Myers in the same press release, “And what profound stories these artists share through their works!”
One such artist is Louie “Hippieone” Solano, whose abstract spray paintings are vibrant and detailed, depicting impossible floating structures. The influence of street art on his own pieces is clear to see, with these floating structures similarity to wildstyle graffiti’s curves and spikes. Another artist at the event is Hummingbird Ferne Sirois, who is known for her portraits in oil, watercolor and pastel. Her works are colorful and the portrait on display currently employs a soft lighting style. The diversity of artists on display seemingly reflects the diversity that the exhibit itself is attempting to capture.
The art show is meant to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, which lasts from September 15th to October 15th every year. Originally, it was a heritage week first introduced in 1968 by Californian Congressman George E. Brown, and later authorized that same year under public law. Brown, having represented the Los Angeles and part of the San Gabriel valley, wished to recognize the role Latinos played in America’s history. In 1987, Representative Estaban E. Torres proposed expanding the period from one week to a full month, expressing he wanted more time for the nation to properly observe and schedule events. By August 17th, 1988, it was expanded with the presiding President George Bush saying, “Not all of the contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our society are so visible or so widely celebrated, however. Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities.”
In addition to the heritage month, the independence days of many Latin American countries are celebrated, such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile just within a three-day period. President Biden, like every president before him, has done a presidential proclamation for Hispanic Heritage month. “I have often said that America can be defined in one word: possibilities,” Biden stated during the proclamation, “The Hispanic community has always embodied that ideal. It lives in the dreams of those who have only just arrived here and the legacy of families who have been here for centuries.”
Other government officials are also celebrating the month, such as Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. In a video released by Cardona onto his Twitter account, he pushes for a continuation of expanding opportunities for Latinos in education stating, “After all, Latino success is America’s success. Let’s celebrate the achievements and promise of Latinos this month and every month.”
While the opening celebration of this exhibit has come to pass, there are likely many more celebrations within San Bernadino that students can participate in within the community. As for the art exhibition, the museum plans to keep it open until the end of Hispanic Heritage month.