CHRISTIAN MENDEZ / Coachella Unincorporated
COACHELLA — A small crowd gathered as Alma Ochoa took the stage to perform a monologue about being Purépecha in the eastern Coachella Valley.
“Remember something ancient; create something new,” Ochoa said. “Here we are.”
Ochoa was one of more than ten artists who participated in East Valley Voices OUT LOUD, an event meant to highlight storytelling and arts from the east valley.
“The monologue speaks of the eastern Coachella Valley, and how most of our parents are field workers, and I just want to share that with the community.” Ochoa said. “Many of us still carry our [Purepecha] culture and heritage. We still speak our indigenous language.”
The event was hosted by the Crisálida Community Arts Project, an art program focused on promoting art in the east valley through workshops, classes, and performances.
“East Valley Voices OUT LOUD grew organically over the past twelve months as writers, actors, musicians, poets and others approached me about how they might connect to the Crisalida Community Arts Project,” said Crisálida program director David Gonzalez.
Besides the local poets, musicians and playwrights who performed at the nighttime event, participants in the No Solo Del Pan Vive El Humano poetry workshops held in North Shore also participated in the event by sharing some of the poetry that they developed during their five-week course.
One local poet, Francisco Rodriguez, shared an original poem he wrote about historic east valley community organizer Leonardo Espinoza.
“The central emotion of it is that we are all normal individuals,” he said. “People might say that there is nothing special about us, but that is the thing that makes us special. We have emotions, we have thoughts, we have feelings, we are our own world. Being able to make a poem about a world and a man is just beautiful.”
Gonzalez said one of his favorite moments of the event was hearing Rodriguez’s poem because it brought together a young poet and the well-known organizer.
“This kind of inter-generational connection is thrilling,” said Gonzalez. “I hope we can continue to do a lot more.”
The Crisálida event also served as an official launch party for the program’s new mobile art van, which will be hosting art shows and workshops throughout the area.
Local artist Aurturo Castellenos Jr. said he thinks the van will provide a much-needed place for local youth to create art.
“I like how [the program] emphasizes the east valley voices,” said Castellanos. “Usually, all the attention is placed on the east valley because of the Salton Sea, but I think art is just as important as infrastructure for the east valley.”
Gonzalez said the OUT LOUD event was the first of many he hopes to organize for local artists.
“The event was a blast, beyond my wildest dreams,” said Gonzalez. “OUT LOUD was such a success we are already planning more.”
To stay updated on upcoming Crisálida projects and events, visit the Crisálida Arts Project blog, crisalida-arts.blogspot.com.