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Pueblo celebrates Chicano art and history with 'Hecho en Colorado'

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Juan Espinoza stands in front of his photographs, which predominantly focus on the Chicano civil rights movement in Colorado. His work is on display at the El Pueblo History Museum.
Juan Espinoza stands in front of his photographs, which predominantly focus on the Chicano civil rights movement in Colorado. His work is on display at the El Pueblo History Museum.

PUEBLO, Colo. — This month, History Colorado’s El Pueblo History Museum opened a new exhibit that will center artists of Chicano, Indigenous and Mexican descent.

Titled “Hecho en Colorado” (Made in Colorado), the exhibit was created as part of a partnership with the Denver Latino Cultural Arts Center.

“These artists’ contributions to the cultural landscape of Colorado are unmatched and it is a great opportunity to share them with southern Colorado,” said Dianne Archuleta, director of El Pueblo History Museum, in a recent press release.

Hecho en Colorado” showcases a variety of art, depicting both contemporary and ancient traditions. The exhibition will include work from notable artists like Carlos Sandoval, Carlota EspinoZa, Carlos Fresquez, and David Ocelotl García alongside many more.

Colorado Voices

"Hecho en Colorado" at the El Pueblo History Museum

Many of the photos on display at the exhibit were captured by Juan Espinoza, who said he became a photographer almost by accident. In 1968, Espinoza was in Vietnam. One night, while playing poker, another man at the table used his camera as part of his bet on the final hand.

“And I won the pot, and that’s how I started photography,” recalled Espinoza, whose photos at El Pueblo History Museum focus primarily on Colorado’s Chicano rights movement.

“A lot of these artists have their origins in Pueblo or the San Luis Valley,” explained Adrianna Abarca, a curator with History Colorado. “Pueblo was one of the centers for the El Movimiento — the Chicano civil rights movement here in Colorado and in the Southwest United States, so it’s very important to acknowledge their contributions to the civil rights of the Chicanos and Mexicanos in the United States.”

[Watch: La Raza de Colorado - El Movimiento]

“I think that this exhibition will really bring a lot of pride out in the people of Pueblo, and I’m looking forward to the older generation sharing their history and their culture with the younger generations so that these traditions and these histories are carried forth,” Abarca said.

“This whole concept of ‘Hecho in Colorado’ is so cool,” Espinoza said. "We are now recognized. Our art is recognized; our culture is recognized."

The exhibit at El Pueblo History Museum comes at a time when many pieces of Chicano art in the state are considered "endangered." The nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation released its annual report of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” in early May and this year’s list includes pieces of Colorado history.

The list includes five Colorado murals — three of which are in Denver — that were created by Chicano artists. One of them is “San Luis-Sierras y Colores,” a mural by Carlos Sandoval that he painted in 1986.

Sandoval's work is also on display in "Hecho en Colorado." The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes roughly 50 works from the Abarca Family Collection. The collection, previously shown in Denver, will be on display until December.


Julio Sandoval is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at juliosandoval@rmpbs.org.

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