Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery is the Latinx/Chicanx arts hub of Seattle

OCTOBER 30, 2020by  MARYROSE DENTON

Walking up the city sidewalk in the White Center neighborhood, we stop outside the sandstone painted door of Nepantla Cultural Arts gallery, the hub for Latinx/Chicanx artwork in the Seattle area.

Stepping inside, we find co-owners Jake Prendez and Judy Avitia Gonzalez re-arranging some newly arrived pieces to the current art exhibit for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). They welcome us as warmly as they welcome the community of local artists and artisans who show their work in this space.

Nepantla is a term meaning “the space in the middle” and often refers to marginalized communities, cultures, or gender identifying groups who otherwise feel overlooked.

Prendez describes Nepantla as “a space to live, to heal, and to create.” It is a beautiful refuge in which to make art.(Image:Richard Schmitz)

Before the pandemic, that is exactly what they did. Make art. Nepantla held workshops, art classes, open mics, and hosted guest speakers. Prendez and Avitia Gonzalez, while shut down for several months, looked at how they could pivot and continue to bring these important gatherings to their community.

They went virtual with their open house every second Saturday of the month, and Prendez began looking at YouTube as a medium for teaching workshops.

The doors of Nepantla may have shuttered for safety reasons, but their work and spirit remained a vital heartbeat within this art and culture community.

Now with their doors back open, they are currently exhibiting Dia de los Muertos through November 8th. The exhibit features several local and national artists, focusing on the cultural significance of family, connection, and heritage.(Image:Richard Schmitz)

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 consisting of a multi-day festival to celebrate generations of family members, friends, and loved ones who died and, as tradition tells it, traveled to the Land of the Dead (Chicunamictl√°n).

As believed throughout many cultures, this day represents a thinning of the veil between the spirit world and this world. The souls of the departed (Difuntos) may return to the living world to feast, drink, dance, and enjoy music with their loved ones. But only for one 24-hour period. Any children who have passed come to visit as Angelitos.

On both sides of us, as we wander through the gallery, are paintings and mixed-media depicting various aspects of this holiday…

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