Northwest Folklife’s 2018 Cultural Focus Echoes of Aztlán and Beyond continues with a community discussion around identity. The series, La Charla de la Gente, is presented in partnership with the Mexican Cultural Institution of Seattle and the Rainier Arts Center. As identified by the Cultural Focus Committee, the goal of the Cultural Focus is to showcase, preserve and recognize traditional and popular arts and culture in Mexican American and Chicana/o communities in our region. This program continues to explore what it means to be Mexican and Chicana/o, starting with indigenous roots in America, and moving to immigration, the building of communities, and a vision of the future. La Charla de la Gente will create space and a platform for live dialog with audiences that continue throughout four conversations exploring what it means to be Mexican American, Chicana/o, Latinx, and Indigenous.

The first conversation, Introducción, will begin by setting a foundation for self-identifying terms, language, and labels and will feature Dr. Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, Roberto Salmeron (owner of Taco Chuki’s), Rosalina Guillen, Ixtli White Hawk Salinas (Aztec Cultural Bearer). The following three conversations will reflect on the past, present, and future: Ayer (yesterday), Hoy (today), and Mañana (tomorrow).

The series launches in connection with the MexAm Festival starting on September 20 and runs through the Rainier Arts Center’s Arts Gumbo on October 20.

Event Schedule

La Charla de la Gente: Introducción

September 20, 7 PM – 9 PM

MexAm Festival, Mexican Consulate Building in Capitol Hill

Panelists: Dr. Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, Roberto Salmeron, Rosalina Guillen, Ixtli White Hawk Salinas

Moderator: Tony Gomez


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La Charla de la Gente: Ayer

October 4, 7 PM

Studio Lazo (1614 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA)

Space is limited, so please come early to reserve your seat!

Panelists: Francisca Garcia, Enrique Cerna, Miguel Maestas

Moderator: Jim Cantu

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La Charla de la Gente: Hoy

October 11, 7 PM

Hillman City Collaboratory

Panelists: Aurelio Valdez, Edgardo Garcia, Barbara Rodriguez, Jake Prendez, Julissa Sanchez

Moderator: Moises J. Himmelfarb

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La Charla de la Gente: Mañana

October 20

Rainier Arts Center’s Arts Gumbo

$15 for Adults | $10 for Students & Seniors (Purchase Tickets Here)

Panelists: This event will feature artistic expressions from our youth residency Próxima Generación students.

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Panelist Bios

Dr. Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs is a professor at Seattle University in modern languages and women’s studies, a poet, author and editor of more than 7 books who specializes in Chicanx/Latinx and Latin American subjectivities and identities. She has an M.A and a PhD from Stanford University. A native of Texas and California, having grown up both in Mexico and the United States, Gabriella spent time in Los Angeles where she earned two B.A.’s in Spanish and French, two minors in Anthropology and Sociology and a Latin American Studies Emphasis in four years, while also having spent more than a year in France.

Roberto Salmerón is an immigrant-turned-businessman who started a successful restaurant straight out of college with an economics degree from the University of Washington. Taco Chukis serves authentic Mexican street food with an exclusive vibe. Seven years after the first Tacos Chukís opened, Salmerón now has three locations and a fourth on the way.

Rosalina Guillen is a widely recognized farmworker and rural justice leader in the state of Washington. She is currently the Executive Director of Community to Community Development, a nonprofit women-led grassroots organization that works for a just society and healthy communities in Bellingham, Washington. For the last 28 years, Guillen has worked with the United Farm Workers of America AFL-CIO as a farm worker organizer and NVP as an elected member of the National Executive Board. She has represented farm workers in ongoing dialogues of immigration issues, labor rights, trade agreements, and the food sovereignty movement.

Ixtlixochitl Salinas-White Hawk is an Indigenous Artist and Cultural Educator/Consultant. Ixtli’s artistic work and community involvement is an expression of her Nahua-Mexika roots; as she lives and thrives in two worlds. She is often a part of community and environmental efforts to ensure Indigenous identity and natural resources will continue being a reality for our children and children’s children.

Antonio Gómez is the co-founder of La Sala Latinx Artist Network, Education Manager of Broadway Center for Performing Arts and a Percussionist. Gómez is a former California K-12 teacher who has designed educational resources for PBS and the EMP Museum/Smithsonian, his recent musical projects include Trio Guadalevín, Tango del Cielo and the Eurasia Consort. He holds an MA in Education from UC Berkeley and has conducted study and research trips in Latin America, Europe, and North Africa.

Francisca Garcia was brought in to manage Rainier Arts Center in 2010 and been a part of the SEEDArts family since the year 2000. Building on its long-running Arts Gumbo events, SEEDArts has been inviting artists and makers from all communities to share their arts, music, and dance. Francisca has been sharing the Mexican cultural experience for 45 years and can make a mean mole.

Enrique Cerna is the son of Mexican immigrants and was born and raised in the Yakima Valley. After 23 years with KCTS 9, Cerna is currently retired from KCTS 9, but during his tenure, he has produced award-winning current affairs programs and documentaries, moderated debates and provided analysis on a wide range of social and political issues. Currently, on any given day, Enrique is out in the community bringing people together by hosting and moderating events.

Miguel Maestas is the Housing and Economic Development Director of El Centro de la Raza and has been with El Centro for a total of 19 years. Miguel is actively engaged in community development and organizing communities for advocacy and participation, and has distinguished himself as an effective leader and a respected community organizer. Miguel is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico and has worked in youth services, community development, organizing, administration and education programs for 32 years.  Miguel holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Multicultural Education from the University of New Mexico.

Jim Cantú received his Bachelor of Arts in Radio-TV Production from the University Of Washington School Of Communications and an MBA from the University Of Washington Foster School Of Business. He is a former Associate Producer at KCTS-TV, radio DJ host of the KRAB radio program ‘Musica de La Raza’, radio talk show host and producer of ‘Nuestra Obvia Realidad’ and can be heard on 91.3 FM Tuesday mornings from 6 to 9 am.

Edgardo Garcia is a volunteer, festival producer and committee member of the Dia de Muertos Committee since 2012. In addition to his role in organizing the annual Dia de Muertos Festival at Seattle Center, Edgardo has also been involved with Northwest Folklife since 2013 and was recently an integral member of the Northwest Folklife’s 2018 Cultural Focus Committee. Along with Edgardo’s passion and dedication to sharing and celebrating Mexican culture, he also looks toward the future generations to continue passing on these traditions and cultural celebrations.

Barbara Rodriguez serves as the Artistic Coordinator and Committee Member for the Día de Muertos Festival at Seattle Center, she is the Board President at Para Los Niños, a nonprofit located in Burien, as well as recently an integral member of the Northwest Folklife’s 2018 Cultural Focus Committee. Barbara became a Cultural Promoter because she is passionate about her culture and her roots and strongly believes that in order to be successful, you have to be aware of where you came from.

Jake Prendez is a renowned visual artist, Project Manager of Próxima Generación: Youth Residency Project for Northwest Folklife, a founding member and editor and chief of Puro Pedo Magazine, the Pop Up Mercado, The Barrio Boogie Collective, The Art Jam/ Buen Pastor Mural Project as well as a founding member of the Chicana and Chicano Bar Association. Most recently, he received the “People’s Choice” award at the 2017 Fiestas Patrias Art Exhibition at Seattle Center.

La Charla de la Gente is made possible by: