Arts Council to celebrate Latin, Hispanic culture

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Hispanic Foundation is teaming up with the West Orange Arts Council and the West Orange Public Library to create a monthlong art exhibition for display at the library and the West Orange Arts Center from Friday, Sept. 15, to Saturday, Oct. 14. “¡Bienvenidos a las Artes!” is looking for Hispanic and Latino artists to submit work for the exhibit, which will be held in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month and the Hispanic flag raising on Monday, Sept. 25.

“We wanted to bring Latino artists to town and do one big feature with as many Hispanic residents as possible,” Frank Niccoletti, the youth committee director of the WOAC, told the West Orange Chronicle in an Aug. 4 phone interview. “Things caught fire and now we have an event in the works.”

The WOHF was founded by West Orange Deputy Mayor Rodolfo Rodriguez and business owner Ysabel Strowe.

According to the WOHF’s website, at www.westorangehispanicfoundation.org, the foundation’s purpose is to “establish a group that helps both local business and the community connect and flourish within town.” It also provides assistance to Latinos in West Orange who are seeking to set up a local business and and become part of the community.

“The population has grown drastically,” Rodriguez said in a phone interview on Aug. 4, in discussing the art exhibit and monthlong celebration in the works. “We all speak Spanish, but come from different places. Some things are different.”

Along with the art exhibit, the WOAC and Hispanic Heritage Foundation will host a street festival and flag raising Sept. 25 at the library, where flags of different countries will be raised by Essex County representatives who hail from those countries.

“Last year we did Hispanic Heritage Month for the first time,” Rodriguez said. “There’s going to be games and cultural stuff on Washington Street for the whole family.”

Hispanic Heritage Month aims to bring the Hispanic and Latino communities together to celebrate their heritage with the rest of the West Orange community.

“This is something we do a lot during the year,” Rodriguez said. “We work together to put all of the community together.”

The WOAC exhibit is currently looking for artists to feature in its show. Anyone who is from West Orange or the surrounding areas and of Hispanic or Latino background can put their artwork on display.

“The West Orange Arts Council loves to partner with community organizations and during Hispanic Heritage Month we thought it the perfect time to feature as many local Hispanic and Latino artists as possible at the West Orange Arts Center,” WOAC Chairwoman Patricia Mitrano said in an email on Aug. 5. “It is an amazing collaboration among all our town organizations and the people that are driving it have the best interests of the community in mind.”

According to Mitrano, artists interested in becoming involved have come from as far as Pennsylvania. But the council is asking that artists be from West Orange and the surrounding area or that they have ties to the town.

“It is an amazing collaboration among all our town organizations and the people that are driving it have the best interests of the community in mind,” Mitrano said.

And it’s not only professional artists who will be featured at the exhibit — amateurs are welcome too.

“I’m honored to be in the position to help expose as many people as possible to the healing powers of art and the joys of creating,” Mitrano said. “You do not have to be a professional artist to be involved in the West Orange Arts Council, just (have) a belief that the arts are important to our community and society.”

To submit to the Hispanic Heritage Month art exhibit, contact Lisa Suss, WOAC exhibition coordinator, at sussme2710@gmail.com.

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