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Celebrating Charlotte’s Latinx Creativesby Tim Miner & Melissa Dorsch on October 15, 2020
September 15 through October 15, we’re celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month by sharing glimpses of Charlotte’s incredible Latinx creatives on our Instagram feed. To help us determine who to feature, we asked our followers to give us suggestions … and they were not shy.
Here are the first four Latinx creatives and makers we’ve profiled. And, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Check out our Instagram feed for more. And, if you know a Latinx creative we should know, too, tell us about them here.
WEEK FOUR CREATIVES
“Unidos somos más fuertes.” – Mariana Maradiaga-Iraheta
Illustrator. Animator. Fiber artist. That’s a pretty amazing trifecta … and Mariana Maradiaga-Iraheta pulls it off with style. She brings bright colors and whimsy and a touch of irreverence to her work, which ranges from detailed needlework to stickers and sketches. You never know exactly what Mariana will post next … and that makes her even more magical.
And, she loves being here to bring it to you.
“I love that as I have grown up in Charlotte I’ve had the chance to see this city develop. The art scene here Is always growing and transforming, and it feels so alive because of the great artists and community members we have. I feel lucky that I can be a part of it too.”
“Amigos! Nosotros llevamos el color y la alegria por dentro y por fuera. La creatividad que compartimos con el mundo nos une con nuestros hermanos de sangre y de adopcion. Sigamos expresando esa alegria tan nuestra en todo lo que hacemos, cocinamos, cantamos y bailamos.” – Rose Murillo
After 15 years of creating wearable art in the Queen City, Rosa Murillo is still incredibly excited about the future of the creative community here:
“Charlotte is an exciting city to be creative! New opportunities seem to pop up everyday. Especially in the last few years, Uptown has been exploding with art and I’ve been lucky to have been in the city long enough to have witnessed some the city’s cultural renaissance, like the transformation of NODA, the opening of art museums and exhibits celebrating Latino culture, like Levine’s Museum exhibit NUEVOlution and the Hola Charlotte Festival.”
Also, there are so many city beautifying projects like the Art Murals in spaces like Camp North End and food venues like Optimist Hall just to name a few. The creative juices are definitely flowing and it’s a great time to be a Charlottean.”
“Ya basta de vivir en las sombras de una ciudad tan llena de oportunidades. Nuestro momento es ahora, y no debemos dejar pasar la oportunidad de mostrar lo hermosa qué es nuestra cultura. Como dice el gran poeta Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, ‘No hay nada malo, estamos bien. Esta todo bien, HEY!'” – Javier Morales
If you’ve lived in Charlotte for a long time or if you’ve grown a bit jaded, you need Javier Morales in your life. His unbridled enthusiasm is inescapable. Whether it’s Charlotte Hornets or Charlotte Football Club or local festivals or a new friend he’s just made or a new spot he’s found, Javi is into it. He’s unafraid to share his excitement with everyone. He wants you to discover (or re-discover) Charlotte along with him as he travels across the city. And, you’d be foolish not to.
He loves food. A lot. Through his photography, videography and all-around zest for that culinary life, Javi wants you to know where you can get the best “orgasmic food” in Charlotte. Check out all of the great places to eat by visiting @qc_javi . Your tastebuds will thank you for it!
Javier is a cheerleader for the creative community here. But, there’s one of Javi’s passion reigns supreme — his belief in the power of Charlotte Latinx community. Through him, you meet people and places you absolutely need in your life. And, that’s a gift to all of us.
“My favorite thing about being a creative in Charlotte is how we are all willing to collaborate to make the city grow. We understand the endless possibilities to make a difference in the community and all fight for a common goal. Giving up is not an option in Charlotte.”
Cash app: $javi3110
“Si hoy no luchas, mañana no llores. Cuando existen las ganas, todo se puede.” – Chris Rodarte
If you’ve spent more than 10 minutes on Instagram over the last few years, you know Chris Rodarte, a prolific and enthusiastic food and lifestyle content creator and today’s featured Latinx creative. Just check out some of his culinary shots and you’ll wish you could pull the image off the page and pop it in your mouth!
A native of Lincolnton, NC, Christopher moved to Charlotte three years ago … and he’s made his presence felt ever since:
“Charlotte is still fairly a new city, which gives a nice advantage for creators to make a name for themselves. I love how small and intimate our community is. The amount of support I’ve received from other creators is unreal. My photo and video business has grown simply through networking and collaboration.”
“Todo comienzo es difícil. !Construye tu sueño!” – Nico Amórtegui
If you don’t know Nico Amórtegui’s name, you DO know his work. It’s all over the Queen City — from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (Gates B7 and B10) to Eder Gallery and Luna’s Living Kitchen. And, that just scratches the surface of where his work is featured.
Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Nico was born into a family of creatives — architects, interior designers to photographers. He comes by his passion to make honestly. It’s just in his DNA.
Nico’s been home here in Charlotte for 18 years and we asked him what keeps him here and creative:
“What’s exciting about being a creative in CLT is seeing art pop up everywhere now compared to when I first moved here. There are more murals, more galleries, more art collectives, and art in public spaces. It’s exciting to see the growth and be a part of a community that values art and creativity. ‘Make art, not war’ … and we’re all better for it.”
“Las diferencias que nos dividen son barreras mentales pasadas de generación en generación. Hay que romper la cadena, para que en el futuro nuestros hijos puedan ser totalmente libres y expresarse como ellos quieran. La Ciudad Reina será inclusiva para todos, si nos ponemos las pilas.” – Lady Payasa
Lady Payasa is an artist and a painter. She’s lived in the Charlotte area for more than 20 years and she has a passion for the potential and the future of the Queen City creative community.
“The fact that there are Latinx creatives scattered around the city, but no real glue binding us, that drives me. Growing up in CLT I felt out of place, misunderstood and left behind. I stopped caring about being included and realized I had to forge a path for myself and the community I envisioned. CLT has so much potential. Latinidad is a myth. Let’s meet up to talk about it fam. I want to create. Yes, it’s that intense lol.”
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WEEK THREE CREATIVES
“SíGANME LOS BUENOS!” – El Chapulín Colorado
Rosalia Torres-Weiner is no stranger to the Charlotte art scene. Her art brings attention to the plight immigrants face and her dedication to social issues is clearly evident in her murals and artwork. For 24 years Rosalia has been teaching us about her Latin culture through her art.
“Charlotte has a great mix of residents – native Carolinians who are curious about Latin culture, a growing population of Latinx immigrants who are making the city their home, and transplants from all over the USA and the World who come for the opportunity that the city can provide.”
“I love creating art that can communicate the stories of my community to all of these different populations, and hopefully broaden their perspective on the issues that are impacting all of us.”
Cash App: $RosaliaWeiner
“De músico, poeta, y loco, todos tenemos un poco.” – Nani Lee
We want to introduce you to a talented experimental artist named Nani Lee. And, what better way to learn about Nani than to view the world through her lens.
“I am a Latina filmmaker, one who has always hated that I was given a life of hardships. As I’ve grown not only as a person, but also an artist to realize I needed those hardships to tap into my creativity as a form of escapism. Creating art is more than just a hobby, it is myself in a myriad of forms. Whether it be my filmmaking, photography, or painting I am releasing a part of myself and channeling it into something new.”
Nani has been in Charlotte for eight years, so has seen how the creative landscape has flourished. “The Charlotte art scene is growing and it’s extremely exciting. I love to connect with other creatives and building new friendships.”
Cash App: $chascanani
“Tu zona de comfort te esta matando. Si quieres crecer salte de tu zona de comfort y veras como tu mundo cambia.” – Geo Soto
We are excited to introduce you to music photographer Geo Soto. Geo’s incredible ability to capture musicians rocking out in action draws the view in as if they were in the first row of a concert. “Capturing artists in their element brings me joy,” says Geo and it shows.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Geo came to Charlotte 8 years ago. While he had been doing photography for a long time, it wasn’t until 2018 that it became his life’s work.
“One of the greatest things about being a creator in Charlotte is the community of creators supporting one another. This is something you don’t find often. Plus, the fact that CLT is still up and coming allows current creators the ability to leave a footprint in the arts.”
Gustavo Soto’s Instagram bio is one word. “Creator.” You can’t describe this sensational visual artist much better than that. His work has to be seen to be believed so make sure you check out the links below.
We asked Gustavo what excites him about the creative vibe in Charlotte and he responded, “I’m most excited about the growing potential and sense of community here in Charlotte. As the city grows, there is opportunity to grow along with it.”
“It’s up to us, as artists, to think beyond the limitations that’s placed on a particular city or location. We can mold it to whatever we see in our minds, and I’ve had the pleasure to create with like-minded artists here who believe the same here.”
“Me siento muy afortunada y orgullosa de pertenecer a este grupo de artistas hispanos en Charlotte, el talento sobra!” – Jo Diquez
Jo Diquez specializes in pencil drawings. These aren’t the little ol’ doodles you’d get if you handed us a pencil; her drawings are stunning, photo-realistic portraits.
Born in Venezuela, Jo was around creativity from an early age as her grandmother was an artist and owned a gallery. While studying fashion design here in the US, she found her passion for drawing … specifically drawing the human face.
Jo has been in the Queen City for three years, but she’s already found that Charlotte is a great place for new creatives just starting out. “It seems like Charlotte has a lot to offer for artists like me, and I just want to explore that since I just started creating again after many years. I’m excited to meet other artists as well!”
WEEK TWO CREATIVES
“Somos fuertes. Somos divertidos. Somos infinitos. Sostenerlasriendas.” – Yung Content
Being serious about being funny? That’s something we can relate to at The Biscuit. And, it’s a perfect description of the Latinx creative we’re featuring today — Yung Content. Calling himself the “Unofficial Senesi of the Culture Mastering YouthFulness and Contentment,” Yung shares his insights on life in Charlotte and life in general on his sketch comedy YouTube channel.
It’s clear he has a passion for using his skill at making us laugh to see a little deeper into reality. And, that’s just what he wants. “We are excited for what sketch comedy can do for Charlotte as a whole. The People. The Market. The Idea,” says Yung.
“The comedy sector is a true hidden gem here that I believe gets overlooked. What excites us about being a creative in Charlotte is how we can change this market forever using improv comedy. Charlotte is funny and the talent we discover highlights it. I truly hope one day, Charlotte will be put on the map for laughter.”
Using comedy and improv to put the Queen City on the map? That’s no laughing matter. We’re 100% want to be on the stage crew … and in the audience … for that.
“Haz lo que te apasiona y hazlo sin miedo!” – Irisol Gonzalez
Irisol Gonzalez, whose visual art can be found on billboards and sides of buildings, newspaper racks and even the Charlotte Douglas airport, graces the Charlotte area with her creative endeavors. She’s even created Zoom backgrounds so all of us can be the hippest participants on our calls.
Irisol is also a HUG grantee and one of the 2020 recipients of the ASC Fellowship Program that rewards established and emerging artists so that they can continue to work on and show meaningful art in the Charlotte area. While she has only been in Charlotte for 7 years, Irisol has been able to connect with other local artists and make a huge impact.
“There is incredible support among artists in Charlotte— we help build each other while we build our careers.”
“Para mis creativos, nunca para de ser lo que eres. No importa de donde vienes, solo a donde vas.” – Eulises Orellana
When it comes to art, Eulises Orellana is a jack-of-all-trades. He’s a graphic artist. He works on canvas. He’s a muralist. He’s a massive Gundam enthusiast (if you don’t know what that is, Google it, it’s worth the search). And, he’s the perfect person to highlight on today’s creative profile.
Eulises has been in the Queen City for 10 years and he’s infectiously enthusiastic about living and working here. “What excites me most is the artistic renaissance happening now where the demand for great art is higher than ever. Thanks to many of the established artists in the city, Charlotte is making it into the conversation as a growing art city with murals and street art popping up all around.”
“I’m excited to be a part of the new generation of artists, I hope to continue bringing people together for the sake of seeing our similarities, and learning to be okay with our differences.”
“Que se ponen las pilas y siguen luchando para lograr sus sueños.” – Julio Gonzalez
Julio Gonazlez is a self-taught multimedia artist who creates art using Mayan an Mexican design elements. He’s become a mainstay in the Charlotte art scene. He has Mayan-themed work displayed in the Mint Museum’s Pre-Columbian collection at the Randolph facility as part of the Interventions series, which juxtaposes newly-created art with the Mint’s permanent collection to encourage us to see older works differently. Julio is also selling art at the TAC Pop-Up Gallery in NoDa right now.
Though a native of Atlanta, GA, Julio has called Charlotte his home for the last 20 years. And, we think he’s right at home.
“I love that Charlotte has a little bit of everything. If you can make your idea work here, you can scale it up and take it anywhere. I also really enjoy collaborating with other artists and vibing with ideas.”
“¡Me encanta hacer las cerámicas! Aunque no hablo español, también me encanta ser Latinx!” – Grace Stott
Grace Stott uses ceramics and mixed media painting to create “charming feminine fantasy” and a “disturbing hyper-reality” with her art … and she’s finding her way into unique spaces all over the Queen City. You can discover Grace’s work at the Hub South End Apartments and on the streets of NODA, where she was commissioned to creatively beautify a trash bin.
“I’ve recently been getting involved in public art, and its exciting to be a part of our evolving landscape. But, what has kept me in CLT is the community I have found here. It might be small, but it is home to some incredible artists that inspire me.”
WEEK ONE CREATIVES
“Que sigan soñando y que recuerden que es nuestra opción de crear de nosotros mismos nuestra obra maestra.” – Edwin Gil
When we asked for folks to send in suggestions for Latinx creatives we should profile for National Hispanic Heritage month, Edwin Gil got LOTS of love, so we started with him. Edwin’s lived and worked in Charlotte for 20 years. About Charlotte’s creative scene, he says:
“Art is an amazing tool to communicate between cultures. Being creative in Charlotte helps others to understand and helps the city to grow in a very diverse way that will change the future in our community.”
“Throughout the years, I have struggled with finding my signature sound. But, I have found the most inspiration when I went back to my family’s musical Puerto Rican roots. There is so much value in appreciating and learning about your culture. I think Hispanic Americans sometimes struggle with identity. But, through art, we can be inspired and not ashamed of our heritage and our influence to American culture today.”- Ariel Dominguez
To keep us on the right beat, we turn to the mistress of the turntable, Ariel Dominguez AKA DOMii, reigning CLT DJ Battle champ.
She may only have been in Charlotte for five years, but, an unrelenting bass groove, her presence reverberates through the Queen City music scene. We asked Ariel to share some thought on the creative scene here:
“Charlotte is growing so fast and there are new artists arriving every day from all over the world seeking opportunities. I love being a part of its growth within the music industry. Our culture here is becoming so rich with variety and talent as more artists join from all over — especially Hispanics. I’m so happy to be here at this time because the atmosphere provides new learning experiences and exposure more often than not.”
Listen to Her Music
Rosa Renteria Jimenez
“Me encanta la comunidad de artistas Latinos en Charlotte. Es muy bonito ver el arte en todo Charlotte.” – Rosa Renteria Jimenez
Moving here as a child, Rosa Renteria Jimenez paints in acrylics and watercolors and illustrates in graphite and ink and you need to check out her work on Instagram or, better yet, buy it or commission it at creationsontherock.bigcartel.com. She even repairs Bibles and creates custom covers for them.
Here’s what Rosa has to say about the Queen City creative community:
“I have been in Charlotte since I was 8 years old and this is the place where I began to create art. I couldn’t think of a better place to keep growing artistically. Charlotte just keeps growing and it’s impossible to separate people, culture and art from that growth.”
“Sé feliz en donde estés y crea tu arte en donde estés. El mundo será más hermoso y tú te sentirás más viv@ y especialmente, libre.” – Kurma Murrain
Continuing our celebration of the Latinx creatives at work in Charlotte, today we introduce you to dancer, poet, blogger and bi-lingual author, Kurma Murrain. Since moving here in 2004, Kurma has become a frequent collaborator with creatives across the city. She’s a passionate supporter of how we can transform our city if when we work together and out our creative talents to work. It’s clear. Kurma loves Charlotte … and Charlotte loves her back.
“People love art in this city! Every time I’m invited to share my poetry, stories, or dance the response is phenomenal. To share my words in English or Spanish or to share the rhythms of my country fills me with great joy and pride. The most humbling experience is to know that my words have inspired someone, and people feel grateful for that.”
Photo by @JeffCrovatta