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Minister of Culture

The artwalk gets a taste of Latin America thanks to one woman's passion.

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It's the Met's first opera this season, but Porto is preparing for an opening of her own. This week, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Porto's bringing her love of the arts to Richmond by staging the Third Annual Hispanic Women in the Arts walking tour in coordination with the October First Friday event. The show isn't confined to a single gallery. Instead, it's using the artwalk itself as the staging ground.

There will be a piece by one Hispanic artist per participating gallery. This year the boys are allowed to play too, although their work — and cooties — will be mostly quarantined in the Cornerstone Gallery.

"In Buenos Aires and Colombia and other countries, the arts events go to the streets," Porto says. "If you have music and performers and then [people] go to see the paintings and the sculptures, it becomes a promoting of the whole spectrum of the arts."

Indeed, for Porto's celebration a range of disciplines will be on display. The Latin Ballet will perform tango, capoeira and other traditional dances, and local salsa band Bio Ritmo will be performing out on the street. Seventeen galleries will be showing work by 22 Latina and Latino artists.

This is the event's third year but the first in conjunction with First Fridays. Porto says the idea grew out of an unhappy event in her own life, but has turned into something positive. She is on the board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which she uses to regularly network with artists.

"I think women are intimidated by approaching the galleries when they move here, so this is opening a door for them," Porto says.

Porto notes that Christina Newton, director of First Fridays, was very receptive, and now other galleries not officially part of Newton's artwalk are participating too.

White Canvas is hosting an artist and The Gallery in Carytown is hosting a cocktail kickoff and dedicating this month's show to Carlos Torres, a Colombian painter whose work has been exhibited all over the world.

Quirk Gallery, a regular on the First Friday walk, is augmenting itsr regular show by featuring Czech artist, Blanka Sperkova, with a piece by Patricia Silva Santisteban.

Santisteban worked as an architect in Peru before she moved here in 1987 to avoid the civil war in her country. She started sculpting a dozen years ago and carried over some of the concepts she worked with as an architect.

"I love stairs, I love doors, I love windows," Santisteban says. "I use those to make absurd little buildings." Doors are turned upside down and stairs don't lead anywhere in pottery that she finishes with dark Raiku glazing, a Japanese technique.

"I came here as an adult, so all my cultural references are from Peru," Santisteban says. That means that contemporary literary figures like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges are there in her work, but so are traditional crafts, like huacos.

In Peru, huacos are traditional ornamental vessels with faces or figures on them. Santisteban has updated the craft and makes more modern versions, too.

Porto cautions that when you talk about "Hispanic" women you are covering a range of more than 20 countries. She says each artist in the show "comes from a different perspective and a different schooling. Each one has developed a different way of showing their technique." Despite their different backgrounds, Porto says bright colors are a common denominator through their work.

"Very passionate, as the Hispanics would say," Porto says, laughing. S



A WALKING TOUR OF LATIN AMERICA

The Oct. 6 Hispanic Women in the Arts walking tour kicks off at 6 p.m, with cocktails at Gallery Art and Design, and runs until the galleries close, usually around 10 p.m.



Chris Rodriguez (Chile)
Furniture design
White Canvas Gallery, 111 S. 14th St.



Iris Ruisanchez (Puerto Rico) and Ileana Monteagudo (Cuba)
Oil painting and photography

Bridges, 1 E. Broad St.



Mixteco Women artists (Mexico)
Embroidery and Latin-African poetry reading
Elegba Folklore Society
101 E. Broad St.



Evelia Gonzalez Porto (Colombia)
Photography
Richmond Public Library
101 E. Franklin St.



Jorge Benitez (Cuba), Oliverio Corrales (Ecuador), Jorge Diaz (Peru), Oscar Contreras (Guatemala), Lucio Valverde (Ecuador)
Oil paintings and photogrpahy
Curated Culture at Cornerstone Gallery
23 W. Broad St.



Marcelo Cornicello (Argentina)
Photojournalism
Richmond Camera
213 W. Broad St.



Rossana Lopez Haugh (Puerto Rico)
Oil painting
Outre Gallery
3 W. Broad St.



Herland Ortiz (Bolivia)
Glass sculpture
Career Advancement Center
201 W. Broad St.



Clara Dutari (Argentina)
Photography
Corporate Museum and Frame
301 W. Broad St.



Patricia Silva Santisteban (Peru)
Sculpture
Quirk Gallery
311 W. Broad St.



Carlos Torres (Colombia)
Oil paintings
The Gallery Art & Design
16 S.
Dooley Ave.



Monica Palma (Mexico)
Oil painting
ADA Gallery
228 W. Broad St.



Elin Doval (Cuba) and Mariana Grau (Argentina)
Oil and acrylic painting
Lift Coffee Shop
218 W. Broad St.



Carolina Velez (Colombia)
Jewelry designer
Visual Arts Studio
208 W. Broad St.



Jacqueline Carreras (Guatemala)
Oil and acrylic painting
312 Gallery
312 N. Brook St.



Sabrina Sarcos Nimis (Venezuela)
Acrylic painter
Gallery 5 at the Virginia Fire & Police Museum
200 W. Marshall St.



Muriel Mamone (Argentina)
Oil painter
art6 Gallery
6 E. Broad St.



Bio Ritmo, the Latin Ballet and Capoeira demonstrations
Main Stage at Brook between Broad and Marshall Streets



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