Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Cultural center provides artistic haven for Oak Cliff residents
Eventually, the center would like to be able to provide exposure for both regional and international artists as well.
As a child, Delia Jasso, her three sisters, and their father would spend most of their afternoons inside the art museum at Dallas’ Fair Park. Some of Jasso’s best childhood memories were walking through the galleries filled with vibrant, acrylic paintings and sculptural displays.
Today, as District 1 Councilmember for the City of Dallas, Jasso is making this same experience possible for the residents of Oak Cliff, through an art and culture program at the new Oak Cliff Cultural Center (OCCC). Since OCCC’s opening on August 12, more than 500 residents have come to the center to show their support.
“I understand the need for arts and culture and the service it can do for the public,” Jasso said.
Every day the center attracts those who walk, bike, drive, and even skateboard along the busy corridor of Jefferson Boulevard. Beneath the bright orange awning, visitors can see the inside of the dance studio, art gallery, and multipurpose room. Every month, the gallery will host native Oak Cliff artists to show its support for the city’s vibrant art scene.
The first exhibit features local painters, glass blowers, wood carvers, and even photographers. Cynthia Maute’s oil on canvas with cotton strings and Sal Barron’s black and white photographs are among the many artworks. Eventually, the center would like to be able to provide exposure for both regional and international artists as well.
Prior to the opening, Gary Sanchez, Cultural Programs coordinator for the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, said he personally welcomed all of the merchants on the street. Sanchez hopes to form close relationships with neighboring residents who may be interested in participating with the center.
After school, groups of smiling students pass the center to view the artwork inside the gallery. The employees at a nearby neighborhood business, Loan Express, have more of a positive energy from the children who pass their store each day after school.
“The center finds them something to do, focus on, and allows them to become interested in the stuff that they should be doing,” said Loan Express employee Anthony Gordon.
Mary Deering, an Oak Cliff resident of 2- years, hopes that the center will be able to provide classes that can capture each student’s interest. When asked about the art gallery at the center, Deering said she was very impressed with the artwork.
In addition to the artist programs, the dance studio will accommodate concerts, music lessons and dance programs, including those with the Alegre Ballet Folklórico, a Mexican folk dancing company. Since most of the Oak Cliff schools are currently unable to provide classes in art education, the center also hopes to offer after school programs in partnership with Big Thought and DISD.
With recent city budget cuts, the funding for culture centers, theaters, community programs, and staff has limited the growth for centers like the OCCC. On Sept. 22, the city passed a $2.7 billion budget for the restoration of services to parks, streets, libraries, recreation centers, and cultural arts programs, like the OCCC. The center will now be able to hire another staff manager and expand their weekly hours to increase attendance. Jasso said she is continuing to work on gathering more private donations to fund the indoor and outdoor seating that will be used in a café for families and guests.
Jasso says the OCCC currently provides dance and music on a smaller scale than the larger art centers in Dallas. Since the support of a 2006 bond program, it has taken the city years to pursue the necessary steps to purchase, construct, design, and find a space for the OCCC. Jasso and her supporters are continuing with their efforts to promote the center’s development and keep the residents excited about future programs, she said.
Today, both Sanchez and Jasso remain committed to their mission in working to create an artistic environment that inspires all the patrons, not only in Oak Cliff, but also in Dallas.
“All people are proud of their heritage and that needs to be shown. Dallas needs to grow its roots and find identity as a city,” Sanchez said.
To learn more about the OCCC, visit their website. For more information or volunteer opportunities, contact Gary Sanchez, programs coordinator at 214.670.3777.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Daily Campus
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