When the Centro Cultural Mexicano opened in Redmond, its founders envisioned it as a safe gathering place for all types of people – especially those in historically oppressed groups.
Because of this, its first pride art show “Rainbow on the Eastside” is a welcomed addition to the many events and services it provides, according to Executive Director Angie Hinojos.
“It’s important that we are intersectional in our work,” Hinojos said.
The exhibit opened June 1 and runs Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., at 7945 Gilman Street until June 26. The gallery, which was put on in partnership with Wolfberry Studio LLC and with a grant from the city of Redmond, features LGBTQIA artists who live on the Eastside.
One of the featured artists is 18-year-old Lily Pezzee of Woodinville.
The Woodinville High School student contributed three digital pieces to the show, which was supposed to take place last year. Pezzee said it added meaning to be involved in the show because she had just fully come out early in 2020.
“Being able to participate in something like this is really cool,” Pezzee said, "and really affirming.”
The center’s program coordinator and gallery curator Francesca Udeschini worked with Wolfberry Studio to organize the event, and the studio identified the 10 local artists who contributed. At the gallery, there’s a display that provides more information about the individuals, their work, their sexuality, gender identity and their story.
“There’s a lot of bravery being shown by the artists in sharing their specific stories,” Udeschini said. “So, we’re really proud and excited to have this show up.”
Another need that Centro Cultural Mexicano has sought to fulfill is the lack of available space for artists, Hinojos said. The pandemic significantly affected many artists, many of whom operate as small, independent businesses.
Marko Coady, of APex – Artists Personal Exchange, said there’s a shortage of gallery space in the whole region. He attended the gallery recently and said it’s important that the center provides a space for work to be showcased at no cost and without charging commission.
“The Eastside challenge is physical space for artists,” he said.
The center held an opening ceremony on June 5, and although COVID-related restrictions meant it was smaller than Hinojos would’ve liked, she said, it was an important event to hold amid recent hardships.
“I think we’re all very cognizant of the fact that many, many people are suffering, and it’s just a very difficult time,” she said. “One reason why we go ahead with these is that art and culture are a vehicle for healing. Coming together as community is healing.”