Bringing Culture and Art to Rural Areas in Mexico with Acercarte


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Kat Bennett
Acercarte and The Painting Pirates are two organizations promoting culture to groups of children and young adults in rural communities.  When Lila Magallón of Acercarte and Rose Robin of The Painting Pirates joined together to create Enchanting Mexico – a countrywide trip giving no-cost art workshops, along with a film documenting the workshops – they were unstoppable.
Seven workshops later, filming the seventh chapter of the Enchanting Mexico documentary, Lila and Rose are still unstoppable.
Enchanting Mexico got its first boost from the La Paz city council, but was made possible through the sponsorship of innumerable friends and companies: GoPro cameras; Resistol; Pittsburgh Paints; El Ángel Azul B&B; The Baja Citizen; Allende Books; Radium; Canal 10; Radio Formula; El Noroeste newspaper; El Mago Maravilla; Cinco Pueblos artisans; El Cardón Resort; Operadora de Bombas México; Adriana de Leon; Lila’s parents, Joanne and Alejandro Magallón; and many, many more.  The team of artists continues to travel through Mexico in their now-famous laughter-inducing RV.  (It plays “La Lambada” when backing up.)
The pair, and their RV, left La Paz by ferry – passage having been donated to the project by Baja Ferries.  Embarking on their trip, they enjoyed the excellent service of Baja Ferries on a pleasant voyage to Topolobampo.  With great excitement and dreams founded in serendipity, they got off on the right foot with a fortuitous encounter on the ferry.  Rodolfo Luque, a kind businessman, invited them to film the last day of the mango harvest on his plantation.  That moment marked the good fortune and success that began to nourish them.
In Culiacan, they met up with Javier Diaz Calvo, a well-known forestry engineer and a friend of Lila’s from college.  Javier guided them around the wonderful botanical gardens and sculptures of the city, and also helped them with the task of finding the ideal site for the first Enchanting Mexico art workshop outside of Baja California Sur.  Celestino Gazca was chosen as the first magical site, and the children of that beautiful fishing community saw the doors of art open.
Alejandra Rodriguez, another friend of Lila’s, came from Phoenix, AZ, to join the artists for the first phase of the trip.  Alejandra contributed free acupuncture sessions to children, young adults, and adults of the community.
Also in Celestino Gazca, the group enjoyed an excellent reception by El Cardón Resort, which sponsored their food and lodging during their stay in this very beautiful fishing community in Sinaloa.
By this time, the troupe had also had the good luck to meet Fortunato Alverez, the director of the Culiacan newspaper El Noroeste.  Fascinated by the project, the newspaper gave them sponsorship, as well as providing media coverage of Enchanting Mexico throughout Sinaloa.
It was on Isla de Piedra, across from Mazatlan, where the girls suffered the loss of a dear companion.  The faithful Boogie Man, Rose’s beloved dog, died on the island.  The tragic incident resulted in a necessary sheltering from the pain on the island.  After recovering somewhat from their loss, the pair gave their second art workshop to the children of the UNESCO school.
Afterward, still with the fabulous help of Javier Diaz, they continued on to Tepic, Nayarit.  There they were warmly welcomed by the Perez Peña family.  Martin and Monica, with their Cinco Pueblos store, had dedicated themselves to promoting, supporting, and gaining respect for the indigenous communities of the region.  They invited the team to give the third art workshop in the meztiso community of Los Aguajes, in the incredible mountains flanking the Sierra Madre Occidental.  There, participation records were broken, with more than 90 children from the Nezahualcoyotl school attending.  The children were a tremendous joy and inspiration for Lila, Rose, and Alejandra.  Surrounded by this incredible energy, Tierra Sana – the geo-tourism project of their hosts Monica and Martin – donated from the heart, giving enough art materials to supply the next three workshops.
Guadalajara, San Juan Evangelista, and Jocotecpec, in Jalisco, were the next sites for workshops, interviews, and documentary filming.  Mexico City saw the happy reunion of Lila and close friends from her stay there from 1997 to 2001.  There, Andrea Levy and Pola Ruiz de Chavez joined with Lila and Rose to create a Dead of the Dead offering in the Regina pedestrian corridor in the historic center of the nation’s impressive capital.
On the 10th of November, the team and their intrepid RV were in the small community of San Andres de la Cal, submerged in the dreamy landscape of the state of Morelos.
Rose and Lila have had incredible experiences on their journey: interviewing Don Benito, a man of 105 ´summers, who told them anecdotes of his participation in the Cristero War and stories of Huichol shaman; creating a animation mural with a group of youth from Jocotepec, Jalisco; and the incomparable beauty of the childrens purity.  These are great treasures Enchanting Mexico has found during its tour.  Both Rose and Lila agree, though, that the most interesting and beautiful part of their journey is that, despite the majority of people warning them of the dangers encountered on the highways of Mexico, of the lack of safety that is a part of almost the entire country, they have encountered only enthusiasm, curiosity, participation, help, friendship, and an abundance of love.
Lila Magallón and Rose Robin invite everyone to watch the completed chapters of Enchanting Mexico on YouTube.  The YouTube links can be found on the website www.paintingpirates.com/acercarte
Great effort has gone into the continuation of this beautiful project.  Lila mentions, however, the only true sacrifice – being separated from her son Mateo, in whom she finds the inspiration to move forward with her work which seeks to exalt the importance of art to the successful evolution of a society.  Lila will continue her work with Acercarte while spending time with her son here in La Paz.

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