Saturday, October 16, 2021
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Viva Mestizo


Renato Olmedo-González with Nadia Rea Morale’s Zacuanpapalotls

Renato Olmedo-González, the new director and curator at Mestizo Institute of Culture and Arts, remembers life in Jalisco growing up with centuries of culture and public art. “I grew up with Mexican culture everywhere around me. It shaped me as a child,” says the lanky and serious University of Utah graduate.

“I’ve always loved and appreciated artists—but I’m not an artist. I really don’t like to do things with my hands,” Olmedo-González says seriously.

Still, Mexico’s tremendous cultural heritage, nor even art in general, ever made much of an impression on him until he immigrated to Utah with his mother. As a student at Taylorsville High School—not exactly a center for Latino cultural scholarship—Olmedo-González needed to fill his class schedule and reluctantly took an elective in art history.

“I fell in love with art,” Olmedo-González recalls. “And I immediately found myself attracted to Mexican art. You learn about yourself through art. I learned my history.”

The high school’s superficial art-history course, which spent a day on muralists (Diego Rivera!) and a only few minutes on surrealist Frida Kahlo, spun Olmedo-González’s head around and left him hungry. He graduated from the U of U in spring 2014 with degrees in Latin American Studies and Art History.

As a university student, Olmedo-González connected with the city’s vibrant Latino art community through helping on the Artes de Mexico en Utah’s ¡Viva Frida! exhibit. Some of Utah’s leading Latino artists, including curator, contemporary artist and DJ Jorge Rojas, mentored him. “I’ve learned so much from Jorge; fortunately, he’ll be continuing to mentor me at Mestizo,” Olmedo-González says. “I plan on growing with this opportunity.”

Olmedo-González, aware of his inexperience, is throwing energy into leading the Institute’s gallery. “Mestizo is very important to this community. My goal is to make Mestizo even more respected.”

Many of Utah’s immigrants were forced here by economic necessity, he explains. As the parents work long hours and the children enter American schools, they lose touch with their culture. “Soon the kids have no clue who they are. Pancho Villa, Zapata? They have no idea. But they yearn for Mexico,” he says. “They aren’t accepted here, yet they don’t know anything about where they’ve come from.”

Olmedo-González’s first curation project opened earlier this spring with two mixed media installations, Pentz’s Ithaka 12 and Rea Morales’ Zacuanpapalotls. Both installations explore cultural migration, memory and transformation—through the Monarch butterfly that migrates between United States and Mexico, a trip that takes place over three to four generations.

“Mestizo’s a space not just for art but for discussion of social justice and inclusion,” Olmedo-González says. “It represents a community that is under-represented.” And by that, he doesn’t just mean the Latino community. Mestizo explores through art the beauty and challenges of all marginalized cultures, including gay.

“Art makes you want to get up and change things,” Olmedo-González says. “It can start a conversation that people don’t want to have, but when they are forced to have it—it’s good.”

Coffee, Tea or Culture

Mestizo Institute of Culture and Arts began in 2003 to enrich and celebrate Utah’s many cultures. Since then it has injected vibrancy into Salt Lake’s art scene. Despite its awe-inspiring name, MICA is one of the state’s least-intimidating art galleries; its space on 631 West North Temple is shared with its namesake coffeehouse. Yet, the institute has set a Quixotic goal to connect Salt Lake’s dominant culture and its emerging immigrant communities. Its related programs include Mestizo Arts & Activism Collective, a leadership program for Westside youth in collaboration with University Neighborhood Partners and NeighborWorks Salt Lake. 631 W. North Temple, 801-596-0500,

Does the first snow mean that it’s officially time to say goodbye to fall? Not if we have anything to say about it.

Stay warm out there SLC! 🌨

📸: @mjmorgan72 courtesy @visitutah

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There is something to be said about a bar that keeps things simple and classic. 🍻⁠

@thepines.slc is a new but familiar face in the former Tinwell space. Read more about The Pines at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo: Adam Finkle

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In 2016, @dlocke09 already had his dream job as the voice of the @utahjazz. But, hungry for a new challenge, he created the media empire Locked On during his summer vacation. Less than five years later, the network produces 170 daily podcasts which are listened to nine million times each month. 🏀⁠

Read more about David Locke at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle⁠

#utahjazz #utahsports #davidlocke #lockedon #lockedonjazz

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One year ago today: Utahns mourn at a vigil for Breonna Taylor. Taylor was shot and killed by a police officer in March 2020, inspiring worldwide protests and calls for racial justice. ...

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Gayle Dowdle as Queen Elizabeth I of England ⁠

@dowdledesign is the queen of renaissance fairs and comic conventions. Dowdle began cosplaying six years ago and has been planning to recreate Queen Elizabeth I ever since. She spent as many as 700 hours constructing the ensemble. She entered her cosplay into the @fanxsaltlake 2019 cosplay contest, winning first prize. Since, she has continued to make upgrades to the royal cosplay she has created. “My dress will never be finished,” she says. 👑⁠

The wig is actually made of Dowdle’s own hair, which she cut off before beginning chemotherapy treatments last year. She says, “When I wear this wig, I don’t feel like Gayle with cancer, I just feel like Gayle again.” ⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle⁠

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Missy Moody as Giselle from "Enchanted"⁠

@madamemoodycosplay has competed on the stage at comic conventions from Salt Lake City to New York in Giselle’s massive wedding gown from Disney’s "Enchanted." The self-taught seamstress has remade the dress five times over the course of four years, eventually wearing it to her very own nuptials. ⁠✨⁠

While Moody’s Giselle cosplay has been hailed as screen accurate, Moody advises, “Just have fun with cosplay. Don’t worry too much about accuracy. It’s OK to take some shortcuts.”⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle⁠

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Ryan Bielik as Caleb Widogast from "Critical Role"⁠

“It was a demanding mistress,” @moody_kittens says of his Caleb cosplay, his take on a character from the Dungeons & Dragons live-streaming sensation turned multimedia empire "Critical Role." Bielik started cosplaying in 2013 and typically attends three conventions per year. After the pandemic, his Caleb cosplay represents a return to form: an obsessive attention to detail. Bielik plans to publicly debut his Caleb cosplay this year at @fanxsaltlake, where he will also enter the cosplay contest. 🪶

“I wanted something elegant to do—flashy, colorful. Something with a lot of grace in the costume,” says Bielik. ⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle

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Kimber Gabryszak as Brienne of Tarth from "Game of Thrones"⁠

@kimber.and.connie.cosplay sets a high bar for herself. “I love to be as screen-accurate as possible,” she says. Gabryszak has always loved costuming, “I was cosplaying before I realized what cosplaying was.” But she did not attend her first comic convention until 2015. She says, “Brienne is the most ambitious character I have ever cosplayed.” Gabryszak had to learn leatherworking, for example, but by far the most difficult undertaking was constructing the chainmail. ⚔️ ⁠

"I like doing villains or people with a unique appearance who might not be as conventionally pretty,” she says. “Brienne is this tough, badass, giant, imposing woman.”⁠

See more portraits of Utah cosplayers at the link in our bio! ⁠

Photo by Adam Finkle

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We're teaming up with @gotbeautydotcom and @goodthingsutah to offer a $150 beauty package. Got Beauty is celebrating 30 years of business locally owned and operated by women. ❤️⁠

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✨ Like this post and tag three friends in the comments.⁠
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Get ready to explore a city of secrets⚡👁️⁠

In a brand new issue of @slmag, we're uncovering the strange, obscure and unexplained stories and lore from Salt Lake City’s history, from a lost Mormon colony to a rampaging royal elephant to a sphinx with the face of Joseph Smith.⁠ Plus, we highlight outdoor gear trailblazers and continue our 2021 Travel Series in the Big Sky State.

Subscribers: look for this issue in your inbox soon. The magazine will be on newsstands Sept. 1! 📪⁠

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If you’re wondering if it’s worth the trip to a certified Dark Sky Park to view the Perseids, the short answer is “yes.” The long answer is “heck yes.” 🌠⁠

It's not too late to see the yearly Perseids meteor shower light up the night sky. Learn more at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo: Gates of Lodore in Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal; Credit: @miahwatt courtesy @visitutah

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Trade the snowy mountains for sandy peaks. 🏂⁠

At Idaho's Bruneau Dunes State Park, enormous dunes are the perfect playgrounds for dreamy sunsets, night sky views and a sandboarding adventure.⁠

Check out more of our favorite Idaho destinations at the link in our bio!

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