Every race has its own identity through culture and needs a space that belongs to its people.
That’s how Carlos Jimenez described the decision to open Centro Cultural Mexico (Mexican Cultural Center) in Redmond. The cultural center took on its first project by opening a studio gallery, Los Pajaros, for its grand opening in November 2018.
The center’s vision is to build culture and community through arts.
When Jimenez moved to Redmond two years ago, he noticed the city was missing a studio gallery. He also noticed there was a lack of Mexican cultural centers on the Eastside that Mexican Americans could identify themselves with.
For Jimenez, offering a cultural center was a way to pay back his community.
“To me, opening a center is a responsibility to my community and to the community at large,” he said. “I want to be responsible for something so significant for my own culture. It was a big responsibility. It was a vision.”
To pay back his community, Jimenez made the decision to offer a community gallery that is open to all artists, not just Mexican artists. He wanted to give artists a free space to showcase their work and to offer their work to the public. If an artist wanted to make a contribution to the center, they are more than able to do so, but the gallery is free of cost.
Currently, Los Pajaros — which translates to The Birds — has six different artists exhibiting their art in the gallery. The art ranges from paintings and photography, to hand painted jewelry and carvings. The plan is to switch out the art every month. The gallery also hosts a small studio where artists can paint or even host a small class.
In addition to the gallery, Jimenez also plans to offer classes that teach traditional Mexican art and music, like mariachi. Most classes will be free of cost.
Gallery curator, Angie Hinojos Yusuf said she is excited to teach some of those classes. Yusuf said they will be offering Mexican art and culture classes. They will look at cultural history, the ways art is made, and traditional artisic traditions.
“It’ll be different from other offerings around here,” she said.
Aside from art, Jimenez said he also wants to offer a space where community members can gather and talk. He hopes to launch a program called, Hablemos — which translates to Let’s Talk — that will allow community members to express themselves and their concerns. The cultural center will also be a place Mexican Americans and other Hispanic and Latinx people can feel comfortable and at home.
Jimenez said the center is a “cultural center with a vision.”
“Culture is important at their own level and pace,” Jimenez said. “This is my way of contributing to my community. I am in debt with my community. My country gave me an education and I haven’t been able to pay back. I feel this is my way of paying a little bit to my community. Whoever walks in here, I’m paying back. I’m giving back a little bit and nothing in return.”
The center is preparing for the first Cinco de Mayo celebration in Redmond and organizers are excited to host a celebration that will include traditional art, music and food.
Los Pajaros studio gallery is located on 7945 Gilman St. in Redmond. It is open from 12:30-7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Community members interested in volunteering for the Cinco de Mayo celebration can contact the center at 425-896-7067 or 206-712-3236 or email Jimenez at firstname.lastname@example.org.