The painting, El Gato Negro/The Black Cat, by Fernando Castillo, is part of the exhibit titled Mexican Modernism from the Blaisten Collection.  My friends and I chose  to enjoy the exhibit in conjunction with Phoenix’s monthly First Friday Artwalk.  The live music and buzzing crowds contributed to the museum’s electric atmosphere.

The exhibit in the Steele Gallery has 80 works painted by 45 Mexican artists from 1910-1950.  The Orozco’s, Rivera’s and phxart2.jpgKahlo paintings took my breath away.   Particularly stunning was the Jean Charlot Braiding Hair.  I stared at this masterpiece as long as I could, moving only because the crowds next to me wanted a glimpse too.  I was also glad to see that my favorite painting, Alfredo Ramos Martinez’ La Malinche, was moved from the permanent collection upstairs to grace the rest of the works of art in this exhibit.
The exhibit began in July and runs through September 25, 2011.  To catch a glimpse of some of these works, visit

If you are as enthusiastic about Latin American art as I am, then you'll be happy to hear that Phoenix is fortunate to be the host of the first ever CALA festival.  The Celebración Artística de las Americas will take over the Phoenix metropolitan area from September 14 to November 16 and includes music and theater performances, art exhibits, murals, festivals, in-school activities and artwork commissioned specifically for CALA.  Several arts organizations have partnered with CALA to host some of the events, many of them free of charge.  The plan is to hold the event every other year and eventually expand it statewide. 

The CALA Alliance’s mission is to create shared arts experiences that encourage cultural understanding between the people of the America’s.  Not only will this be a feast for the senses, but CALA has an educational outreach component that will extend to schools and enrich students through the the Phoenix metropolitan area.  For more information and a calendar of events, visit


lfrench.jpgLaura Franco French is Director of Community Relations at the Arizona Office of Tourism.  A third-generation Arizonan, French serves as AOT’s legislative liaison, works with the Arizona-Mexico Commission and Border Governor’s Conference on bi-national tourism projects and directs AOT’s community outreach efforts, including AOT’s visitor services program.