Looking Back, Looking Forward

Lecturer and author, specialist in Mexican art and culture, Gregorio Luke created five new lectures, starred in an opera, more

By Gregorio Luke
Published on LatinoLA: January 12, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones the very best in 2014. As I have done in the past, I want to share with you what I did in 2013. It was a busy year. I created five new lectures, starred in an opera, launched a new nonprofit ARCOS (Art in Communities and Schools) and presented an exciting new lecture on VINCENT VAN GOGH in Europe.

I've always dreamed of taking my [bMURAL PRESENTATIONS[/b] on the road. But this was always difficult and expensive. The Eureka moment came when I discovered inflatable screens. The problem was that the standard sizes were not wide enough, so I had one custom made of 42 X 22 and acquired three 5,000 lumen projectors. The great advantage of this technology is that it's easy to install and infinitely portable. Once deflated, it fits in a van. Now I can take my shows anywhere and reach thousands of people. I did a tour in Baja, hitting three cities in four days. I'm looking forward to touring the United States next, like a cultural traveling circus.


Another dream of mine has been to bring art to low income families. In 2013 I launched a nonprofit organization called ARCOS (Art in Communities and Schools). I asked for help from my friends and supporters and they responded. With the money we raised, ARCOS was able to present 8 MURAL SHOWS in High Schools and Parks. In 2014 our goal is to reach 30 new communities and bring 20,000 children and families closer to art. Every contribution of any size, counts. WATCH VIDEO


In 2013 I delivered 46 lectures, five of them new: (Vincent Van Gogh, Gay Greatness, Dirty War in Argentina, Drug War Mexico and the History of Mexican Cuisine). In addition to my 13th Murals under the Stars season at MoLAA, I did several spectacular shows at USC, the NELSON ATKINS MUSEUM, EAST LA CIVIC CENTER, MEXICO's UNAM and La Fortessa di Basso in FLORENCE, ITALY. Several engagements were particularly challenging, like lecturing on architect LUIS BARRAGAN to hundreds of distinguished Mexican architects, talking about MEXICAN CUISINE to an auditorium of Chefs in LA's Convention Center or speaking about Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta for DOLORES HUERTA in person. But the lecture I'm proudest of is one I developed about my mother, choreographer GLORIA CONTRERAS, that includes excerpts of her best ballets. Her company's name is TALLER COREOGRAFICO DE LA UNAM. Check them out on YouTube. They are fabulous.


Andreas Mitisek invited me to perform in the tango opera of Astor Piazzolla MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES with the CHICAGO OPERA THEATER. (I did the speaking role of El Duende). We performed this opera with the Long Beach Opera in 2012 but Chicago is in a different league. The reviews were great (see links). Andreas also commissioned two very difficult lectures from me in 2013: one on the DIRTY WAR IN ARGENTINA, as context for Maria de Buenos Aires and another on MEXICO'S DRUG WAR to introduce Camelia la Tejana. READ REVIEW http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-21/entertainment/ct-ent-0422-cot-maria-review-20130421_1_maria-de-buenos-aires-horacio-ferrer-andreas-mitisek


My friend Gary Keener commissioned a lecture to celebrate the contributions of Gays and Lesbians in art and history. I was shocked to realize the unbelievable level of persecution gays and Lesbians have suffered throughout history, from the hideous Inquisition that burned them at the stake, to the legal and social marginalization in Europe that led great artists like Oscar Wilde and Tchaikovsky to premature deaths. The persecution continues well into the 20th century. The Nazis forced Gays to wear a pink triangle and killed them in the gas chambers. Totalitarian regimes placed them in gulags. The U.S did not do much better. Here we used electroshocks, chemical castrations and lobotomies to "cure" them. I also talk about the Stonewall uprising, the AIDS crisis and the great civil rights campaigns of the present. GAY GREATNESS describes the struggle against oppression and the triumph of talent in spite of it. READ REVIEW ON PRESS TELEGRAM


Being an immigrant myself, I'm especially proud of a program we presented in the LA ART CORE. Mark Strickland, unveiled his mural IMMIGRANTS IN THE HANDS OF GOD, and I gave the lecture THE PLIGHT OF 12 MILLION INMIGRANTS. My lecture is based on John Kennedy's last book: A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS. Kennedy's premise is that immigrants are a force for good that renovates the country, and keeps it young, vibrant and competitive. The current wave of immigrants is no different from the waves before. Immigrants bring their culture and hard work, they raise a family and their efforts contribute to the common good. Today we are at a crossroads: we can either renew the American Dream and take 12 million people out of the shadows, or we can create a permanent underclass.


I continue with my weekly radio show ENCUENTROS in KPFK 90.7 FM, every Wednesday at 11:30 pm. This past year I did special programs on some of my favorite musicians such as Jos?® Jos?®, Silvio Rodr?¡guez, Pablo Milan?®s, El TRI and Joan Manuel Serrat, as well as radio versions of many of my lectures. I also did a number of appearances on local Radio and TV Spanish stations. You can hear these programs and others in my web page www.gregorioluke.com


To cap the year off, I participated in the Florence Biennale in Italy with a lecture on VINCENT VAN GOGH. More than 500 artists from all over the world attended. I've always resented those who speak of Van Gogh as demented. For me he is an example of congruency and honesty. The lecture was a catharsis for the audience. Many artists recognized themselves in Van Gogh and his will to create without economic reward or social recognition. I invited them to continue Van Gogh's dream of forming artistic fraternities. I can't wait to bring this show to the U.S. Can you imagine seeing VAN GOGH'S Starry Night projected outdoors and under the stars?

Thanks again for your support and friendship, I wish you the very best in 2014.

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