MECA - Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts - in Houston presents a photographic exhibition "Taquerias of Southmost" by Chuy Benitez. This exhibition explores the boundaries of cultural richness and dialogues that touch on authentic food and cultural identity. The photo exhibit was produced by Texas Folklife and the Brownsville Historical Association as part of a state-wide foodways survey funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Dates: January 19 - March 4, 2016 (weekdays 12:00 - 7:00 PM)
Location: MECA Dow School Lobby - 1900 Kane Street Houston, TX 77007
OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, January 22, 2016, 6:00 to 8:00 PM Free and open to the public (tacos provided!)
MECA is excited to host this photographic exhibition. The Southmost area of Brownsville, Texas is home to almost a third of the city's 175,000 residents. Geographically it is located on the southernmost populated tip of Texas along the banks of the Rio Grande and bounded by the infamous border wall. Economically, historically and culturally it is the most underserved area of the city, but the local Mexican food restaurant industry is booming. More than 20 locally-owned taquerias have established within a three-mile radius of Southmost Road, the main artery of the neighborhood. Locally it is known as "Taco Boulevard." This exhibition explores themes of celebration, entrepreneurship, politics and policy, history, family, tradition, and the handmade. The photographs highlight a tight-knit community whose cultural pride and passion have been captured photographically.
Anthropologist and journalist Cecilia Balli further explores the topic in an essay funded by Humanities Texas and published in the Brownsville Herald.
Benitez is an internationally exhibited and collected panoramic photographer and photographic educator. He comes from a bi-national family that has lived on both sides of the El Paso/Juarez border for generations, and now lives and works in Houston. He earned his B.A. in Studio Photography from the University of Notre Dame in 2005, and his MFA in Phototraphy and Digital Media from the University of Houston in 2008. He has contributed his time and efforts to helping Fotofest, serving on the Board of Directors for Houston Center for Photography and Lawndale Art Center, and being on the National Board of Directors for the Society for Photograpic Education. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Austin Museum of Art, Mexic-Arte Museum, the Gilberto Cardenas Collection of Latino Art, and En Foco, Inc. (NYC). In January 2014, he received the Houston Press MasterMind Award for his impact on Houston's art community. www.chuybenitez.com
MECA is a community-based, nonprofit organization committed to the healthy development of underserved youth and adults through arts and cultural programming, academic excellence, support and community building. A Latino-based multidisciplinary and multicultural arts organization, MECA has been a leader in providing culturally based arts education for youth for almost 40 years from its home in the Old Sixth Ward Historic District of Houston. MECA offers live performances and visual art exhibitions by local, national, and international artists through the series, MECA Performing Arts. MECA is a regular partner of Texas Folklife often hosting the Big Squeeze youth accordion showcase.