PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JUNE 9 2021 Gaytablos, a Reclamation of the Divine Through Queer Art, To Open at ALAC on First Friday in September
(PHOENIX) The Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center (ALAC) has confirmed that Gaytablos, an exhibit focused on exploring Queer identities and divinity, will open on First Friday, September 3, 2021. Among the dignitaries and community leaders who have graciously agreed to serve as Honorary Chairs for this unique celebration are Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Café.
Curated by Tarra Lazos Creative, Gaytablos will be a tribute to both retablo art, the traditional paintings above altars in Catholic churches, and a new awakening of Queer spirituality. “I discovered retablo art a few years ago,” said Juli Myers of Tarra Lazos, “and fell in love.” She explains that the idea for the exhibit came to her as she was viewing contemporary retablo paintings this past winter. “So many of these paintings tell simple, sweet stories, with thanks given to various saints or to God,” Myers recalls. “I wondered, with so many of us not being welcome into the faith homes of our youth, to whom would we give thanks for the gift of being queer?”
The exhibit, which will include juried works by known artists as well as submissions by community artists, will run through Saturday, October 23, at the ALAC’s downtown location at 147 East Adams Street, and will also feature a screening of the 2017 film “Retablo” along with a community discussion centered around reclamation of the divine within each of us and maintaining queer communities of spirituality and faith. Another much-anticipated event during the two-month-long exhibit will be a community talk with some of the contributing artists, who will be discussing queer identity and its role in the creative process.
Jeffrey Lazos-Ferns, a Chandler Arizona native whose experience as a producer in the arts, social justice work, political advocacy, and nutritional education regarding desert flora have taken him around the globe. He will lend his legendary expertise to the exhibit’s closing event, a Queer Ball.
Founded in 2009, the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center is a coalition of Latino artists and art organizations that celebrates and promotes the Latino presence in Arizona through education and advocacy and is led by Director Elizabeth Toledo. Elizabeth Toledo notes “This project is important for ALAC because self-expression through the arts is the most comprehended where the language has no barriers and no limits. The story that Gaytablos tells will be of pain, beauty, fear and spiritual solace. Stories that need to be told and need to be heard.” ALAC is a first-of-its-kind in Arizona, it serves as a beacon of cultural and artistic expression through art exhibits, film, theater, presentations, lectures, live performances, and literary readings.
Jeffrey Lazos-Ferns, the founder and principle of Tarra Lazos Creative, says, "There is much to be explored individually and collectively in who we are and are to become. Part of the healing process is fully embracing our divinity outside of societal permissions. This project is a platform and space for those still struggling, those who found their way and humanity in general to help fully recognize the divine within."
According to the exhibit’s website, www.gaytablos.org, “Endemic to many of the pre-Columbian societies was an understanding of, and tolerance for, sexual and gender diversity, which the Church, with cruel efficiency, nearly – but not quite – stamped out. In Indigenous communities surviving to this day is the variety of beliefs known collectively as ‘Two Spirit’, a recognition of the inherent non-binary nature of the human sexual and gender spectrum. In Western culture we have the LGBTQ+ movements that continue to work towards equality and representation in society.”
“This,” Myers says, “is the primary inspiration for the exhibit. We all feel a desire for a spiritual connection to the Universe, but for most of us who grew up LGBTQ or Two Spirit, we were aggressively denied acceptance by our churches, synagogues, and mosques. Quite a few of us found our divinity through artistic endeavors, be it painting, writing, sculpting, or whatever.” Through Gaytablos, she hopes to inspire others to recognize, connect with, and honor that divine spark.
Please direct all press inquiries to Jeffrey Lazos-Ferns at 602-299-9576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.