Mattie Rhodes Center supports Westside arts, families, community
by COURTNEY COY
It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, but for one West Side organization, working with children, families and their neighborhoods is paramount. The Mattie Rhodes Center, the Mattie Rhodes Art Center and the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery are devoted to providing positive experiences to Kansas City’s Latino community. Social services, mental health counseling, art programs, workshops and gallery space focused on promoting Latino artists. All services are bilingual and designed to embrace the Hispanic community.
“We work primarily with two neighborhoods. These neighborhoods include Latin Americans and Spanish immigrants who are adjusting to American life,” said Mary Lou Jaramillo, Director of the Mattie Rhodes Center. “The Center has been providing quality services in youth development and the arts for one hundred and nine years.”
Established in 1894, the center has remained true to its mission, a pledge to “help the needy and suffering by working for them, learning about them and trying to interest others in them.”
“We discovered that local youth and teens did not have enough positive activities to do, and that education could be enhanced by arts and crafts,” said Jaramillo. “Quality art opportunities focusing on culture were needed. At that time there were no venues showing Latino arts. That is how the Mattie Rhodes Art Center came to exist.”
“Education of one’s culture is important,” said Center director, Jenny Mendez. “Art connects to everything, from food to music-art is definitely an enormous part of Latino heritage and culture. By working with the center, children learn self-esteem, new skills and how to work as a team and contribute ideas. They also develop a better understanding of art and different fields that are available to them through art.”
The Children’s Art Exhibit, a recent Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery show, featured the work of children involved in the art center’s After School Art Program. A colorful exhibit, the children utilized folk art and religious icons, mixing imagination and spirit, expressed through paint, printmaking, mixed media and ceramics. The gallery is currently preparing for its May exhibit, Mujeres Fuertes.
To balance the feminine with the masculine, Machismo is scheduled for June. The exhibit asks Latino male artists to define the meaning of being a man, exploring strengths, weaknesses and their cultural identity. Opening reception will be held, Friday, June 6, 7-10 p.m. and will run through June 28.
Other upcoming shows for 2003 include Uniendo Nuestras Culturas: A Multi-Cultural Exhibit, Chicano Exhibit, Dia de Los Muertos-The Day of the Dead and Visiones de Guadalupe-Visions of our Lady of Guadalupe. All exhibits offer lectures and workshops.
The Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery is located at 919 West 17 street, Kansas City, MO. For additional information on the Mattie Rhodes Center and the Mattie Rhodes Art Center and Gallery visit www.mattierhodes.org.