April 25, 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
Latino Arts Groups came together Sunday afternoon at Prush Park. They met to continue discussions begun at the Community Meeting hosted by Vice Mayor Alvarado last month at Mother Olsen’s Inn.
At Sunday’s meeting, Vice Mayor Alvarado spoke to the group regarding a proposed solution to the Fallon statue issue.
Vice Mayor Alvarado’s proposal is no het in its final draft, but she is tentatively proposing that the statue not to be placed at the north end of the Plaza Park. Alvarado suggests that the Mayor and Council instead place Fallon with the American flag, at the Fallon House site on St. John Street. She proposes to commemorate with two new statues the other two flags, Spanish and Mexican, that flew over San Jose. Alvarado’s proposal also includes the construction of a Mexican Museum in the “history downtown area’ surrounding the Peralta and Fallon houses. Alvarado is also planning the construction of a Mexican Heritage Plaza in the Alum Rock Redevelopment area. The site for the Plaza has not yet been specifically determined.
Vice Mayor Alvarado expects to present her plan to the Mayor by the end of this week.
Gary Serda, Aide to Vice Mayor Alvarado, was uncertain as to when the Fallon statue issue would appear on the Council agenda for discussion and action. The group at the Sunday meeting was not asked to comment on the Alvarado proposal.
Sunday’s meeting was chaired by Felix Alvarez, Executive Director of the Teatro de Los Pobres and was attended by a number of Hispanic community arts and cultural groups.
Though the participants at this gathering had not met as a group before, there was very little duplication in the focus of the groups present, other than a deep felt desire and need to promote the culture, history, and arts of the community.
Some of these groups have been active and in existence for many, many years. One such group is Tierra Espiritual de Nuevo Aztlán, T.E.N.A. This group is proceeding with their plans to construct an Ohlone Indian Village. Throughout the years T.E.N.A. has sponsored traditional Native American celebrations, spiritual activities and pow-wow’s. On of T.E.N.A.’s main objectives is researching the history of the original inhabitants, the Native American, in this area, and their contributions prior to the arrival and upon the arrival of the Spaniards.
Besides an interest in participating in cultural artistic activities, groups like Foro Democrático Mexicano, Youth Getting Together, Academia Aztlán and El Teatro de Los Pobres direct their creative and artistic talents in addressing problems within the community. El Teatro de Los Pobres on Tuesday, May 1st, will begin a traveling play “Borrachera,” a play about alcohol abuse, the problems associated with drinking and its impact on families and the community.
The agenda of Sunday’s meeting had three general lines of discussion: What is our cultural heritage; what are we working on; and how will develop a unified plan of action.
Recent disputes over the proposed displacement of the Studio Theater, the commission of the Fallon statue and the continued neglect in San Jose of multicultural concerns has brought to the lips of many, the words, “Ya Basta!.”
A deep wound in the community has again been re-opened. The depth of these feelings is evidenced in this coming together of “the elders,” who are poised to seek redress of their grievances.
For some, their energies and interest has been directed toward the goals of more and better parks and recreation programs for the youth, including a youth center. Others seek a forum or center for the expression of their culture, arts, music, and traditions, not only for the benefit of the Mexican/Indian/Hispanic Communities, but also for others to enjoy.
The walls of the meeting room at the Prush Park Cultural Center were draped with Fallon statue protest messages. Theses messages from the Pueblo Unido de San Jose Coalition, protest the cost of the Fallon statue that is reported to amount to some $1,300.000.00. Also protested is the City’s disregard for accepted procedures; the Arts Commission was not involved in the study and review of the Fallon statue although it was created for such purposes. Also, the historical and ethical basis for a Fallon memorial is not well founded in the eyes of many historical scholars. Others protest that the spirit of this particular proposal is an insult to the Californio heritage in the area.
The Pueblo Unido de San Jose Coalition plans a march from Plaza Park to City Hall on May 1st. at 12 noon.
Before proceeding with the short, straightforward agenda, the group briefly and succinctly discussed the Fallon statue. By 28 to 0 with only two abstentions, the group strongly supported the Pueblo Unido’s opposition to the Fallon statue.
The assembled delegates appointed themselves as and Arts’ and Cultural Subcommittee to the Pueblo Unido de San Jose Coalition. This subcommittee group expects to be consulted on issues and proposals relevant to arts and culture of the Mexican Hispanic/Indian communities before city or governmental agencies take action.
The meeting ended with an agreement to reconvene the subcommittee at a later date, at which time they may comment on the Alvarado proposal.
The next meeting of Pueblo Unido de San Jose Coalition is 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26, at 453 West San Carlos Street in San Jose.