JOSHUA TREE — Casa de Culturas, a gallery and archive of photos, videos and historic materials about regional Mexican-American history, opens this weekend with events and festivities today and Sunday.
Casa de Culturas will sponsor cultural events including lectures, sacred site day and weekend retreats, video presentations, cultural craft workshops and live performances.
The archive of materials was compiled by local historian, author and documentary producer Antonio “A.G.” Vasquez. From Redlands originally, Vasquez holds a master’s degree in history from the University of California, Riverside. He used to take his archive of historical material to various events as a mobile historical exhibit, but Vasquez has given up a portion of his home to make a permanent exhibit and provide a working space for his organization’s many projects.
This weekend’s events include a presentation of ‘Visions of Kokopelli,’ at 5 p.m. today. Vasquez, a member of the La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle, will discuss the efforts of indigenous elders to prevent the destruction of an ancient kokopelli figure and hundreds of other giant geoglyphs along the Colorado River. It will be followed around 6 p.m. by a screening of Vasquez’s short video, “Kokopelli Defenders,” part of his decade-long chronicle of the Blythe Giants.
A day of eating and dancing, “Comida Por Vida,” begins at 5 p.m. Sunday at Casa de Culturas. An Aztec dancing troup, Teocalli Tepeyollotl, will dance in traditional costume at 5:30 p.m. at Turtle Island. The meal will follow the dancing back at Casa de Culturas.
People who contribute $20 or more will receive a meal and the opportunity to meet the dancers and learn more about the art of Aztec dance.
Opening festivities will continue the following weekend with the Warriors For Mother Nature event at 5 p.m. The program includes a Joshua Tree petroglyph hike, a screening of the video “Ancient Footprints of the Colorado River” and a guest presentation by members of the La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle. Donations are encouraged and a light meal will be available for a contribution of $13 or more.
The new center is located at 7015 Sunset Road in Joshua Tree and will be open at 5 p.m. Sundays or by appointment. The center’s hours will expand later this year to include some weekday hours.
To ensure the archive’s use for future generations, Vasquez founded an organization called Inland Mexican Heritage and created a Facebook page and an information website at www.mexicanheritage.yolasite.com.
For informationm call (760) 819-2196.