Metro gallery promotes Latin culture

Cindy Hernandez, Reporter

Downtown’s Art District was pure excitement at this months’ First Friday, from dancers on the corner of 19th and Eye, to a live band playing in Front Porch’s parking lot.

This is the fifth Latination  at Metro Galleries. It brought Latin festive music that roared passed the doors and rolled out onto the street.

People of all walks of life filled the gallery to appreciate the artwork.

There were also Mexican folk dancers, a group called Gropo Folklorico Escuelas Unidas, which performed in the Latination Kids room. At the gallery Monique Dominguez, a member of the dance group and BC student majoring in Biology says, “People take it as a hobby, a fashion, a way to show culture.”

The artists were also at the scene to enjoy the food, drinks, music, and other art lovers company.

Artist Howard Perez, 38, said, “It feels really good, you know. People are coming to enjoy your work.”

Perez submitted six paintings but only three were on display. He began doing art after he married. He wanted to decorate his house with his own artwork. Perez is inspired by Jackson Pollock and sort of mimics his textured paintings.

His favorite painting is called “Anger Management.” It was featured in the newspaper. That painting is not for sale; it has too much meaning for him to sell it.

Art runs through his family. His mother was an artist and his fathers’ sister named Esperanza Martinez, was a portrait painter.

Muralist Sebastian Muralles, 33, says he is grateful his painting made it into the exhibition. “I wanted to send out the message not to forfeit our culture and ancestors… [and to] remind people to preserve our earth.” He says the pyramids in his painting represent the sun and the moon. He used vibrant colors that are meant to induce positive emotions.

Muralles does mostly murals featured in restaurants like La Mina Cantina and also a few schools. He painted his first mural at Mount View elementary and did it when he was only thirteen years old.


Muralles says it takes him about 20 hours to complete a mural and he enjoys every second. Doing art is a form of therapy that relaxes him, he says.


Muralles also does tattoos at The Pained Man tattoo shop on F Street and 19th.


Artist Jorge Guillen, 32, says it is a blessing to be featured in the show. He has participated in every Latination to date. For the last four consecutive years he has been on the main floor, including this year.

He says being part of Latination is a call to action. His message is to simply represent the culture and his childhood.


Guillen also does spoken poetry on open mic nights at NX Café and On the Rocks.


“Samba Heat” is the painting that won Best of Show. Rubia Van Roodselaar, 42, painted the masterpiece and said, “It is the cherry on top. I just love what I do. I am very surprised.” Her painting is based in Brazil about the festivals, carnival, music, rhythm, and costume.


Roodselaar is originally from Brazil, where she made jewelry. She does art for a living now, but she studied architecture at UC Berkley.


She began to paint when she moved to Bakersfield with her husband and children a year ago. She began taking art classes at Cal-State Bakersfield with Joey Knotting. She said he was really supportive of her artwork and recalls his words, “whatever you’re doing, do a hundred more.”


It takes Roodselaar from six to eight hours to complete a painting because “half the work is research,” she says, “Art is about getting involved in community.”


Gallery Director, Don Martin, says that over 130 pieces where displayed this year from 50 different artists all over the U.S. He says, “This is a juried show which means any artist is welcome to enter.  A panel of twelve community members judges the best entries.”