Michael Heralda is a Los Angeles-based storyteller, musician and poet dedicated to reviving and reinterpreting stories of the ancient Aztecs. The indigenous people ruled large parts of Mexico before their conquest at the hands of Hern´n Cortés in 1521. Heralda will weave his Aztec Stories and ballads together tonight at the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, 722 Santa Fe Drive. The free presentation, which begins at 7 p.m., will address the history, philosophy, culture, ceremonies, traditions and arts of ancient Mexico from an indigenous, rather than a European, perspective. And it will feature what CHAC spokesman Jerry Vigil calls Heralda's signature "edutainment."
"He brings musical instruments and gets the audience involved," Vigil says. Accompanying himself on a variety of traditional handmade instruments such as clay flutes, Mayan "bubalek" gourd drums, shakers, rasps, conch-shell trumpets and hand drums, Heralda sings in both English and Nahuatl. Listeners will learn the meaning of "Mexika" and "In Kuikatl, In Xochitl," as well as the legends of Kuitlahuak, Kuauhtemok and Ketzalkoatl.
But the purpose of the session is not just to entertain. The topic is crucial to Chicano history, says Vigil, because "the Aztecs are one of the originators of the Chicano."
For some, Heralda's stories are a way to reconnect with a long-buried heritage. For others, they provide an opportunity to understand the rich and complex culture purged by Spanish conquistadores. Whatever your frame of reference, Vigil promises "a unique presentation."
As an added bit of cultural fusion, Heralda will perform against a backdrop of works assembled for the upcoming Digital Libre exhibit, which is set to open on February 13 at CHAC.
Walk on the Wild Side
North Denver stakes out its arty turf
What do you call this place, anyway? Not quite Ballpark, not quite LoDo, the neighborhood bounded by I-25 to the west, I-70 to the north, Welton Street to the east and downtown Denver proper to the south, it's been dubbed "River North" by a small band of artists and gallery owners working in the area. And now that it has a name, the resident folks at five venues -- Uptown Gallery and Studio, 3519 Brighton Boulevard; Blake Street Glass, 3433 Blake Street; weilworks, 3611 Chestnut Street; Z Wick Place, 3601 Wazee Street; and RedShift Gallery, 2266 Broadway -- are inviting the gallery-going crowd to come take a look. Together they'll host the first North Denver Art Fair, a combined First Friday and weekend open-house event, beginning tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. and continuing from 11 to 6 on Saturday and noon to 5 on Sunday. Highlights include a grand opening at the new weilworks, glass-blowing demonstrations at Blake Street Glass and a huge photography sale at Uptown, where gallery maps will also be available. For details, call 303-296-9300. -- Susan Froyd