The Mexican Consulate gets down for the Bicentennial Celebration

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When the Mexican Consul General gets onstage and sings lead for the band -- and has the crowd singing along with him -- you will know that Mexico knows how to party. And Consul Eduardo Arnal wasn't half bad, either: Belting them out in a solid tenor, he hammed it up and held the high notes for an impressive amount of time, gesturing for the crowd to jump in. It was the Consulate's official Bicentennial Celebration, and even though Arnal acknowledged that fears of cartel violence have dampened celebrations at home, at the Arvada Center last night, la fiesta was alive and well.

"Even though we are living in difficult times, we are proud to be Mexican," he said. "You know, we're celebrating 200 years of independence tonight, but we are also celebrating more than 6,000 years of culture. Mexico is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world." With that, he went ahead and one-upped Charles de Gaulle, who once asked how one could be expected to govern a country that has 246 kinds of cheese: "How can you govern a country that makes over 5,000 different kinds of tamales?" he mused.

The party itself was somewhat more staid than Consulate-sponsored public party at Civic Center Park over the weekend -- fully arrayed, traditional mariachis and dancers played the stage of the Arvada Center's Outdoor Auditorium for an invitation-only crowd of dignitaries and VIPs that mostly stayed seated. And in that respect, the display of Mexico's culture seemed a little forensic, isolated from the vibrant, living culture from which it stems. On the other hand, the performers were really good -- and I'll admit that I didn't even know before last night that tap-shoes came in "cowboy boot."

The venue choice was a result of the Consulate's ongoing partnership with the Arvada Center (which is supported by the City of Arvada, but not run by it), which today opens up three free art exhibitions to the public, two of which it obtained from Mexico with the assistance of the Consulate. One of those exhibitions is Nuevo León: Tres Generaciones, an assemblage of art from 21 artists representing three generations of art from the Mexican state of -- yep -- Nuevo León.

The center hosts a reception for the exhibits' opening tonight from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. that's free and open to the public -- a fine way to celebrate Mexican independence (the actual bicentennial is today) if Pancho Villa-style firing pistols into the air isn't your thing.

The exhibition continues into November (it's free to see it anytime the gallery is open), with workshops and classes hosted by the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council occasionally popping up throughout. For more details, see the Arvada Center's website.

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