Raul Baltazar invited Los Angeles cultural workers, friends, family and neighbors to unite at Ascot Hills Park in El Sereno for two Sundays of processions, picnics and performances.Â Mi Sereno was a pair of ritual events honoring many generations of cultural workers, as they came together to form a larger body on two special days. Baltazar set a tone that was relaxed, playful, and introspective, with ephemera, games, picnic blankets, ritual trail hikes and group portraits observing the visual commons of the LA cultural worker. Those who were attending were encouraged to wear all Red or Blue outfits (comfortable walking/hiking attire), and to bring water, picnic blankets and food to share with others. This performance took place onÂ January 14 and 21, 2018 – 11 am to 2pm.Â LOCATION:Â Ascot Hills Park,Â 4371 Multnomah St,Â Los Angeles, 90032
Victoria Delgadillo participated as a storyteller in Mi Sereno at Ascot Park, a beloved place of Raul Baltazar’s childhood.Â The space is a breathtaking reserve of native plants and Los Angeles views.Â Baltazarâ€™s themes of family, nature, urban home and connections to native ritual echoed throughout the hiking trails of this performance.
â€œBaltazar sees the hills as a temple for the cityâ€™s Eastside Chicanx community, and said he wants the performance to serve as a moment of healing in the current political climate. â€˜The piece is creating a space for people to congregate in a safe space, especially for us, as people of color, who are facing this really intense, violent time,â€™ he said. â€˜I want to create a space for us to have leisure, to recuperate, and strengthen ourselves spiritually to create a connection with our network . . . and for this to create an impetus for future networking, workshopping, and community.â€™ -Â ArtNews, Maximiliano Duron, November 11, 2017
â€œRaul Baltazar’s Mi Sereno is an interactive, ritualistic experience over two Sundays honoring multiple generations of cultural workers.
The public is encouraged to wear red or blue, a collective costume that he sees as representing lava and water flowing through the hills. Participants are also encouraged to bring food to share at the picnic, where Danza de Compton will perform the Mexican folk dance La Danza de los Viejitos wearing traditional wood masks representing resistance to colonialism.
â€˜The first Sunday is focused more on the elders,â€™ Baltazar said, â€˜our roots, how we migrated here, the foundation of where we come from. The second Sunday is more geared towards the children, the future, what we’re aspiring towards.â€™
The inspiration for the piece came last year when Baltazar visited Mineral de Pozos, near Guanajuato, Mexico, an old mining town his grandparents had migrated from. He learned of a custom in which the miners met once a year for a celebratory picnic.
Baltazar sees the El Sereno location of Mi Sereno as integral to the piece. Mi Sereno translates as My Peace, but as someone born and raised in the neighborhood, he also means MyÂ Sereno.
â€˜The trails end up becoming a microcosm or metaphor about how our ancestors have migrated throughout the continent,â€™ he said. â€˜In the midst of this political climate where we’re meant to feel like lawbreakers or guests in our own home, this little sanctuary in the park is a place to celebrate the fact that we’re alive, and moving along the continent. We’re here, we all ended up here no matter what our stories are.â€™
Baltazar’s work breaks down the relationship between the audience and the artist â€” because you’re invited to participate in the midst of a community ritual that celebrates and claims a sense of belonging. It acknowledges connections between the land here and the land south of here. It’s a celebration of a neighborhood as home.” -Â Los Angeles Times, Devorah Vankin, January 11, 2018
â€œAnger remains in explorations ofÂ feminism, immigrant rights, environmental and economic justice, Mark Murphy (Executive Director of REDCAT) said, but he credits performances such as Raul Baltazar’sÂ Mi SerenoÂ with the transformative effect of activating, connecting and celebrating communities.â€ – LA Weekly, Beige Luciano-Adams, Â January 24, 2018