Artist Max Kauffman on Oakland and Beauty

Artist Max Kauffman on Oakland and Beauty from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Artist, Max Kauffman, premiered his solo show, “Your Vulnerability Makes You Beautiful,” at Loakal Gallery & Boutique on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. The opening was a part of Oakland’s First Fridays Festival of Art and Culture. Nastia Voynovskaya curated the show. Born in Chicago, Kauffman believes that the Bay Area is a “hub of artic culture,” and that there is beauty in Oakland’s “toughness.”

Citlalli Odette Coria: Dancing “underdog” from Oakland

Citlalli Odette Coria is a 14-year-old dancer from Oakland, Calif. Her inspiration lies in her environment, her friends and family. She began dancing at the age of seven, competing at the age of 10, and taking private dance lessons at the age of 11. She has competed approximately 15 times and placed first several times. She finds beauty in her city, where other’s may not see it and considers herself to be the “underdog” when she shows up to competitions where others who are there to compete come from “nice places,” while she comes from a city with a “bad” reputation.

Oakland dancer, Citlalli Odette Coria, Talks About Accomplishments and Confidence from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Her short hair flares out. Although her black, thick-rimmed glasses compliment her style, they may be one of the tactics a shy, 14-year-old girl uses to hide curious, glowing eyes. She applies her red lipstick with great care, looking at herself through the side mirror of a car in her family’s driveway. When she speaks, she does so with conviction and when she dances, the world is her own. Dancing she says has given her confidence. Confidence to speak and the confidence to dress as she pleases. She’s one of the middle children of Fidel and Dulce Coria and has three older siblings and a younger one.

She began dancing at the age of seven, which is her youngest sister’s age. In 2008 she began competing at the age of 10.  When she began taking private lessons at 11 she says that her competitions “began getting serious.” Coria has been taking lessons from the same instructor, Amy Lee Danya for years. “She has been teaching me from day one, she was my first dance teacher and I’m so thankful [that] she is still my teacher and friend,” says Coria.

She doesn’t remember how many competitions she has participated in, she estimates “about 15” in total.  “She was going to go to nationals,” says mom, “but she hurt herself.” Nationals were going to be held in Disneyland this summer and Coria did not attend due to an injured hip. “Being silly” is what mom says Coria was doing when she injured herself. With every trophy and award that Citlalli shows, mom knows exactly what competition it was from and when it took place, despite the fact that she is multitasking in the background.

She’s not quite sure where all of her trophies are. She knows they’re safely put away. “To be honest for competitions I don’t really give much feeling for my trophies I mean there a remembrance of what I accomplish but it doesn’t really define my feeling over dance.”

Competitions Citlalli has participated in:

Nexstar National Talent Competition 2011, First Place

Kids Artistic Revue (KAR) National Dance Competition, Placed First twice

Show Stopper Competition 2013, Double Platinum award

Oakland, Calif., is a city that receives a lot of negative attention. In a 24-hour period three people lost their lives, victims of violence on the weekend of August 17th. Coria describes her neighborhood as “beaten down” with “closed down factories,” garbage, and graffiti. However, despite the negatives, she manages to find inspiration in her city and is grateful for the colorful graffiti, which she says, adds a “nice texture” to her neighborhood.

Dancer, Citlalli Odette Coria, Finds Inspiration in Oakland from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that the physical activity of children and teens has many health benefits including building healthy bones and muscles, improving self-esteem and reducing stress, Coria agrees. The Dana Foundation has found evidence that dancing has effects on the brain that can enhance learning in academic subjects as well.

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Cihuatl Tlatocan Fundraiser Honors Frida Kahlo

8th Annual Frida Kahlo Fundraiser from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

The San Jose, Calif., women’s group, Cihuatl Tlatocan, of the grassroots organization, Alianza de Maiz, held the 8th Annual Frida Kahlo Fundraiser, which took place on Friday, July 12, 2013 at the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. The money raised at the event is designated to aid the Ni Una Más Scholarship, for Latina victims of violence, and women’s wellness workshops and leadership events, such as the Mujer Indigenous Gathering. Tamara Mozahuani Alvarado, executive director of the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, hosted the evening.

8th Annual Frida Kahlo Fundraiser Auction Item

Silent art auction item at the 8th Annual Frida Kahlo Fundraiser, which took place on Friday, July 12, 2013 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. (Photo by: Natalie Rodriguez/Full Sail University)

The event raises money by accepting donations at the entrance, a Frida Kahlo themed silent art auction, raffles and food and beverages. This year there was also a photo booth, and Kahlo t-shirts and tot-bag sale. The art for the silent auction and items for the raffle are donations. Alvarado who is a major supporter of the event also donated a gift certificate for the School of Arts and Culture for the raffle. Every year, the fundraiser includes a look-a-like contest of the famous couple of Mexican artist, Kahlo and Diego Rivera, with prizes for the winners. This year a Leon Trotsky was added to the look-a-like contest tradition.

The fundraiser that has been taking place for eight years helps sustain programs in favor of migrant and worker’s rights, women’s, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and culture and art in the city of San Jose through Alianza de Maiz. Co-founder, Adriana Garcia, says that although the fundraiser has had both good and bad years, “people just want to see it and they expect it every year.”

Garcia says that Kahlo inspired the event due to the admiration that event organizers have for her “Because of her strength” and “how she over came different situations, really hard situations in her life.” The event is meant to “honor Frida of course and to honor the women of San Jose and to show them that we can do this.”

Correction: The name of the location of the event is the School of the Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza, not the Mexican Heritage Plaza School of the Arts and Culture, as was previously stated.