Tu Tienda Azteca: Giving the Fruitvale Community More than Art


Tu Tienda Azteca is located at 3104 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, Calif. 94602. Art work as seen on Sunday, November 3, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. (Photograph by: Natalie Rodriguez).

Tu Tienda Azteca is located at 3104 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, Calif. 94602. Art work as seen on Sunday, November 3, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. (Photograph by: Natalie Rodriguez)

Tu Tienda Azteca, a Mexican Folk Art store opened in Hayward in 2007 as a collaboration between Oscar Cisneros and his mother, Rosario Cisneros. Oscar is a self-proclaimed, self-taught artist who was born and raised in Oakland. In 2013 the shop relocated to the Fruitvale District in Oakland and along with art, brought a desire to work together with the community.

The Cisneros family not only bring traditional Mexican artwork to the communities they work in, they also share their knowledge with them. When they were located in Hayward they collaborated with Tennyson High School on their Día de los Muertos event. This year, they have collaborated with La Clinica de la Raza’s, Casa Che department’s Youth Brigade in creating traditional nichos, or shadow boxes for their altar.

In addition Tu Tienda Azteca has also been busy with Día de los Muertos celebrations such as The Unity Council’s yearly community

Tu Tienda Azteca at the Dia De Los Muertos Fruitvale Festival

Oscar Cisneros of Tu Tienda Azteca and his assistant’s work at the Unity Council’s yearly Día de los Muertos Festival in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, November 2, 2013. (Photograph by: Natalie Rodriguez)

celebration and hosting workshops at the store. On Sunday, October 13th, they hosted Miguel Quintana, a sugar skull artist from Puebla, Mexico who had a live demonstration and sale. Local artist Leanne “Elrod” Rodriguez also recently hosted a “Glitter 101 Día de los Muertos Edition” workshop. Workshops are open to the community.

By making a purchase at Tu Tienda Azteca you are not only supporting local artist and merchants, you are also supporting community enrichment for the youth.


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The influence of Samuel Martinez in the Fruitvale District

Samuel Martinez Discusses History and Traditional Healing from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Samuel Martinez is a part of the history Oakland’s Fruitvale district as a therapist, healer, social justice worker, activist, writer and traditional dancer. During the Urban Relocation program of the 1950s, he and his mother were relocated to the Oakland housing projects where they faced racial inequality and discrimination, which he says have “made him stronger.”

After refusing to join the Vietnam War, at 18 years old he became an anti-war activist and joined the Chicano Moratorium. As a parent and organizer he helped create El Centro Infantil de La Raza and served on the board of directors.

Martinez is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who contributed to the creation of a mental health department at La Clinica de La Raza. He refers to himself as a “Social Justice Healer offering a Traditional Healing Praxis.” His praxis began with his mother’s traditional teachings of healing and in 1977 he incorporated the theories of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In 1971 La Clinica de La Raza was established in the Fruitvale district in order to provide accessible health care for the neighborhood’s Latino population. La Clinica opened its first mental health site named Casa del Sol in 1978.

In his backyard, Martinez leads community TemesCalli’s or Sweat Lodges for family and extended family alike. Martinez says that the meaning of TemesCalli stems from “Calli” which means home and “Teme or tema is in a prayerful way.” He says that the prayer lodge is “the creation story in our five senses because we are beings of the five senses.”

As an author he has published several books including The Indian Dream: Surviving the American Holocaustand AmeriCaCa—The Sounds of Silenced Survivors: Surviving America’s Campaign to “Kill the Indian, Save the Child.”