March 28, 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
Latino arts group spokespersons and arts supporters gathered Thursday evening at Mother Olsen’s Inn at the invitation of Vice Mayor Alvarado.
The evening became a lively exchange of ideas. Alvarado, who has proposed a Mexican Heritage Plaza and Gardens for the East Side introduced members of that task force to explain the progress of those plans.
Vice Mayor Alvarado explained that one of her main objects for the evening was a desire to broaden participation of the community in their development of the proposed Mexican Heritage Center.
Olga Enciso Smith, the President of the Centro Cultural de las Américas, introduced Steve Flores, spokesperson of that group, to remind the Vice Mayor and her group that the Centro Cultural recently presented its plan for a major downtown cultural center that would showcase the arts and cultures of the Américas. Their presentation was made to the powerful Downtown Working Review Committee. The Centro’s plan was well received by that committee and at the time was informed that such a center might be located in the Peralta/Fallon area, a downtown location.
As the Thursday night meeting wore on, it was clear where the Mexican Heritage Museum and Gardens would be located, whether downtown at the Peralta/Fallon location or as initially proposed District 5.
Concern was expressed regarding the appearance that the Vice Mayor has abandoned her plan to locate the Mexican Heritage Museum, Gardens, Mercado etc. outside of District 5. The Vice Mayor assured the audience that she was not abandoning her plans to locate the Mexican Heritage Museum and Gardens in District 5.
Several members in the audience suggested that a downtown cultural center should have a broad all inclusive focus, one that reflects the varied national Latino groups now living in San Jose.
Felix Alvarez, Executive Director of the Multi Cultural Arts Action Group (MAAG), a forty six member multi-cultural group, expressed concern that the evening meeting was being led by a group of people who were not actively involved in the arts.
Kathy Napoli, spokesperson of the newly formed “Coalition for the Preservation of the Hispanic Presence in Downtown San Jose,” questioned the vast differences in city funding for the multi-cultural projects. The city has allocated 1.3 million for the Fallon statue while $250,000.00 was reported to be allocated for a statue to reflect the Latino presence in San Jose at one of the gateways.
Though a number of people in the audience wished to address the issue of equity, that discussion was cut short; as were also attempts by others in the audience to obtain clarification on other matters relative to participation or lack thereof on city commissions.
Related to these concerns was the matter od the Fallon statue. Members in the audience pointed out that if more knowledgeable members of the community had been involved in the selection of a sculpture in the heart of downtown San Jose, it would not have been a statue commemorating Fallon.
The evening’s meeting concluded with consensus that another meeting was not only desirable but necessary.
Vice Mayor Alvarado suggested that Felix Alvarez chair and host the next meeting. It is scheduled to take place Sat. April 21. The exact time and downtown location will be announced later.