Opening of "Mexican Masters" exhibit kicks off weeklong celebration of FESTIBA
Posted: 03/24/2009
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The opening of a colorful art exhibition titled "Mexican Masters" in The University of Texas-Pan American's Visitors Center kicked off the fourth annual Festival of International Books and Arts (FESTIBA) at the University March 23.

FESTIBA is a weeklong celebration of the arts and humanities and promotes literacy and cultural awareness by providing students and the Rio Grande Valley community interactive, hands-on opportunities to experience books, theatre, storytelling, music, art, dance, and performance competitions.

Dr. Dahlia Guerra, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and FESTIBA coordinator, and Dr. Charles A. Sorber, UTPA interim president, welcomed guests at the opening of the "Mexican Masters" art exhibit at the Visitors Center during Monday's kick off of FESTIBA 2009.
Dr. Charles A. Sorber, interim UTPA president, welcomed guests to the opening and recognized the exhibit's sponsors and organizers.

"This is an exceptional exhibit. We want to thank the owners of these great works of art for sharing them with the broader community and especially with the students here at UT Pan American," Sorber said.

The exhibit, curated by Maria Elena Macias, UTPA assistant professor of art, includes works of Diego Rivera, Rodolfo Morales, Rafael Coronel, Chuco Reyes, José Ganoa, Carlos Merida, David Siqueiros, among many other notable artists. Each work includes a panel in English about the artist. Macias said most of the works are from private collections while some are on loan from the International Museum of Arts and Sciences in McAllen. The Mexican Consulate provided support in bringing in those works from Mexico.

"The artists include the old masters to the new generation of artists who are important to the art scene in Mexico," Macias said. "Many of us do not have the opportunity to see the real work of Mexican artists and it may feel old or far away and it's not. It's so full of life. Hopefully it will serve as an inspiration to see the different style each artist has, their strengths and to learn about the history of each one."

Macias and Dr. Richard Phillips, UTPA associate professor of art and art historian, said the exhibit also inaugurates a new program major the UTPA Department of Art is laying the groundwork for in Latin American art and architectural history, formerly a minor for many years. They have already diversified their curriculum moving some Western civilization art courses to lower levels and adding a number of new upper level courses on Latin American art history. Also two new art historians have recently been hired to help teach the courses on the three key periods of Latin American art history - pre-Columbian, colonial and modern.

Students from the UTPA dance program perform at a concert held March 23 during FESTIBA 2009.
"We made a strategic decision to focus on what our strengths are here in the Valley, our connection to Latin America being so close and the interest and demand of the students. We decided we needed to move in the direction where we can be strong and where we can successfully compete with other universities who could not offer Latin American art history any better than we do," Phillips said.

Following the opening, guests also attended a multimedia automated light show, the "Art of Light," which was choreographed to music by the Valley Symphony Orchestra string quartet. In addition, students in the UTPA dance program performed on FESTIBA's opening day in a concert held in the Fine Arts Auditorium.

FESTIBA 2009 will run through this week concluding with Community Day on March 28. During the week FESTIBA partner Reading is Fundamental will distribute more than 300,000 books to local schools and the Texas Book Festival will send its Reading Rock Stars program authors into Valley schools to read and provide autographed books to students, all to encourage reading and literacy. Also offered during the week will be Pan American Days presentations by faculty and guest lecturers on an intriguing range of topics of interest to Valley residents, musical concerts, art exhibits, theatre presentations, and a Spanish Symposium and other student conferences. On Friday, March 27 a Congressional Roundtable hosted by Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) will address the issue of literacy before an audience of more than 300 librarians.

Highlighting Community Day, 3-9:30 p.m. on March 28, will be an appearance by the well-known author Sandra Cisneros, who this year is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her most famous work, "The House on Mango Street." Visitors will also be able to enjoy storytelling, poetry reading, and meeting the storybook characters Maya and Miguel at a number of pavilions focused on music, art, theatre, lifestyles and literacy. A grand pavilion will feature concerts by Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitián, Elefante, and Los Gallitos.

For more information and to see a complete weeklong schedule of FESTIBA events go to