Monday, July 13, 2009

Calacas in Santa Ana

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Santa Ana and happened upon a jewel of a place called Calacas located at 324 W. 4th St., not far from the federal courthouse. What caught my eye were the wonderful Mexican and Chicano crafts, posters, clothing and books visible through the windows of the storefront. So, because I had a little time left before I had to head back to court, I wandered in and started browsing. I found a wonderful wooden box with a smiling skull (for my son) and two beautifully-crafted cards.

I eventually introduced myself to the woman behind the desk and sang the store’s praises. She smiled and introduced herself as Jackie Cordova, co-owner of Calacas. In short order, we made cultural connections including our mutual friendship with author Gustavo Arellano. In fact, the store had hosted Gustavo’s reading and signing of his most recent book, Orange County: A Personal History (Simon & Schuster). Turns out that Gustavo is a big booster of Calacas…which is no surprise. As Jackie noted, Gustavo “walks the walk” when it comes to supporting Chicano culture, particularly in his hometown.

Jackie and her husband Rudy opened the store to fulfill a dream of theirs. She said that they had traveled far and wide across southern California to folk art stores, and one day they decided that they loved the art so much, they wanted to have a store of their own. Jackie and Rudy opened Calacas in 2005, and then moved to their current location in January 2009. They strongly believe in their community, and leading by example, so they put together events, got involved in non-profits, and tried to tell the youth every chance they get that they need to be the change they want to see in “SanTana.”

In the end, the goal of Calacas is to bring together the artesanía and cultura of our heritage while keeping the traditions alive. As Jackie and Rudy put it: “We promote our culture through products made by the hands of the indigenous people of Mexico, as well as products from rising artists and business people of Southern California. Visit our store and check out our walls lined with local art and artesanía!”

I couldn’t put it better. So, visit Calacas and tell Jackie and Rudy that La Bloga sent you. And then make a purchase or two!

Calacas, Inc.
324 W. 4th St., #B
Santa Ana, CA 92701

◙ HINT FICTION: I was perusing Lisa Alvarez’s very fine litblog, The Mark on the Wall, where she has a wonderful habit of posting some of the most interesting literary opportunities. One recent post was a call for submissions for something called “hint fiction” for an upcoming W. W. Norton anthology to be edited by Robert Swartwood. Hint fiction? What the heck is that? Well, Mr. Swartwood explains:

It’s a story of 25 words or less that suggests a larger, more complex story. The thesis of the anthology is to prove that a story 25 words or less can have as much impact as a story 2,500 words or longer. The anthology will include between 100 and 150 stories. We want your best work.

Here are the submission guidelines. Submissions will open August 1. Start writing! I think it’d be great to have Raza represented in the anthology!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The upcoming Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival, to be held at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) on the weekend of October 10-11, will feature an outstanding lineup of 45 Latino authors. Read a preview here. I will be posting more on this event as we get closer to the event.

◙ IF YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT TO THE LIVE PERFORMANCE: Rancho Pancho, the acclaimed play by Gregg Barrios (which we at La Bloga have written about several times), is now available in paperback from Hansen Publishing Group. It may be ordered at your favorite bookstore or online.

◙ ART AND COFFEE INSPIRING POETRY: My poem, La Tormenta at the Lost Souls Café, appears in LatinoLA. It will be featured in my first poetry collection, Crossing the Border, that will be published in 2010 by Ghost Road Press.

◙ That’s all for now. So, in the meantime, enjoy the intervening posts from mis compadres y comadres here on La Bloga. And remember: ¡Lea un libro!


Manuel Ramos said...

Daniel - right on about Calacas. Flo and I moseyed on up to the store last March after the Latinos in Lotusland reading at Libreria Martinez. We saw and heard Gustavo Arellano and Lalo Alcaraz - it was an intriguing evening as Alcaraz presented a "short" history of his artistic life and all the issues his art has touched on over the years, with plenty of input from Arellano. I join in encouraging gente to stop by the store for a bit of culture and relevance.

Daniel A. Olivas said...

Gracias. I hope to visit again soon.