In 2014, in a tiny backyard in Central El Paso, nearly 100 neighbors and community members gathered to feast on a warm bowl of home-made soup and a soul full of homegrown ideas from four of El Paso's very own local artists. Caldo's cofounders and volunteers cooked up 8 gallons of home-made soup for the feast. A cardboard box held donations collected at the garden gate of the home as the guests moved into the yard in support of the arts. Maximillion Hawkeye Canion, Andrea Vasquez Aguirre, Tino Ortega and Travis David-Smith were selected by renowned local artists and educators Rachelle Thiewes and Willie Ray Parish. The artists presented their ideas to the community during 10 minute presentations delivered beside the home's garage. After learning about each artist, their ideas and the potential impact of each project on the community, guests voted for the idea they thought had the most potential to impact the community, was most viable and original. Maximillion Hawkeye Canion was selected by the community to receive funding for his contemporary dance project, "4 Years."
This first feast would mark the start of a an incredible process for the Caldo Collective, local artists and the community that has since proven: the support artists need for their projects can be delivered by the community.. Frijol Feasts is about bringing people to the table together, to learn about artists, their ideas and just how powerful art can be for a community like ours. More importantly, Frijol Feasts is about creating a platform over which artists can share their ideas with the community over a nice warm bowl of caldo, among family, friends and neighbors. Feasts are driven by the idea that the artist's most valuable role in the society is to contribute to and serve the needs of the community through universal languages that only artists can speak.
There are a few things that happen at our feasts:
Artists approach their presentations as any artist typically does- nervous about speaking and apprehensive about standing in front of a crowd to talk about themselves. The Caldo Collective does everything in our power to prepare artists for this challenge. Opportunities for artists to engage audiences through artist talks are seldom available in El Paso, so The Caldo Collective facilitates as many rehearsals as needed to ensure that artists feel as comfortable as possible presenting their work. Each presenting artist is required to attend rehearsals at the same time, as a show of support for one another and to ensure that artists are getting feedback from other artists. Additionally, Caldo's entire operational team provides valuable feedback regarding presentation strategies and practices that have proven to be effective at past events.
Often times, artists face challenges preparing their presentations-perhaps because they have never used software to prepare slides or because they haven't had access to photographers who could document their work. Caldo offers assistance in the preparation of visual aids and other media to ensure each presenting artist is able to supplement the spoken aspect of their presentation with effective and simple visual aids. Frijol Feasts have proven to be a valuable tool for educating the community about the value of an artist. A clear example of the need for this is embedded in the requirements for artists' presentations. Each artist must prepare a detailed budget for their proposed project. This budget allows artists to think through the process of creating their work (often times artists are preparing a budget for the first time). This budget also allows artists to articulate the true cost of production of their work, the value of their ideas and the value of their time. Nearly every feast has led the Caldo Collective to encourage artists to truly reflect their value as most prepared to underbudget for their wages in order to convince an audience to believe their work was feasible. Our proudest step in curbing this unfortunate measure has been to require each artist to calculate their worth per hour, as well as the monetary value of their idea. Each artist who presents their ideas at a feast begin the breakdown of their project by saying, "I believe in fair compensation for any and all working artists and have included a fair wage for my time in this budget."
Every person in attendance at a feast has the opportunity, throughout the feast, to engage artists directly. They are offered equal oppportunity to utilize the feasts as a platform to voice their concerns, express their interests and ask any question they feel is necessary and valuable.
The Caldo Collective calls upon the community to support the arts with them by inviting hosts to volunteer their private homes as venues for this incredibly intimate and grassroots event. The only thing we ask of our beautiful hosts is that they invite everyone they know and help us pack their yard full of love for the arts. This allows Caldo to reach beyond our own network and engage new audiences we would otherwise not have access to.
The most important aspect of each feast involves the food itself. Because sharing a meal with someone is an act of art in and of itself.
If you haven't had the opportunity to feast with us yet, there's no better time than now. Get in touch with us to see how you can participate! If you have joined us in helping support local artists with this feast, don't stop now- our recipes and our artists and their recipes are getting better each feast! There is no better way to feed a starving artist than with a FEAST that keeps El Paso family!
THIS IS COMMUNITY.
THIS IS CALDO.