Isaac Gomez and Nancy Garcia Loza are two of Chicago’s leading artists. In fact, they’ve both been named to Newcity Stage’s 2019 Hall of Fame list. Together they’ve teamed up to curate Girasol at the 2019 Pivot Arts Festival, a one night only celebration featuring all Latinx artists on Friday, June 7. Marketing manager Alexa Erbach spoke with them about the event and what makes it so unique.
AE: Girasol is a collaboration among many beloved Chicago artists including storytellers, comedians, musicians, and poets. Tell us about your experience curating the show and what you’re excited about.
IG/NGL: The breadth and depth of Chicago’s vibrant Latinx performance community is beyond measure. We wanted to curate an experience that felt uniquely Latinx (in all our nuances and intersectional identities and parallel experiences of celebration and struggle), as well as an experience that felt uniquely Chicago. Many of the talent featured this evening are born and bred Chicago performers who have been showcasing their works in a variety of capacities and places for years. It’s incredibly exciting to bring them all together for this evening through Pivot Arts. We’re excited by the celebration and the laughing and dancing and singing and community building that will inevitably take place at this event.
AE: Chicago artists have been leaders in the Latinx theater community all across the nation. How have you seen it evolve over the past several years, and where do you hope for it to go in the future?
IG/NGL: Access to resources and the ability to build alongside community and for community comes and goes in waves, depending on the individual and depending on the institution. That’s all we really have to say about that.
AE: What advice would you give to young playwrights, particularly emerging Latinx playwrights, who are looking to get their work out to audiences? Are there any particular words of wisdom that helped you, especially at the start of your careers?
IG/NGL: Keep writing, trust your gut, and get your friends and other like-minded humans and writers and artists to read your work aloud for you in living rooms, storefronts, basements, etc. Let your voice permeate the space. Let it exist beyond the page. Check your ego, and be honest with yourself about why you’re doing this. Compare yourself to nobody other than yourself, and stay focused on the writing. If you focus on the writing, the rest will fall into place.
AE: Considering the social and political climate we are living in, what do you think is the role of art? How do you see art as a vehicle for social action?
IG/NGL: The responsibility of the artist is to reflect, react, respond, re-imagine, repeat.
AE: What’s one fun or unexpected fact most people don’t know about you?
IG/NGL: We once shared a hotel bedroom with a see-through bathroom wall, and we frequently over-indulge in bougie downtown restaurants where we commiserate about the state of our field and our place within it. We also share a love for a good G&T, no matter the season. Yes, even when it rains. Yes, even when it snows. Mas gin, mas feliz. Garcia y toníc, Gomez y toníc forever, chingado.
Girasol premieres this Friday, June 7 at 9pm at The Edge Theater (5451 N. Broadway). It features music by the Mirachi Sirenas; the Latina comedy duo Dominizuelan; comedian Melissa DuPrey; poets Davon Clark and Jose Olivarez; and storytellers Jasmin Cardenas, Wendy Mateo and Karari Olvera. For tickets go to pivotarts.org/project/evening-of-latinx-performers.