A wondrous legend: San Benito to present Castilian Roses in December exhibit

“Virgen de Oro” is an acrylic on canvas creation by McAllen artist Mitch Darte. (Courtesy photo)

SAN BENITO — From clothing and car decals to tattoos, images of La Virgen de Guadalupe are often represented in various forms and can be found throughout communities in the Rio Grande Valley.

Soon various interpretations and imaginative creations of the cultural icon will be on display in the City of San Benito Cultural Arts Department’s annual Castilian Roses in December exhibit.

Each year, the exhibit is newly curated to present different perspectives of innovative artists from around the Valley that highlight and represent La Virgen de Guadalupe.

The exhibit will include more than 30 pieces consisting of drawings, installation, paintings, poems and sculpture.

An opening reception will be held on Thursday, Dec. 9 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, located at 250 E. Heywood St.

The evening will begin with a contemporary dance piece performed by local group “Frontera Dance Project.”

For the rest of the evening, musical performances will be done by San Benito High School flamenco and classical guitar instructor Jorge Mascorro.

Cultural Arts Department Director Aleida Garcia said the invitational showcases a variety of voices and points of view from both renown and up-and-coming artists in the Valley.

“A few of them had not explored this particular aspect of their culture and this process helped them to contemplate this very prominent cultural icon,” Garcia added. “I am once again excited to share this exhibition with the San Benito community and the rest of the region.”

This year’s participating artists include — Jessie Burciaga, Luis Contreras, Mitch Darte, Erika Garza Johnson, Claudia Garza, Alexander Gonzalez, Emily Hinojosa, Sean Hughes, Veronica Jaeger, Uriel Landeros, Denise Lecusay, Chris Leonard, Danielle Lopez, Marco Lopez, Alejandra Martinez, Clarissa Martinez, Mariana Prado, Ivan Ramirez, Alexis Ramos, Samantha Rawls, Gaby Rico, Celina Robledo, Julian Rodriguez, Eloy Rodriguez, Dominic Sanchez, Verónica Sandoval, Cecilia Sierra, Jocelyn Torres, Paul Valadez and Corinne Whittemore.

The community-curated exhibit was established to commemorate the legend of La Virgen de Guadalupe and to display how her image has woven into the visual landscape of the Valley.

According to the legend, on Dec. 9, 1531, a lady appeared to Juan Diego, a member of the Chichimec people, at a place where they worshiped an Aztec mother goddess.

The lady told Juan Diego to go to his bishop and request that a church be built. In response to Juan Diego’s question, the bishop demanded a sign.

Three days later, the lady appeared again, instructing Juan Diego to offer the bishop a bouquet of Castilian roses that were blooming from the barren hilltop in December.

Juan Diego wrapped the roses in his apron and upon opening the tilma for the bishop, the roses dropped to the ground. Then, an image of La Virgen de Guadalupe appeared on Juan Diego’s apron.

Garcia said as a director, she’s always interested in seeing what each group of artists comes up with and what their iterations of La Virgen de Guadalupe are.

“Some of these are up and coming artists, others are self-taught and some have bachelors and masters degrees in fine arts so it’s really a survey of the artists of the Valley,” Garcia said. “Because she’s such a prevalent cultural icon, they really get to explore different things and a lot of these artists have come up with some really interesting themes.”

The Castilian Roses in December exhibit will be open to the public from Thursday, Dec. 9 to Friday, Jan. 21.

The San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., as well as Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information about the museum, visit the San Benito Cultural Arts Department’s Facebook page or call the Visitor Information Center at (956) 281-0810.


WHAT — Castilian Roses in December exhibition

WHERE — San Benito Cultural Heritage Museum, 250 East Heywood St.

EXHIBIT BEGINS — Thursday, Dec. 9

EXHIBIT ENDS — Friday, Jan. 21

GALLERY HOURS — Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., as well as Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.