ADRIANA ABARCA, LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR AND ADVOCATE OF CULTURE
Adriana Abarca, who was born and raised in Denver, has a dream. She wants the Hispanic community to enjoy their cultural roots by appreciating a variety of artistic expressions. “Once they get exposed to their culture, they will discover the riches of their cultural heritage,” she said. To fulfill this purpose, Abarca is designing a plan that will materialize at the north end of the Sun Valley neighborhood on Colfax, near the Mile High Broncos Stadium. This plan will take place in three phases.
The first phase includes the expansion of the Latino Cultural Arts Center. On the main level of the building, a replica of a Mexican market will be created. Two other floors of the building will be destined for the Mexican Heritage Museum. These areas will host the art collection owned by Adriana’s family. This collection is considered one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Mexican and Mexican-American art in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Second and third phases
“But, I realize that the community needs more than a museum”, she reflects. For that reason, the second phase of the project includes the building of new spaces at the Latino Cultural Arts Center. These spaces will conform The Learning Center, with a library at the center of it. Adriana has an extensive collection of books about art, literature, gastronomy, and traditions of Mexico and all Latin America. Additional spaces will host an auditorium and a movie theater.
Adriana’s project will be complete when she sees the Sun Valley Academy in operation. A building for this school will be built at West Eight Avenue and Decatur Street, on the south side of Sun Valley. Her intention is that young people between the ages of 16 and 24, could attend to learn about music and spoken word. Adriana is currently working with those who will be designing the building and raising funds to make it happen.
This entrepreneur and culture advocate feels fortunate for being taught to value her roots from an early age. “My father had great appreciation for his Mexican heritage. He took us to Mexico several times and with him we visited markets, museums and entire towns “, she explained. Luis, her father, was born in Tunancingo, Hidalgo, México, and came to the U.S. at an early age. At his new home, he started several businesses, but more than anything, he kept ties with his country and his culture, and passed it on to his children.
Adriana grew up with an eager interest to learn more about her culture. She studied Latin American Studies at CU Boulder. Her academic studies helped her gain a broad vision of the region. “I learned to appreciate the great resources that exist in Latin America. That is a region that has everything. We are the ‘cosmic race’. I understood more clearly where my roots are. And I discovered that I’m not only Chicana and Mexican, I am also Latina” she explained.
A combination of her family heritage and her academic work placed Adriana on the perfect spot to be a culture advocate. She explains that being part of the Chicano movement also had a great influence in her life. “It was a very intense and active movement that promoted civil rights. It was a confusing time because it made us think about our identity”, she said. Adriana assures that living that experience allowed her to reaffirm her Mexican identity, while cementing her ideology and social conscience.