Seattle gallery owner shines light on Latinx artists in Northwest

SEATTLE — In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, KIRO 7 is celebrating the contributions of the Latino and Hispanic communities.

Each year it is observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

KIRO 7′s Tracey Leong spoke to a Seattle gallery owner shining a light on the Latinx artists in the Northwest.

Artist Jake Prendez is proud to showcase the incredible talent of the Latinx community inside the Seattle Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery that he co-owns with his partner Judy Avita-Gonzalez.

“All it is, is putting a spotlight on what’s already happening, and there’s an amazing arts movement happening in Seattle, and it’s not just proving to Seattle how great an art movement this is, but really proving to the rest of the country — don’t forget us in the corner,” Prendez said.

The gallery opened in February 2019 as a welcoming space for creators and marginalized communities to host workshops, display their work and share their art.

“Growing up here, I didn’t see people that looked like my parents, you know, and our community here is so diverse. We want them to be able to see themselves, and their families’ and ancestors’ on the art on the walls as well as in the gift shop buying things from Latinx artists, women-owned business, so it inspires them,” Avitia-Gonzalez said.

“Not seeing myself or family reflected in anything and I wanted so much to kind of feel the same way when I would go visit them and be immersed in culture,” Prendez said.

Inspired by the Chicano movement and his time spent with family in the East LA art scene, Prendez saw it as an opportunity when he moved back to Seattle.

“Right off the bat, I saw that Seattle had the talent, there were amazing Latinx artists. It seemed like no one knew each other, there was just this big gap,” Prendez said.

An advocate for youth empowerment, Prendez is also passionate about the healing power of art.

“I used to be that kind of at-risk youth growing up and got involved in things, and I didn’t have that outlet to express myself,” Prendez said. “I’ve always looked back and like wish I had art at the time, I wish I was able to express myself with what I was dealing with in a different way.”

And as parents, Prendez and Avitia-Gonzalez understand the importance of representation and cultural accessibility for every generation.

“Art is that vehicle, it’s that tool that really helps us deal with life. And bringing that to community is invaluable,” Prendez said.