La Cultura Hispanica – El Centro de Muchos Colores Mural
By Charine Gonzales

On September 24th, 2013, El Centro de Muchos Colores held an opening ceremony for its new mural titled La Cultura Hispanica. This mural represents Hispanic heritage from various aspects including history (historia), culture (cultura) and future (futuro). Brian Lee Albo, a Fort Lewis College (FLC) graduate, is the brains behind La Cultura Hispanica. During his senior year of college, Albo designed the mural, and gave life to the walls of El Centro de Muchos Colores. Albo wanted to incorporate as many aspects of Hispanic culture as possible, though he knew that covering all elements of all the Global Hispanic culture would be a challenge.

In the mural, Albo painted symbols including a Dia de Los Muertos skull, conquistadores, ballet de folklorico dancers, students studying, the Durango/Silverton train, Aztec temple, the farm workers logo, a Zia symbol etc. Together, all of Albo’s images unite to create a story of those who came before us, those in the present, and looks up to a bright future for people of Hispanic culture, including graduates of FLC.

The history section of La Cultura Hispanica represents times of struggle and exploration. Albo includes famous figures in his mural such as Poncho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and Buckskin Charlie. These figures are complimented by winds that helped sail Spanish ships which transition into clouds that lead into smoke puffed by the local train.

The culture section of the mural represents Hispanic influence on each other and the world. Mariachi band members, flamenco dancers and La Virgin de Guadalupe represent influences of religion, art, and community. The morning sky and mountains turn into the Colorado flag symbol, showing that the mix of culture adds tremendously to Hispanic heritage.

The future section of Albo’s mural represents the accomplishments and dreams of Hispanics todays. This section includes a painting of Leo Archuleta, Albo’s grandfather who was in the United States Army. Albo felt this was an important aspect of the mural because it shows positive future avenues for Hispanics. Students buried in books and the FLC clock tower can also be found in this section of La Cultura Hispanica.

Albo recognizes himself as a Spanish-Italian American. He was born and raised in Durango, Colo. and graduated with a degree in business administration in the international option in spring of 2013. Albo was also a student worker at El Centro de Muchos Colores, and has left his mural, La Cultura Hispanica, for all to enjoy when they visit El Centro de Muchos Colores (The Center of Many Colors).

Charine Gonzales is a freshman at FLC from Santa Fe & San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico. When she first saw the mural, she was immediately drawn to the Zia symbol which is also on the New Mexico state flag. Having grown-up in a culture primarily based around Native Americans and Latino’s, Gonzales finds La Cultura Hispanica a great expression of history and heritage.