Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural

Last updated

Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural is a non-profit cultural center and bookstore in Sylmar, California. [1] It was founded in 2003 by noted Chicano author Luis J. Rodriguez, his wife Trini Rodriguez, Angelica Loa, and Victor Mendoza (Victor E) of El Vuh. Tia Chucha's provides arts and music workshops and events to the culturally underserved Northeastern San Fernando Valley.



Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural was founded in 2003 next door to Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural, a coffee shop and bookstore owned by Chicano writer Luis Rodriguez, his wife Trini, and their brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez in Sylmar, CA since 2001. The Centro's founders were Luis Rodriguez, Angelica Loa Perez and Victor Mendoza. They began offering workshops in writing, painting, music, dance, film, theater, reiki healing, and indigenous studies. A resident Danza Azteca group, Temachtia Quetzalcoatl, was formed, as well as natural healing circles for both men and women.

In 2004 the Centro received its 501 (c) 3 tax exempt status.

In 2005, the Centro took over operations of Tia Chucha Press and continues to produce poetry books, distributed by Northwestern University Press. Tia Chucha Press was started in 1989 by Luis Rodriguez in Chicago and since 1991 was run by the nonprofit literary arts organization, the Guild Complex, until the Centro made Tia Chucha Press its publishing wing. This complements the CD production project, Dos Manos Records, that the Centro began in 2003.

The Centro also sponsors weekly Open Mic nights as well as regular film nights, musical events, original theater, author readings, and art exhibits. Since 2006, it also created the only annual literacy & performing arts festival in the San Fernando Valley called "Celebrating Words: Written, Performed & Sung." And we sponsor an arts-based youth empowerment project called "Young Warriors," started by teen leaders Mayra Zaragoza and Brian Dessaint.

In January 2007, both the Centro and Tia Chucha's Cafe were forced out of their facility to make way for a high-end laundromat. Given the state of the real estate market at the time, the Centro had to move into a much smaller facility in nearby Lake View Terrace, and the Cafe was closed. In March of that year, the Centro took over the bookstore operation from the Cafe.

That summer the Centro established an annual benefit event called "Celebrating Community & Culture: Si Se Puede/Yes We Can!" at Hollywood's Ford Amphitheatre with such notables as Cheech Marin, John Densmore of the Doors, Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, El Vuh, Xela, Tierra, Upground, Olmeca, Nobuko Miyamoto, and more.

The board also expanded to include leaders in the Chicano, African American, Asian, and European American communities.

By February 2009, Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore leased another space back in Sylmar at the Sylmar Plaza on Hubbard Boulevard and Gladstone Avenue, down the street from Mission Community College. The Centro is now the only multi-arts cultural space and bookstore in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, with some 450,000 people, mostly Mexican/Central American—the second largest Latino community in the United States after East LA (with a sizable African American and growing Asian communities).

The Centro has so far been funded by the LA City Department of Cultural Affairs, the LA County Arts Commission, the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of San Fernando, the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Panta Rhea Foundation, the Attias Family Foundation, the Middleton Foundation, the Center for Cultural Innovation, Toyota Sales, among others.

Individual donors have included Bruce Springsteen, John Densmore of the Doors, Lou Adler, Richard Foos, Adrienne Rich, Tom Hayden, Jack Kornfield, David Sandoval, Jesus Trevino, Denise Chavez and the Border Book Festival, Dave Marsh, and the Luis & Trini Rodriguez Family.


Tia Chucha Press

Founded in Chicago in 1989 by Luis Rodriguez, Tia Chucha Press has published around 50 poetry collections, anthologies, chapbooks and a CD by a wide range of poets including President Obama Inaugural Poet Elizabeth Alexander, Patricia Smith, Ricardo Sanchez, Terrance Hayes, Tony Fitzpatrick, Lisa Buscani, Diane Glancy, Nick Carbo, Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton, Ariel Robello, Virgil Suarez, Kyoko Mori, Patricia Spears Jones, Linda Susan Jackson, Alfred Arteaga, and Richard Vargas. Tia Chucha Poets include Pulitzer and National Book Award nominees, National Poetry Slam Champions, and winners of Whiting, Lannan, National Endowment for the Arts, and Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest fellowships and awards, among others. In 1991, the Press became a project of the Guild Complex, a nonprofit literary arts center in Chicago. Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural took over operations of the Press in 2005. Tia Chucha Press books are distributed by Northwestern University Press and sold at all major independent and chain bookstores as well as online outlets like Amazon.com.

Dos Manos Records

Founded by Luis Rodriguez in 2002, Dos Manos Records became a project of Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural the following year. Dos Manos has released two CDs: From Earth To Sky: A Collection of Word & Song, a showcase of musicians and spoken word artists from the greater Los Angeles area, and My Name's Not Rodriguez, featuring Rodriguez reading his poetry accompanied by the music of Ernie Perez with the band, Seven Rabbit. Both are available at CD Baby online store.

Young Warriors

Founded in 2007, Young Warriors is the Centro's ongoing youth empowerment group. Founded by Mayra Zaragoza, Young Warriors utilizes the arts, dialogue, and indigenous healing practices to help troubled young people. Members have taken part in Mosaic Multicultural Foundation's Men's Conferences, Sisters of the Earth Women's Conferences, and the Koures Youth Symposium, among other events. Issues of gangs, drugs, social issues, the arts, and how to live healthy, whole and dignified lives are discussed. A large mural in collaboration with the LA Mural Project, and several young graffiti artists, was painted in 2008 at an elementary school in Sylmar, CA, among other initiatives.

Major events

Celebrating Words: Written, Spoken and Sung

Begun in 2006, "Celebrating Words: Written, Performed & Sung" is Tia Chucha's Centro's annual outdoor community festival, held each summer in Sylmar. The only literacy & performing arts festival in Los Angeles' City Council District 7, it features musicians, bands, spoken word artists, theater performers, and dance troupes, as well as an array of local vendors, including Tia Chucha's bookstore. Sponsors have included the LA City Department of Cultural Affairs, Center for Cultural Innovation, Youth Policy Institute, the Mayor's Office, LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavksy, Councilpersons Richard Alarcon and Tony Cardenas, California State Senator Alex Padilla, State Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, among others.

Tia Chucha's Celebration of Community and Culture

Starting in 2007, Tia Chucha's has produced an annual benefit concert at the John Anson Ford AmphiTheatre in Hollywood. The 2007 concert featured John Densmore (of The Doors), Culture Clash, Tierra, Upground, El Vuh, Xela, Luis Rodriguez, Ollin, among others. The 2008 show included Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Cheech Marin, Nobuko Miyamoto, Opening People's Minds, Olmeca, and Upground. Tia Chucha's resident Azteca Danza group, Temachtia Quetzacoatl, opened for both events. And Latino Comedian Ernie G. served as host.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cherríe Moraga</span> American writer and activist (born 1952)

Cherríe Moraga is a Xicana feminist, writer, activist, poet, essayist, and playwright. She is part of the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Department of English since 2017, and in 2022 became a distinguished professor. Moraga is also a founding member of the social justice activist group La Red Xicana Indígena, which is network fighting for education, culture rights, and Indigenous Rights. In 2017, she co-founded, with Celia Herrera Rodríguez, Las Maestras Center for Xicana Indigenous Thought, Art, and Social Practice, located on the campus of UC Santa Barbara.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal Chicano Air Force</span> Art collective in Sacramento, California

The Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) is a Sacramento, California-based art collective, founded in 1970 by Ricardo Favela, José Montoya and Esteban Villa. It was one of the "most important collective artist groups" in the Chicano art movement in California during the 1970s and the 1980s and continues to be influential into the 21st century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carlos Almaraz</span> Mexican-American painter (1941–1989)

Carlos D. Almaraz was a Mexican-American artist and a pioneer of the Chicano art movement. He was one of the founder of the Centro de Arte Público (1977–1979), a Chicano/Chicana arts organization in Highland Park, Los Angeles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Centro Cultural de la Raza</span> Non-profit organization

The Centro Cultural de la Raza is a non-profit organization with the specific mission to create, preserve, promote and educate about Chicano, Mexicano, Native American and Latino art and culture. It is located in Balboa Park in San Diego, California.The cultural center supports and encourages the creative expression “of the indigenous cultures of the Americas.” It is currently a member of the American Alliance of Museums.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alurista</span> American poet and activist

Alberto Baltazar Urista Heredia, better known by his nom de plume Alurista, is an American poet and activist. His work was influential in the Chicano Movement and is important to the field of Chicano poetry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Vallen</span> American cartoonist

Mark Vallen is an American activist with Chicano and other issues, curator, figurative realist painter, and blogger, who runs the Art for a Change web site; he founded The Black Moon web site for Japanese culture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Luis J. Rodriguez</span> American poet and writer (born 1954)

Luis Javier Rodriguez is an American poet, novelist, journalist, critic, and columnist. He was the 2014 Los Angeles Poet Laureate. Rodriguez is recognized as a major figure in contemporary Chicano literature, identifying himself as a native Xicanx writer. His best-known work, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award and has been controversial on school reading lists for its depictions of gang life.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chicano poetry</span> Subgenre of Mexica-American literature

Chicano poetry is a subgenre of Chicano literature that stems from the cultural consciousness developed in the Chicano Movement. Chicano poetry has its roots in the reclamation of Chicana/o as an identity of empowerment rather than denigration. As a literary field, Chicano poetry emerged in the 1960s and formed its own independent literary current and voice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northwestern University Press</span>

Northwestern University Press is an American publishing house affiliated with Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. It publishes 70 new titles each year in the areas of continental philosophy, poetry, Slavic and German literary criticism, Chicago regional studies, African American intellectual history, theater and performance studies, and fiction. Parneshia Jones is director of the press. It is a member of the Association of University Presses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Juan Felipe Herrera</span> American writer (born 1948)

Juan Felipe Herrera is an American poet, performer, writer, cartoonist, teacher, and activist. Herrera was the 21st United States Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017. He is a major figure in the literary field of Chicano poetry.

Alfred Arteaga was a Mexican-American poet, writer, and scholar. He was noted as an important poet of the Chicano Movement, who also contributed to the foundations postcolonial and ethnic studies.

Sandra María Esteves is a Latina poet and graphic artist. She was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and is one of the founders of the Nuyorican poetry movement. She has published collections of poetry and has conducted literary programs at New York City Board of Education, the Caribbean Cultural Center, and El Museo del Barrio. Esteves has served as the executive director of the African Caribbean Poetry Theater. She is the author of Bluestown Mockinbird Mambo and Yerba Buena. She lives in the Bronx.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patricia Spears Jones</span> American poet

Patricia Spears Jones is an American poet. She is the author of five books of poetry. Jones is the editor of "The Future Differently Imagined", an issue of About Place Journal, the online publication of Black Earth Institute. Previously, she was the co-editor for Ordinary Women: Poems of New York City Women. Her poem "Beuys and the Blonde" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Jones was the winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize for 2017, and she will serve as the 2020 Louis D. Rubin Jr. Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pablo O'Higgins</span>

Pablo Esteban O'Higgins was an American-Mexican artist, muralist and illustrator.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards</span> Poetry awards based at Claremont Graduate University

The Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards are a pair of American prizes based at Claremont Graduate University. They are given to poets for their collections of poetry written in the English language, by a citizen or legal resident alien of the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Xicanx</span> Gender-neutral term for select Mexican subcultures

Xicanx is an English-language gender-neutral neologism and identity referring to people of Mexican descent in the United States. The ⟨-x⟩ suffix replaces the ⟨-o/-a⟩ ending of Chicano and Chicana that are typical of grammatical gender in Spanish. The term references a connection to Indigeneity, decolonial consciousness, inclusion of genders outside the Western gender binary imposed through colonialism, and transnationality. In contrast, most Latinos tend to define themselves in nationalist terms, such as by a Latin American country of origin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts</span> United States historic place

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) is an arts nonprofit that was founded in 1977, and is located at 2868 Mission Street in the Mission District in San Francisco, California. They provide art studio space, art classes, an art gallery, and a theater. Their graphics department is called Mission Grafica, and features at studio for printmaking and is known for the hand printed posters. It was formerly named, Centro Cultural de La Mission.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ricardo Sánchez (poet)</span> American Chicano writer (1941-1995)

Ricardo Sánchez was a writer, poet, professor, and activist. Sometimes called the "Grandfather of Chicano poetry," Sánchez gained national acclaim for his 1971 poetry collection Canto y Grito Mi Liberacion. Incarcerated in his twenties for stealing money to feed his struggling family, Sánchez read extensively and even learned Hebrew while at Soledad Prison in California. Upon his release in 1969, his poems were included in a poetry anthology. In 1971, his first solo collection of poetry was published, establishing Sánchez as one of the nation's most important Chicano poets.


  1. "Founder Bios". Tia Chucha. Retrieved 8 January 2013.

34°18′38″N118°25′41″W / 34.3105°N 118.4281°W / 34.3105; -118.4281