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The City Journals

Something to shake your maracas at

May 11, 2018 12:22PM ● By City Journals Staff

Child takes swing at the piñata (courtesy Audrey Livingston/The County Library) Bilingual Storytime: Librarians use storytime to introduce new languages (Amy Green/City Journals)

By Amy Green  |  [email protected]

Ana Aranda brought her fine art fame to West Jordan’s Viridian Event Center on Sat April 28th, to speak to youth and families at a free event called “Kids Fiesta.” She arrived to the stage wearing vivid yellow. Raised in Mexico City, her huipil-style embroidered dress was a bright expression of her upbringing. She presented slides showing her artwork, the strong craftsman culture of Mexico, and what influences her.

Aranda has impressive talents. It seems she can paint a unique version of any creature and organic thing. Her anthropomorphic style is appealing worldwide to children and adults alike. Many of her illustrations show plants and animals native to Mexico, feisty and bold, in balanced compositions. Her art received even more positive attention when a popular book “The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra” by author Marc Tyler Nobleman, debuted Aranda’s striking cover-to-cover artwork.

“I play games when I paint,” Aranda said, describing how she uses different techniques. She talked of one particular game using a toothbrush to apply color to her drawings. “As if you’re playing tennis, throw paint to the canvas,” Aranda said. She invited all to try sometime, and reminded kids saying, “You don’t need a canvas. Paper works too.”

Viridian patrons also walked in to see Mexico themed attractions. A picture-taking station had silly props on hand, for anyone to pose with a mustache or sombrero. The venue was full of craft tables, learning areas and outdoor activities. Bounce houses were set up by All About Bounce, LLC for jumping. Children took turns taking a swing at the piñata.

Aranda explained how looking at animals is one way for artists to get ideas (make sure to observe wildlife in a safe way or with an expert). Aranda said her chupacabra illustration turned out to have a combination of appearances that are part “alien, coyote, and dog.”

Tables with exhibits offered education about creature biodiversity. Hogle Zoo brought a touch ‘n feel display with real moose and mule-deer antlers. One could pick up the casted footprints of a bison, goose, possum or puma. Can you imagine a bison with goose feet, moose face and a possum tail? Hogle zoo-keepers might look at you funny if you ask where a chupacabra is. It could be fun to ask anyway.

The Natural History Museum of Utah brought a diverse collection of desert insects--moths, beetles, spiders and a hopping who-knows-what. Kids could see them up close behind glass, read the labels and ask questions.

The Chavez Academy brought live music. They launched into an energetic performance of “La Bamba” with their skilled group of young string players-- a real fiesta.

Kids could even get a taste of sweet cultural cuisine. San Diablo Churros came from their home base treat shop in Draper to serve mini-churro samples. Families could see how the churros were shaped, fried, and how creamy filling gets inside.

Librarians even offered a bilingual storytime. They showed how to introduce Spanish and English language to kids using early reader books. Raquel Ruiz, public service librarian said, “When playing at home, use flashcards, or a (language learning) program. It should be something they like.” Ruiz described how keeping it simple will be less overwhelming. “Use books that don’t have too many words,” she suggested.

Another station had everything to make your own maracas. Empty water bottles were ready for kids to fill with colored rice. Anyone could decorate a homemade sound-maker with stickers and craft tape. The whole event was engaging--something like an Aranda painting come to life!

The whimsical nature of Aranda’s work is interesting to see. If you ever thought it unacceptable to stare, Aranda’s art is actually meant for staring at--to wonder if that animal even exists? To guess what creature it’s supposed to be? To think… will I ever get to see a chupacabra? or an electric indigo porcupine? Maybe, in Ana Aranda’s world.