As part of its efforts to promote the city’s identity and global diversity, Visit Philadelphia has launched an interactive, digital guide on Latino arts and galleries. From studios to murals to museum collections, the site offers a list of venues where Latino art blooms and inspires around the city.
The online guide, which became available in late April, features 14 recommendations that range from public art, galleries, and studios to permanent museum exhibits and spaces for the performing arts. Users can navigate the guide on Visit Philadelphia’s website by scrolling down through the list of entries. They can also jump to a specific item by category or by clicking on an interactive map that geolocates each venue with large red pinpoints.
Rachel Ferguson, chief innovation and global diversity officer for Visit Philadelphia, said the English-language guide is one of a series of ongoing digital content that the private, nonprofit organization is producing this year. Ferguson said it is part of an initiative that highlights events, happenings, and businesses owned by Black, queer, and brown communities in the region.
“The idea here is to continue to produce content from a diverse standpoint for diverse audiences, beyond the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations,” she said.
Visit Philadelphia worked with organizations like the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to brainstorm the entries included in the guide which, Ferguson said, will be “a work in progress” that will be updated on a regular basis. The updates will be based on reviews and suggestions.
Curator David Acosta, artistic director for Casa de Duende, was enthusiastic about the initiative. The cultural organizer has worked with LGBTQ+ and Latinx artists in Philadelphia for over 25 years. He said the guide is a great start to what should be a more thorough initiative, that includes a wider range of Latino art and events being held in the city.
He said the guide should include Fleisher Art Memorial’s Day of the Dead celebrations, as well as the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival. He also mentioned various permanent art installations at the Philadelphia International Airport and the ContraFuerte sculpture in Center City by Miguel Antonio Horn, who founded El Cubo art studio in West Philadelphia and is one of only three Latinx artists who have been commissioned for the Percent for Art program. Acosta suggested that the marketing agency reach out to people involved in promoting and showcasing Latinx art in the city, to ensure the guide captures as much as possible.
“I think the guide also has to be aware of the scope and content of what constitutes Latin American art, which is pretty broad given the many countries that comprise Latin America.”
Rafael Damast, curator and exhibitions program manager for Taller Puertorriqueño, described the guide as a good “first stage” of what could be deeper and more nuanced initiative.
“I see at it as if we were looking at that one side of an unpolished diamond,” he said, acknowledging that the guide included an entry for the Puerto Rican and Latinx cultural hub in Fairhill.
He suggesting that adding more details on the uniqueness of the Latino arts scene in the city would bring a strong foundation to the initiative.
Ferguson said the guide is a piece of a puzzle within a larger content strategy that has fueled the production of past and current initiatives. Visit Philadelphia produced a Latino-specific marketing campaign in 2019 called Filadelfia — You Gotta Feel It, that focused on inviting Hispanic and Latino travelers to stay and enjoy the city overnight. Other current initiatives include specific social media postings and a podcast series called Love + Grit.
The organization focuses on Philly’s culture, culinary experience, day and overnight visitation, diversity, history, and sports. Most recently, the Philadelphia travel and tourism agency launched an initiative called Shop Philly, a retail aggregator where users can find curated items created or sold by people of color.