Latino and Immigrant Initiative


The Tennessee Arts Commission’s Folklife Program Assistant, a position funded in part by NEA Folk and Traditional Arts Infrastructure grants (FY09-present), is tasked with undertaking a major Latino and Immigrant Initiative. In 2000, Folklife Program Director Robert Cogswell foresaw the need to conduct ongoing fieldwork documentation among Latinos and invited folklorist Norma Cantu of Texas to do a preliminary survey and report of Latino folklife in Tennessee. Dana Everts-Boehm, a Spanish-speaking folklorist with Mexican cultural expertise, was hired in part to address the challenges laid out by Cantu’s report: first, to identify and document Latino tradition bearers and to establish relationships with Latino organizations in the state; next, to build opportunities for Latino folk artists and organizations within the Tennessee Arts Commission’s grants and special projects. This initiative has been expanded to include other immigrant groups in addition to Latino.

The following summary of Everts-Boehm’s outreach efforts, organized by fiscal year, includes information on the location of site visit reports and special projects in the Folklife Program’s Fiscal Year Special Projects files. Photographs associated with these site visits are found, by date, in the Folklife Program’s Photography files. Some of the site visits include grant management activities, i.e. technical assistance to new organizations and site visits to monitor and document Folklife funded events. In addition, a binder of Everts-Boehm’s site visit reports is located in the Folklife Program’s Library.



 Fiestas Patrias 2015, 9/13/15, Nashville

Organized by the Hispanic Family Foundation, Inc., this event took place at Plaza Mariachi on Nolensville Road.  Performing artists included:  Impala Norte, a norteno group from Nashville; Marimba Aj Kúbúl Ojom de los Hermanos Alonzo, a Guatemalan marimba from Nashville; Banda Zero from Nashville, Danza Azteca Moctezuma Ilhuicamina, and Ballet Folklórico de Glencliff High.  Site Visit #82

Cumberland Hispanic Festival 2015, 10/3/15, Crossville

This year’s event was predominantly organized by Crossville for Solidarity Action (CPAS) working with Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Cumberland County Playhouse.  Performers included Los Bailables, Danza Azteca Moctezuma Ilhuicamina, Yosvany y su Son Tropical, and Marimba de los Hermanos Alonzo.  Site Visit #85

Celebration of Nations, 10/10/15, Franklin

Funded by TAC’s Folklife program, Celebration of Nations featured Mariachi Olímpico de Nashville, a newly formed local mariachi; Ballet Folklórico Viva Panamá of Clarksville; Peruvian singer Yelina Scranton; and the Coral Bay Steel Drum Band.  Pepe Vera González had a booth featuring his paintings and crafts.  Food booths included Delicias Colombianas R.R. of Murfreesboro and Padrino’s Pops, featuring paletas.  Site Visit #86

La Vida y la Muerte: Leyendas de Mexico, 10/23/15, Memphis

Folk theatre troupe Cazateatro joined forces with Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl for this bilingual Mexican folk drama about the origins of the Mexican Day of the Dead, La Catrina, traditional and current day practices, at Evergreen Theatre.  Site Visit #87

Día de los Muertos at Las Fajitas, 10/30/15, Antioch

Mexican muralist/altar builder/folk painter Pepe Vera González created altars, dioramas, and a “mercadito” of crafts by himself, Jaqui Almaguer, and Elena Vargas, inside this Antioch Mexican restaurant for Day of the Dead.  Site Visit #88

Día de los Muertos at El Mercadito, 11/1/15, Memphis

Organized by El Comité del Día de Muertos de Memphis led by Rafael Figueroa and Catrina Guttery, this event featured a massive community altar/ofrenda display and staged performances by Ballet Folklórico de Nashville, Los Chinelos San Andrés Tennessee, Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl, Danza Azteca Moctezuma Ilhuicamina, Mariachi Feminil Las Palomas, and Los Idolos de Oaxaca.  Site Visit # 89

La Pastorela: Si Lucifer fuera mujer, 12/18/15, Memphis

Cazateatro’s comic Pastorela, a traditional Mexican Christmas play about the Shepherds’ search for the Nativity, performed at Evergreen Theater.  Site Visit #90

Folk and Traditional Arts Festival, 6/25/16, Chattanooga

Folklorist Liza Blair organized this event at the Creative Discovery Museum, featuring Filipino-American Association of Greater Chattanooga Folk Dancers, Coalition of Latin Leaders’ Mexican Folkloric Dancers, Chattanooga Chinese Association Folk Dance Group, India Association of Chattanooga Dance Group, Burundi Folk Dance Group, Association Peru-Chattanooga Peruvian Folk Dance Group, and Carlos Colon, Puerto Rican Percussionist.


Casa de la Cultura Latinoamericana: 1st Anniversary, 9/26/14, Nashville

Celebration of the first year of this new non-profit led by Mayra Yu Morales took place at the Nashville Public Library, featured Yucatecan foodways feast by Karla Ruiz and music by Guatemalan Mayan musician Rolando Garcia Ruiz.  Site Visit #72

Hola Festival 2014, organized by Hola Hora Latina, 9/28/14, Knoxville

Annual Latino traditional arts festival in Knoxville featured Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre troupe from Memphis; acoustic musicians Victor Garza (guitar), Bobby Fernández (keyboard, vocals) and Hernando Guevara (cajón, congas); dance troupe Arte y Pasion Flamenca; Music City Salsa, and visiting groups Sambos Grupo de Baile Boliviano from Virginia and the Marcel Portilla Band from North Carolina.  Craftspeople included Maguie Garza (Catrina sculptures), Malvina Carrera (Panamanian polleras and tembleques), Alejandro and Maria Villalpando (calaveras de azucar).  Site visit # 73

Celebrate Nashville 2014, 10/4/14, Nashville

An annual event featuring multi-ethnic performers, craftspeople and foodways in Nashville’s Centennial Park, featuring classical Indian Odissi dancer Haimanti Basu, Irish step dance troupe Scott-Ellis School of Irish Dance; Persian dancers Shabnam and Shahrzad; Danza Azteca Moctezuma Ilhuicamina; Destellos Culturales Mexican Folkloric Dance; Cuban band Yosvany y su Son Tropical; Mariachi Viva Mexico; and Caribbean salsa band Revolfusion, among others.  Site visit #74

Cumberland Hispanic Festival 2014, 10/18/14, Crossville

Organized by Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition’s Crossville Branch with funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program, this event featured Mariachi Viva Mexico, Revolfusion, Bailables (Crossville’s own Mexican regional dance troupe), Los Chinelos, a masked Mexican dance tradition originally from Puebla, performed by a group from Manchester, TN; and Mexican singer Luna Morena.  Craftspeople were from Tennessee Opportunity Programs Migrant Artists Project (funded by TAC Folklife), and the Villalpandos were there with Mexican candy and sugar skulls.  Site Visit #75

Dia de los Muertos Recorrido de Arte (Art Crawl), 10/25/14, Nashville

New non-profit Arte de Libertad spearheaded this Day of the Dead art crawl on Nolensville Pike, Nashville, visiting a number of traditional ofrendas or altars put up in businnesses and community centers, ending in Coleman Community Center.  Participating folk artists include José (Pepe) Vera Gonzales and Jacqui Almaguer.  Site Visit # 76

Cheekwood’s Day of the Dead, 11/1/14, Nashville

Annual Day of the Dead event hosted by Cheekwood Art and Gardens boosts Latino attendance by giving away free admission to friends and relatives of their featured artists, who included Destellos Culturales baile folklórico, Marcela Pinilla Band, Danza Azteca Guadalupana, Revolfusion, and Serenatta; featuring altars by Pepe Vera, Jaqueline Almaguer, Elena Vargas, and others.  Site Visit #77

La Misión ConArte, 3/17/15, Antioch

New non-profit La Mision ConArte, led by Ofelia Vazquez, presented a staged show at the food court at Antioch’s Global Mall to bring attention to the organization’s weekly Mexican dance and music classes offered at Global Mall.  Performers included Ballet Folklorico Evanesce Internacional and El Trio ConArte (a trio huasteco).  Site Visit #79

Wat Lao Buddaharam/Lao Buddhist Temple, 2/8/15, Murfreesboro

Met with a Buddhist monk in residence, Pra Ajan Thonkhoun, to encourage them to apply for Folklife project grant to support cultural classes offered here in Lao dance and traditional storytelling, on display during their annual Lao New Year celebration.  Site Visit #80

Tamale Fest, 6/27/15, Memphis

Sponsored by the Centro Cultural Latino de Memphis and Caritas Village, Tamale Fest featured a tent of samples of tamales from different Mexican and Central American regional cuisines as well as day long staged performances by Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl, Tierra Mestiza Baile Folklorico, and Mariachi Feminil Las Palomas.  Site Visit #81


Fiestas Patrias 2013, 9/29/13, Antioch

Best attended yet, this growing event took place indoors for the first time at Global Mall, this event featured Mariachi Viva Mexico, Destellos Culturales baile folklorico, Danza Azteca Moctezuma Ihuicamina, Banda Zero, Zona 3 and AK-7, and José (Pepe) Vera Gonzáles.

Celebrate Nashville, 10/5/13, Nashville

International festival featuring variety of immigrant art forms.  Site visit #65

Cumberland Hispanic Fest, 10/12/13, Crossville

2nd annual Cumberland Hispanic Festival organized by Crossville office of statewide Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, partnering with the Cumberland County Playhouse, with TAC ABC funding.  Featured migrant folk artists identified by Migrant Education TOPS project (see above in FY 10), among other craft artists, performers and dancers.  Site visit #66

Clorinda Chávez Galdós Bell, 10/25/13, Powell

Interview in Spanish with Peruvian folk painter, in the style of the Cuzco School of Art, which she learned informally from her father and siblings growing up.  Site visit #67

Dia de los Muertos, 11/2/13, Nashville

Cheekwood’s Day of the Dead featuring numerous craftspeople (Jose (Pepe) Vera Gonzalez foremost among them), bands such as Banda Tenaz and Mariachi Viva Mexico, and Puerto Rican festival traditions.  Site visit #68

Clorinda Chávez Galdós Bell: Cuzco School of Religious Art, 2/13/14-3/28/14

Exhibition of traditional colonial Peruvian religious iconography paintings depicting popular saints and warrior angels.  Clorinda Chávez Galdós Bell file.


Al-Tatreez: Palestinian Embroidery Exhibition, 7/19/12 – 9/7/12, TAC exhibition gallery

  Palestinian Embroidery Exhibit file.

Fiestas Patrias 2012, 9/15/12, Antioch

Destellos Culturales director Ramon Cisneros organized this event, moved from Nashville to Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch.  Site visit report #56

Centro Cultural Latino de Memphis, 9/24/12, Memphis

Meeting with organization director Richard Lou to go over TAC grant opportunities.  Site visit report #57

Colores de America Latina, 9/27/12, Nashville

Organized by Mayra Yu Morales of Plaza Comunitaria under Catholic Charities, this event featured a Guatamalan Mayan marimba band and numerous Mexican textile artists and traditional cooks.  Site visit report #58

Hola Festival, 10/6/12, Knoxville

Annual festival with support from TAC Folklife APS grant, reflecting greater participation by local Latino artists documented through Commission Initiative project.  Site visit report # 59

Casa Azafran Opening Ceremony, 12/1/12, Nashville

Featuring exhibitions of TAC funded craft workshop artwork by Latino youth and performances by Latino musicians and dancers.  Site visit report #60

José(Pepe) Vera González, 12/1/12, Smyrna

Meeting with Pepe Vera to ask him and his brother to review Tennessee Folklore Society bulletin article about him and his work before sending it in for publication.  Site visit report #61

Yeu Matchuc Yoremé, 6/5/13, Nashville

TAC-funded Folklife APS project undertaken by Helena Simonett, Center for Latin American Studies, Vanderbilt University, presenting an indigenous Mayo/Yoreme deer dance and ceremonial performance by Yeu Matchuc Yoreme, a group from Sinaloa.  Site visit #62


Germantown International Festival, 8/20/11, Germantown

Organized by the Rotary Club of Germantown, City of Germantown, project director Samira Jubran.  First contact with group of Palestinian embroiderers from Germantown and Memphis.  Site visit report #36

Hola Hora Latina, 8/23/11, Knoxville

Meeting with 501c3 Latino organization’s Board chair Coral Getino and artist Rafael Casco about Commission Initiative to document Latino traditions in East TN.  Site visit report #37

Fiestas Patrias, 9/15/11, Nashville

Having received its 501c3, Destellos Culturales produced its second annual Mexican Independence Day event with TAC Folklife APS funding support.  Artists include Mariachi Viva México, Destellos Culturales baile folklórico troupe, José (Pepe) Vera González, and Dos Voces de Mexico.  Site visit report #38

El Charro Mercadito, 9/16/11, Smyrna

Michoacan-style traditional artesanias market organized by Pepe Vera outside of El Charro Mexican restaurant.  Site visit report #40

Hola Festival, 9/24/11, Knoxville

TAC Folklife-APS funded event featuring variety of Latino performing artists, foodways, and crafts.  Site visit report #41

Fiesta Otoño, 10/22/11, Gallatin

Sumner Hispanic Alliance/Alianza Hispana de Sumner County sponsored annual event featuring Afro-Caribbean dance band Kazique, Grupo Folklorico Hispanoamericano, and traditional foodways.

Dia de los Muertos, 10/29 &30/11, Memphis

Organized by Centro Cultural Latino de Memphis partnering with Brooks Museum on 10/29 and the University of Memphis Art Department, featuring Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl dance troupe, Mariachi Guadalajara, Cazateatro, and community altars.  Site visit report #46

Dia de los Difuntos, 11/2/11, Brentwood

José (Pepe) Vera González’ home altar at his brother and sister-in-law’s home in Brentwood, with neighbors and friends attending.  Site visit report #47

Mexican Mural at El Cabrito Restaurant, 12/1/11, 12/9/11, 12/10/11, Nashville

Several visits to document ongoing mural by José (Pepe) Vera González at new Mexican eatery on Nolensville Pike.  Site visit report #49

Casa Hola, 2/23/12, Knoxville

2nd meeting with Coral Getino and Rafael Casco re:  Commission Initiative, Latino Traditions of East Tennessee.  Site visit report #50.

Samira Jubran, 3/22/12, Germantown

Met with Palestinian embroiderer Samira Jubran to interview her, photograph her embroidery, and make preliminary selections for upcoming TAC exhibition.  Site visit report #52

Samira Jubran, Aida Ismail, Heba Ismail, Ajeej Itayem, 4/21/12, Germantown

Second meeting with Jubran and additional embroiders and contributors to the exhibition.  Site visit report #53

Centro Cultural Latino de Memphis 1st Anniversary Celebration, 6/30/12, Memphis

Celebration organized by director of this organization (does not yet have 501c3) temporarily housed at Caritas Village, Richard Lou, and by board members Catrina Guttery and Marcela Pinilla.  Features Folkloric Ballet Tradiciones Mexicanas, Folkloric Group Tierra Mestiza, Danza Azteca Quetzalcoatl, Cazateatro.


Bangamela 2010, 7/4/10, Nashville

Annual festival of Bengali Cultural Heritage organized by the Mid America Bengali Association of Franklin with TAC Folklife APS funding.  Site visit report #22.

Asociacion Latina, 7/23/10, Clarksville

Initial visit with Jerrika Rivera, director of this 501c3 Latino organization, to discuss TAC grant opportunities for their arts activities.  Site visit report #23

Chattanooga Latino Art Project: Viva La Latin Rhythm, 7/25/10, Chattanooga

Liza Blair, working with St. Andrew’s, carried out this TAC Folklife APS funded workshop series opening event featuring Carlos Colon’s band Tropical Swing & a group of Mexican textile artists.  Site visit report #24

Florencia Martínez, 8/19/10, Clarksville

Interview in Spanish with Kuna textile artist from Panama, mola maker Florencia Martínez.  Site visit report #25

Fiestas Patrias 2010, 9/15/10, Nashville

Bicentennial celebration of Mexican War of Independence against Spain and the centennial of the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, organized by Destellos Culturales (in process of acquiring 501c3) partnering with Tennessee Immigrant and Refugees Rights Coalition and the Consulate of Mexico from Atlanta, Georgia.  Site visit report #27

Serenatta, 9/21/10, Nashville

Documented performance by Latin American instrumental group led by violinist Pablo Garzón, featuring Mexican vocalist Luna Morena, at Nashville Public Library.  Site visit report #28

Hola Festival, 10/9/10, Knoxville

Annual Latino arts festival funded by TAC Folklife APS and organized by Latino 501c3 Hola Hora Latina featuring Latino musicians, dancers, cooks, and artisans from various countries in Latin America and Spain.  Site visit report #29

Dia de los Muertos, 10/30/10, Nashville

Cheekwood’s annual celebration of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Prominent artists:  José (Pepe) Vera González.  Site visit report #31

Dia de los Difuntos at José(Pepe) Vera Gonzalez’ home, Smyrna

Ceremony featuring massive home made ofrenda or altar inside the home, with friends and neighbors in attendance.  Site visit report #32

José (Pepe) Vera González, 11/12/10, Smyrna

Interview in Spanish with Mexican muralist, artisan, painter from Michoacan.  Site visit report #33

Jorge Yances, Memorias de Cartagena. TAC exhibition 3/31/11-5/20/11, Nashville

Colombian visual artist exhibits themed exhibition on the vernacular architecture and aspects of folklife in his hometown of Cartagena, Colombia.  Jorge Yances exhibition file.

5 de Mayo 5K Race and Festival, 5/6-7/11, Memphis

Initial visit to Latino 501c3 organization, Latino Memphis, and director Mauricio Calvo, re:  TAC opportunities.  Also met with Latino music specialist Catrina Guttery of Memphis Music Foundation, board member of Centro Latino Cultural de Memphis and co-organizer of the 5 de Mayo event.  Site visit report #34


Growing Tennessee: Rural Youth Cultivate Common Ground.  TAC exhibition, 8/13 – 9/25/09

Documentary photographs by Migrant Latino youth involved in Telamon’s Migrant Education program photography workshops funded by TAC APS grants.  Telamon Exhibition file.

Chattanooga Latino Arts Survey fieldwork, 9/2-4/09. Chattanooga

Interviewed (in Spanish) and photographed Micaela Miguel Pascual, Guatemalan textile artist; Eda Rodriguez, Salvadoran cook; Celia Garduño, Mexican needleworker.  Recorded two Spanish choir rehearsals.  Interviewed Mike Feely, Director of St. Andrews Center (TAC project grantee).  Site visit report #11.

Latino Arts Meeting, 9/23/09, Nashville

28 attendees representing Latino arts organizations, Latino artists and community organizers, met at the Tennessee Arts Commission for a day long meeting and luncheon.  Latino Arts Meeting file.

Celebration of Cultures, 10/3/09

Worked with Mimi Shimmin to bring in Latino groups from Clarksville, Franklin, Nashville.  Site visit report #13.

Celia Garduño and Eda Rodríguez, 10/26/09

Accompanied photographer Dean Dixon to assist in TRADITION project.  Site visit report #15.

Dia de los Muertos, 10/24/09

Organized by Cheekwood, this annual tribute to a traditional Mexican calendar custom invites numerous Mexican and Latino musicians, dancers and artisans.  Site visit report #16

Sones de México, 12/5/09. Nashville

Sones de Mexico music and dance ensemble from Chicago at TPAC, accompanied by display by luthier Manuel A. Delgado of Mexican stringed instruments, at TPAC.  Site visit report #18

Fiesta for Our Lady of Guadalupe, 12/11-12/09, Nashville

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church offers a velorio (vigil) the night before, followed by a procession led by Danza Azteca La Guadalupana, a feast featuring Mexican traditional foods, a folk play, and a mass on the 12th of December.  Site visit report #19

Centro Comunitario Progreso 4th Anniversary Celebration, 2/27/10, Nashville

This event featured visual artists José (Pepe) Vera González, Jaime Sanchez, Luis Hernandez, Israel Gomez; baile folklórico dance troupe Folklore Mexicano, singer Aaron El Soñador.  Site visit report #20

Migrant Education, Tennessee Opportunity Programs, 5/7/10, McMinnville

Initial visit w/ Jessica Castañeda, director of this 501c3, to discuss TAC grant opportunities for proposed fieldwork project.  Site visit report #21


“Soup for the Soul with Singers of United Lands.” 2/26/09 Nashville

 Global Education Center, Nashville.  Site visit report #1

“Latin Rhythm Workshop.” 3/19/09 Nashville

TAC APS funded workshop series organized by American Roots Music Education, featuring musicians Danny Salazar and Billy Ramirez, Nashville.  Site visit report #2.

“Festival de la Comunidad Hispana.” 3/22/09 Nashville

Organized by El Protector, a Latino community outreach program of the Metro Nashville Police Department.  Site Visit #3.

Centro Comunitario Progreso, Latino organization. 4/17/09 Nashville

Initial meeting with 501c3 Latino organization in Nashville.  Site visit report #4.

“Rivers and Spires Festival.” 4/17/09 Clarksville

International street fair featuring a stage devoted to ethnic arts, including Panamanian, Mexican, and Samoan folk dance troupes.  Site visit report #5.

Mariachi Viva Mexico, Mexican mariachi band. 4/29/09

Middle Tennessee Mexican mariachi band’s regular weekly gig at Franklin Mexican restaurant, Site visit report #6.

“Fiesta Belmont,” 5/9/09

Organized by Belmont University’s associate business professor David Herrera, co-sponsored by Nashville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and La Campana Spanish newspaper.  Site visit report #7.

“Latin Fire: Global Education Center’s Latin Dance Festival,” 6/6/09

Global Education Center sponsored program at Cohn Adult Learning Center.  Site visit report #8.

Mariano Avedaño, Mexican fish-net weaver. 6/9/09

Interviewed & photographed Smyrna resident Avedaño at an English language class site in Nashville.  Site visit report #9.