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XICO’s big move brings awareness to their 50-year-old mission

by Taylor Costello
Arts & Culture Phoenix Community Alliance Taylor Costello September 15, 2022

No two days are alike for this cultural institution.

On an average day students, bar patrons, events managers, or the artist themselves, enter, each with different intentions what they want from the space inside.

This is the non-profit XICO Arte y Cultura and for the last 46 years, they have fostered a sterling reputation as a premier local organization who cultivated and advocated generations of Latin and Indigenous culture through the arts.

And they’ve entered a new phase of their mission to bring a new awareness and support to masses they never imagined.

“This has brought us a more a broader audience and more recognition in different business sectors we’ve always touched, but we haven’t reached deeply,” said Donna Valdes, XICO’s Executive Director.

They moved into the 1928 historic building and one-time hardware store, located at 829 N. First Avenue, with Barcoa, a mezcal and spirits bar, two and a half years ago.

An alluring concept of the venue, of one-half serving as an authentic spirits bar and the opposite wall serving artists and the community, proved irresistible when they recruited the landlord. A lack of a common wall between the two businesses allows the permeation of curious parties to float between concepts at-will.

The new XICO space on Roosevelt Row operates in 5,000 sq ft space, about 2,000 sq ft more than previously available at their old Buckeye Road and 9th Street location, in South Phoenix.

The expansive space welcomes people who may not know about XICO’s mission but are energized by the history of the building and its essence. So far, it’s been rented as a meeting space for board meetings, salsa dancing and even a wedding. All feeding the overall goals of the mission to make them stronger.

“It’s a donation to the organization and makes us a stronger entity.” Valdes said. “It’s a whole ecosystem they can rent, buy things, our artists gets commission and around in a full circle.”

An improved location changes everything, sharpens goals and allows for things not feasible before. For Valdes, XICO moving to Roosevelt Row allowed an already visible organization to overcome an issue of accessibility, like transportation, to reach more people. It hires a core team, beyond the two or so individuals commonly associated throughout their history.

This means a mix of advantages, from investing in equipment and services unheard before, like laser etching, 3D printers and a new photography studio.

Moving Xico to Roosevelt Row means a mix of advantages, from investing in equipment and services unheard before, like laser etching, 3D printers and a new photography studio. (Contributed Photo).

XICO separates their “repertoire of services” into three different areas, each roughly partitioned and sequenced (Mercado, gallery space and workshop areas) so it’s almost like seeing the creative process reversed, from completion to its raw elements on display.

They provide these tools for public consumption, with a rental fee, something they note is very rare, if you’re not already in college or a secondary art institute.

But, at the end of the day, this counts back toward the XICO mission of serving the artist and boosting the community at-large.

“Throughout our history it’s been a space where older, experienced artists share their knowledge with artists developing their own set of skills,” said Esai Calles, Xico’s Community, Exhibition, & Workshop Liaison. “Especially printmaking as a medium is very important in The Southwest as the way of expressing yourself in a sharable medium you can give everyone a copy, not just one single painting.”