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The Bountiful Return of the Downtown Phoenix Loteria

by Taylor Costello
Arts & Culture Community Family Featured Taylor Costello September 1, 2022

The fall events calendar for Downtown Phoenix, Inc. kicks off with the return of Loteria, a month-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

A nod to its classic bingo roots, each bingo sheet, or “tabla,” contains a sheet of sixteen unlabeled tableaus alluding to each contributing business. Through the clues on artwork, the player must match the design to the business and visit the place to receive a sticker by its employee.

This year the local non-profit XICO joins Downtown Phoenix Inc. as a partner of the event. For the Indigenous and Latino artist organization the decision was an easy one to make after The Sagrado, a similar cultural institution in South Phoenix partnered for the inaugural event last year, to highlight the works of their artists.

“A lot of the artists that were present from last year’s Loteria were some of the recurring artists that we have coming to the studio,” said Esai Calles, the Community, Exhibition, & Workshop Liaison of Xico. “So with that, knowing we have some of those established artists we could plug in more emerging artists and foster that area where everyone gets exposure.”

Located on the edge of Roosevelt Row, Xico’s facility hosts a variety of functions, from different mediums of printmaking, gallery space, Mercado (where they sell artist works), studio space and classrooms open to the public.

A collection of the artwork contributed to Loteria by artist Genesis Cuen, which are mainly located in Roosevelt Row. (Artwork by Genesis Cuen)

Eight XICO artists, including Agustin Vargas, Andrea Pro, Genesis Cuen, Ivan Niebla, Jeanette Rocha, Katiri Alegria, Samantha Lopez and Selina Scott, join an existing pool of artists from the first event gaining exposure for their eye-catching creations.

Genesis Cuen, a new featured artist for this year’s festivities, came to XICO initially through a call to artists search. Like many of the other contributing artists, the game of Loteria contain strong sense memories growing up, but also an acute understanding of the aesthetic needed of the artwork.

For her three images she submitted for the event, a balance of clever wordplay and somewhat hidden trivia guided the creation of her contributions.

“They actually have an Easter egg for visitors if you take a picture of the front of the building with a camera flash or a flashlight, it has ghost letters that shines,” said Cuen, of one her Loteria cards.

A winning card has a row of four stickers, while player who returns an entire tabla filled with stickers receives a custom screen-printed Loteria poster by Quinn Murphy of @hamsterlabs (while supplies last). To claim your prize, stop by our Information Center at CityScape Phoenix anytime between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, located at 1 E. Washington St., Ste. 230.

To kick off the event, a reception to mark the start of Loteria will be held Thursday, Sept. 15, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Xico.

Artist Genesis Cuen at a pop-up table she operates as “Guamuchulita Art.” (Photo provided by Genesis Cuen)

Pick up your tabla from any participating business and Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors who hand out the cards themselves.

Along with Cahokia, a female-owned, Indigenous-led art space, XICO brings more a diversification to a downtown landscape as the work of Indigenous and Latino artists begin to receive a receptive and curious audience.

“My excitement comes from seeing a traditional icon represented by contemporary artists and seeing the subject change for each business they’re given,” said Calles. “Some of the ones that we are receiving are just out of this world.”

Learn more at dtphx.org/lotería.