Helping to build an inclusive arts community in Cuenca, IdiomArt celebrates its first anniversary

May 28, 2023 | 3 comments

Nearly every trip I’ve made to Cuenca recently included visiting IdiomArt (Marscial Lamar y Estevez de Toral), for good reasons.

I first went there to shop for a very special gift: a Nancy Galloway fiber art piece. I next caught a truly extraordinary show by many of Cuenca’s most popular performers who were supporting Peter and Sally’s Compassion Kitchen project.

I checked out a very cool collection of local rubbings by local artists the following week. Last Thursday, I giggled, frowned, and sighed my way through the play “Love Letters,” one of a series of performance pieces scheduled through 2023.

IdiomArt has become a well-respected haunt, and not just due to the concerts, art shows, and other non-stop fun events cramming their calendar, it is because of what it is becoming. IdiomArt is maturing the means to best serve the community through relentlessly enhancing proximity to — and understanding of — the arts through exhibition, performance, and education.

Idiom comes from the Greek ‘idios,’: personal. Merriam-Webster defines Art as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination.”

The magnitude of the role that the IdiomArt family has taken on to provide a venue that honestly expresses the fragility of the deeply personal while amplifying the pursuit of one’s loftiest goals is quite impressive.

All art is magical, but art is not magic. It’s a neurological product serving essential functions – among them to affirm and glorify life as we wish it to be. It is not a mirror held up to reality but a tool with which to shape it.

People have always enjoyed music because it helps them feel emotional harmony — even those laboring under the harshest conditions. Performance art owes its longevity to creating camaraderie between actors and audience through a shared desire to understand the human psyche.

These are among the many reasons why IdiomArt, serves an essential role in our community. It provides a supportive venue to investigate our emotional well-being: it provides safe haven for people while immersing themselves in the healing power of self-expression.

What a great story to tell! In the space of one year since relocating to Marcial Lamar and Estevez de Toral, IdiomArt, under HB’s direction, has matured from a haphazard hobby to a bonafide civic institution; it has grown from a rather insular gringo clubhouse into a cultural hub with a reputation for building a genuinely trustworthy environment for people from all over the world. And, it was done the old-fashioned way: by earning it.

The tide turned shortly after Sarah HB moved IdiomArt to the outer heartland of El Centro. Folks began ferrying to IdiomArt on the tranvia; others strolled to the new studio, passing a parade of pretty shops and neighborhood businesses founded before some of us were born. Quite a few people began hailing a taxi to IdiomArt from El Vergel. A few bused in from Paute or the village of Chican. In every case, they were drawn like moths to a flame. They wanted their lives to be brighter, and IdiomArt provided the kinetic energy to charge their spirit. It was a hangout for the ardent.

And then, a tsunami nearly overwhelmed the place, and like most big waves, it came as a surprise.

It was out of the blue, or black and white. Notably, it did not come out of thin air; it wasn’t Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter that stirred interest. It was a good old-fashioned newspaper that broke the story — something special was happening at IdiomArt.

The photojournalist from El Mercurio who wrote the article attracted over 40,000 readers. Cuencanos who never would have considered visiting such a place did — and loved the warm reception and enthusiasm to include them. As a result, perhaps a third of the active participants in IdiomArt programs are indigenous.

Digital nomads seeking entry into the creative class use IdiomArt as an energetic home base to meet like-minded folks interested in exploring verdant valleys and walking on roads old as stone. Before long they will be heading north, or south, as birds do in spring or fall.

Expats seeking shelter from devastating storms crippling a dozen distant homelands can also expect a welcoming hearth at IdiomArt. They say it is a place that feels like home – or how a home should feel.

HB identifies IdiomArt as an Inter-Cultural Creative Center charged with offering as many diverse programs as possible to enhance the art of living well in Cuenca. It does so by drawing on the wonders of the world. Beginning and intermediate Spanish lessons, educational tours to surrounding villages, portraiture classes with noted artists, and afternoon dance parties are but a small measure of the opportunities available to those in need of a cultural or creative tune-up and fresh spark plugs.
What more is there to say? Perhaps HB can say it best:

“All of us at idiomART would like to invite you to our 1-year Anniversary Celebration on June 8 starting at 6 PM. There will be dancing, live music, an open house, and some other fun surprises. This is going to be the party of the year, and you don’t want to miss it!”  —Sarah HB

Thursday, June 8, 6 p.m. to sometime past 10 p.m. or so.
no entrance fee / entrada gratis
Mas info:
Mariscal Lamar 14-25 y Estevez de Toral, Cuenca

Robert Bradley

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