The two-day Somos Arte Music and Arts Festival kicked off Friday at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, featuring art and artists from the Salvadoran community.
The first day of the festival started off with a documentary titled, “Somos Arte: The Creative Movement of El Salvador,” which is what the event was named after. The documentary highlighted Salvadoran artists in an attempt to change the negative perception of the country.
“When they talk about El Salvador in the media, it’s always really bad stuff. It’s always like wars, gangs and nobody talks about the good stuff,” Curly Velasquez of Buzzfeed’s “Pero Like” said. “I only know like really good amazing people that come from super humble backgrounds, super humble beginnings, and do great things.”
“Pero Like” is an English language series on Buzzfeed that was launched in 2017 to provide entertainment that pertains to the Latin American population.
The premiere of episode one of the documentary was shown in the outdoor screening area of MOLAA surrounded by Latin American sculpture pieces that the museum had on display. There were around 150 attendees, including a few of the bands that played during the event.
The documentary highlighted the bands playing the festival, including José González of Cartas a Felice. González performed a trio of songs that expressed his love for his country as a preview of what viewers would see in the first episode of the documentary.
Cartas a Felice, a Salvadoran band with members from the US and El Salvador, closed the concert on Saturday. They have recently been on tour traveling around the US and Central America.
“For us, it’s really important to [play in] America because it’s one of the countries that we are looking to play [in] and build an audience,” harmonica and accordion player Roberto Amaya of Cartas a Felice said. “It’s our big plan to take [our] music out of the country.”
After the premiere of episode one, Velasquez hosted a Q&A session with the filmmakers and who asked why they wanted to make the documentary. Jonathan Barrera, one of the filmmakers, responded that his goal is to help others see the art and beauty of the Salvadoran people. He wants to eventually get the documentary aired on HBO or Hulu to reach a larger audience.
The festival included musical performances by Buyepongo, Feefa, Irene Diaz, Leche Fonk, Cartas A Felice and a DJ set by Radio Pulgarcito. There was an augmented reality art exhibit by AR Funhouse allowed attendees to virtually go through an exhibition that features artists from El Salvador.
There was plenty of Salvadoran food available to help people feel at home or try something new. People were also able to buy some art and merchandise from Salvadoran artists from both Los Angeles and El Salvador.
“There are things I didn’t know about my community,” Velasquez said. “I learned we are fucking dope, like why are we not sharing that?”