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Spotlight: Louis Nieves among artists exhibiting at City Hall for Hispanic Heritage Month


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The City of Orlando’s slate of events for Hispanic Heritage Month includes a City Hall art exhibit featuring Hispanic artists from the area.

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15th to October 15th, and so does the Hispanic Heritage Month Art Exhibit. The grand opening reception is Friday, September 16, 2022, from 5:00pm to 8:00pm, at the Terrace Gallery inside City Hall. The exhibit will remain through October 15th.

“In the city of Orlando, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the positive contributions of our Hispanic community to our city and celebrate the rich Hispanic heritage and culture with art, music, gastronomy, folklore, and entertainment for our entire community,” said Luis M. Martinez, Chair of the city’s Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee.

Louis Nieves is one of the featured artists in the Hispanic Heritage Month Art Exhibit

A photo of “Bring It” by Louis Nieves. Nieves says he drew inspiration from this New York scene of kids playing handball, a sport Nieves himself grew up playing.

Louis Nieves is one of the featured artists at the City Hall exhibit. WMFE’s Nicole Darden Creston asked him how he became involved with the exhibit.

Nicole Darden Creston:
What started you on your artistic journey?

Louis Nieves:
Oh, my artistic journey started when I was in grade school. I mean, the teacher would go through her lessons, and I would be looking at the window drawing birds or looking at the clouds or, you know, just living in my own world.

Nicole Darden Creston:
How do you describe your style?

Louis Nieves:
Well, my style originally was gleaned from watching the cartoons I would watch on Saturday mornings. For those who would remember that type of thing. I would watch the cartoons and I was affected by their style of what they did. And I was a reader of Mad Magazine, like, you know, some of these things may or may not exist any longer.

Nicole Darden Creston:
I’m not sure on Mad Magazine, actually, but yeah, I totally remember that too. (laughter)

Louis Nieves:
I think it was one of the cartoons, or one of the movies that were animated – I think it was “Yellow Submarine” with the Beatles. I saw that, and ever since that, my art was kind of resembling that [“Yellow Submarine” artist] Peter Max kind of feel. And I would draw caricatures based on his style somewhat. I would draw my friends, my teacher, my…whomever. And I would spend a good part of my day laughing at my own jokes I made on my sketchpad. (laughter) And you know, my friends would laugh, too.

Nicole Darden Creston:
I saw some Marvel [Comics-based] work on your website, right?

Louis Nieves:
I was a big comic book reader. I drew some comics, but I was more leaning towards the Mad Magazine, more of the lampooning kind of stuff. But the other stuff I also did as well. Later on, you know, that’s a more of a “now” thing that where people are into Marvel, and I did a mural for somebody with Marvel [characters]. And that’s what they wanted. And that’s what I did.

Nicole Darden Creston:
I saw that big mural you did! That was amazing.

Louis Nieves:
Yeah, it took a while to do.

Nicole Darden Creston:
Was that here in Orlando?

Louis Nieves:
Yeah, that was in a garage. I did like sort of like a man-cave type thing [for a client]. And he wanted to have a Marvel backdrop. On one side, I did Marvel, on the other side I did DC [Comics’] Batman. You know, people like superheroes. And I can render them fairly well. And that’s what I did.

Nicole Darden Creston:
How did you get involved in the Hispanic Heritage Month art exhibit at City Hall?

Louis Nieves:
Well, I heard about it from my sister who told me about it, that [City of Orlando Office of Multicultural Affairs staffers] were looking for people of Hispanic background to submit artwork. And I was already part of a Hispanic collective that works here in Orlando, Arte Mundial. It’s a sort of a gallery-slash-museum. And I have some of my artwork up there already. And then just – what do I want to call it, coincidental? – that my sister would bring this up, “Oh, they’re having a thing with the Hispanic thing.” And I said, “Oh, yeah, well, I think I qualify for that (laughter).” And I put in, and they liked my work.

Nicole Darden Creston:
Does Hispanic Heritage Month have a meaning for you, personally?

Louis Nieves:
I don’t think it should be limited to a month, I think that, you know, you are who you are all year round. I don’t think that it should be – I mean, it’s nice, that other people recognize your heritage and stuff. And they say, “Well, the contributions of these people, blah, blah, blah.” I think that it’s important that people are aware of other cultures. I mean, I’m sure they are already, but I think it’s good to focus in on that. Because, you know, our cultures have contributed to the world.

Nicole Darden Creston:
There’s a richness that we get to enjoy from diverse voices, and perspectives…and art!

Louis Nieves:
Right.

Nicole Darden Creston:
What is your favorite piece that you have that’s involved in the City of Orlando’s Hispanic Heritage Month exhibit?

Louis Nieves:
Well, they picked a piece that I did several years ago titled “Bring It.” And it has to do with my, my experiences living in New York City, at the handball court, because handball is a very big sport in the inner city. And I did a series of paintings that were taken from some stills I took of some kids playing handball on a sunny day. And I was inspired to do that. It’s something I grew up with, and I thought it was pretty nice to put it to canvas.

Nicole Darden Creston:
So, “bring it,” sort of like…

Louis Nieves:
Like, “Come on, come on, and let’s you know, let’s compete.”

Nicole Darden Creston:
Yeah, let’s play. “Come at me.” (laughter)

Louis Nieves:
Yes. Like, you know, “I’m gonna get you,” you know, all the trash talk. Kids – you know, kids and everybody else – talk a bunch of trash when it comes to sports. “I’m gonna beat you. I’m going to show you how it’s done,” that type of thing. And I thought, it was a nice, beautiful day. I took a couple of pictures. And I said, this was inspiring for me. And I did that, and the painting happened to come out pretty decently. I mean, you know, not everything comes out great, but I mean, I think this one came out pretty well. And I guess (the City of Orlando) picked up on it and they liked it. And I said, “Sure, I’ll bring it down.”

Nicole Darden Creston:
Do you have any plans in particular around cultural celebrations through Hispanic Heritage Month?

Louis Nieves:
Well, there are events that the gallery is doing. I may be involved in some of that, but… I express art, but it’s through my lens though. In other words, I’m Puerto Rican, of Puerto Rican descent, but I am an American, of Puerto Rican descent. So I grew up in New York, I didn’t grow up in Puerto Rico. So my experiences are urban and very pointed at that. I didn’t grow up on the island. I didn’t grow up, you know, in that environment. So my experience and what I bring to my artwork is my point of view.

Find more about Louis Nieves’s art on his website.


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Nicole Darden Creston

About Nicole Darden Creston

All Things Considered Host and Reporter

Nicole came to Central Florida to attend Rollins College and started working for Orlando’s ABC News Radio affiliate shortly after graduation. She joined WMFE in 2010. As a field reporter, news anchor and radio show host in the City Beautiful, she has covered everything from local arts to national elections, from ... Read Full Bio »

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