• December 8th, 2021
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Monumental Sculpture Pays Homage to Beet Workers


 

 

Mujeres de Colores hosted a ribbon cutting celebration on October 9 and unveiled a long-awaited bronze sculpture, The Hand That Feeds by artist Frank Garza, at Sugar Beet Park, 607 9th St, in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

 

The Hand That Feeds, both a monument and a sculpture, is designed to preserve and honor the rich family history and significant contributions of the Mexican and Hispanic people who worked the beet fields of northern Colorado. It tells the story of the people who changed the culture and fabric of the Fort Collins community with their hard work, perseverance, courage and determination.

 

Each section of the sculpture represents the history of the farmworkers that harvested sugar beets.

 

The short-hoe represents the back-breaking work required by the field workers.

 

The hand represents the very people who carried out that work, the Mexican and Hispanic families who came to this area to work the beet fields.

 

The engraved names on the stone pavers surrounding the sculpture honor the founders of Tres Colonias, the original sugar beet workers.

 

The event featured guest speakers Congressman Joe Neguse, Colorado Historian Dr. Nicki Gonzales, Mayor Jeni Arndt, Victoria Deleon, Chuck Solano and Nina Bodenhamer. Festivities included food trucks and traditional music and dance by Sol de Mi Tierra, Mariachi Alma del Folklore and Grupo Tlalac Danza Azteca.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Mujeres de Colores Artist Frank Garza created The Hand That Feeds, both a monument and a sculpture in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

The project was only made possible through the support of the Bohemian Foundation, The Fort Collins Downtown Development Association, BNSF Railway Foundation, Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, High Country Beverage, Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, Mighty Arrow Family Foundation, Nutrien, Dr. Peter Springberg, Poudre Heritage Alliance, New Belgium Brewery, BIPOC Alliance of Fort Collins, Serimus Foundation and numerous members of the Fort Collins Community.

 

The mission of Mujeres de Colores is to elevate the status of women and children through education and leadership, and with a vision for all women of color to realize their potential.

 

In conjunction with the sculpture unveiling, the Fort Collins Lincoln Center premiered the film Los Betabeloros: The Beet Workers. The film was produced by Betty Aragon-Mitotes and directed by Shari Due of Be Reel Pictures, Los Betabeloros honors the contribution of the Hispanic and Mexican beet workers, giving recognition to a forgotten people. Through personal oral histories, the life and working conditions of the beet workers are recognized and acknowledged. This film is dedicated to not only the past but the present immigrant community that is still working the fields to put food on our table.

 

In addition, the Lincoln Center Gallery is currently showcasing a Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month through October 15. Public viewing days are Wednesday, October 13, noon-6pm and Saturday, October 16, noon-6pm.

 

The display features candid photos of former beet workers from the community by Tanya B. Fabian and paintings by artist Frank Garza.

 

This exhibit expresses two unique perspectives of Hispanic Heritage: Tanya B. Fabian’s approach comes from her photojournalist background, telling a story through images she captures, while Frank Garza takes a much more abstract path, using a variety of media to convey his message.

Tanya’s work features the stories of Hispanic beet workers and their families. This project evolved from her desire to discover her own family’s history through her grandfather Lito Gallegos, who worked in the beet fields of southern Colorado as a child. Primarily a photojournalist, Tanya gravitates toward a documentary and storytelling approach. She has chosen to look at Northern Colorado’s Hispanic beet workers, focusing on the last surviving members of their generation and their link to our community’s history. These are the faces of our neighbors and friends.
Frank has always been fascinated by biblical allegories. He often creates with oils on a large-scale to bring his work to life. Custom building his own surfaces, Frank utilizes raw canvas and allows the tooth or grit to remain after priming. Gauze pieces represent concealing our inner wounds. The crude figures are stripped bare of any aesthetic appeal and represent our moments of emptiness, vulnerability, and despair. He feels it is in these moments we find the strength to face some of life’s pressures.

Tanya B. Fabian is a photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Tanya has a BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design, New York, and a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri, Columbia, where she studied photojournalism. As a visual journalist, stories of family touch her. Tanya’s recent documentary project, Faith and Fortitude: Fort Collins’ Earliest Hispanic Families, is a look at the descendants of Fort Collins’ Hispanic settlers. She has an upcoming exhibit at the Art Lab in Ft. Collins next month.

 

Frank Garza, a Loveland based artist, has been creating public art installations in Colorado starting in 1999. Frank attended college in Greeley, planning to major in mathematics and minor in music theory. While taking art electives, Garza realized his true calling, and he has been creating municipal art installations as well as private art commissions ever since. His works convey community, cultural, and historical themes, and his subject matter ranges from religious iconography to the internal struggles of the human psyche.

 

If you are unable to see the exhibit during the public viewing days, please contact Todd Underwood at tunderwood@fcgov.com or (970) 416-2737 to schedule a private viewing. The Lincoln Center gallery is located at 417 West Magnolia St, Fort Collins, CO 80521.

 

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