Like many great things, De Colores Collective got its start at a Selena-themed event.
Rafael “Rafa” Tamayo met Eva Arreguin at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center’s “Anything for Selenas” tribute, and the two creatives immediately hit it off. Tamayo, a longtime manager at the cultural center, thought that Arreguin, then a student at UNT, would be a huge complement to the center’s ongoing initiatives.
Tamayo was proud of the center’s programming but had always been eager to do more to represent marginalized communities.
“We want to be innovative and align ourselves with how the times are changing,” Tamayo says. “Something greater is within our reach, something that shows who we are while representing the community the way it deserves.”
That something is De Colores Collective, which puts on art exhibits and parties and publishes a new podcast.
“De Colores is a multifaceted platform for expression, conversation and socializing,” Tamayo says. “It’s a safe space for marginalized and underrepresented communities to celebrate diversity.”
Led by Tamayo, Arreguin and Arreguin's sister Pat, the collective is eager to elevate local art and have a great time in the process. Every month, it hosts a party celebrating its podcast and art exhibits. A theme ties all three together.
This month’s party, "Grey Space," takes place Saturday, June 10. The topic is mental health, and all of the artwork is curated from local artists. The event is free and open to all.
“We felt like there was something missing here in Dallas,” Eva says. “Especially for people who look like us.”
Her sister agrees.
“You go to art galleries in Dallas, and you may see one brown artist featured just so the show has some token diversity,” Pat says. “We’ve never had our own platform.”
Initially, Eva had no plans to stick around Dallas after she finished her media arts degree at UNT, but this project has changed her mind.
“Why leave when we can create our own scene here?”
Tamayo is grateful she stayed. They first worked together on an art project called “Las Fotos.” The project invited young female photographers from East L.A. to Tijuana to showcase their works — a precursor to the art aspect of De Colores.
“It really showed what we’re capable of when we put our talents and passions together,” Tamayo says.
Pat had been following an Atlanta group called La CholoTeca, which organized dance parties that gave Latinx creatives a safe space to have fun with their friends. She reached out to Tamayo, who had lots of ideas about how to start something similar in Oak Cliff.
“I had to annoy Eva for a while, but she eventually agreed to do the podcast,” Tamayo recalls with a laugh. “We all had more ideas than we knew what to do with, so we just went for it.”
Each has a different specialty to bring to the collective. Tamayo has led programs and events at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center for years. The Arreguin sisters were crucial to getting the podcast off the ground, with Eva joining Tamayo as the co-host and Pat working as the technical producer on the show, “De Colores Radio.”
“Pat designed the technical approach, Eva brought the vision and from there we just sprinkled in things we wanted to include,” Tamayo says.
Those things include discussions about hip-hop and pop culture, a weekly “Meme Mood” segment and interviews with local artists, including Sam Lao and Jeremy Biggers. The first episode focused on immigration; Dallas resident and "Dreamer" Edwin Romero shared his harrowing experience being detained by Richardson police.
“I’d love for us to become a trusted part of the community,” Pat says. “Whether it’s through the podcast or the art show or the party, I want to provide a space where people can have a good time with their friends and forget about the world for a little bit.”
Eva believes De Colores' many facets are what make it unique.
“The podcast gives us a voice; the art show gives us a stage; then the party gives us an escape,” Eva says. “But there’s nothing cooler than seeing an artist react to their work being shown for the first time.”
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As for the critical reaction? Thus far, its positive. They’re only three episodes in, but Eva says the three of them are already being recognized around town as “the De Colores people.” Plus, they’ve already won over one key critic.
“My godson drives around all day, and he listens to every podcast you can think of,” Tamayo says. “He says the show is dope, so we must be doing something right.”