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After two years without a space, Chicano Humanities and Arts Council opens gallery in Lakewood

Their first exhibit, titled "A Journey Through Generations" honors Alicia Cardenas, who was killed last year.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — At a gallery in Lakewood, it's not just about the art on the walls, but the walls themselves.

"This is our first show, we're back, we've been without brick and mortar for about two years," said Rebecca Rozales, an artist and board member of the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, known as CHAC.

CHAC started out of a need in 1978, according to Jerry Jaramillo, an artist and co-founder. 

"Because there was nothing in Denver we could get into," said Jaramillo. "Everything was all contemporary art and even different places like the Denver Art Museum didn't want us in there, they go no it's not legitimate, Chicano art's not legitimate." 

Jaramillo has seen change, but the fight for their art to be seen continues with the next generation.

"We've been priced out of our home of many years and we're still gonna be moving forward into the future," said Jay Michael Jaramillo, Jerry's son. 

During the pandemic, CHAC could no longer afford the rent at the Santa Fe location where they had been for two decades. 

RELATED: Chicano Humanities and Arts Council presents: CHUCAS Y CHUCOS

Without a space for years, they still showed their art in other galleries and continue those partnerships today. 

The first exhibit in their space in the 40 West Arts District in Lakewood is called "A Journey Through Generations," and Chicano and Latino parents and kids show their art side by side. 

"This is our legacy as a community," said Jay Jaramillo. "Passing it on to the next generation." 

The exhibit is in honor of Alicia Cardenas, a member of CHAC, who had the idea for multigenerational exhibits. 

Cardenas, an artist and owner of Sol Tribe Tattoo, was killed in a shooting spree in Lakewood and Denver just after Christmas in 2021. 

RELATED: Alicia Cardenas was a 'mom to Broadway' in Denver

"We've rallied around her vision and we're keeping it going," said Jay Jaramillo. "It's not stopping here, it's not stopping anytime soon, so you know CHAC's going to be here to last -- we've proven that."

Through racism, rising costs, and deaths in the community, CHAC stays.

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