Celebrating culture in downtown Stockton


There are a number of different art museums and galleries in Stockton that help artists showcase work, such as the Haggin Museum and the Art Expressions of San Joaquin.

These places not only help display artwork for artists but also distribute art to the local population by letting artists sell their work.

The Mexican Heritage Center a smaller gallery, which has been helping showcase local high school students and professional artist’s work for eight years.

The president of the gallery, Gracie Madrid, is the general driving force behind a majority of events. She also runs and maintains the rented building.

This includes, “new shows every month, Day of the Dead show, Tostadas for Christmas and breakfast on Cesar Chavez Day.”

Madrid is the general “worker bee” as muralist Carlos Marquez describes it and is the one working behind the scenes of every event the Heritage Center does.

Marquez even painted a bee in one of his mural pieces at the Heritage Center as a nod to all the work she does.

Madrid started working in a gallery during 2004.

“I was only planning on staying for two years (as the treasure), but here I am,” she said.

Madrid’s main goal for now is to try to purchase a building so the center can host “dances and different shows, but that takes a lot of money.”

The center’s overall mission is to help any artist showcase work.

Marquez, a local muralist, has been painting murals for years and has painted a good number of them in and around the Mexican Heritage Center.

He has helped showcase different cultures in Stockton and also attracted some attention to the gallery. Marquez said that “art should include everyone” and he would like everyone to take part in some kind of art project.

“The Heritage Center is not just to celebrate the Mexican culture, but everyone’s culture,” he said.

Marquez hopes to one day paint a mural with the help of the Heritage Center and have local families partake in making it.

“Art becomes powerful if people can take part in it. To have an art piece that someone can walk past and say, they help paint that, that makes it all the more meaningful,” said Marquez.

Someone trying to spread the word about the different events, not only happening in the Mexican Heritage Center but also other local businesses, is Manuel Laguna.

Laguna is a resident historian ambassador and gives people history about the different buildings and outstanding achievements that have happened in Stockton.

Laguna does a local history tour and takes people to different spots around town that have historical importance and tells people some of the history about the town they live in.

He said “the arts are very important for the community and so they (Mexican Heritage Center) play a very important role in downtown Stockton by allowing different artist to show their work.”

The Mexican Heritage Center is located on 111 S. Sutter St. in Stockton.