Appreciating our Americas: Time for Change

Written by Andrea
January 22, 2009


Of the many galas and parties taking place over the past week, GLDC Culture Editor jumped fastest at the chance to attend one held at the Organization of American States headquarters, a building that has long symbolized values of democracy, free markets and individual liberties, in the better senses of these terms -- and ones that this country of the Americas, from the sound of our new president's words and the look of his earliest actions, will be reviving in short order.
Monday's Latino Inaugural Celebration recognized this community's participation in the 2008 presidential election. The Inaugural Celebration was a collaborative effort of the Casablanca Project, U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, Latinas Unidas for Obama and other grassroots organizers based the Washington area. Despite some logistical challenges with food service on that evening, the venue shined as a winner for galas, balls and large gatherings of all types.
Surprisingly unknown to young Washington professionals, the Organization of American States and its constituent committees, delegations and Art Museum of the Americas offer a variety of stimulating and entertaining events, many of which are free of charge, all a footnote, of course, to being the political center of the hemisphere.
In addition to its long-time regional significance and enticing cultural offerings, the 17th and Constitution campus' main building boasts one of the most beautiful atrium entryways around town. It brings to grande finale a particularly elegant corridor of the city, with buildings notable for their cultural value, historical weight and architectural appeal, including, in descending southbound order, the Old Executive Office Building, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall.
The grounds of the OAS are the scene of tantalizing and tasty events year-round. The annual Food Festival of the Americas, held each spring, allows the Washington area public to experience the diversity of cuisine, music and dance from the countries of the hemisphere. Admission to this event is free and food tasting tickets are always very reasonable.
The OAS' Art Museum of the Americas, a 1912 Spanish colonial-style building on the west end of the OAS grounds, houses over 2000 works in permanent collection and spotlights short-term exhibits from the region. Most recently, The Disappeared compiled the work of 13 artists from the Americas along the theme of human rights. In conjunction with this installation, the museum screened films highlighting human rights abuses perpetrated during the past century, including such well-known features as "Kamchatka" and "La Historia Oficial".
Greg's List DC Culture Editor gives an Andrea A+ to the OAS and its Art Museum of the Americas for helping to broaden our appreciation of American culture - writ large. GLDC recommends, in particular, the upcoming screening of "Glass House" on Monday, January 26. The film documents the little-known work of the Salvadoran Mission in Geneva in assisting Jews to flee the Third Reich. The evening will include a panel discussion and film screening preceded by a reception with Secretary General of the OAS Jose Miguel Insulza and Marisol Argueta, Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, among other dignitaries.
GLDC looks forward to informing readers on the annual Food Festival and other upcoming events at perhaps the most genuinely all-American venue around town -- one founded on precepts that remind and return us to the best of our own country, and an especially timely destination as we answer our Commander-in-Chief's call to "begin again the work of remaking America" in, fittingly, this, the capitol, of our Americas.


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