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UTRGV #subculture: ‘Feel the Beat’ Spurs Music and Art Fusion in Downtown Brownsville

UTRGV students and visitors crowded Market Square in downtown Brownsville on Saturday for #subculture: Feel the Beat, a music and art display organized by the university’s Public Relations team as a way to connect UTRGV’s artists and musicians with the community. Activities included printmaking, art and photo exhibits, dance performances, and “musical soundscapes,” an exercise that taught visitors to make a variety of sounds with their vocal cords. UTRGV Photos by Veronica Gaona

by Vicky Brito

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – Downtown Brownsville buzzed with creative energy as hundreds of visitors gathered at Market Square on Saturday for #subculture: Feel the Beat, a music and art display organized by The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

UTRGV Director of Public Relations Jennifer McGehee-Valdez launched #subculture in 2015 with a printmaking exhibit that highlighted the art of UTRGV students. Since then, the event has expanded to showcase art and music and has gone Valley wide. The last #subculture event was held during Festiba in spring 2017.

“#Subculture is a way to showcase our UTRGV artists and musicians and provide an interactive experience for the community,” McGehee-Valdez said. “This free community event is to get UTRGV out there, where we can share our knowledge and expertise and bring those skills to the community.”

Attendees were given a “passport” at the entrance, located on East Adams and East 12th streets. The passports were stamped when they completed each of the five interactive workshops.

Interactive workshops included:

  • PRINTMAKING: Reynaldo Santiago, UTRGV professor of art, and his students demonstrated and the art of printmaking. Guests were able to print their own T-shirts, make free prints on paper, or purchase artwork that students had on display

  • MUSIC: Dr. Daniel Hunter-Holly, UTRGV associate professor of voice, and university music students conducted musical vocal exercises which Hunter-Holly referred to as soundscapes. The event was held inside the Half Moon Saloon on East Adams Street.

  • VIRTUAL REALITY: The UTRGV Social Media and Digital Marketing team guided attendees inside The Kraken Lounge on East Adams Street through virtual reality, using goggles to display virtual images of the UTRGV Ballet Folklórico and the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art.

  • HUMANS OF UTRGV: Mariana Garza Estrada, marketing and communications assistant and Humans of UTRGV project lead, spearheaded the popular approach to innovative storytelling and photojournalism. Guests picked a random question out of bowl and had their photo taken on a Polaroid camera with their response.

  • DANCE: The UTRGV Filipino Student Association taught choreographed dance moves to attendees under a tent on East Adams Street. outside of the historic San Fernando building.

Santiago, whose original artworks were used to make prints on T-shirts, said #subculture serves as an opportunity for the community to get hands-on art experience.

“Most places, you can only see the artwork, but here you can get involved in a process. It gets people involved in the art-making project,” Santiago said.

In screen printing, an image is transferred photo-mechanically to a square screen. Once it is transferred onto the area, it is ready for printing.

“We use permanent fabric ink, and print the different T-shirts. We brought four different designs, so the public can choose their favorite design and they can make it themselves, or we can make it for them. We cure the ink onto the fabric with a flash dryer, so you can wash the shirt and the print will remain,” Santiago said.

HANDS-ON EXPERIENCES

Sophomore music education major Miguel Urteaga, junior music education major Julio Diaz, and sophomore computer science major Jorge Alpirez attended #subculture and visited all of the workshops.

“I like the whole setup – that the whole block is closed off and it creates an environment with a lot of music, people and interactions,” Diaz said. “I really enjoy that there are a lot of people here interacting with UTRGV students, and faculty and staff, too.”

The three students said enjoyed the musical soundscapes, which taught them to make various sounds with their vocal cords.

“I like this event a lot,” Alpirez said. “The people are really friendly and they come up and talk to you. You get to meet new people and do new things and get out of your routine.”

South Dakota natives Bob Johnson and Teresa McConville visited #subculture with Richard Krueger of Minnesota. The three had just arrived in the Valley the previous day and found the event online.

McConville said she gravitated toward the event because the activities looked fun and out of the ordinary.

“I saw the virtual reality and I really wanted to know more about it and experience it for myself,” she said.

The three also enjoyed the printmaking experience and displayed the festive prints they had made.

“It is enjoyable and educational,” Krueger said. “I like to see the enthusiasm of the youth.”

Other attractions included: Dez Barbeque food truckKona Ice Truck, music provided by UTRGV Radio, jewelry for sale by Bead Craftworks, and a display of News and Internal Communication’s Unsung Heroes series by communications students Steven Masso and Veronica Gaona.

Event partners include The Kraken LoungeMain Street BrownsvilleHalf Moon Saloon and the Brownsville Independent Film Festival.

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