Adrianna Abarca—Community Connector
Adrianna is the founder and Board Chair of the Latino Cultural Arts Center of Colorado located in Denver. She has long dreamed of creating numerous institutions where the local and statewide Latino communities are confident that their history and artistic expressions are accurately represented. Her community interests, volunteer time, and resources have been dedicated to creating places for artists, families, community, and scholars to gather. Forty years ago, her family started The Abarca Family Collection to support the work of artists of Mexican decent. Included are paintings, photography, prints, sculpture, textiles, and folk art. These works of art and a large selection of books will be housed in the future Mexican Heritage Museum, which will be run by the LCAC.
Adrianna’s parents came from humble beginnings. Her father, Luis, was an immigrant from central Mexico, and her mother, Martha, was raised in an orphanage in North Denver. Adrianna attended North High School and would not have planned to attend college had it not been for the insistence of Vice Principal, Dr. Martha Urioste. Thanks to her mother’s support and the guidance of her mentor Dr. Cordelia Candelaria, she acquired a B.A. degree in Latin American Studies from CU Boulder. After college she worked for 5 years in the arts in San Francisco, including the Mexican Museum. Abarca returned to Denver twenty-five years ago to participate in the family-owned business, Ready Foods, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Now that her daughter, Arisela, is in college, Adrianna dedicates most of her time to the Latino Cultural Arts Center.
To build her knowledge of cultural representation, Abarca traveled extensively to meet artists and crafters throughout the United States and Mexico. She has been a volunteer, collaborator, and financial supporter of Denver’s Museo de las Americas, Mexican Cultural Center, Su Teatro and the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council. Adrianna advises on culturally relevant programming and Latino outreach with the History Colorado Center, the Denver Art Museum, and the Museum of Nature and Science. For thirteen years, she was a founder and served on the Board of Directors of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado.
Adrianna has curated works from the Abarca Family Collection for numerous exhibitions for the Arvada Center for the Arts, the Museo de las Americas, the Emmanuel Art Gallery at Auraria, and most recently, for History Colorado in Denver and Pueblo. At the core of all that she does is education. She is passionate about the preservation of cultural identity and a comprehensive and accurate representation of history. Abarca hopes to leave a legacy of learning and cultural pride for generations of Latinos to come and strives to teach young people about the value of passion, hard work and dedication.