This Sunday, August 18th will mark the opening of Pachamama Coffee's most recent expansion: their East Sacramento Coffeebar will now boast an increased café seating space. Having taken over the lease from the business that formerly shared the building with the farmer-owned cooperative, the extra space will function as a gallery for local artists to be featured. In fact, the pièce-de-resistance of the renovated space is a mural by local artists Rosa Angelica Castañeda and Antonio Sarabia, the forces behind R+A Art & Media. The mural features coffee's journey from being a seedling in the fertile soil of the Peruvian Andes to being crafted into an organic latte in East Sacramento. Rosa and Antonio are proud of their connections to their heritage, and center their work around building global connections in local spaces. Continue reading to learn more about their vision and passions:
When did you begin working together?
We began working together in 2015 for Danzantes Unidos, a network of folklorico dancers and artists, which is how we met. In 2017, we began to do work as R+A Art & Media.
What types of projects excite you the most?
We love to use art and media to tell stories, whether through video, photography, animation, design, or visual art. Our work reflects our desire to celebrate the richness of our culture and the beauty of our collective humanity.
How do your respective heritages influence your approach to art? How do you see this come up in your work?
In our work, we often find inspiration from our cultural heritage. Rosa was born in Los Angeles to Mexican immigrants. Antonio was born in Mexico City and migrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 10 years old. The richness, color, forms and iconography that we experienced growing up is ever present in our work, as is the understanding the stories woven into life. Storytelling is what allows us to find meaning. Storytelling through art validates our existence and allows us to connect to other people.
What other local organizations have you worked with? What drew you to them?
In Sacramento we have collaborated with various cultural organizations, and principled businesses that nurture a sense of pride and possibility in their respective communities. Some examples include Teatro Espejo, a Chicano Theater Company that has been producing plays since 1975. We have also done work for Alianza, the Center for Race Immigration and Social Justice at Sacramento State University, and the Undocumented Student Center at Sierra College. All three are organizations that work to provide resources and empower the undocumented migrant community. We have also worked with restaurateur Ernesto Delgado in creating the branding and designs for some of his restaurants which celebrates the culture and cuisine of Mexico. We have also done work for the Latino Center for Art and Culture for their year Day of the Dead celebration.
What drew you to Pachamama?
The first time we walked into Pachamama about two years ago we felt a sense of community. We felt welcomed and it quickly became one of our favorite places to frequent. The coffee was great, and just as important, Pachamama’s mission spoke to our own values and our sense of social responsibility.
Can you explain a bit about the inspiration behind the East Sacramento mural? What is one thing you would like people to know when they see it?
In preparation for the mural we had a chance to learn about the long and intricate journey of coffee, from planting and harvesting, processing, transportation, roasting and brewing the cups we enjoy here in Sacramento. We also learned about the people who play the most important part of that story. Before getting to us, coffee beans pass through an innumerable number of hands and travel thousands of miles. The coffee story is a reminder that people from entirely different backgrounds are interconnected across borders—that the things we enjoy locally are part of the collective fabric of humanity and that our choices can affect the lives of people halfway across the world. The mural at Pachamama depicts a small part of the coffee journey. More importantly, the mural is meant as a celebration of the people who work to make that incredible journey possible.