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Tomás Rivera Conference Honors Painter, Poet

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Acclaimed painter Alfredo Arreguín and author Lauro Flores will receive lifetime achievement awards at the 21st annual Tomás Rivera Conference on Thursday, April 24, at the University of California, Riverside.

The theme of the annual conference, which honors the memory of UCR Chancellor Tomás Rivera, is "AméricaViva" ("America Live"). The event will begin at noon in the University Theatre and continue until 3 p.m.

Highlighting the conference will be the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts to Arreguín and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Chicano Literature to Flores.

"Art is the momentum of life, the drum in your step, the melody of an inspired poem, the new set of coordinates that reveal the pathway to an uncharted universe," said Juan Felipe Herrera, Tomás Rivera Chair in creative writing and conference organizer. "Tomás Rivera, with his life, poems and stories, set us in motion. With this conference, we will reach new heights for the benefit of our students and communities at large."

New this year is a poetry contest for Inland area college and high school students. Poems must relate to Arrequín's artwork. The contest deadline is April 11. Prizes of $250, $150 and $100 will be awarded to winners in separate college and high school competitions. Winners must attend the conference to receive their awards. Entry details are available online.

Arreguín's paintings are part of the permanent collections of the National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery. The government of Mexico has honored him with the OHTLI Award, the highest recognition given by the Mexican government to individuals whose work promotes Mexican culture abroad. In 1988 he won a commission to design the Washington state Centennial poster and also designed the White House Easter egg. He represented the United States in 1979 at the 11th International Festival of Painting at Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, where he won the Palm of the People Award.

Flores, a professor of Chicano and Latin American literatures and cultures at the University of Washington, is the author of "The Floating Borderlands," which was a 1999 American Book Award winner; "Alfredo Arreguín: Patterns of Dreams and Nature," a 2002 Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize notable book; and an edition of Luis Pérez's "El Coyote/The Rebel." He is a past Ford Foundation fellow and has been a visiting professor at Stanford University and UCLA. While at the University of Washington he has served as director of the Center for Chicano Studies, chair of the Department of Latin American Studies and special assistant to the provost. He chairs the Department of American Ethnic Studies.

UCR's Taiko Ensemble will perform with special appearances by the Rev. Tom Kurai, director of the Taiko Center of Los Angeles and a lecturer in the UCR Department of Music; music professor and ethnomusicologist Deborah Wong, who is a member of the Satori Daiko performing group at the Taiko Center of Los Angeles; renowned saxophonist Francis Wong, whose specialty is Asian American jazz; and Tim Hernandez, a poet and performer who will present a eulogy for the late Chicano poet ráulrsalinas, who died in February 2008.

Tomás Rivera, for whom the conference is named, was a Chicano poet, educator, and UCR's chancellor from 1979 to 1984. He was the first Hispanic chancellor in the UC system, and also, at 43, the youngest person ever appointed to lead a UC campus. He died in 1984 after a heart attack.

The conference is sponsored by the UCR Tomás Rivera Endowment/Department of Creative Writing, Riverside Public Library, UCR Chicano Student Programs and the Riverside City College Office of Academic Support.

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