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Exhibit showcases Oak Cliff’s Latinx and Hispanic owned auto shops

Victoria Ortiz
Michelle Aslam
Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz at her exhibit in the underground gallery space at Arts Mission Oak Cliff.

Last year, during considerations for the West Oak Cliff Area Plan, one recommendation to make the neighborhood more walkable could have put local auto shops at risk.

But community organizers, including Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz, got auto shop owners to push back and the language for the plan was changed.

Ferrell-Ortiz is the executive director of RAYO planning, an urban planning nonprofit that advocates for fair housing, environmental justice,and community education. She calls herself a barrio historian, an urban planner, and a cultural artist.

The experience inspired her to put on an exhibit that highlights and celebrates Latinx and Hispanic owned auto shop businesses in Oak Cliff. She collected photographs, newspaper clippings and artifacts that showcase the experiences of small business across the community.

“I think about my daughter, Amelie” Ferrell-Ortiz said. “I don't want her to learn about Oak Cliff the way that we learn about Little Mexico. Little Mexico is gone. I want her to be able to come up into her adulthood and see the Oak Cliff that I grew up with.”

Ferrell-Ortiz is the first artist in the Artist in Residency program at Arts Mission Oak Cliff this year. She wants visitors to see the stories of auto shop owners, and leave with a renewed sense of appreciation for preserving history and culture.

Business cards on display at the Este Lugar Importa exhibit.
Michelle Aslam
Business cards on display at the "Este Lugar Importa" exhibit.

“You know, thinking about cultural preservation and people's right to stay in their neighborhoods without being towered over by development,” she said.

The “Este Lugar Importa” exhibit is in the underground gallery space in Arts Mission Oak Cliff, and on view until April 27th. The exhibit is free, but viewers must make an appointment through Eventbrite.

Arts Access is an arts journalism collaboration powered by The Dallas Morning News and KERA.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabef and The Meadows Foundation. The News and KERA retain full editorial control of Arts Access’ journalism.

Michelle Aslam is a 2021-2022 Kroc Fellow and recent graduate from North Texas. While in college, she won state-wide student journalism awards for her investigation into campus sexual assault proceedings and her reporting on racial justice demonstrations. Aslam previously interned for the North Texas NPR Member station KERA, and also had the opportunity to write for the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Observer.