Ruben Hernandez

Xico, Inc.

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Donna Valdes serves as Executive Director of Xico, Inc. Photo by Cassandra Tomei

Xico Inc., formerly known as Xicanindio, is a multidisciplinary arts organization and artist collective that was created in 1975 by a group of local Chicano and Native American artists. Their vision was to promote indigenous arts and culture through community-based arts programs. Recently, Xico (CHEE-co) moved into a gallery/office at 44 S. San Marcos Place in Chandler under the guidance of Executive Director Donna Valdes. For updates on the changes Xico is experiencing, visit

LPM: Donna, you’ve got some new digs for your artist organization. Do you think it will bring a new attitude, new programs, and new commerce to Xico?

DV: Yes. Xico has relocated to Chandler. We are in the heart of Historic Downtown Chandler. The new location will allow Xico to be more visible in the community by providing exhibition and teaching space on-site, and we will continue to partner with others for our outreach programs. We will be able to grow to the next level by having a visible home.

LPM: What accomplishments are you proudest of during your time as executive director of Xico?

DV: In the past few years Xico has grown its artist support and expanded its youth program. I have been diligent about supporting our artists and getting the word out about who Xico is and what we do. I think I am proudest of the partnerships I have been able to form, not only with artists but with other organizations and the community.

LPM: Xico represents some of the best artists in Arizona. What has to be done to get collectors to buy more art from Arizona Latino/Native American artists?

DV: We need to continue to educate the public about our artists, who they are, and what they represent. We need to keep our artists engaged in exhibitions. Exposure and name recognition is important. Three years ago Xico initiated a Meet the Artist series which we have several artists exhibit and discuss their work in an intimate setting. We now have exhibition space so we will be able to showcase our artists and educate the public about their works.

LPM: Things are tight economically. How can smaller art organizations like Xico grow during slow economic times?

DV: Xico has been in existence since 1975. We have a strong presence and respect in the community. Fortunately, we have strong supporters and advocates for Xico. As funders contribute less and the grant pools become smaller we have to be creative in our efforts to secure funds. Donor programs are essential. One way we feel will help us through these times is our new location, we will be able to consign our artists’ work, teach more classes, and hold more events which will lead to more exposure and reaching a larger population. Collaboration is key as shared resources help to offset costs.

LPM: Xico has been based in Mesa, and now is based in Chandler. Does Xico consider itself an organization that serves the East Valley, or as serving a wider region?

DV: Xico is located in the East Valley but we serve artists from all regions. Currently many of our artists are in the Maricopa County area but we are working to expand that circle. Xico is constantly growing and emerging.  We hold strong to promoting cultural heritage of Latinos and indigenous peoples of the Americas through art.

LPM: What does the future hold for Xico, and for Latino arts?

DV: Latino arts are growing and will continue to grow. As the public has a better understanding of Latino cultures it creates a stronger awareness and significance of the arts.

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