Community group Viva Oak Cliff aims to bridge the cultural gap

The Viva Oak Cliff mural

Oak Cliff is known for its community groups and projects, but they can’t be all things to all people. So a couple of business owners, Brandon Huddleston of Growth Life Studio and Johnny Fantuzzi of Tranquilo yoga studio, are launching a project called Viva Oak Cliff.

Viva Oak Cliff’s first event, a celebration this past Friday of National Hugging Day, included free yoga and chiropractic massages, plus a DJ, live painting from graffiti artists, a food truck and drinks.

Huddleston and Fantuzzi heard from business owners and neighbors, particularly Hispanics, who felt left out of some community events. Anglos and Hispanics are side-by-side in Oak Cliff, but we’re sometimes difficult to mix because of the language barrier and cultural misunderstandings, the partners say.

The goal with Viva Oak Cliff is to put on events and offer community news in an upcoming blog.

It is impossible to ignore that Viva Oak Cliff is derivitive of Go Oak Cliff, the nonprofit community group launched last year by Kessler Theater owner Edwin Cabaniss and community activists Amy Cowan, Jason Roberts and Rob Shearer.

That group inspired Viva Oak Cliff, and in fact, the name is a Spanish translation of Go Oak Cliff.

Huddleston and Fantuzzi are planning an event this spring, although they’re not ready to announce it. Their first move was to commission artwork from three Dallas-based graffiti artists, Jeru Gabriel, Hatziel Flores and Ray Albarez. Their mural is on the east side of La Original Michoacana ice cream shop in the Bishop Arts District.


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  • Rachel Stone

    The “hecho en Mexico” is part of the ice cream shop mural — it’s a painting of an ice cream cone that’s not part of the work these three guys did (I am pretty sure they are all American). I think it says “hecho en Mexico” because the ice cream they sell at the shop comes from Mexico? Not sure, but I think that’s right.

  • Michael Reagan

    I’ve been wondering who was responsible for that mural. It’s a nice, artistic addition to the community, but I’ve found the “hecho en Mexico” label included on it a curious and perplexing addition to the mural. I happily reside in a diverse community, and am hopeful that immigrants in the community would be proud to be Mexican-AMERICANS. It’s a great county with lots of opportunities that include economic and educational advantages that Central and South American immigrants no doubt flock here for. I think the message would have been more positive had it said “by Mexican-Americans” instead. As it is written, it implicitly states a divisive message in my opinion, which it seems from this article is exactly what the persons responsible for the mural are hoping to change.