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Hispanic Heritage Week: Mexican Artists Become Fixture In Washington Heights

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As NY1 continues its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we introduce you to husband and wife artists, both of whom have won numerous awards for their artwork and for being leaders in the Latino community. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.

Husband and wife artists Felipe Galindo and Andrea Arroyo are true New Yorkers. They're immigrants, they're artists and amazingly, they've both had their work in the New Yorker magazine. But when they arrived in Washington Heights more than 25 years ago, it was hard to fit in.

"When we moved here, there was no, virtually no Mexican community. We were really trying to break into the American market, let's say. For example, in my case, people thought I was from South America, from Ecuador or Peru," says Galindo.

Both say they sometimes get boxed into that "Latino artist" label.

"So that's a little bit of a challenge but I think most of it is a positive thing. I mean, our culture is so rich that it has to be positive. We have so much to get inspired from," Arroyo says.

While she paints and he draws, both draw a lot of inspiration from their Mexican heritage.

"This first one is titled Coatlicue and she's actually an Aztec goddess with a skirt made of serpents. That one over there is Xochiquetzal and she is also an Aztec goddess, she's the goddess of fertility. This one is Ixchel and she's the Mayan goddess of water," says Arroyo, pointing at some of her paintings.

Galindo, known by his pen name "Feggo," has created many works featuring Mexican gods and goddesses, including one series titled "Manhatitlan." It's an insightful and comedic look at the interaction of Mexican and New York cultures.

"This is an Aztec jaguar warrior fighting the lions at the Central Library. This one is the Aztec god Tlaloc, god of the water, having fun here in the summer," says Galindo.

One animation even chronicles Mexican immigrants coming over on the "Flor de Mayo," the literal Spanish for "The May Flower."

While Andrea and Felipe have had great mainstream success with their careers, but when it comes to being Mexican-American, there's just some things they can't escape.

"Every time we go to a party people ask us to bring the guacamole," Arroyo said.

"We once were invited to a Thanksgiving and our friend said,'Don't bring anything.' But her son, the first thing he asked us when we arrived, he said, 'Where is the guacamole?'" Galindo said.

Here in New York, though, it seems both artists have found a recipe for success.

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