By Maureen Post Special to Published Sep 15, 2009 at 4:28 PM

It seems Latino Arts never stops.

Between onstage performances and gallery installations, the artistic and cultural extension of the United Community Center, 1028 S. 9th St., in Walker's Point has already brought us Mexican singer Regina Orozco, Dominican Republican musician La India Canela and Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell earlier this year. And its fall season looks just as promising.

The season kicks off this Saturday with Latino Arts "5th Annual Noche de Gala," a benefit for the Latino Arts Educational Programming. Featuring the music of Diego del Real, the gala serves as the opening for "Welcome to Holy Land," an exhibit by Luis De La Torre.

"Luis De La Torre was an emerging artist for me when I took over the Latino Arts program 14 years ago. He has made quite a name in Chicago and every year he's submitted work for our Day of the Dead exhibit. So it was only natural for us to ask him to do a solo show," Zulay Oskay, director of Latino Arts, says.

A Chicago-based artist, De La Torre's work focuses on the experience of Mexican-Americans in the 21st century. De La Torre was born in Texas and split his childhood between Chicago and Mexico. His oeuvre -- in watercolor and oil -- incorporates his experience of straddling two cultural worlds.

"His work will give the Milwaukee community a taste of our culture. I think a lot of people can relate to his message- not to forget your roots but to grow out of them and form a fruitful growth into your current situation," Oskay says.

De La Torre uses basic elements of time, history and geography to show larger trends in war, economies and the plight of commercialism.

"De La Torre really works to make his bi-culturalism come out; he fuses together his two worlds as a Mexican American for one dreamlike metaphorical representation. He's an artist who really mixes pop culture into more traditional Mexican styles and is able to dig into current events," says Oskay.

But, De La Torre's exhibit isn't the only thing Latino Arts has planned for this season. Performances by Los Cojolites and Chuchito Valdes' Afro-Cuban Quartet run Oct. 23 and Dec. 4 respectively. De La Torre's work will be on display through Oct. 9 and then the annual "Dia de los Muertos Ofrendas" (Oct. 23- Nov. 20) is followed by "Cuban Artists' Books and Prints: 1985-2008" on Dec. 4.

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.