No Time to Waste: Parade the Circle Lead Artist Hector Castellanos Lara Speaks of Dragon Flies

Parade the Circle 2023 lead artist Hector Castellanos Lara.

Parade the Circle—the Cleveland Museum of Art celebration of community and creativity, with its iconic floats created by community groups and international artists, its stilt walkers, its festival village, and crowds in the tens of thousands—returns from its pandemic hiatus in 2023, for the first time since 2019. In this comeback year, the museum has named Hector Castellanos Lara as the lead artist. A native of Guatemala, Castellanos has called Cleveland home for more than thirty years. He was first involved in the parade in 1997, with a community group from the now-defunct nonprofit organization Escuela Popular. He became a paid staff artist the following year. Hector spoke to CAN about coming out of the pandemic, and about the theme he chose for this year’s parade—Transformation: Dragonfly / Libélula.

CAN: So how is it coming back after the pandemic?

HECTOR CASTELLANOS LARA: Many people have curiosity about what the artists have made during those three years, because they didn’t have chance to exhibit, you know? We accumulated ideas, because during those three years, in a way, we had more time to think. Many of us didn’t work for a while. So we discovered new things at home. We did improvements in our houses. Some people started thinking about creating new jobs, other people cleaned the entire basement. And we found things that [we had forgotten], and got inspired to adapt those items for new inventions or new art.

CAN: Can you talk about the theme you have chosen as the lead artist?

HCL: It was a new challenge for me, to develop a theme. I think that it came to me at the right moment in the beginning of the year, because I had some visions about a little insect that probably people don’t pay attention much, but it has been with us for more than 300 million years, so it’s not new. And this is the dragonfly, or in Spanish libélula. The dragonfly is a symbol of transformation and many other things, like hope, new beginnings. Also is creativity, and courage. Dragonflies have 360-degree vision, and can fly in any direction, even backwards. So the spiritual meaning is so strong that there is the same in many cultures in the world.

CAN: It sounds like a very good theme, after the pandemic.

HCL: If it lands close to you, that means that it’s giving you input to do something that you’re thinking for a while. And actually the dragonfly is saying, just do it now, okay? There is no time to waste. That [idea relates to] the life cycle of the dragonfly, because most of its life is in developmental stages, from an egg, all the steps until he becomes an adult and gets his wings. After that, for a dragonfly, the rest of the time is not going to be much. So this means, you know, just do it now. And if a second dragonfly comes, you see it again, that means that you didn’t get the message.

I come here just to tell you that there’s no time to waste.

Parade The Circle

Noon Saturday, June 10

Kickoff at the north entrance to the Cleveland Museum of Art