Posts Tagged ‘Spanish Harlem’

SPEAKER OF THE NYC COUNCIL ON RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO FAMILIES SUFFERING FROM THE AFTERMATH OF THE COLLAPSED BUILDINGS IN EL BARRIO

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Dear Friends,

This has been an extremely difficult week for El Barrio/East Harlem. The tragic building collapse that took place just a half block from my district office has been a painful experience for our community. I send my deepest condolences to the loved ones of those we lost and my thoughts remain with the families and friends of those who are still missing.

As I have shared in my public appearances, I was on my way down to City Hall when I received a tweet about the explosion. I turned around and went back to the district right away, establishing a command center out of the District Office.

Since Wednesday, I have been touring the scene throughout the day, monitoring all developments and keeping in close contact with all city agencies. My staff is continuing to connect individuals and families to available resources and seek options for permanent housing in our local community for those who need it.

Services for Residents

Individuals seeking assistance from city agencies can visit the Resident Service Center on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. The Center is now located at 1580 Park Avenue (@ 114th Street) under the MetroNorth tracks at La Marqueta. The center at the Salvation Army on 125th Street will no longer be open. You can also call 311 or my district office (212-828-9800) with any inquiries.

The City is actively seeking opportunities for short- and long-term housing and is working around the clock to get vacated buildings back on line for families.

As I have been stressing, it is critically important that our immigrant communities in particular understand that no one should be afraid to come forward and seek assistance because they do not have legal status. City agencies are prohibited from asking about immigration status.

How You Can Help

I want to thank everyone for their expressions of support and for wanting to provide assistance during this difficult time. We are currently exploring a mechanism to accept monetary donations and make sure that these funds are used to provide services and support to our neighbors in need. I will be in touch with more information in the coming days.

In the meantime, please continue to keep our neighbors in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Melissa Mark-Viverito
Speaker
NYC Council

PRdream mourns the passing of Piri Thomas, September 30, 1928 – October 17, 2011

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

 

 

Nuyorican author, born Juan Pedro Tomas to a Puerto Rican mother and Cuban father in El Barrio, Spanish Harlem, on September 30, 1928. He is best known for his autobiographical novel “Down These Mean Streets.” Other works include “Savior, Savior Hold My Hand,” “Seven Long Times,” and “Stories from El Barrio.”

Piri Thomas traveled around the country as well as Central America and Europe, giving lectures and conducting workshops in colleges and universities. He was the subject of a film “Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life and Work of Piri Thomas,” by Jonathan Robinson. Thomas died from pneumonia at his home in El Cerrito, California on October 17, 2011.

We express our condolences to the Thomas family.

A MESSAGE OF CARING AND REQUEST FOR ACCURATE HISTORY AND CLEAR INFORMATION FROM THE PUERTO RICAN COMMUNITY OF EL BARRIO ABOUT THE JULIA DE BURGOS LATINO CULTURAL CENTER

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Questions prepared by Mary Boncher, psychologist, poet and long-time El Barrio resident. Responses from Marilyn Navarro, long-time El Barrio resident.

QUESTIONS LOOKING FOR ANSWERS: I just read a quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the New Yorker (October 25, 2010 page 81) that seems quite applicable. “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts”

Development of the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center
1. Which organizations and individuals were involved in the conception and early planning (1992-1995) for the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center? What roles did they play?

Johnny Colon – Music School, Ecuelecua – Maria Mar, Teatro LaTea, Taller Boricua – Fernando Salicrup, Edwin Marcial – Teatro Puertoriqueño, A Dance group, and another theater group I have to see if I have the name in some of my older files. The board chair was Carmen Vega Rivera the ED of EHTP at the time. The fiscal conduit and often mediator between EDC, the City, and the groups, was AHA. AHA provided space for their board meetings, and an administrative assistant to support the board of directors.

Side Note… someone should find out who houses the records for the Association of Hispanic Arts, while they are no longer in existence they may have kept copies of the board meeting minutes for the JBLCC board. We called the project the JBLCC project.

2. What was the original idea(s) for the Center?

The Julia de Burgos Latino and Cultural Center – JBLCC

It was suppose to be the mecca for the arts in El Barrio. It was suppose to provide a home to arts organizations struggling to find affordable space to teach, perform, and house Latino Arts in East Harlem. It would have a community Theater that the groups would share and also rent out to other arts organizations, gallery space, classrooms for teaching arts, and spaces for lectures and workshops. While the idea was that the center would be a Latino Arts Center, over 75% of the organizations being considered for moving in, and on the board were Puerto Rican organizations with deep roots in the East Harlem community.

3. In what ways were these ideas modified by the process of opening the Center?

4. What were the financial arrangements? What agency or organization owned (15 years ago) and now owns the building? What agency financed the renovations of the building?

It was owned by the city no one agency owned the space. The city would be leasing it to the organizations who were on the founding board. The organizations would pay rent based on the square footage they occupied. The city financed, but I cannot remember what city agency. I want to say DCA and EDC, but my memory does not carry that far back. A general manager would be hired to run the space. EDC and the City would have oversight for some time (amount of time I cannot recall), but eventually the space would become it’s own entity if they maintained compliance and operated well with some supervision from external agencies for a predetermined amount of time. The rent collected had to be enough to pay the mortgage, cover the operational expenses, and create a reserve. This is what determined the cost per square foot. Many of the organizations on the board who were hoping to move into the space could not afford the rent based on this square footage. There were conversations and the then board chair believed that through fundraising, with a good general manager they would be able to sustain, but overall the groups going in would have to agree to pay the square footage cost that was set, as they could not rely on fundraising when they had not even received the keys to the building, or the okay to move in. They had to prove to the overseeing agencies listed in number 5 below that they could sustain the building based on the only income that was guaranteed at the time… rent.

Side note…. You must all remember this was at a time where Cuomo was governor. The arts were not largely supported. Funding to the arts was not strong at all during this time. The fear of the larger institutions involved, overall, was that the groups moving in did not have the financial resources to be able to afford the rent, and that eventually the consortium would falter, because they would not be able to pay the mortgage, build reserve, and cover operations expenses in general.

What agency signed for and has carried the mortgage?
What were the terms of the financing?
How much money was spent? How much money is still owed?

5. What was the role of the following in the conception and launching of the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center?
New York City Cultural Affairs Commission
Economic Development Corporation
Borough President
City Council Representative
District 11 Community Board
Others

Granting Leases for Space in the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center – What happened in 1995?
1. What entity determined which organizations were granted leases?

The organizations on the original board submitted applications with extensive documentation that was reviewed by members of the organizations outlined in question #5 above. They were supported by AHA in preparing their applications. Those organizations that met the criteria established by the those in #5 above were suppose to move in.

2. What was the basis for determination?

3. What were/are the conditions of the leases?

4. In particular, what are the conditions for the leases granted for the multi-purpose space?

5. How was it that two floors in the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center was rented to the Department of Education for a school??

6. What entities oversee the Julia de Burgos, legally and operationally?
What have they done to ensure that the vision for the Center is actualized?
What power do they legally have?
Who has power over them?

7. What specifically is the role and function of the Economic Development Corporation? Who sits on the board of the EDC? How are they elected/appointed and for what term? To whom are they accountable?

8. What is the relationship between the Economic Development Corporation and Community Board 11, our City Council member, other political entities that affect El Barrio? How does it all work and fit together?

Our Council Woman’s Request to the EDC
1. What complaints/criticisms lead our Council Woman to go to the EDC to ask them to discontinue current lease for the multi-purpose space and to put out an RFEI?

2. What if any discussions did our Council Woman have with Taller Boricua about these complaints and possible solutions?

3. What was/is our Council Woman’s assessment of the responsibility of EDC for the conditions she has identified as problematic with the use and utilization of the multi-purpose and theater space at the Julia de Burgos?

Taller Boricua and the Multi-Purpose Space
1. How has the space been used?

2. Who has and who has not had access to using the space?

3. What does the Taller understand as the complaints/criticisms of the use and utilization of the multi-purpose space?

4. What is the Taller’s response to these complaints/criticisms?

Current Issues from a Broader Perspective
1. What is the EDC’s responsibility in relation to the current situation with the Julia de Burgos?

2. What are the long term ramifications of the following statement in the online NYC Procurement Opportunities

This RFEI is not a formal offering for organizations to locate at the Site. However NYCEDC reserves the right to enter into negotiations with the organization(s) on the basis of the responses to the RFEI without engaging in further processes. NYCEDC and the City reserve the right, at their sole discretion, to withdraw the RFEI; to choose to discuss various approaches with one or more respondents (including those not responding to the RFEI), to use the ideas or proposals submitted in any manner deemed to be in the best interest of the NYCEDC and the City, including but not limited to soliciting competitive submission relating to such ideas or proposals; and/or undertake the prescribed work in a manner other than that which is set forth herein. NYCEDC and the City likewise reserve the right, at any time, to change any terms of the RFEI.” (darkened area not in original)

3. What is the potential negative cost to the Puerto Rican community in El Barrio of yet another “in-fight this time between our Council woman and her supporter and the Taller Boricua and its supporters?

4. What options, if any, are there for the community to handle the differences over the Julia de Burgos spaces in a less contentious manner?

5. What if anything have we learned from past battles over institutions in El Barrio and the ensuing loses to the Puerto Rican Community

6. What mistakes were made in those battles/confrontations? What do we need to learn?

7. What does this all have to do with gentrification?

VISIONS
What visions do we have for how to handle differences within El Barrio so that we do not lose what is left of El Barrio for the Puerto Rican Community.

1. What visions are there for how we can work more cooperatively, forge a stronger community, and combat gentrification?

2. What middle forces are available in the community to mediate the current conflict which presents as quite polarized

Side note…. From what I remember there was a general sense even then in 1993 – 1997 when I worked directly with these individuals, that Taller Boricua monopolized the overall process. While perhaps well intentioned in wanting to be a part of such a historic project and wanting to be in the space, other groups felt that their voice was not as prominent in the process as that of those who represented Taller Boricua. What started out as a collective of arts organizations taking part in a historic projected ended sadly. When those doors opened, the only group that went into the space – from the original organizations on the board – was Taller Boricua. My memory may be wrong, and if it is, not more than one or two others from that original board ever went into the space.

Signed,
M. Navarro,
Puerto Rican Resident of El Barrio for 38 years
Born and Raised

10/22/10

questions
looking for answers
structuring seeing

who
seeks
to know

who
seeks
to understand
what is

when
knowing seems
as easy as answering
a question

where from
comes
the question

how is it
known
to be asked

how is it
asked

how is it
answered

why

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ArtCrawl Harlem – Spanish Harlem Gallery Tour

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

 

 

Saturday, November 13, 12PM – 6PM

TROLLEY PICK UP
Julia de Burgos Cultural Center
1680 Lexington Avenue
East Harlem, NY

Price $55.00

Info Line 212-866-7427
Website http://www.artcrawlharlem.com

Contact Jacqueline Orange
202-262-8840
artcrawlharlem@gmail.com

SCHEDULE FOR SPANISH HARLEM GALLERY TOUR
Novermber 13, 2010

12PM to 4PM East Harlem Gallery tour
4PM to 5:30PM Reception with dinner

November 13, 2010
Trolley tour 12:00PM to 4PM; Reception following until 5:30PM

ArtCrawl HarlemTM is a joint effort of Taste Harlem Food and Cultural Tours and Canvas Paper and Stone Gallery.
Join us on this unique trolley tour as we explore Harlem’s outstanding galleries! The tour will introduce local and tri-state residents to the rich visual arts offerings of Harlem by taking participants through a varied selection of galleries and public spaces to view work by an eclectic array of artists at all stages of professional development.

Visitors will be escorted by a tour guide to each gallery venue where they will participate in a 30 minute visit. ArtCrawl HarlemTM culminates in a catered reception that will include dinner, wine and music at a Harlem cultural institution.

Get ready to explore Harlem’s rich art gallery scene!

$40 EARLY BIRD TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT!

Seating is limited you will want to purchase your ticket early! Any questions call 212-866-7427.
Ending location is the same as the starting location.

Notes
Fall East Harlem Gallery Tour 2010- Meeting location

Please arrive 15 minutes early to Taller Boricua Galleries at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center
located at 1680 Lexington Avenue,
New York, NY 10029, (at the corner of 106 & Lexington Avenue). If you have any trouble finding the us, please call 1(800) 838-3006 or (212)866-7427.

Directions
By bus:
M3, M4, northbound on Madison then walk east on 106th Street to Lex. Ave. or M102, M101, M103 northbound on Third Avenue then walk west on 106th Street to Lex. Ave.
M102, M101 southbound on Lexington Avenue to 106th Street.

By subway:
#6 Lexington Avenue train to 103rd Street, walk three blocks north.

By car:
RFK Bridge – Take FDR south, exit at 106th Street to Lexington Avenue. George Washington Bridge – Take Harlem River Drive to FDR south, exit at 106th Street to Lexington Avenue. Cross-Bronx Expressway – Take 87 south, exit at 138th Street Bridge, follow signs to Lexington Avenue.

Nearby Public Parking Garages
97th Street and Third Avenue
95th Street and Third Avenue
95th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues

Ending location is the same as the starting location.

New York State Senator Bill Perkins honors Judith Escalona, Executive Director of PRdream.com

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

March 26, 2010 – New York State Senator Bill Perkins and the Caribbean Cultural Center recognized Judith Escalona, filmmaker, writer, critic, curator, producer and executive director of PRdream.com as one of New York’s accomplished women in the arts.

For her work in new media and film, Escalona has received grants from New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affaris, New York Foundation, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, North Star Fund and Chase/SMART. Escalona is a El Diario/La Prensa Destacada Latina (Distinguished Latina (2000) and a Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College Awardee (2003). She is currently in postproduction on a new film entitled Bx3M which she wrote and directed.

PRdream.com which Escalona founded in 1998 changed the cultural landscape of Northern Manhattan with its new media gallery MediaNoche, Uptown’s only art and technology gallery presenting a roster of local and international new media artists. PRdream.com has been recognized by AOL, About.com, and DMOZ Open Directory Project.

Her work has been featured in WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, CUNY-TV, the NY Times, Daily News, NY Post, and the Village Voice. Escalona also produces television segments for Independent Sources, a magazine show presenting the views of ethnic and alternative media on CUNY-TV. She is the original creator and curator of Nuyorican Cinema and the Handball Court Summer Film Festival (now known as PRdream Summer Film Fest). Escalona teaches filmmaking at The City College of the City University of New York.

The award ceremony took place on March 26, 2010.

The Puerto Rican Community Speaks Out: The word “spic” is out!

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Note: The recent controversy over the naming by El Museo del Barrio of a spoken word series using the word “spic” hit a nerve among many in the Puerto Rican’Latino literary community and others. The Museo issued a statement on this issue on the website, which generated a response from some leading Puerto Rican cultural workers. We thought you would find this exchange interesting and thought-provoking, understanding, after all, that words can be like bricks.

To express your views on this issue to the Museo’s Director, Julian Zugazagoitia, you can write to him at director@elmuseo.org.

—Angelo Falcón

You Spoke Out/We Listened!
El Museo del Barrio (December 9, 2009)

El Museo del Barrio, out of respect for those members of our community who have expressed strong feelings against the use of the word ‘spic’ in the title of our spoken word program, has renamed this series. The new title is “Speak Up!/Speak Out!”

El Museo is proud that many of its programs and exhibitions are at the cutting edge of Latino artistic expression. We are emboldened by the strength we draw from our roots and culture, which allows us to respect the past while helping to chart the future place of the Latino voice in the general culture.

Our program is a platform for addressing contemporary social issues and political concerns-especially in terms of the Latino experience-through the creative use of language. The artists participating in the program over the past two years typically have long professional trajectories, and are deeply passionate about language and its social/political/historical weight and significance. Their aesthetic vision and dynamic engagement have generated lively discussion, debate, and creativity, and has made spoken word programming at El Museo an indispensable forum for ideas. As a result, the program has built a significant and loyal following.

We deeply regret that some of the artists that generated this platform by participating in the series have become targets of hate mail. We strongly believe that as artists they have the right to use words within the context of their art as a means of expression as they see fit. No artist should be censored or ostracized for being evocative or provocative.

We appreciate hearing the range of thoughts and feelings that have arisen in relation to the use of the word ‘spic’ in the title of our spoken word program. While the title was conceived as a re-appropriation of the term as a means of empowerment-an approach that already has a history in our own community, see context information below-the word still evokes strong and hurtful connotations. Therefore out of sensitivity to those who have expressed concerns with the use of the term and with profound respect for those for whom this term is offensive, we have renamed the series “Speak Up!/Speak Out!”

We take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to spoken word as a programming area. We continue to be proud that El Museo is a public platform where discussions like this happen for the advancement and understanding of our communities. We strongly believe that the respectful, insightful and articulated expressions of support and concern help us move forward and grow as a vocal, dynamic, and engaged community.
We are grateful for all the passionate feedback we have received for this series and invite you all to continue participating and joining us for our next installments of “Speak Up!/Speak Out!”

Context of Reference for How the Term “Spic” Was Used in the Initial Naming of the Program

El Museo did not intend to be hurtful when using the word ‘spic’ in the initial naming of the spoken word series. We hoped that by re-appropriating a word with a painful history for Latinos one could transform the word into a tool of empowerment.

This kind of re-appropriation and transformation has been successful in other contexts. For example, gay activists now use the old insult ‘queer’ in a positive manner (as in the slogan “We’re here, we’re queer,” among other uses). A group of Jewish journalists now publish a positive, edgy magazine called Heeb (also once a slur). Chicanos on the West Coast who once resented being called ‘pochos’ by other Mexicans now use the phrase with pride and humor in the hilarious satiric magazine Pocho, and comedy troupe of the same name. Each of these groups has been victorious in reclaiming an old slur, thus rendering moot the once painful effect of the word.

Within our own Latino community, the effort to reclaim the term ‘spic’ also has a long history, both in comedic plays and serious literature. The famed late Boricua poet Pedro Pietri used ‘spic’ in his acclaimed “Puerto Rican Obituary”-a poem first read in 1969 at a Young Lords rally-to call attention to racism against Puerto Rican immigrants. John Leguizamo’s Spic-O-Rama is a comedic play about a Latino family, based on his own childhood. This show has been publicly acclaimed since it launched in 1993. It enjoyed a sold-out run in Chicago before relocating to New York’s Westside Theater, where it drew large Latino audiences and won Leguizamo a Drama Desk Award.

Poet Urayoán Noel used the word in his 2000 piece, “Spic Tracts,” to attack present-day racism. And in 2005, Nuyorican performance artist Chaluisan opened a one-person show, entitled Spic Chic, at the Ibiza nightclub in the Bronx, which later enjoyed a successful run at the Wings Theater in New York City’s West Village. Also, acclaimed Mexican-American intellectual Ilan Stavans’ recent book, Mr. Spic Goes To Washington, employs humor to make salient points about Latino political engagement and one fictional character’s rise from the barrio to the halls of power.

To better understand this re-conceptualization, we must think about the history of the word. ‘Spic’ is widely believed to have originated in the phrases “no spic English,” or “I spic Spanish,” as uttered by a recent immigrant. Back when the term was coined, Latinos were often made to feel ashamed of speaking Spanish, or of not speaking English well. Many older Latinos remember teachers punishing them for speaking Spanish in class, or their parents being ashamed to have their children “spic Spanish.” Today when we use that word, we invoke a new meaning; a new pride. We are saying we are no longer ashamed to “spic Spanish.” Latinos across the country now advocate for dual language schools so our children can continue to speak our ancestors’ language (and some schools even teach Nahuatl and Taíno words). We are now proudly bilingual, in our music, movies, and art. Thus, creating this title in a sense celebrates the fact that we have now reached a point where we are proud to ‘spic up,’ in English or Spanish, with and without accents.

El Museo recognizes the charge that words can have and thus has renamed the series as “Speak Up!/Speak Out!” Our commitment to the spoken word is reflected by our listening to the words that were spoken and the feelings those words elicited. Speak Up!/Speak Out! reflects our commitment to having all words spoken with passion, creativity, and respect. Please join us for our upcoming programs and continue speaking up and speaking out for the betterment of our communities.

Open Letter on the Renaming of El Museo del Barrio’s Spoken Word Series “Speak Up/Speak Out”
By Richard Villar Sam Vargas Jr., Carmen Pietri-Diaz, Sam Diaz, Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez, and Fernando Salicrup (December 9, 2009)

El Museo Del Barrio has responded to the controversy surrounding their spoken word series, formerly titled “Spic Up/Speak Out.” The full text of this response, entitled “You Spoke Out/We Listened,” can be read at their website: http://www.elmuseo.org/en/explore-online.

A publicly-funded, community-founded arts institution should know better than to market to audiences, poets, or anyone else using the word “spic.”

In the last two weeks, this simple principle has led several diverse communities of artists, writers, teachers, and community members to gather, discuss, organize, and express their disappointment toward this unfortunate word choice. In recognition of this fact, and in response to the community’s postings, letters, and emails to museum staff (including its executive director), El Museo has chosen the correct path and changed the name of the show to “Speak Up/Speak Out.”

Unfortunately, El Museo has also chosen to continue concealing its poor artistic custodianship and community engagement behind the false fig leaves of free artistic expression and an ex post facto linguistic “context” of reappropriation (i.e. the act of reclaiming the word “spic”) for the original naming of the series.
Among the items unaddressed in El Museo’s three-page statement is that from the spring of 2008 until the summer of 2009, El Museo never claimed this context in its advertising, mailings, show flyers, or show descriptions. In fact, the first noted dispute over the title came from some of the very artists they sought to showcase, who in the summer of 2009 engaged in an email debate about the word choice in question. Then, and only then, did El Museo and its defenders attempt to supply a context of reappropriation to the series title. And only until an article appeared in the New York Times did the institution seem interested in entertaining a change in the name.

This alleged context for the naming of their series perpetuates the false parallel between individual acts of expression and the programming choices of a community-founded, publicly-funded institution.

To be perfectly clear, we believe that no artist should be censored or ostracized for their word choices, even those deemed offensive. We have never called for this series’ cancellation, nor have we pressured individual artists to back out of the series. We reject any such calls. Instead, we encourage all artists contracted to perform in this newly-renamed series to use their considerable artistic talents to voice their agreement or their displeasure with the Museo’s word choice as part of their performances.

We agree that the use of the word “spic” has a history in Latino literature. However, contrary to El Museo’s statement, the history is not an altogether positive one. Not every creative use of a slur implies a reclaiming or reappropriation of that slur.

We take particular issue with the interpretation of Pedro Pietri’s poem “Puerto Rican Obituary.” Neither of the two instances of the word’s use within the poem can be construed as reappropriation. Ironically, the one true instance of reappropriation in the poem is found in the Spanish word “negrito,” a word used by some Caribbean Latinos as an expression of love and a backhanded slap at the racist traditions our cultures have historically engendered. Notice, however, that Mr. Pietri’s line reads, “Aquí to be called negrito means to be called LOVE.” It does not read, “Aquí to be called spic means to be called LOVE.”

Regardless of the poetic interpretations offered or refuted, we reject out of hand the notion that individual uses of an epithet by themselves constitute an excuse for an institution to use an epithet as a program name. Our intent here is to remind El Museo Del Barrio of the difference between artistic expression and curatorial responsibility, a responsibility that has clearly been abdicated by means of El Museo’s latest statement. We read it as neither a true acknowledgment of the community’s outrage, nor as an apology. The fact is, nowhere in its missive does El Museo accept responsibility or explicitly apologize for offending people to whom they refer as “those for whom this term is offensive.” They have instead attempted to define a serious curatorial miscue, the use of an epithet by an arts institution, as an act of free speech and artistic license. To say El Museo misses the point is a gross understatement.

To date, we have yet to receive full disclosure as to how this series name was conceived in the first place. We still do not know which curator, intern, administrator, or committee was responsible to putting the title to paper. No staff member, senior manager, or board member of El Museo was willing to put his or her name on the statement. El Museo’s executive director, Julian Zugazagoitia, has not responded to a single email sent to him.

We continue to be hopeful for a fruitful community dialogue with El Museo and its management, given the activist history and community roots of the institution itself. To that end, we would suggest a community roundtable, one attended by the public and the Museo’s Board of Trustees and management, to give a public, face-to-face airing of all points of view on this particular matter.

We also renew our call for Mr. Zugazagoitia, in his capacity as executive director, to engage this community positively and take steps to ensure that this incident and incidents like it do not recur. And we call upon Mr. Zugazagoitia, the Board, and the public and private funders of El Museo to examine their own statement of purpose and ask themselves if the original choice of the word “spic” in its public programming truly
serves “to enhance the sense of identity, self-esteem and self-knowledge of the Caribbean and Latin American peoples by educating them in their artistic heritage and bringing art and artists into their communities.”

Signed,
Richard Villar
Sam Vargas Jr., The Acentos Foundation
Carmen Pietri-Diaz
Sam Diaz
Jesus “Papoleto” Melendez, El Puerto Rican Embassy
Fernando Salicrup, Taller Boricua

Previous articles for context:

“Poetry Series Spurs Debate on the Use of an Old Slur Against Latinos,” by David Gonzalez. New York Times, November 20, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/21/nyregion/21poets.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

“Leaping The Barricades,” by Rich Villar. “El Literati Boricua” (weblog), November 25, 2009. http://literatiboricua.blogspot.com/2009/11/leaping-barricades-reaction-and-call¬to.html

“El Museo Changes Word That Got in the Way of the Meaning,” by David Gonzalez. New York Times, December 4, 2009. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/at-el-museo-a-word-got-in-the-way¬of-the-meaning/

“Museo Del Barrio Changes Spic Up/Speak Out Poetry Series,” Village Voice New York News Blog. December 5, 2009. http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/12/museo_del_barri.php

SPECIAL SCREENING AT MEDIANOCHE

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

SPANGLISH GIRLS directed by Rob Santana
A wife discovers that she is pregnant by the husband she threw out for cheating, and decides to keep it a secret. To support her, her childhood girlfriend moves in, who has a secret of her own. Spanglish Girls is a story of love, betrayal and friendship.

Wednesday, August  9, 7PM

Director and cast will be present.  Q&A to follow screening.  Reception.
See movie trailer:  http://www.spanglishgirls-movie.com/

MediaNoche
161 East 106th Street, First Floor
(between Lexington and Third Avenues)
NYC

For more information:  212.828.0401

MediaNoche is located in Spanish Harlem, just blocks from Museum Mile.  By subway:  Take the IRT #6 train to 103rd Street, walk up three blocks, and make a right.

Spanglish Girls Trailer

ARTIST TALK AT MEDIANOCHE – Thurs, Jan 4, 6:30PM

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

“Turnstyle”
A transnational, interactive installation by Zulma Aguiar

Through February 2, 2007

Artist Talk: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 6:30PM

Recreating the experience of crossing the U.S. – Mexico border is by its very nature controversial and new media artist Zulma Aguiar plunges waist deep into the fray with her interactive video installation Turnstyle.

As any tourist, day laborer, businessman, or immigrant (legal and illegal) will attest, these border crossings divide North from South. Turnstyle cleverly delivers the style of each side through the persona of its border agents who are portrayed by the Mexican American artist herself. According to Aguiar, “One is María and the other is Maria. The Mexican guard’s name has an accent over the “i.” When I play the American border agent, I am portraying my American self. When I play the Mexican one, I am steeped in my Mexican identity. The same white-gloved hand waves people through and keeps them from entering.”

Turnstyle represents the reality of border crossing as a transnational experience, where both sides are patrolled by Mexicans or their descendants. exploding popular myths about any simple white/brown dichotomy. In an urban landscape unfamiliar with border life, Aguiar reconstructs an emblematic turnstile through which visitors pass back and forth, under the encouragement or harsh scrutiny of the border agents.

Zulma Aguiar is a new media artist from Calexico, California. She is a Masters in Fine Arts candidate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she collaborated with Aeronautical Engineer Rafael Antonio Irizarry and time-based media artist Jonathan Lee Marcus to create an interactive installation based on her U.S. – Mexico border experience.

MediaNoche is a project of PRDream and is located in Spanish Harlem, just blocks away from Museum Mile. By subway, take the IRT#6 train to 103rd Street and walk north along Lexington Avenue to 106th Street. Turn right on 106th Street. MediaNoche is on the north side of the street, in the middle of the block. Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 3PM – 7PM.