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Nereida Garcia-Ferraz:

The Luminous Art of Fragmentary Memory By Maribel Alvarez

Latino Independent Presses Killing Abuela Softly by Pablo Miguel Martinez

Transnational Cultural Remittances The NALAC Fund for the Arts: Setting a Path to Success

FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR vision: The National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) envisions a cultural landscape that fully values and integrates the essential contributions of an expanding Latino arts field and its dynamic workforce.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF SERVICE & ADVOCACY In this edition of El Aviso we are pleased to have Maribel Alvarez continue as guest editor. Maribel’s deep knowledge of Latino arts and culture has transformed this publication and I thank her for her guidance, insight and patience.

mission: NALAC is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to the promotion, advancement, development, and cultivation of the Latino arts field.

In spring 2009, we began a year-long celebration of NALAC’s 20th Anniversary of service and advocacy on behalf of the Latino arts and cultural field. This anniversary renews our commitment of continued support to you through:

In this capacity, NALAC stimulates, facilitates intergenerational dialogue among disciplines, languages, and traditional and contemporary expressions.

The Leadership Institute - training and professional development to the next generation of emerging Latino arts leaders which is now in its ninth year.

value: NALAC is led by a dedicated group of individuals who share a core set of values.

Regional Workshops - creates networking opportunities and provides technical assistance in diverse regions of the country.

advocacy - providing a strong voice for arts and culture in all its forms and manifestations for Latinos regardless of ethnicity, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation and physical abilities.

The NALAC Fund for the Arts (NFA) – the only national grant program that provides direct support specifically to Latino artists and organizations. The NFA has awarded over $523,000 in direct grants.

empowerment- improving the severe under capitalization of the artistic communities of color in general, and the Latino arts community in particular.

A new competitive grant program, the Transnational Cultural Remittances (TCR), will support artistic and cultural activities that build and expand cultural knowledge across borders in the U.S., Mexico and Central America.

equality - voicing our repudiation to all forms of discrimination, including but not limited to: racism, sexism, ageism and discrimination against gay, lesbian, transgender, physically challenged and undocumented populations.

Expanded member benefits, research on our field and three national conversations on Latino aesthetics, leadership development and organizational infrastructure are currently in the planning stages. The 20th anniversary celebration will culminate in San Jose, CA with NALAC’s Seventh National Conference in April 2010.

“Celebrating 20 Years” el AVISO Summer 2009 | 3

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Letter from the Executive Director by Maria Lopez De Leon

Latino Independent Presses Killing Abuela Softly by Pablo Miguel Martinez


of service to latin o


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Transnational Cultural Remittances The NALAC Fund for the Arts: Setting a Path to Success

ADVOCACY In May, I had the opportunity to attend two meetings at the White House to discuss arts policy with the administration staff. On May 7, 2009 NALAC organized a historic meeting at the White House to discuss cultural equity and the effects of undercapitalization on the arts sector of color. Twelve representatives from Latino, African American, Native American, and Appalachian organizations met with Kareem Dale, Stephanie Valencia, Jodi Gillette and Yosi Sargent to begin a national discussion about how to address the challenges facing our field. The organizations came together in a framework of unity and delivered a message of shared interests and needs. Those who attended the meeting were Carlton Turner, Alternate Roots; Linda Fraher, Amerinda; Bill Aguado, Bronx Council on the Arts; Marta Moreno Vega, Caribbean Cultural Center; Lori Pourier, First People’s Fund; Michael Unthank, Harlem Arts Alliance; Maria De Leon, Abel Lopez, Christine Ortega and Rosalba Rolon, NALAC; Roger Green, Ralph Bunche Center at Medgar Evers College; and Dudley Cocke, Roadside Theater. These organizations represented a coalition of arts and cultural organizations from diverse segments of the U.S. population that are typically disenfranchised from arts and cultural policy discussions. Although our organizations serve distinct communities we agree on the solutions and mechanisms needed

We recognize that our creative work is a driving force not only in the development and vitality of the communities we serve but for the entire nation.


to strengthen and build the capacity for the arts and cultural groups of color. We recognize that our creative work is a driving force not only in the development and vitality of the communities we serve but for the entire nation. This meeting was a first but not the last; the White House staff is interested in continued meetings to advance the dialogue on cultural equity. On May 12, I attended a White House briefing organized by Caron Atlas and Claudine Brown to discuss arts and social justice. I was part of a group of 60 artists, administrators and activists who were briefed by the staff from the Office of Public Engagement, the Office of the First Lady and the NEA about this administration’s commitment to arts and culture. In an effort to democratize funding policy, part of our advocacy will continue to directly engage and inform the Obama administration, our elected officials at the national, state and local levels about the important principles and priorities of cultural equity, develop systems of equitable distribution of resources, and implement initiatives to infuse economic resources in marginalized arts and cultural areas. As we engage in conversations with government and the private sector, we want to hear from you to identify key issues that impact the Latino arts and cultural field. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for NALAC’s Seventh National Conference in April 2010 in San Jose, California! Become a member today and help us continue our services to the diverse and dynamic Latino arts sector.

Maria Lopez De Leon NALAC Executive Director

Rigoberto Gonzalez: Activism and Ink by Charles Rice-Gonzalez


Art of Fragmentary Memory By Maribel Alvarez


16 Manuel Diosdado Castillo Remembered ON THE COVER: Nereida García Ferraz “Cordillera” oil on canvas, 2005



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14 Nereida Garcia-Ferraz: The Luminous





Killing Abuela (Softly) by Pablo Miguel Martinez

Toni Morrison, the eminent writer whose work has earned her numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize, once said, “I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” In other words, the literary works that interested her—that is, works grounded in the history and culture of African Americans—were not available. But therein lies a notable assumption: because they were not available does not necessarily mean they were not being written. It does, however, make clear they were not being published.

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I f we go back further in U.S. literary history, we find that slave narratives, “in general, highly formulaic accounts of the journey from slavery to freedom,” according to scholar Valerie Smith, were published with some regularity. But they are, as some observers have rightly noted, black messages delivered in white envelopes. These narratives almost invariably included “attestations” by white individuals who vouched that the African American author was indeed capable of writing the narrative herself/himself. It would have been impossible for the former slave to publish her/his work without such a document appended to the text. (Undoubtedly, it also signaled to white readers, who comprised the audience for these texts, that because the work had been vetted by one of her/his own, it was worth the read.) The most famous case of this attestation requirement involved the root of all African American literature, poet

Phillis Wheatley, who in 1772 was grilled by 18 of Boston’s leaders, among them John Hancock. Wheatley’s volume of poems was published in London the following year.  Clearly, the process of getting a book into print has always been an arduous task for any poet or writer, but it is exponentially so for poets and writers of color. One reason for this is the fact that until recently, mainstream publishers felt that the vast majority of their readers—i.e., educated whites—were not interested in marginalized voices. Or, as Toni Morrison points out: whether consciously or not, “the readers of virtually all of American fiction have been positioned as white.” And while this key fact is central to any racialized textual analysis, it also shapes how and which manuscripts are published by mainstream presses. I argue that most Latina/o poets and writers—certainly the vast majority of those of previous decades— have had an even more daunting challenge when they set out to publish their work, owing to linguistic ‘otherness,’ which few of their African American counterparts have had to explain to potential publishers.

PABLO MIGUEL MARTINEZ’S work has appeared in numerous

literary journals, anthologies, and newspapers, including Americas Review, Best Gay Poetry: 2008, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, BorderSenses, Comstock Review, El Paso Times, Gay & Lesbian Review, Harpur Palate, Poetic Voices Without Borders 2, San Antonio ExpressNews, and San Antonio Current. In 2007 he received the Oscar Wilde Prize, and in 2005 he was a recipient of the prestigious Chicano/Latino Literary Prize. His work has also received support from the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation. He is Assistant Professor of English at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

At the height of her career, Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 – 2000), a preeminent poet of her—or any—generation, committed what some regarded as professional suicide: Brooks left the formidable mainstream publisher Harper & Row, which had published some of the very books that established her as a literary giant, to begin publishing with Broadside Press, a then-new, small, African American-owned and run publisher. The year was 1969, a time

required a reciprocal tenacity on the part of bookstores, and, most important, on the part of readers. It was the literary precursor of the more consumerist-oriented FUBU (For Us, By Us) label. In fact, were it not for identitydriven publishing by black presses, Latino presses, women’s presses, and gay presses, much, if not most of the work they publish might have never made it into print. Keith Kahla, an editor at the Stonewall Inn imprint

version by Anchor Books, an imprint of publishing powerhouse Doubleday, not long after his calling the U.S. publishing industry to account. It was one of the first collections by a Chicano poet to be published by a major, mainstream press.

“Because you still continue to overlook the history and reality of us, we have decided to create our own publishing venture”

But Brooks was not only undaunted, she was jubilant and encouraging: “I’ve been telling everyone who’s black, ‘You ought to have a black publisher,’ […] because my first duty is to the estimable, developing black publishing companies” (Sullivan 557). This, of course,

of St. Martin’s Press, was recently quoted in The Advocate, a gay magazine: the best way to ensure the survival of gay literature, he noted, “is for gay people to publish their own damn books.” Gwendolyn Brooks’ push for self-reliance had a counterpart in the work of Chicano poetactivist Ricardo Sánchez (1941 – 1995), who, with fellow poet-activist Abelardo Delgado, wrote a scathing response to a cover article on minority-run presses in Publishers Weekly: “All of you have been lamenting the polarizing of the races during the past decade. If your laments are valid, then you must repair or make up for the damage that your neglect of us has caused us. Because you still continue to overlook the history and reality of us, we have decided to create our own publishing venture” (qtd. in López 15). And create they did. In El Paso, Sánchez founded Mictla Publications, which published Sánchez’s own Canto y grito mi liberación (1971). Interestingly, Sánchez’s Canto y grito was reissued in an expurgated

 oday there are few—too few, lamentably— T mainstream publishers that are especially friendly to Latina/o poets and writers, among them Cinco Puntos Press, Curbstone Press, and Wings Press, in addition to university presses such as University of Arizona Press, University of New Mexico Press, and Bilingual Review Press. (Arte Público Press, and its imprint, Piñata Books, which publishes books for children and young adults, is based at the University of Houston. It bills itself as “the largest and most established publisher of Hispanic books in the United States.”) The number of Latina/o-owned presses is even more limited. However, their feistiness makes up for the dearth. (continued on page 6)

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of enormous political foment. Brooks surely was aware that Broadside, run almost singlehandedly by poet Dudley Randall, could not afford her the visibility or economic success that Harper & Row could make possible. And yet, Brooks’ abiding commitment to the kind of cultural nationalism that defined much African American artistic/literary production of the time trumped the relatively comfortable security of a Harper & Row contract. (A writer-friend admitted to dreading to consider how many current-generation Latina/o poets and writers would have the courage to follow in Brooks’ decisive footsteps. I reminded my friend that it was an unfair hypothesis, since the number of Latina/o-owned or -run presses is infinitesimally small.)


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Established in 1997 in San Diego, Calaca Press, described by its publisher Brent Beltran as “a marginalized, micro-press,” publishes work that is dear to Beltran’s heart—and politics. As if echoing Toni Morrison, Beltran writes in an email message: “We publish for ourselves.” He explains that authors publish with Calaca “because they know we are a Chicano press and are proud of that. Most youngergeneration poets we know would jump at the chance to be published by a Chicano press. But then again, most people we know and/ or work with identify with Chicanismo and our politics.” This identity-based philosophy, in part, defines Calaca Press’ readership: “If [the reader] has no understanding of the Chican@ experience and tries to read one of our titles, it is safe to say the reader will get lost,” Beltran notes. Marcela Landres, a New York-based editor, contends that it’s the writer, not the publisher, that is ultimately the reason for a reader buying any book. In an email message, Landres writes: “Readers generally don’t care and often don’t even know who the publisher is of a given

Killing Abuela (Softly) by Pablo Miguel Martinez

And what about the poet’s/writer’s perspective? Francisco Aragón is a poet and an editor (he edited the anthology The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry [Univ. of Arizona Press, 2007]); translator; curator of “Palabra Pura,” a reading series in Chicago; and director of Letras Latinas at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, which sponsors the prestigious Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. He is also the editor of the newly established poetry series, Canto Cosas, at Bilingual Review Press, as well as the publisher of Momotombo Press. Aragón reminds us of the gargantuan challenge that is publishing any book. “I remember being at UC-Davis over ten years ago,” he says. “I remember thinking that I wanted to go to a mainstream press—I never considered a smaller [culturally-grounded] press as an option. It’s so hard to get a first book published—anywhere—that I just wanted to get my book into print.” But, as Landres is quick to note, “Latino imprints or publishers offer greater expertise in marketing books to Latinos. Plus, their lists are usually smaller, so each book is likely to get more time, energy, and effort invested in it than if it were at a mainstream publisher.” Calaca Press’ Beltran says that “Calaca offers community. Familia. An understanding of [the author’s] work and where they [authors] are coming from. Most of the people we work with have published in multiple Calaca titles. We’ve built relationships with our authors.” Beltran is also adamant when it comes to the politics of orthography: “Another thing we offer is: no [expletive] italics! [Calaca is] a publisher that appreciates the use of codeswitching without ‘othering’ or translating the Spanish.” Some presses require that all Spanish-language text be italicized.

“Another thing we offer is: no [expletive] italics! [Calaca is] a publisher that appreciates the use of codeswitching without ‘othering’ or translating the Spanish.” el AVISO Summer 2009 |

book. People buy books based primarily on the author’s name, not the publisher’s. Bookbuyers purchase The House on Mango Street because it was written by Sandra Cisneros, not because it was published by Arte Público or McGraw-Hill.” To underscore her point, Landres draws an analogy to movie-going: “People will see ‘Seven Pounds’ because it stars Will Smith, not because it is distributed by Sony.”


Aragón maintains optimistically that “Latino poets are where African American poets were fifteen years ago.” Fifteen years is, relatively, a brief span. However, many remain skeptical

that Latina/o authors will occupy a prominent spot, the likes of which their African American counterparts have struggled so hard to reach. (Perhaps it says more about our internalized oppression than it does about current—and future—realities.) But while we have, in the previous decade, seen an African American woman hold the post of U.S. Poet Laureate and another African American woman receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, several authors, academics, and activists with whom I spoke agree that the very thing that helps shape and wonderfully complicates Latina/ o identities, language—the very foundation of all literature—is the thing that too many mainstream publishers and readers cite as the reason so few Latina/o authors have successfully made the full-fledged crossover to “American literature.” Junot Díaz’s being awarded the Pulitzer Prize last year for his debut novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, follows the path created by Oscar Hijuelos, who, in 1990, became the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. To be sure, there are authors in our communities who have bucked conventional wisdom regarding publishing success; one need only think of Julia Alvarez, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Martín Espada, Cristina García, and Dagoberto Gilb, among others. These widely celebrated authors inspire optimism and hope—if mainstream success is the goal.

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A Wrong Turning in Latino Poetry?*

This essay, an attempt to assess the current state of Latino-owned presses, took a detour when I attended a panel presentation at this year’s conference of The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP). Attendance at this year’s gathering is estimated at 9,500 individuals. The panel, titled “Breach: Emerging U.S. Latino and Latina Poetry,” was advertised as a presentation of “a new and progressive body of poetry that attempts to redefine contemporary Latino and Latina literary traditions.” Five current-generation poets read their work. Anyone expecting a lively display of code-switching or socially-engaged writing would have been deeply disappointed. The poetry read that afternoon (one of the Conference’s final sessions) was stunningly crafted; the language often exquisitely musical. But with rare exceptions, the poems could have been written by Jane L. or John L. (for Lyric) Poet of Anypueblo, U.S.A. Most of the work can be labeled “experimental,” though that has too scientific, too anesthetic a ring to it. One poet noted that an “abuelita poem” that he is fond of is anathema to the panel’s moderator, who “hates it.” This reminded me of a young Chicana at another conference a

Killing Abuela (Softly) by Pablo Miguel Martinez

several of these; nowhere did I hear the poets and writers, including the younger generation, address the effects of a post-identity culture. It was nowhere on their radar screens. * This section heading alludes to poet Robert Bly’s famous 1963 essay, “A Wrong Turning in American Poetry,” in which Bly criticizes several generations of U.S. poets for writing work he labeled “astoundingly passionless” and “a controlled experiment,” among other things. Bly advocated a turn to the intense spiritualism of Spanish-language poets such as Federico García Lorca, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Antonio Machado, and César Vallejo.

What does this mean for Latina/o publishers, poets, writers, readers, and critics? Scholar James D.Sullivan notes the significance of Gwendolyn Brooks’ aforementioned move to Broadside Press: “Since Brooks chose to publish Riot with Broadside, readers had to approach the book through a specifically African American context. […] Readers of her earlier Harper & Row books had, famously, not always considered it necessary to allow significance to the racial context of the poems’ composition.” It used to be that Latina/o poets and writers— the socially-engaged ones, at least—never had anything comparable to contend with; their use of Spanish, for example, marked their work so that there was no denying an ethnic/ linguistic r e a l i t y. However, as Spanish and communityfocused work is increasingly eclipsed (in publishing circles) by the “MFA poem” and the “MFA/New Yorker” short story—that is, a homogeneous, mainstream-friendly (okay,

However, I do fret about ‘post-identity’ poets and writers, who would too swiftly, without compunction, erase our abuelas (abuela as synecdoche!) couple years ago; she began her presentation by admonishing her audience: “Please don’t ask me to write an abuela poem.”

Because this year’s AWP Conference was held in Chicago, many panels and featured readings were devoted to African American literature (never mind that Chicago has long been a vibrant Latino city as well). I attended

Olga Garcia reading poetry.

Individuals interested in reading work published by Latino-owned presses are directed to academic libraries, public libraries, archives, and reputable used/rare booksellers. Look for titles published by Lorna Dee Cervantes’ Mango Press, Abelardo Delgado’s Barrio Publications, Ricardo Sánchez’s Mictla Publications, Angela De Hoyos’ M & A Editions, and Luis Rodríguez’s Tía Chucha Press, among others. For a fascinating, more complete history of Latino publishing, I highly recommend Nicolás Kanellos’ landmark title, Hispanic Literature of the United States: A Comprehensive Reference (Greenwood Press, 2003). el AVISO

Works Cited Abbott, Charlotte. “Can This Man Save Git Literature?” The Advocate. 1023 (Feb. 2009): 18. Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988. xxvii. López, Miguel R. Chicano Timespace: The Poetry and Politics of Ricardo Sánchez. College Station: Texas A & M Univ. Press, 2001. <> Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. Sullivan, James D. “Killing John Cabot and Publishing Black: Gwendolyn Brooks’s ‘Riot.’” African American Review. 36.4 (Winter 2002): 557-69.

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When I described this phenomenon to several colleagues, they chided my impulse to restrict, or to be prescriptive about Latino poetry. But that’s unfair and inaccurate. Art (at least the compelling variety) can’t be dictated. However, I do fret about ‘post-identity’ poets and writers, who would too swiftly, without compunction, erase our abuelas (abuela as synecdoche!). Ironically, a black grandmother is proudly in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

let’s call it what it is, literary assimilation)— the work of more MFA-degreed Latina/o poets and writers will be published. And if it’s not immediately identifiable as Latina/o work, shouldn’t that be cause for rejoicing? After all, aren’t these poets and writers important agents of change, significant players in the evolution of Latina/o letters? Or is it a Pyrrhic victory? Will their post-identity, depoliticized work render discussions of Latino-owned presses moot? Only time will tell. In the meantime, you might want to loosen your grip on abuela’s fraying apron strings.


In 2009, NALAC launched the

Transnational Cultural Remittances (TCR) grant program to support projects that strengthen two-way cultural transmission and develop artistic and economic exchanges among populations linked by migration in the United States, Mexico and Central America. The TCR program will provide an important mechanism to strengthen the efforts of artists and arts organizations working in collaboration with immigrant and social justice groups to engage in transnational artistic interactions and maintain social and cultural ties with home communities. The TCR will also provide opportunities for intergenerational skill set transfer and the use of new technologies to combine traditional art forms with contemporary expressions

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The TCR program was developed as an extension of the Ford Foundation’s Transnational Economic Justice Initiative (TEJI) and builds on NALAC’s longstanding leadership role in supporting issues of social justice, cultural transmission and economic empowerment as an integral part of artistic and cultural expression. In 2007, NALAC participated in the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta and the 1st Latin American Community Migrant Summit in Morelia, Mexico. NALAC also met with a representative of the Transnational Institute for Grassroots Research & Action (TIGRA) to recommend artists

and artistic strategies for their public awareness campaign regarding the impact of monetary remittances sent by Latino workers in the US to their home communities in Mexico and Central America. Additionally, NALAC’s ongoing work with establishing transnational cultural networks includes the 2001 Binational Network of Cultural Presenters of Texas and Northeastern Mexico, with a grant from the US-Mexico Fund for Culture. This project convened meetings in the U.S. and Mexico to discuss standardized presenter requirements, the needs of bi-national presenters, reviewing artist profiles and formalizing an artist exchange program involving Texas and the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas and Coahuila. In developing the Transnational Cultural Remittance initiative proposal, NALAC conducted interviews with artists and arts organizations working in the field and engaged in a review of organic grassroots strategies which economically and culturally empower local Latino communities. Additionally, NALAC recognizes the role of immigrant hometown associations and grassroots collectives and affinity groups in helping identify effective mechanisms for the distribution of funds at the local and trans-local, or virtually networked, level. NALAC’s Transnational Cultural Remittance initiative represents an important investment in the development

of sustainable and locally managed justice-based economies which reconnect economically and culturally marginalized Latino communities with vital creative and human resources which are being lost due to globalization and emigration.

One and two year grants are available for projects that link two or more of the following countries:

Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and United States. Projects demonstrating an ongoing connection between communities in two or more target countries will be eligible for consideration to receive a TCR grant in 2009 and/or 2010; grants of $2,000 to $20,000 will be awarded.


JULY 24, 2009 For more information, please email or visit

The NALAC Fund for the Arts:

Setting a Path to Success


he NFA was established in 2005 and four years after its introduction, it remains the only national funding source solely dedicated to supporting Latino artists/ensembles and small and mid-size Latino arts and cultural organizations. The NFA began as a two year pilot program funded by the Ford Foundation and has successfully awarded more than $523,555, and established itself as an important support mechanism for the creation and presentation of important and innovative artistic works in every discipline and region of the country. In addition to the Ford Foundation, other supporters include JPMorgan Chase, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Heineken USA, the Cultural Collaborative of San Antonio and Southwest Airlines. The program’s infrastructure has also been supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and MetLife Foundation.

For many of the organization

There has been a marked growth in the grantees, the NFA award was demand for NFA funding with requests from 31 states and the District of their first grant and became a Columbia, with the largest numbers benchmark of their capacity, originating from California, New York, resulting in attracting further Texas, Illinois, Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. Twenty two percent of the funding from other sources. applicants were from the visual arts; 16% were from media arts; 15% from theater, 15% from multidisciplinary artists and organizations, followed by dance, literary arts and music. The requests made were for support of projects, general operating support and fellowships. Artists have received 54% or $283,955 of the total NFA awards and organizations received 46% or $239,600. For artists, the highest numbers of awards were in visual arts, media, performance, music, literature, theatre and dance in that order. For organizations the most awards by discipline were in multidisciplinary, theatre, visual music, dance, media and literary in that order.

(Continued on page 10)

2005-2008 NFA RECIPIENTS Art for Change, Art Oak Cliff, Arte Americas, Arte Inc., Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre, Association of Hispanic Arts, Avenue 50 Studio, Borderlands Theater, Brazz Dance Theater, Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance (BAAD!), Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, Cara Mia Theatre Company, Centro Cultural de la Raza, Centro Cultural de Mexico, Chica Luna Productions, Conjunto Heritage Taller, El Centro Su Teatro, El Comite Cultural del Pueblo, En Foco, Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, Fiesta DC, Floricanto Dance Theatre, Full Circle Productions, GALA Hispanic Theatre, Galeria de la Raza, Galeria Studio 24, La Casa de la Raza, La Micro Theater, Loco Bloco Drum & Dance, Los Cenzontles Mexican American Center, Luna Negra Dance Theater, MACLA, MECA, Mexic-Arte Museum, Miracle Theatre Group, Mission Cultural Center, Museo de las Americas, NALIP-SA, National Hispanic Cultural Center, PR Project, Providence Latin American Film Festival, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Raices Latin Music Collection (Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts), Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Serie Project, Society for the Educational Arts, SPARC, Talento Bilingüe de Houston, Taller Puertorriqueno, Tango Nashville, Teatro Circulo, Teatro del Pueblo, Teatro IATI, Teatro Luna, Teatro Vision, Teatro Vivo, Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco, Urban 15, Xicanindio Artes. O R G A N I Z AT I O N S

Sigfrido Aguilar, Ana Maria Alvarez-Lowe, Alex Alvear, Francisco Aragon, Hector Aristisabal, Quique Aviles, Betty Bastidas, Brent Beltran, Jose Arjelio Benavidez, Rolando Briseño, Gerardo Cabrera, Carlos Callejo, Javier Cambre, Marlene Ramirez Cancio, Adrian Castro, Angie Cruz, Linda Cuellar, Ana De Orbegoso, Roberto Delgado, Nicole Elmer, Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Teresa Fernandez, Nancy Friedmann, Felipe Galindo, Jose L. Galvez, Dominique Garay, Michael John Garces, Ana Rokafella Garcia, Magdalena Gomez, Tammy Melody Gomez, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Maria Jose Calderon Grau, Sandra Guardado, Yasmin Hernandez, Cristina Ibarra, Veronica Jaeger, Max Carlos Martinez, Eren McGinnis, Esau Melendez, Lillian Mendez, Mariscela Mendez, Jaime Mendoza, Abinadi Javier Meza, Elena Minor, Elisha Miranda, Monika Navarro, Joaquin Alejandro Newman, Victor Orozco Ochoa, Juan Valle Orozco, Michelle Ortiz, Bonny Elena Osterwalder, Gigi Otalvaro-Hormillosa, Laura Perez, Ruby Nelda Perez, Jaime Permuth, Omar Ramirez, Ariel Robello, Anthony J. Rocco, Sandra Rodriguez-Barron, Nelly Rosario, Xenia Ruiz, Ruben Salazar, Ray Santisteban, Sergio Santos, Sandra Peña Sarmiento, Artur Silva, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Merian Soto, Jose Torres Tama, Minerva Tapia, Luis Valderas, Juana Valdes, Vito Jesus Valdez, Laura Varela, Deborah Vasquez, Perry Vasquez, Avisael Hernandez Velasquez, Elio Villafranca, Vagner Mendonca Whitehead, Guillermina Zabala. ARTISTS

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For many of the organization grantees, the NFA award was their first grant and became a benchmark of their capacity, resulting in attracting further funding from other sources. Over the past four years, we have identified common characteristics to a successful request and the NFA application process includes technical assistance with writing the grant narrative, developing the budget and preparing relevant support materials and is an educational resource to develop el AVISO competitive proposals. Betty Bastides

Elio Villafranca


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The NALAC Fund for the Arts: Setting a Path to Success

The need for a fund that specifically supports the Latino arts field is evident as revealed in a recent NALAC survey of Latino organizations that showed that 38.1% of the respondents reported government funding as their primary source of funding with local government being the highest of that at 63% and federal government the lowest at 6%. Over seventytwo percent of organizations responding to the survey had not received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in the last four years and therefore did not qualify to apply for an NEA economic stimulus grant in 2009. Thirty-five percent of organizations reported foundation support as their highest source of funding and only 5% reported corporate funding as their highest source of support. Thirteen percent reported individual donors as their primary source of support followed by earned income and membership. Today, the NALAC Fund for the Arts is an important funding source for a dynamic community of artistic innovators who are making valuable contributions to the cultural life of the nation. The NFA grant program has been funding projects that effectively address the mission of NALAC and its central purpose to strengthen the Latino arts and cultural field. To learn more about the NFA and how you can help NALAC create an endowment for this important fund, please visit call 210-432-3982.


Media Visual Literature Dance Performance Theatre Music

42.50% 22.50% 12.50% 10.00% 10.00% 2.50% 0.00% 100.00%

Luis Valderas


Visual Media Performance Literature Theatre Music Dance

51.22% 14.63% 14.63% 7.32% 7.32% 4.88% 0.00%

100.00% Minerva Tapia Dance Group

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The NFA funding is significant for Luna Negra because it provides general operating support for the organization. Now in our 10th Anniversary season, the Company has earned a reputation for high quality, contemporary dance, and is an important and valued Latino cultural organization in the City of Chicago. This grant provided vital support for the organization’s core programming – the creation and presentation of contemporary Latino dance. General operating support is not easy to secure yet is most critical, for in addition to allowing us to carry out our core programming, this support helps Luna Negra to build a solid infrastructure and increase organizational capacity so that our mission and activities may continue well into the future. - Luna Negra Dance Theater

Rigoberto, you’re a graduate of NALAC’s leadership institute. Share something about your experience.

Rigoberto González: ACTIVISM AND INK

It’s one of my fondest memories. I knew I had high energy, high commitment, high expectations and big dreams and for a long time I felt that other people didn’t have those, and then I went to NALAC and I met all these people who shared the same feelings. People who cared about their communities wanted to change things. It was fantastic. The Latino cultural activists were there, and it was across the field – theater, spoken word, everything. I left there feeling that there is a future.

an interview by Charles Rice-González

In 2006, I ran into Rigoberto Gonzalez at the AWP Writers Conference in Austin, Texas.

I was excited

to see him because he was a fellow Latino in a vast event with writers from all over the country. Naively, I asked him, “So have you written anything?”

He stared at me blankly and said,

“Google me, girl.” I did. I also googled Rigoberto before sitting down to interview him and it was a very different experience. Rigoberto Gonzalez is one the most accomplished contemporary Latino writers alive today. He has published 8 books including his memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa which won the National Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He has a new book out now, The Mariposa Club, which was released in April 2009 and a new book of poetry, Black Blossoms, set to come out in 2011. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship and is the first Latino to receive the prestigious Frost Place residency. I met Rigoberto Gonzalez in New York City’s East Village at the Yaffa Café on chill. We sat outdoors on a quiet Friday before the dinner crowd would flood the popular eatery. Rigoberto was impeccably dressed in a black shirt, black v-neck sweater, fitted grey blazer, designer slacks and fine leather shoes. He wore his signature sleek, rectangular, black rimmed glasses which emphasize the smile in his eyes.

Well, it certainly doesn’t serve us. It’s a luxury. It’s privilege. And every time I say that people cringe - white people who feel that what I’m saying is that their work is less because it’s not political, which is not what I’m saying. First of all, I wasn’t talking about them. It bugs the hell out of me when I talk about the politics of ethnicity and identity and then they get all upset because they feel excluded. Well, they need to work on that. I’m talking about Latinos; I’m talking about people of color. Then I have the other side, which is more devastating to me, when artists of color join the bandwagon and they say ‘if I don’t write about this issue does that mean I’m not being political?” By just the fact that we are writing, that is a political act. Cause we’re not supposed to be. Hey, I’m supposed to be picking grapes. I was supposed to come here with my family to pick grapes and have children who would pick grapes. That’s not what I’m doing now. I was given an opportunity and I took an opportunity, the last thing I’m going to do is sit on my ass and say “I’m done. I made it. I’m a tenured professor and anything I write will get published. I’m just going to relax? How disrespectful to all those writers and artists who came before me and worked, just like my parents worked, so that some time in the future young artists wouldn’t have to suffer the same things. It’s like those veteran writers are also my parents.

You made choices that brought you to where you are. You chose to go to college. You chose to write, develop your craft, send out work to get published and you chose to work hard. Miracles happen, but there are two hands. There are the hands of whatever divinity you believe in and there are the hands that help you make this art. They have to work together. You can’t just pray for it and it also takes a lot of faith. (Continued on page 12)

el AVISO Summer 2009 |

el AVISO Summer 2008 | 4

an afternoon when spring had just touched the city, releasing it from its winter

You were quoted as saying the United States is the only country where politics in poetry is frowned upon and that you come from a different tradition as a Chicano where there is a necessity for art and politics to co-exist. Who does it serve to separate art and activism?


Rigoberto González: ACTIVISM AND INK

By Charles Rice-González (Continued from page 11)

What do you mean by faith? Believe in yourself. There’s one thing I made clear to myself – I was not going to doubt that I was going to succeed. I saw how doubt manifested itself in others around me. They would just give up. When I decided to pursue writing I knew I had nothing to fall back on. I didn’t have a huge bank account or even parents to go home to support me, so I had no choice but to succeed. I didn’t know what success meant at that point, but I knew that I wasn’t just going to write poetry, I was going to write good poetry.

Given that you’re a writer and also a critic how do you navigate balance being in the both worlds? When I was a Ph.D. student, I was going to do one of the first studies on queer Chicano literature. I discovered there was very little or no criticism. I discovered the same names were popping up and then I thought “how unfair is that when there are so many other writers who don’t get the same kind of attention.” The critics keep going back to the same people, so I wanted to go beyond that. So, when I began publishing and writing, I wanted to give attention to other Latino writers, too. When I’m critiquing, I’m giving people tools and at the same time I’m helping myself because I want to be a part of this community.

So is this one of the ways that your activism manifests itself? Absolutely, I always say activism with ink. That it’s my writing that gives visibility to whole populations of people that you don’t necessarily find in the pages of books. And through my criticism I’m giving attention to books that are ignored on the book shelves and don’t get reviewed through traditional reviewing venues.

Not only are you an activist in terms of what you write about and some of your activities, but you’re also an activist in terms of using yourself to create visibility for Chicano writers, Latino Writers and queer writers, right? Absolutely. And sometimes it can be very subtle, like when I get up on the stage of the National Book Critics Circle to give an award and I say “Buenas tardes” All of a sudden I change the space just by my presence, my skin color, my language I mean I do it all the way.

I was completely elated to see you get up at my first Publishing Triangle to give an award. You were the lone Latino in an ocean of white gay writers. You are actively creating an environment for your work and a place for Latino writers. Absolutely and you know what? And I’ll be honest with you I could make that decision to just do my work. I could do less book reviewing. I could do less judging in contests, less panels. I could do so much less and just focus on my own work. But then I know that I can make a big difference and how far I can go.

What do you mean by that? Let’s say that sometimes in judging an award or being on a panel, there are some people who have gotten the awards because I was there to both introduce that person to the panel or the judging board and to advocate for them. And I’ve experienced that 100% of our advocates are Latino. We have allies, but our true advocates have to be from our own community.

Why do you say that? el AVISO Summer 2009 | 12

If it were not the truth Latinos would have lots more recognition from those committees 20 years back, 30 years back, but our veterans were ignored. I wouldn’t have to do so many book reviews and serve on judging committees, if our allies were really 100% our advocates, but I know that’s not the truth. Now, it’s difficult to ignore us, but we have to go farther and that’s why I don’t stop. I have knowledge and information about my community that industry players don’t have, and they don’t need to have.

So you bring that knowledge and our community into those closed doors? So I’m not going to stop. And that’s very rewarding to me. And it goes beyond Latinos. I have a soft spot for new writers of any ethnicity or sexuality. I’ve seen lots of writers be very selfish and say, “I don’t have time.” You know, I don’t have time and I still do it.

You identify as a queer Chicano. Do you find the two communities difficult to navigate? Absolutely. There’s homophobia in the Chicano community and racism in the queer community. They have to deal with that. We saw the clash clearly with Proposition 8 with queer voices saying it was the Blacks and the Latinos community who made it fail. And it hurt me a lot to hear that because I think there was a grain of truth in it. And it’s hard for me to feel like “Oh I am a bridge” because that’s a huge burden. It’s educating everybody around you.

Do you feel like you will ever burn out? I sometimes say to myself this is the last year I do this, but then there are always people who are going to need answers. There’s always going to be people who need resources.

Do you sleep? People ask me that all the time to me. Yeah, I sleep. Not well sometimes, but it’s about what I do when I’m awake. When I’m awake how am I not wasting my time? I go shopping and go to a movie, but when I sit down to do my work, I’m serious. (Continued from page 13)

Rigoberto González: ACTIVISM AND INK

By Charles Rice-González (Continued from page 12)

Do you feel like you’ve made any sacrifices to do what you’ve done? Oh yes, of course. I give up a lot. There’s a lot of compromise. I went through many years of loneliness because writing doesn’t take place hanging out with your friends all the time. You have to be isolated and I had to resist the temptation of being out. And I live in New York City of all places. One particular month I had 30 days before the next school year and I decided to read 30 books. Those 30 days I stayed home. How many of us can do that? How many of us give up going to see our families, our friends, going out to have a good time to stay home and dedicate ourselves to getting an education? I think I’ve gotten to a point that I’m a workaholic.

There are Latino writers like Marquez, Allende and Cisneros who are commercial and widely read. Do you feel there is a sense of a Latino writing community?

Sometimes. Only when I feel kind of lonely. Which happens a lot. Writing is a very solitary profession and solitary and loneliness are one little heartbeat apart.

Our community is now growing because we have more ways of reaching out to each other. I remember going to AWP as a graduate student, it was hard trying to find a Latino group there. Seriously, it was Alberto Rios, Virgil Suarez and I was the student. Now, there is a big Latino group. And I was part of that movement to get more and more Latinos to come. In terms of writing programs, there are still very few Latinos and then we are all spread out. Look at NYC. The Latino community here is very Puerto Rican and there are some pockets of movements by Puerto Rican writers and artists, and if you go down to the Southwest, well, I’ve been so detached from that for so long, but there’s a conference down in Albuquerque, there’s a couple of spaces that foster open word and poetry slams in Texas and California, but no literary organizations like Acentos or the Puerto Rican Poets Café. There’s Con Tinta, but it’s mainly internet based.

How do you see the difference?

What’s next?

Is that a bad thing?

Solitary means you work by yourself, but loneliness is longing for companionship. I wish there was somebody here to talk to. Now I’m in a relationship so that’s helped.

So how was your first book published? I came to New York City and I had been sending out my manuscript, So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks, and I had worked on it. So I knew my manuscript was good. So one place I sent it to was an open book competition at the University of Illinois.

And you won. Yeah, I won. And I thought what am I going to do with this? Then, I applied for a Guggenheim and 10 months after my first book, I got a Guggenheim Award. On my first try. Now it all became more real because I had some credentials. I looked at the Guggenheim web page and I think I was the 10th Latino in the history of the Guggenheim to get it. I think the first one was Piñiero, in the 1970s. And there have been more now, but they’ve all been men except for Cristina Garcia. But I think it’s important to be aware of who are the Latino Guggenheimers. There are so few, just like the McArthur’s there are so few. I think it’s important because if a Latino had never gotten a Guggenheim, I don’t think I would have had a chance. I’m the first Latino in the Robert Frost residency, and somebody wrote to me and said now I know I can apply because I thought it was a “gente need not apply” kind of place.

You’ve said that there’s no secret to your success. So what do you do?

So they create more opportunities? People come to me because sometimes they want me as a Latino critic, a poet, a queer writer, as a memoirist, a fiction writer, and because I have multiple roles there are different needs for me and more opportunities.

Why not? Show me on the map where Latino comes from. You can’t pinpoint a place on the map. Latino is the census, it’s a number. And I don’t want to be a number, I want to be a force. And I think Chicano people are still afraid of Chicano. “Oh we’re gonna scare white people” or “We’re gonna scare people who are not political.” Well, they should be scared.

What of? Of trying to erase who we are, trying to silence us and trying to abuse us. The Mexican American community and the LGBT community are the ones who are still systematically victimized in this country. How do I know? Proposition 8. How do I know? All the anti-immigration laws. That’s how I know. I am both. These are my two communities, my two families and we are not going to be quiet. And we are not going to take it so you should be scared. I was recently at the Nuyorican Poets Café where Tato Laviera was working with a group of young people who were going to read testimonies about being the children of undocumented crossers. I was sitting next to Miguel Algarin (poet and founder of the café) and he was like, “’Chacho! (gasp) Dios mío” because he was floored by those beautiful young people talking about remembering crossing with their parents. And when I was invited to the stage I said, “I’m honored to be sharing the stage with you. I’m one of you. I used to pick grapes, I used to pick onions. I used to pick asparagus and now I’m a professor and I write books.” I thought it was important for them to know that even if you feel crippled by the trauma of poverty, the trauma of being crossed over, the trauma of feeling like an unwanted person, that you could still overcome that and be someone incredible.

That’s beautiful and you have a lot to give. I know that every day, every day is an accomplishment and a victory. el AVISO

el AVISO Summer 2009 |

First, you have to love what you do. You have to love writing. If you don’t love writing and going back to it and revising it over and over, you’re in the wrong place, buddy. I looove to go back to my work. It’s one of my biggest pleasures. I love moving through different genres which is something that other writers don’t do. To go from a poem, to a story, to an essay, to a book review, I love having this versatility.

One of my dreams and my next big project is a novel about Mexicanos in New York City. It’s going to take a lot of research. I am working on a book of essays and there is one called the “Gay Brown Beret.” The Brown Berets were a Chicano youth group in the ’60s and ‘70s. It brings together me being Chicano and queer. I feel like I need to recover the desire, the movement, the strength of being gay and Chicano. I’m not into the post gay post whatever. I don’t like the word Latino.


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Nereida García Ferraz:

The Luminous Art

of Fragmentary Memory By Maribel Alvarez

The afternoon breeze comes not a

minute too soon. It is a welcome relief from the sweltering heat that on this day more than any other seems determined to slow things down to near stillness. Through the glass doors in her kitchen, Nereida García-Ferraz focuses her attention on the table and chairs, planters, bar-b-que grill, even the garden hose, which sit meditatively in her backyard.

Nereida García Ferraz “Cabildo” oil on canvas, 2005

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“My work has made a turn towards the density of everyday life in a way that I had never felt before,” says the Cuban-American painter, photographer, illustration and media artist whose journey from Havana to Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area and for the last seven years as a resident of Miami has been at the center of a body of work largely concerned with symbols of travel and displacement. “I used to travel to Cuba always in search of pieces of memory missing in myself and in my family’s history, but now I feel that the shore of the island has come closer to me; in my affections, the objects that surround me, everywhere, I feel that I am circulating fragments of memory all the time.” Memory, longing, and a desire to reconstitute an imaginary sense of “home” are common themes among artists who have experienced exile. The late Palestinian scholar Edward Said commented once that exile is “strangely compelling” as a source of creative work but “terrible to experience.” But Said also worried about art borne out of the optics of exile. The problem with this condition of permanent longing, he said, is that it “exaggerates” everything. (continued on page 16)


(continued from page 15) Nereida García Ferraz: The Luminous Art of Fragmentary Memory By Maribel Alvarez “forbidden island,” Nereida took it upon herself to return to Cuba as often as she could. Her first trip back in 1979 in the company of the controversial Brigada Antonio Maceo made up of Cuban-American youngsters returning to the island for the first time was both painful and life-changing. “The revolving doors of the José Martí Airport in Havana,” she wrote in an essay a few years later, added an almost surreal dimension to being a Cuban-American artist. “I lived in the midst of contradictions, but I was also full of other, greater certainties,” she recalls. In Havana she forged deep friendships with Cuban scholars, visual artists, theater directors, actors, and musicians. In the United States, artists and scholars formed the Círculo de la Cultura Cubana to promote exchanges with their Cuban counterparts. “Suddenly, in the ‘80s, something new and important was happening,” recalls Nereida, “a dialogue was emerging and artists were the ones leading the way.” In the years since, multiple episodes of thawing and freeze have marked the relationship Cuba-United States. But one change is permanent: Cuban art has been irrevocably de-territorialized. As the curator and cultural critic Ileana Fuentes has noted, “the bulk of Cuba’s most important contemporary visual artists nowadays work and produce works outside the island’s national territory.” For CubanAmerican artists like Nereida and many others of her generation, the meaning of “homeland” has always been in flux. Out of sheer necessity, many have invented their own credos of alliance: if we cannot live in Cuba, these artists seem to be saying, then at least we can make sure that “Cuba lives in us.” Nereida’s body of work answers the call of this credo with extraordinary deftness. A gifted colorist, her paintings

“Our experience as Latinos in this country forces us to pay attention to accumulated deposits of meaning in unsuspecting spaces of everyday life.” el AVISO Summer 2009 | 16

the geographies of the places where we live. Our experience as Latinos in this country forces us to pay attention to accumulated deposits of meaning in unsuspecting spaces of everyday life.” Geography has been also, however, a specter that has haunted Nereida for a long time. Desiring a deeper connection with her roots than what was available to her through news report about the

and drawings are frequently structured as stories. There are plots to be sure, but many details are left open to the viewer’s interpretation. The appearance of cryptic phrases or colloquial expressions in strategic locations in her paintings can offer clues to the artist’s intentions, but a great deal of what really matters in any of her works is deliberately left unstated. “Artists are like tailors or seamstresses,”

Nereida García Ferraz “Cria” oil on canvas, 2005

Said’s admonition is particularly relevant for Cuban and Cuban-Americans artists in the United States. Spanning at least three generations of different political attitudes from both sides of the divide (attitudes towards Cuba from here and towards the United States from there) many Cuban artists have struggled to find their place in the U.S. Latino cultural project. They also have had the added burden of being caught, frequently unwittingly, on the nuances of political debates within the Cuban exile community as well as in the artistic establishment in the island. Nereida knows all too well the intricacies of these cultural negotiations. Uprooted from her birthplace when she was 15 years old, her parents and siblings settled eventually in Chicago. She turned to the arts to ease her way into adolescence in a new country. She enrolled in the School of the Chicago Art Institute, where she concentrated in Photography and Painting. Along the way, in those formative years, she met the by-now almost mythical figure, Cuban artist Ana Mendieta. The two became close friends and Mendieta’s interests in earthworks, feminism, and identity greatly influenced Nereida’s work. After Mendieta’s tragic death in 1985, Nereida set out to honor her memory by writing and co-producing one of the definitive documentaries on the artist’s life –the award winning “Tierra de Fuego.” But Cuban themes and artists are not the only traceable influences in Nereida’s work; living in Chicago connected her to the everyday aesthetics of Mexican immigrant communities. References to Mexican iconography show up frequently in her work in subtle ways easy to miss if one only applies a straight “ethnic” Cuban lens to her visual language. An avid reader of philosophy and a film buff, Nereida inhabits a psychological work saturated in shades of interculturality. “One of the most interesting things to me about Latino arts in the United States,” she says, “is how our work refracts

she says; “we assemble the pieces: a thread there, needlework here, but in the end the work has to be open for questioning by those who “wear” it, the audiences.” This interest in dialogue has shown up in Nereida’s career in multiple guises. First and foremost, her commitment to teaching has been steady. From offering photography lessons to children at community cultural centers to mentoring up and coming artists as the recipient of the prestigious Diebenkorn Fellowship at the San Francisco Art Institute a few years ago, Nereida is always busy at work in spaces of public intersection beyond the studio. “I believe that our mainstream culture discourages us to think of artists as workers, but that’s a dimension of who we are that should be seen as a public value,” she says. In Miami, a city that for too long she kept at arm’s length but that she has come to embrace and appreciate for its diversity and energy, she has partnered with other artists to curate exhibitions, create installations in public spaces, and foster conversations about critical issues. “The other day while I was drawing,” she says, “I found myself thinking about Haiti; the world is always closer to us than we think.” Despitethechic,fashionglamour, and beach tourism that associates Miami with superficiality, Nereida believes that Latino and other Third World artists are composing a different story for this city. “Veracruz, Belize, San Juan, São Paulo, Caracas, Buenos Aires, Jamaica --these are all integral parts of the Miami story of today,” she says. Nereida is convinced that while Cuba will always be an important part of the story of Miami, “as will be the political content that derives from being so close to the rest of Latin America,” she says, Miami is rapidly changing into a kind of border city all its own. By working “close to the ground on what is actually felt by everyday people as the true experience of this city,” she says, “artists are in the best position to understand this change and to do something with it.” el AVISO

In Memoriam

MANUEL diosdado CASTILLO 1968 - 2009

I Love You Mi Hermano by Jenny Mendez

I sit here and I think about how strange this is: to be writing about someone who should still be here with us today. Manny was a very special friend to me and I feel really blessed to have known him. I met Manny in 2001 at the first NALAC Leadership Institute and was impressed with him as soon as we met. He was such a naturalborn leader and organizer and of course a man with connections. He knew everyone in San Antonio and when classes were done Manny was the one to take us to the places in San Antonio that he thought we really needed to know. He was a great host and he truly loved his gente- the working people of San Antonio. Our class stayed in touch and a handful of us came back for a reunion of sorts for the Advanced Leadership Institute a few years later. Manny and I became pretty close and tried to keep in touch as much as we could. I was fortunate to host Manny a few times in Kansas City through the years. The first time was in 2004 for the NALAC conference in Kansas City. One of my most recent memories of Manny is from August of 2008, when Manny’s band Snowbyrd played in KC. Per Manny’s request I brought my mom to the show; the loud punk and rock-and-roll sounds did not stand in the way of her enjoyment. Before the band played, Manny sat next to my mother and made her feel welcome. Our community is full of energetic, passionate, and amazing leaders. I am glad to have encountered one of the ones who really understood how art and family are always interconnected. I love you mi hermano, rest in peace.

NALAC laments the passing of Manuel Diosdado Castillo Jr.,

a member of the NALAC board of directors, who lost his battle with cancer on January 6 at age 40. A graduate of the first NALAC Leadership Institute in 2001, Manny was a major force in the community cultural arts movement in San Antonio and across the country. He will be missed by many. Through his non-profit organization, San Anto Cultural Arts, Manny created programs which provided youth from San Antonio’s Westside with opportunities for creative expression as muralists, journalists, photographers and filmmakers. Through San Anto’s programs, local youth would gain valuable experience as participants, transitioning into mentors for younger students and then emerging as young adults, able to pursue a college education or a career in the arts. In ten years, San Anto artists painted more than three dozen murals on the Westside dealing with such issues as mental health, domestic violence, tributes to community leaders and local Vietnam War veterans. There is also a special mural where the names of recently deceased community members are painted each year as part of San Anto’s annual Dia de los Muertos Procession. Through his artist-in-residence programs, Manny brought in talented artists from Georgia, California, New York, Philadelphia and Kansas City. Through San Anto’s youth newspaper, El Placazo, Manny created a venue for local children to become engaged in their communities and connected with their culture. It pages feature articles, interviews, youth poetry, inmate art and photo essays on issues impacting the community. In El Placazo could be found stories on diabetes, nutrition, teen pregnancy, environmental pollution health issues and profiles of community figures. Manny was an important member of the NALAC Board and was a tireless advocate at the local and national level on issues impacting the Latino arts field. His understanding of the role of art as an integral part of community life, as a healing force and as a bridge connection generations serves as an inspiration to us all, and we honor his time on the NALAC board.

photography by Joanna

Manuel Diosdado Castillo…Presente! by Valerie Aranda

Manny Castillo will be missed, but never forgotten. In 2001, I had my first encounter with Manny at the first Annual NALAC Leadership Institute in San Antonio, Texas. We were among 17 participants who established and nurtured a friendship and bond of comadres y compadres, a close tie that stays connected to this day. I find comfort in knowing he is present with all who knew him, worked with him, played music with him, polka-ed with him, and advocated with him for self-empowerment, social justice, and the creation of el arte y la cultura in people’s lives. Through his vision and leadership as the founding Executive Director of San Anto Cultural Arts, Manny dedicated himself to establishing community-based arts programs for raza, youth, elders, artists and the incarcerated that reached across borders and connected communities. Because of Manny’s dedication and passion for the arts, public murals created through the SACA mural arts program will continue to inspire communities worldwide, and voices from the community will continue to be heard through El Placazo newspaper. As a musician in the many bands he played in, Manny’s sensibility for art and music shined through in his incredible drumming. As the drummer, Manny kept the beat and was the center of each song...just as he was the center of the community and is in the center of our hearts. Que Viva Manny Castillo!



Volume 8 Number 1 Summer 2009


The National Association of Latino Arts and Culture

1208 Buena Vista, San Antonio, Texas 78207 Telephone: 210.432.3982 - Fax: 210.432.3934 - E-mail:




Maria Lopez De Leon Executive Director

Abel Lopez GALA Hispanic Theatre Washington, D.C. Vice Chairperson

Victor Payan Development Coordinator

Maribel Alvarez, Ph.D. University of Arizona Tucson, AZ

Veronica Perez Picasso Membership Coordinator


Roland Mazuca TCR Grant Manager

Josie S. Talamantez Sacramento, CA Treasurer

Diana Rocha Administrative Assistant

Alice Valdez MECA Houston, TX

Romelia Escamilla Program Consultant

Valerie Aranda Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA

Adriana Maria Garcia el AVISO Publication Design

Ernest Bromley Bromley Communications San Antonio, TX

please visit us online at

Carmen Castellano Castellano Family Foundation San Jose, CA Maria De Leon NALAC-San Antonio, TX Johnny Irizarry University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA Richard Lou University of Memphis Memphis, TN Jennifer Mendez Mattie Rhodes Center Kansas Ciity, Missouri Christine Ortega Southwest Airlines Multi-Cultural & Community Affairs San Antonio, TX Charles Rice-Gonzalez Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance Bronx, NY Rosalba Rolon Pregones Theater Bronx, NY In Memorium

Manuel Castillo San Anto Cultural Arts San Antonio, TX SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR FUNDERS

Ford Foundation Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

The Tobin Foundation

el AVISO Summer 2009 |

Additional funding and support provided by: Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation; Acción Texas; Arizona Commission on the Arts; Chicano Studies, the University of Texas at El Paso; City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department; Community Foundation for Southern Arizona; El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau; El Paso Museum of Art; Entravision Communication Corporation; Univision U26, El Paso; Georgia College and State University; Pima County; Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores Consulado General de Mexico en El Paso, Texas; The Southwest Center, University of Arizona; The Southwest Institute for Research on Women, University of Arizona; The Tucson Museum of Art; The University of Georgia Fanning Institute; University of Georgia Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute; UTEP and individual donors, volunteers and NALAC members.




NALAC 1208 Buena Vista San Antonio, TX 78207 Phone: 210-432-3982 Fax: 210-432-3934 E-mail:




El Aviso, Volume 8 No. 1  

A Publication of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. Learn more at

El Aviso, Volume 8 No. 1  

A Publication of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. Learn more at