This past Monday we began what we hope to be an exciting collaboration with WHEDco and the Bronx Music Heritage Center! We will be working together to engage the community in a series of workshops and group discussions about music in the Bronx! BxArts Factory has selected a trio of amazing artists to work with. The artists will be facilitating the community engagement conversations and also creating individual mural projects inspired by their work with community members. The 3 murals will beautify the Melrose area in The Bronx where the new BMHC home will be! Our 1st project began with artist Ralph Serrano and the students from the WHEDco After School Proram in PS/MS 218. Ralph worked with the students to define what they value the most from the music originated in the Bronx and the music that is present within their communities. We will soon begin the work on this mural which will be located at the Melrose Building Materials Company on 163rd! Our following 2 projects will take place soon after with artists Sharon Lee De La Cruz (UnoSeisTres) and Crystal Clarity! We will keep you posted on all the work and on the unveiling activities!
Today we are featuring the story of how two artists met via our Newsletter! At BxArts Factory we love when we hear stories of collaboration and new relationships formed as a result of the artists meeting through us!
We have heard many awesome stories like this and we thank Ijeoma and Gia for letting us share theirs!
I live a stressful life. As everyone reading this knows - behind every struggling artist, is a stressful day job! I also live a blessed life as I am actually able to make use of the degree I am still paying for! This summer those two adjectives - stressful and blessed - collided in my backyard. I'll back up a bit. As part of the blessed part of my life, in my mid-twenties, I was able to survive on Top Ramen for a year to save up to purchase my home. Since then, I have been ever so slowly renovating my 115+ year home. This summer I finally landed on decorating my back yard. After endless trips to Ikea, and bleeding on said Ikea furniture, as I put it all together myself, I finally got to the point where I needed to address the huge concrete patio. Being a child of the 90’s I of course wanted to do some old school graffiti! Why not tag my backyard?! I reached out to all of the Bronx based graffiti artists I could Google. Unfortunately, they did not reach back. So I was left staring at this concrete patio that was staring back, daring me to make it something beautiful.
A few stressful days later I am checking my email and stumble upon the BxArts Factory newsletter. Of course I scroll through to see what I have missed while bleeding over my Ikea furniture, and there it is! It was the love child of Francis Bacon and Georgia O’Keefe. It was a picture of a mural painted by Giannina Gutierrez! I found my artist, now if I could only convince her to take on my small project. Out goes the slightly frantic email asking her to consider the project. Thankfully, it only took the 748th refreshing of my email for me to see Gia’s reply that she was interested in coming to see the patio. If she thought I was both a bit weird and the size of the patio (roughly 20’ long x 9’ wide) was a bit much, she played it off well. She was interested in flexing her creativity on more than just a vertical canvas. We settled on the price of the commission (pay your artists people, even if it means living on box macaroni and cheese for six weeks!) and the time table to create the piece. I made a sure to have the space prepared ahead of her begin date. Working nights and weekends, armed with industrial strength bug repellent, she made art where there was once only concrete. With dogged determination and unceasing creativity Gia created the beautiful piece that I am now once again blessed to live with every day. You never know what amazing opportunities will arise from the BxArts Factory newsletters!
Ijeoma D. Iheanacho
We are rapidly approaching our one-year anniversary and couldn't have done it without your love and support. We are tremendously grateful. Our connection to you is important to us and our organization. To maintain and strengthen our tie to you, we have asked a group of socially conscious and committed community members to join us in our work. Over the next year, they will help us make key operational and programming decisions to shape the foundations of the BxArts Factory. We are thrilled to be working with this dedicated group of people and are excited to introduce them to you. We cannot wait to unveil our next year of events and programming, including our very first Crowd-funding Campaign. Stay tuned!
It is with great pride that we introduce our Advisory Committee for 2015-2016. We are excited and eager to continue working hard with the help of these wonderful partners!
1. Angy Abreu
2. Trevon Blondet
3. Lee Ann Cadiz
4. Natalie N. Caro
5. Hillie Galarza
6. Damian Griffin
7. Jordan Laks
8. John Maney
9. Nilka Martel
10. Laura Olivera
11. Karen Pedrosa
12. Omesh Persaud
13. Tasha Valentino
BxArts Factory presents BORI-CUBA 2x2 Art Exhibition at
Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center
November 6th to December 6th 2015
107 Suffolk Street, New York
Alejandro Epifanio, Alicia Leal, Annex Burgos, Carlos Mateu, Clara Morera, Diogenes Ballester, Elizam Escobar, Frank Guiller, Ibrahim Miranda, Ivelisse Jimenez, Jesus Rivera, Josue Guarionex Colon-Rosado, Juan Fernando Morales, Juan Si Gonzalez, Juana Valdes, Juanita Lanzo, Lissette Solorzano, Luis Stephenberg, MarcosDimas, Maria Dominguez, Nelson Alvarez, Nestor Otero, Nitza Tufino, Rafael Velez, Raul Villarreal, Renelio Marin
BORI-CUBA 2X2 seeks to provide an overview of how visual artists in two contemporary Caribbean cultures, Cuba and Puerto Rico, address the continuous dialogue between island and diaspora. For different reasons, a sizable sector of both islands’ populations has become diasporic, and the ongoing dialogue between both sectors has come to define their identities. It has been repeatedly said that both islands are “wings of the same bird” or mirror images of each other. To begin with, they share a strong Taino strand in their pre-Columbian history and a common Spanish colonial heritage. Both islands were, in fact, the last remnants of the Spanish empire in the Americas and were administratively treated in much the same way. The two islands’ culture was also shaped by a strong African presence and both have acted as ciphers of geopolitical brinksmanship since colonial days. Around the mid 20th century, this situation was reinforced by the relationship each island developed with the United States during the Cold War, with each one assuming a diametrically opposite relationship to its northern neighbor. Cuban visual culture, both that of the Island and that of the Diaspora, has had an overt political tone according to its pro or anti Cuban Revolution stance, reflected in its pro or anti U.S. position. The visual culture of Puerto Rico, on the other hand, has frequently displayed a covert political undertone, frequently addressing its colonial relationship to the United States. Are contemporary Cuban and Puerto Rican artists aware of this common tradition or are they distancing themselves from those concerns? Given the no less contrasting situation of the latest U.S. attitudes toward both islands (while there is a definite rapprochement with Cuba, there seems to be a great indifference toward helping solve Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis), it is certainly pertinent to study whether those attitudes are being addressed in the current art production of both countries, both by the artists who live on the islands and those who are part of their diasporas.
Bringing Art to Every Household.
Chief Editor/House Blogger
Natalie N. Caro is an editor, writer, and professor. She graduated from Lehman College, Magna Cum Laude, with double major in English Literature and Philosophy. She earned a fellowship and an MFA from City College. In 2013, she was awarded the Bronx Recognizes Its Own Fellowship by the Bronx Council on the Arts for excellence in Poetry. She was nominated for The Pushcart Prize, one of the most honored literary projects in America, in 2015. Currently, she's a doctoral candidate in CIAS- Center for Inter-American Studies, Bielefeld, University, where she will.