Saturday, September 28, 2013

Aqui Estamos

September 28th. 6 - 8 PM

An exhibition of 10 photographs documenting the lives Mexican immigrants in South Philadelphia.  The work is part of her oral history project documenting the arrival and integration of Mexicans into Philadelphia society and culture.

"Carnival of Puebla at Penn’s Landing”

Leticia Roa Nixon (Ahdanah) was born in Mexico City and has lived in Philadelphia since 1985. She has a B.S. in Communications from Universidad Iberoamericana. Since 1992, as a photo journalist for Hispanic newspapers she has been documenting the diversity of Latino immigrants in this city. 
With Laura Deutch and Carlos Pascual Sánchez she produced the video documentary El Sol Sale Para Todos (The Sun Shines for All) partnering with JUNTOS, thanks to a Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant (April 2009). She published Aquí Estamos/Here We Are, a bilingual book of South Philadelphia Mexican immigrants oral stories.

Leticia was co-editor of Mirrors and Windows/Espejos y Ventanas, Oral Stories of Mexicans of Kennett Square.  She is finishing her book Arándanos, Oral Stories of Philadelphia Puerto Rican Blueberry Pickers to be self-published in 2012. And has published two biographical books for children, “Blueberry Lady” and “The Mexican Lindbergh”.

In 2009, with Dalia O’Gorman, she co-founded of Casa Monarca, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserve and promote Mexican art culture and traditions through artistic and educational programs in South Philadelphia. 

Leticia is the publisher of the blog “Las Recientes Noticias”(LRNews). 
Leticia Roa Nixon (Ahdanah)  nació en el Distrito Federal, la capital de México, y ha vivido en Filadelfia desde 1985. Es egresada de la Universidad Iberoamericana en la carrera de Comunicación. Desde 1992, como foto-periodista para periódicos hispanos ha documentado la diversidad de inmigrantes latinos en esta ciudad

Con Laura Deutch y Carlos Pascual Sánchez, produjo el video documental “El Sol Sale Para Todos” en asociación con JUNTOS, gracias a una subvención de Leeway Foundation  (Abril 2009). También publicó este año "Aquí Estamos",un libro de historias orales de mexicanos del Sur de Filadelfia.

Leticia es co-editora de  “Mirrors and Windows/Espejos y Ventanas, Historias Orales de Mexicanos de Kennett Square”. Está terminando su libro “Arándanos, Historias Orales de Pizcadores Puertorriqueños” que auto-publicará en el 2012. Ha publicado dos libros biográficos para niños, “Blueberry Lady” y “The Mexican Lindbergh”.

En 2009, junto con Dalia O’Gorman, co-fundó Casa Monarca, una organización no lucrativa dedicada a preservar y promover el arte, la cultura y tradiciones mexicanas a través de programas artísticos y educativos en el Sur de Filadelfia. 

Leticia tiene su propio blog sobre temas de inmigración titulado “Las Recientes Noticias”.(LRNews). 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lost Lots First Report Draft

“To explore how physical space is necessary to allow for political struggle and without it is no place for struggle. Public space is not only as Lefebvre, would have it, a representation of space - space designed by planners and engineers, and ordered for consumption. Nor is it merely a representational of space - space of every life, save, made and remade through ordinary, often mundane spatial practice.”
Don Mitchell “The Right to the City” 

Area of Investigation
“Be sure to settle the figure of the town so as the streets hereafter may be uniform down to the water from the country bounds... This may be ordered when I come, only let the house built be in a line, or upon a line, as much as may be...”
William Penn circa 1682 [in his use of the grid as the typical organization for Philadelphia parcels] 

Area of Encasement

Ariel and Street View
Different boundaries have been defined by several agencies and many residents would not necessarily place themselves in Fairhill, other names include Hartshranft, West Fairhill, and simply North Philly.

“Is there some spatial structure or set of structures which will maximize equity and efficiency in the urban system or, at least, maximize our ability to control the powerful hidden mecha- nisms which bring about redistribution? This is both a norma- tive and a positive question for it suggests that we can explain current distributional effects by looking at existing spatial structures and also devise spatial structures to achieve a given distributional goal.”
David Harvey , 1973, Social Injustice and the City 

Lost Lots
Lost Lots is based in premise that the physical space of the city, its organization and quality, can be a mechanism of integration--claiming places. The open, public spaces of the city both reinforce and promote existing and new social agreements: where meetings between different people take place, where identities emerge, where a sense of belonging is fostered. But how are these spaces defined? 

Proposed Parcels

American Street [Between York & Dauphin]

- By Ariel Vázquez
Contact him at

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Journey to Refuge First Draft of Report One is Posted

The weight

Keeping a journal written in performative writing, and archiving is the Counter Narrative Society’s (CNS) methodology for examining the effects of what they call the "invisible punishing machine." Their term for what they describe as the subtle, but harmful procession of mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex that they see gripping society today; they qualify this as being "science fictional," implying a sense improbability in the face of a certain reality.

CNS is an artistic-research-activist unit that has traveled from San Francisco, CA, to Boston, MA, and finally to Philadelphia, PA. In this project they are focusing in North Philadelphia's Latino community.

Mass incarceration refers to the high rate of imprisonment that is primarily affecting young people in society, especially poor blacks and Latinos living in marginalized communities. The rate of incarceration it is found as being so high that it is not only affecting the individuals but entire segments of society. And the prison industrial complex is the private businesses that have been built to meet these demands. Their motivation, since it is purely a commercial interest, is perceived as coming at the expense of the inmates in their care, and their needs to satisfy their shareholders interests. CNS, in their whimsical way, collects data to measure the impact of the affected communities of these two forces in North Philadelphia. They have mapped areas, and connected with individuals through social media and activist organizations such as the Human Right Coalition, Decarcerate PA, Historic Fairhill Burial Grounds and Taller Puertorriqueño, (in the entrance of Taller they have set up a desk where they work from on occasion and map out their progress on the wall in chalk). The collection is a difficult task but one that is personal. In the bright orange bundle that they use to carry their research in, made from a California inmate's uniform, it is the metaphysical “weight.”   

People are encouraged to contact them through email at They are even asked to follow them on Facebook or by signing up to their newsletter. On Facebook, they keep an informal journal. As they see it, we are all affected by a system that in its efforts to punish only achieves to dehumanize and further marginalize large swaths of society. Affected by this, they are trying to come to terms with it, and make a change as they journey to find a home. It is one step they say, in a two state process of becoming.

CNS's first draft report for the first part with their video presentation is here.

The Fights

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Photography Without Borders

June 14 - July 20, 2013
*Opening Reception: Friday June 14, 5:30 - 8PM
Closing Reception: Saturday, July 20, 2-5PM

Taller Puertorriqueño is pleased to present photographer/educator Tony Rocco and his students from North Philadelphia, PA, and La Florida, Colombia, to conclude their three-year-long cultural exchange program in photography, education, and youth leadership in a multimedia exhibition in the Lorenzo Homar Gallery. 

This unique exhibition publicly acknowledges the powerful perspective of youths from inner-city America and rural Colombia who face the daily challenges of living in marginalized communities.  Rocco’s photographs bridge these two communities and respond in tandem with the students' work as they utilize photography as a medium to explore and compare their worlds.

*A group of students and chaperones from La Florida, Colombia will attend the opening reception on June 14th. The cross-cultural exhibition then travels to Colombia as the Philadelphia delegation embarks on a 10-day tour this summer of Medellín, Cali, and Bogotá, sponsored by the US Embassy and concludes with another group exhibition in Bogota in August, 2013.

Photography Without Borders is a photography outreach program that builds bridges between youth in marginalized communities around the world. For more info. please go to

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Artist in the cycle of Claiming Places

In the book Diálogos, Placemaking in Latino Communities, the writers discuss one definition of place as referring to “territorialized local communities, collective memories associated with territory, claims of authenticity by local actors, phenomenological associations with locales, and social relationships among people in territorial communities.” In other words, place connotes a community’s shared history and experience 

Taller Puertorriqueño’s (Taller’s) proposed move into new facilities, expanding its services to further its mission as an institution that promotes the understanding of Puerto Rican and Latino cultures, was the genesis for its 2012 - 13 exhibition cycle, Claiming Places: Unity, Ownership, and “Hogar” (Home). In the Puerto Rican barrios around Taller, the availability of affordable housing and workspaces is luring in artists, young professionals, and first-time homebuyers who are not Latino. Also entering the mix are Latinos who are not Puerto Rican. This increase in demand and diversity in the area (while not alleviating the needs of the Puerto Rican community living here) has set the stage for a full investigation of what it means for Puerto Ricans and the Latino community in general to claim a place as their own. This concern falls within the context of the Puerto Rican neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, Mexican immigration, changing attitudes of the local youth, and acknowledgment of varying aspirations and viewpoints within the Latino community. This conglomeration, paired with the need and demand for better public services, employment opportunities and understanding, set this cycle in motion.

In constructing this cycle, we started with the premise that the affirmation of one’s Latino ethnic heritage is a political statement and a form of placemaking. Consider for a moment the controversy surrounding Latino studies programs[1] in some quarters of the country, the underfunding of bilingual education[2], and the inability of politicians to find common ground on immigration reform (despite a growing national consensus that this must be addressed[3]), and you may begin to understand that Latinos who may not be political may, nonetheless, feel politicized by their very presence or absence. In this light, any action taken by Latinos in America to assert themselves and their heritage can be construed as placemaking, and artists, whose work may seem far removed from these discussions, are nevertheless drawn in.

Pressures on the Latino community are also displayed as public funding for social services for the neediest is being cut and replaced by neo-liberal models that call for privatization and the marketing of culture[4]. This act of essentially selling cultural experiences whitewashes any cultural distinctions by applying Universalist calls for Latindad without acknowledging national distinctions.[5] To respond to these current issues, we felt it necessary to cast a wide net for this cycle to show the Latino community’s different viewpoints, reflecting that which we have now: the immigrant, the contemporary, the next generation, and the transnational. This produced an unconventional exhibition cycle that was challenging to some artists who were asked to move away from their comfort zones and consider what they feel is their community and how they fit in spatially and socially.

The eight selected exhibitions for Claiming Places: Unity, Ownership, and “Hogar” (Home) come from a variety of communities and disciplines. These exhibitions highlight the distinct ways Latino artists are seeing their worlds and claiming places within their communities. Within this cycle, we exhibit works from artists and groups who were invited to reflect on the concept of claiming places. The exhibitions include:

• César Viveros Herrera, No Me Conformo [I don’t Conform nor Accept], 9/28 - 11/10/2012, born in Mexico, muralist and traditional Aztec and Mayan Performer; (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

• Ahdanah (Leticia Roa Nixon), Ahdanah (Leticia Roa Nixon), 9/28 - 12/1/2012,, born in Mexico, photo journalist and author; (El Vestíbulo Exhibition Space)

• Merián Soto, Triangulations: Revisiting OYWPP, 12/7 - 1/19/2013,, from Puerto Rico, a choreographer and dancer; (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

• Youth Artist Program (YAP), Dreams & Realities, 1/25 - 3/23/2013, Philadelphia student artists from Taller’s ; (El Vestíbulo Exhibition Space)

• Esperanza Cortés, Entre Sombras - Sites of Memory, 2/8 - 3/30/2013,, born in Colombia, installation artist and painter; (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

• Ariel Vazquez, born in Dominican Republic, an urban planner, and the Counter Narrative Society’s (CNS), from Chile and San Francisco, CP LAB, 3/30 - 7/19/2013, an artistic-research-activist unit; (El Vestíbulo Exhibition Space)

• Dino Vazquez, Futuro Metálico, 4/19 - 5/25/2013, born in Puerto Rico, artist and vernacular architect; (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

• Tony Rocco and the children from North Philadelphia and La Florida, Colombia, Photography Without Borders, 6/14 - 7/20/2013, photography exhibition. (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

In the next few weeks in four parts we will be reviewing the exhibitions so far while putting the cycle into context. Please join us in this conversation of claiming places and understanding unity, ownership and hogar.

[1] “Rift in Arizona as Latino Class Is Found Illegal” - NYT 1/7/2011

[2] “Suburban Chicago Schools Lag as Bilingual Needs Grow” - NYT 2/9/2012

[3] “POLL AFTER POLL: AMERICAN PUBLIC WANTS IMMIGRATION REFORM WITH CITIZENSHIP,” Americas Voice Online, 1/23/13, An aggregate of polling data :

[4] Arlene Davila, Barrio Dreams, 2004
[5] Arlene Davila, Barrio Dreams, 2004 & Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies of the Historical Society of Philadelphia, Latino Philadelphia:Our Journeys, Our Communities, 2004

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Place & Hogar: Ramifications in the Face of Demographic Flux The second and final panel discussion

Place & Hogar: Ramifications in the Face of Demographic Flux
The second and final panel discussion
3 PM, Saturday, May 4, 2013 at Taller Puertorriqueño

Place and Hogar: Ramifications in the Face of Demographic Flux is the second of two panel discussions organized as part of Taller Puertorriqueño's Claiming Places: Unity, Ownership, and “Hogar” (Home) exhibition cycle. Through art, dance, and architecture and staged in a variety of Taller’s spaces (its gallery walls and a neighborhood parking lot - the physical site of Taller’s new facility), this year’s theme seeks to engage the community in a dialogue which explores, reveals and questions “ownership” and the consequences of making a space your own.

The discussion will center on the changing landscape of North Philadelphia, both demographically and architecturally, and how the local Latino community can adapt.

Join panelist: Professor Lorrin Thomas, author of "Puerto Rican Citizen;" Antonio Fiol Silva, the principal architect for Taller's new building; artists Esperanza Cortés, Dino Vazquez; and Taller ‘s Visual Arts Program Manager, Rafael Damast. Moderator for the discussion is Johnny Irizarry, Director of La Casa Latina at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Photos from the Jan 26 Panel Discussion: What Unites and Defines a Community on Jan 26

What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion

What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion
What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion

What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion

More photos here

Photos of the panel discussion on Jan 26, with the artists César Viveros Herrera and Esperanza Cortés, Caitlin Peck (teacher and artist) and Carmen Febo San Miguel, the director of Taller Puertorriqueño.   The panel's moderator was J.C. Calderon.

The discussion focussed on the definitions of community and the forces that unite them.  Viveros gave an over view of his murals and his immigration experiences.  Peck discussed her work and her YAP students exhibition, Dreams & Realities, which spoke of their personal history, aspirations and outlooks of their community.  San Miguel discussed, briefly, the history and mission of Taller Puertorriqueño.  And finally, Cortés gave a presentation of her work and her connection to Latino community.  The public actively engaged in the discussion.   The panel discussion was held at the Lorenzo Homar Gallery.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


An invitation to CNS whereabouts.

AREA: North Kensington as well as from other areas of Philadelphia

CALENDAR:  April 2013

Developing Awareness Campaign to Abolish Solitary Confinement in PA | Humans Rights Coalition - Philly | 4134 Lancaster Avenue Philadelphia, PA  19104 | Next Working Meeting: 4/17 6-8pm |

With Claiming Places Laboratory (CP-LAB)
EVENT: Reception Friday 4/19 5:30-8pm |
Headquartered at Taller Puertorriqueño 2721 North 5th Street Philadelphia, PA 19133

March to Harrisburg and Working Group Families & Formerly Incarcerated People - DecarceratePA | Next General Meeting: 4/22 6-8pm |

With Claiming Places Laboratory (CP-LAB)
EVENT: 1st Report/Presentation 4/27 (time TBA) |
Headquartered at Taller Puertorriqueño 2721 North 5th Street Philadelphia, PA 19133

TO FOLLOW: Informal Journal

Friday, March 29, 2013


COUNTER NARRATIVE SOCIETY (CNS) a.k.a Mabel Negrete and Abel Alfaro, are a Chilean born duo of artist-researchers and activists from San Francisco, California who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a master of science in art, culture and technology. CNS was founded in 2007 in the city of San Francisco C. CNS initiates and researches counter narratives about bio-power, urbanism, culture and technology. Their recent projects, under the guise of the Invisible Punishing Machine have focused around the idea of mass punishment. In their performances, multimedia installations, tactical objects and multifaceted projects, CNS uses a practice that they call Paradoxical Remedies to “playfully counteracts undesirable and traumatic conditions by creating sometimes difficult emotional, anomalous situations.” Currently they live in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and are working on a series of projects with local anti-prison grass-root organizations to deal with the effects of mass incarceration and understand the historical institutions of social control that gave birth to modern ideas about freedom, justice, and penitence. Website:

CNS' calendar is here.

Download the press release here.

Ariel Vázquez

ARIEL VÁZQUEZ is a Dominican-born architectural researcher and urban planner from Philadelphia and founder of TRANSforma Studio.  He received his bachelor of architecture from Drexel University and a post-graduate degree from the Netherlands’ Berlage Institute’s  Advanced Architecture and Urbanism program. Vázquez has collaborated in many national and international projects, from work on marginalized communities in Argentina and Brazil, to projects in Haiti and Japan that examine natural disaster relief programs. His most recent project, Architecture [Natural?] Disaster, was in collaboration with Stuyvesant High School’s StuyResearch program for the City of Sendai, Japan, to develop a paradigmatic dialogue using architectural research as a tool to understand how architecture/urban planning can respond to natural disasters.

Download the press release here.

CP Lab opens for business March 30!

(March 30 - July 19, 2013)
Reception: Friday, April 19, 2013 , 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Taller Puertorriqueño (Taller) is pleased to invite architectural researcher and urban planner Ariel Vázquez, and the COUNTER NARRATIVE SOCIETY (CNS), an artistic-research-activist unit, to create a social practice project for the Claiming Places exhibition cycle. Entitled CP Lab (Claiming Places Laboratory), this work is a creative and urban research project and investigation of the areas surrounding Taller. The team will present their work and engage with the public in the CP Lab, headquartered in the Vestíbulo exhibition space located at the entrance of Taller’s 2721 building. The researchers will work within specified areas of North Kensington as well as draw from other areas of Philadelphia as needed. Working independently, their studies will organically overlap, instigating dialogue between CNS creative research and Vazquez’s urban planning investigation.

Organizing small scale social events to reach to an understanding about the ways neighborhoods have been affected by the invisible punishing machine, (CNS’ “science-fictional” way of defining the prison industrial complex and the insidious effect of mass incarceration on society) and documenting their anti-prison activism in analytical performative writing, photographs and other media; CNS is developing a two-part research project (Journey to Refuge) that explores “claiming one’s state of being and becoming." Within the project they expect to touch on topics such as mechanisms of communications, patterns of societal organization, ideas of identities, trust and psychological architecture and environments.

In his project, Lost Lots, Vázquez is researching ways that the “physical space of the city, its organization and quality… [are] mechanisms of integration.” He considers the open, public spaces- starting with the stoop, sidewalks and streets of the city- as places that both "reinforce and promote existing and new social agreements; where meetings between different people take place, where identities emerge, and where a sense of belonging is fostered.” Traditionally appreciated in terms of their functionality, physical comforts and aesthetic value, he sees buildings as an “urban fabric” that form “places of perception. Using topographical maps he created and conducting field surveys, interviews and workshops, Vázquez hopes to answer questions about the act of claiming place in the Latino community; How should we claim an area? What is our sense of belonging? He plans to distill the information gathered from his research into drawings and graphs which the public and he can use to determine the best forms of constructive interventions.

For the duration of the project, CNS and Vázquez will post monthly reports on the Claiming Places exhibition cycle website ( that will be consolidated into a full, documented, printed report. They will also independently record their progress and communicate directly with the public through a separate website,

Artist bios:
Ariel Vázquez

Download press release here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dino Vazquez - Futuro Metálico

Dates: April 19th to May 25th, 2013
Reception: April 19th, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Taller Puertorriqueño, as part of the Claiming Places cycle, is pleased to present Dino Vazquez’s first show at the Lorenzo Homar Gallery. Vazquez is a self-taught Philadelphia-based artist and vernacular architect who works with found materials to create robotic assemblages. His home is a destination point in his community of North Philadelphia and an example of his singular vision. For his exhibition, he recreates his home to bring together his passions for working with found materials and design to create areas that disrupt patterns of behavior in order to comment on the repeated sequences of seeing and acting that he views as problematic in society. His work, he feels, is also a statement for the preservation and protection of the environment.

Dino Vazquez
About the artist

Born in Bayamon Puerto Rico in 1957, Vazquez recalls starting making art at age 9 with wood carvings and drawings. Then life led him away from art, and he dedicated 10 years of his life to surfing. During those ten years he developed a newfound respect for nature. Looking to settle down, he moved to the United States in 1987 where he married and raised two children. Tragic events in his life again changed his path, where he rediscovered his interest in art as form of emotional release.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Closing Reception for Entre Sombras – Site of Memory

Closing reception poster for Entre Sombras- Site of Memory

Closing reception with the artist:
Saturday, March 30th, 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Esperanza Cortés
Entre Sombras - Site of Memory
At the Lorenzo Homar Gallery

Information about the show and the artist is here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Amy Lee Flores: Home

 My project is about what I feel home is to me.

Amy Flores, Home, 2012, Chair, paint, photos, paper, pen, cloth and stuffed animals
 Amy Flores Artist Statement

 My project is about what I feel home is to me. The flowers play the role of nature and my last name. The doll is very special to me because it was a gift on the Three Kings Day when I was very young, its name is Taino, which is the indigenous tribe’s name from Puerto Rico. The Siberian Husky is special because it’s always on my bed and when my little brother gets scared I give it to him and he feels safe. The pillow the doll is sitting was something my step-dad gave me -- it’s truly special to me because my step-dad raised me my whole life and when he gave it to me he thought of me. It’s pink and it says “Princess”, and my step-dad thought it looked like me. I chose the colors on the chair because those are the colors I want for my room because these colors are calm yet exciting in a way. The hearts are special for me because it’s how I started drawing. It shows a sign of life and love and those are the three main things I like to have in my life. The headphones show how much I love music and how I can’t live without it. The music also shows the enjoyment I find in dancing and just having fun at any kind of party. The picture of the horse you see was one I painted with crayons. I chose to make that picture the best out of the whole coloring book. It’s my favorite because it shows the Puerto Rican flag’s colors, which is my homeland.                              
  Amy Lee Flores      

Close up


Flores at work 

Dreams & Realities

Our project represents the contrast between how our community looks now and what we want our community to look like.

Jenissa Briana Rodriguez, Nestor Augusto Tamayo & Jailene Alanis Duprey, Our Community, Chair, paper, paint, cloth photographs and found materials

Our project represents the contrast between how our community looks now and what we want our community to look like. We want to show how polluted our community looks when people just throw garbage on the floor.

 Our project relates to the topic because the main theme of the project is claiming places. We are showing how we claim our place. We take care of it, plant, and make sure it looks beautiful. In making this project we used all recycled items. The sun was made out of cardboard, as were the trees. The big flowers and stones were made out of tissue paper and the waterfall was used from a piece of blanket. We thought it would look interesting since the fabric had texture, which made the fabric look like water. The leaves were pulled off of a fake bouquet of flowers. For the back of the chair we used dark colors that nobody really likes looking at so that you can tell it’s trash. We used things that people threw in the recycle bin to represent the litter on our streets.

 Our message is that if you want your community, the place you live in to look nice then you have to take charge and not let there be trash everywhere. It’s embarrassing when you see empty cans just thrown on the floor. If you see trash on the floor, pick it up. Let’s make our community look nice; it’s our environment!

 Jenissa Briana Rodriguez, Nestor Augusto Tamayo and Jailene Alanis Duprey

Rear View.  From  desolation to hope

Nestor AugustoTamayo and 
Jenissa Briana Rodriguez  by Our Community

Wide View

In the YAP Studio 

Ricardo Lopez, Street Kings Artist Statement

This chair represents “the ghetto” where violence is everywhere and easy because there are not enough cops protecting my community.

Recardo Lopez, Street Kings, 2012, Chair, paint,  pencil, paper, cloth and paint cans

Ricardo Lopez's Artist Statement

 This chair represents “the ghetto” where violence is everywhere and easy because there are not enough cops protecting my community. Violence can be good by self-defense and bad because it’s easier to get away with.

The gold crown in my chair represents how gangs claim their territory. The bullet holes and the color red in the chair represents how people get shot fighting for their area. The color black and the graffiti represents the people I see claiming their places, expressing what they feel: memorial graffiti – when somebody dies, political graffiti – expressing themselves against the government, and vandalism – to destroy someones’ area. This chair tells a story about what I experience every day in the community.

This chair also has a story about a person that is trying to rule his area that goes through fights, shootings, and drug dealing to control the area in the way he wants and sit on the throne. In my neighborhood, you can’t sleep a night without hearing gunshots, and a month without any violence.

 Ricardo Lopez


Street Kings

Ricardo Lopez by Street Kings

YAP's Dreams and Realities Exhibition

Consider the phrase: “claiming places”.

Amy Flroes,  Home, 2012, Chair, paint, photographs and stuffed  animas
In El VEstíbulo
Dreams & Realities:
Works by the Students of Taller’s Youth Artist Program
January 25th to March 23rd, 2013
If chairs could talk…

Consider the phrase: “claiming places”. What does it mean to claim your place, to mark a spot as your own? In essence, it is providing evidence of your existence. The students of Youth Artist Program at Taller Puertorriqueño questioned this when provided the opportunity to participate with the Claiming Places series. In our conversations, we discussed home, family, community, graffiti, furniture, video games, posters, etc. It was the image of the chair in the family living room that stuck in our minds. We peeled away the layers of the chair in order to understand why we came to this image and how we may use it when talking about claiming places.

The chair is a universal place of rest. Chairs can be found in your home, in restaurants, in the park, or on the street. It is a place of comfort for the traveler, the worker, the young, and the old. When we sit, we nest. The nest serves the purpose of the sitter: to relax, to learn, to collect items or thoughts, to feed – these are the evidences of our existence. Sometimes, we are even particular about the type of location of our nests. A person may ‘call a spot’ before taking a seat or go through great discussion with others about where the best place is to sit.

A seat declares the impression of a person. The depth of seat cushion dents informs how a person sits, the weight, how long a person sits or how long the nest was abandoned. Seats that remain long show evidence by stains, rips, lumps, and strange colors. When seeing an empty chair in the trash, we can imagine the nest it once was: survivor of many coffee spills and book-readings, story-time with the ones you long, refuge and safe-haven from the hardships of the outside world, or a child’s play-time rocket ship to the moon. 

It is this type of imagination and personal touch that inspired the YAP students to take classroom chairs from the Art Room and convert them into messages about themselves, their community, and their history to create a nest.



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Esperanza Cortés: In Entre Sombras - Site of Memories

Poster - E Cortes

Lorenzo Homar Gallery
February 8th to March 30th, 2013

Friday, February 8th, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m

Esperanza Cortés’ installations and paintings in Entre Sombras - Site of Memories, are tokens of human frailty, fears, and injustices that as a woman, mother, Colombian and Latina shape the world she sees. The Lorenzo Homar Gallery was fully resurfaced and smoothed as an essential part of the installation. Working with glass beads, clay, pigments and household objects such as chairs, sewing machine tables, metal chains and a basket she transformed into a bassinet, Cortés seeks to connect with individuals on a primal level, jolting the viewer with the familiarity of these objects against the otherwise stark presentation. She sees the female form and femininity as a center that is encircled and encompassed by compassion, violence, life, death, place and belonging.

The works presented here touch on the consequences of violence on women through war and abuse, exploitation of resources, financial insecurity, birth and death, and racial profiling.

Cortés, born in Bogotá, Colombia, emigrated to New York City at the age of four. Her interest in art began as a child and was shaped by her experiences in the Catholic Church through its ceremonies, altars, architecture and stained glass windows. She was also drawn into the arts by her family, her father’s work with metal, her mother’s knitting, beadwork and crocheting, and her grandmother’s cooking and stories of her native Colombia. As an artist, she sees a duality between personal and community roles. Within the gallery walls, her work feeds on her personal visions and experiences. Out in the streets, her methodology changes. Her work reacts to the environment, and, as she describes, is “in dialogue with its surroundings.”

Cortés lives and works in New York and has exhibited widely throughout the United States in places such as the Neuberger Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, the Cleveland Art Museum, and the Mexic-Arte Museum in Texas.

Her website is here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion

Poster for Claiming Places Event

Opening Panel Discussion:
What Unites and Defines a Community  

3 PM, Saturday, January 26, 2013

The first of two panel discussions as part of Taller Puertorriqueño's Claiming Places: Unity, Ownership, and “Hogar” (Home) exhibition cycle.  Through art, dance, and architecture, staged in a variety of Taller’s spaces (its gallery walls, its garden, and a neighborhood parking lot - the physical site of Taller’s new facility), this year’s theme seeks to reveal, question, and engage the community in a dialogue  exploring  “ownership” and the consequences of making a space your own. 

Join panelists: artists Merián Soto and César Viveros Herrera; Taller’s Executive Director, Carmen Febo San Miguel; artist and teacher at Taller's education program, Caitlin Peck;  and architect J.C. Calderon, as moderator, and become part of this thought - provoking conversation.

An essay on placemaking and Taller's role in claiming places is here

Eventbrite - Opening Panel Discussion:
What Unites and Defines a Community    (Tickets are FREE)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

About Carmen Febo San Miguel

Carmen Febo San Miguel, MD, was born in Ciales, Puerto Rico, graduating magna cum laude followed by Medical School both at the University of Puerto Rico.  She moved to Philadelphia for her residency in Family Practice at Hahnemann Hospital and Medical Center in 1974.  Upon completion of her residency, she became Medical Director of the Spring Garden Family Health Services Center in Philadelphia, serving a primarily poor Puerto Rican and African American population.  After moving back to Puerto Rico in 1979 to work at the Naranjito Health Center serving a rural population, Dr. Febo returned to Philadelphia in 1984 were she assumed the position of Medical Director of Germantown Family Medicine Associates, managing all aspects of a private medical practice. 

She became Taller’s Executive Director in 1999 after 14 years as Board Chair.  Dr. Febo is deeply committed to Taller’s goals and mission of education and dissemination about the rich cultural heritage of Puerto Rico, Latino and related groups including African Americans.  She served on the Mayor’s Commission on Arts and Culture under Mayor Goode and currently as a member of the Advisory Council on Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy under Mayor Nutter.  Under her tenure, Taller has grown from an almost extinct organization to one managing 2 buildings, an expansion she headed as board chair and chair of the facilities committee, a budget of $870,000 and a permanent staff of 13.  As Executive Director since 1999, she has led Taller’s programmatic agenda in the expansion of Art Residencies into School District and other charter schools, the Visit Us program, developed new collaborations to exhibit Taller’s art collection at off-sites, has led the coordination of the ever expanding Feria del Barrio and has been called to produce programming for the Kimmel’s International Festival for the Arts, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  She just successfully concluded the production of the 7 events related to the Knight Foundation grant at the site of Taller’s new facility project.      

She has received numerous awards.  Those that are relevant to the arts and education include:

Creative Connector of Leadership Philadelphia for 2011-128-11

Bread and Roses Paul Robeson Life Achievement Award9-10

Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress Pioneer Award10-08

The Philadelphia Association of Hispanic School Administrators7/03
2003 Honoree

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations10/02
2002 Human Rights Award for Arts and Culture 

About J.C. Calderon, Moderator of Panel.

J.C. Calderón, AIA, LEED AP, is founder of Green Tree Architects in Beacon NY. He is currently collaborating on a new 642 room hotel in Manhattan’s Times Square area for the Riu Hotel & Resorts chain with Beacon architects Chris Berg & Jon Moss. He is the founder of The Beacon Public Space Project, a nonprofit community based group dedicated to improving public space in Beacon and founded on the idea that public space needs public participation if it is to improve. The BPSP was founded on July 14, 2012 upon the centennial celebrations of folk artist Woody Guthrie. Upon the 100th anniversary of Beacon in 2013, the BPSP is sponsoring projects to support public space improvements in Beacon & beyond. He received his Master of Architecture from the Yale School of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts from Williams College. Mr. Calderon lives in Beacon, NY with his wife, daughter and son.

You can see more at: and and at


About Caitlin Peck

Peck with her YAP artists

Caitlin Peck received her BFA in Drawing & Painting from Pennsylvania State University in 2010, also earning the Gerald Davis Award for her work as an undergraduate. She has participated in juried and group shows in the United States and internationally at the Burren College of Art, Ireland. Currently, she is obtaining her MFA in Studio Arts at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia.

YAP students at work on their projects

Peck has been working at Taller Puertorriqueño in the Youth Artists Program (YAP) since January of 2012. Her experience with the students is to encourage them to think critically and creatively about the challenges they  face when making art. In the works of Claiming Places, she asks the students to go beyond the surface of what 'home' means and what makes them who they are. This is a similar path of Peck’s work. Understanding the slippage and fallibility of memory, Peck works in acts of memorializing, memory exercise, and memorization. She works in a variety of mediums including drawing, sculpture, installation, video, and performance.  

More information on Peck on her website  here:

YAP Exhibition Poster
The Poster for the Children Show