Taller de altares en Filadelfia: Una entrevista con el artista mexicano César Viveros

13533308_10154294756507350_6578431374972799687_nEs una entrevista realizada en el espacio digital sobre el curso de altares que César Viveros enseña en Fleisher y un poco sobre su inspiración artística. 
Celeste: Yo me enteré de Ud. y su trabajo a través de Fleisher Art Memorial. Vi un anuncio sobre un curso de altares para Día de los muertos. ¿Cómo surgió este curso? ¿Qué harán los estudiantes en el curso? ¿Puede describir los materiales que van a usar?

César: El curso de altares de día de muertos en Fleisher Art Memorial ha empezado, serán solamente  4 dias intensos en los cuales los participantes  han sido introducidos a esta tradición de Dia de muertos, la cual ha cobrado gran auge en Estados Unidos. Este es el tercer año que Fleisher trabaja conjuntamente con la comunidad  en estos festejos y este año fui invitado como el artista que dirija la instalación del altar tradicional  de día de Muertos. Así que durante 4 días  quisimos enseñar un taller donde la gente pueda construir sus propios ” altarcitos”  los cuales son miniaturas simplificadas de los altares tradicionales. Los estudiantes  han diseñado el altarcito basado en sus ideas y con dibujos simples  empiezan a materializar su diseño. Normalmente  centran  su figura principal en algún familiar o amistad que haya partido al mas allá. Usualmente se construye una base de madera o cartón que soporte la composición  y se procede a  fabricar los elementos que en su mayoría son hechos con alambre , papel-mache  (paper and corn base paste ) y pinturas.

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Celeste: ¿Cuándo comenzó a hacer arte?

César: Siempre cuento la historia de mis primeros años cuando  en la temporada de lluvias en la zona de Veracruz, México. Después de que la gente solía hacer  hoyos profundos en la tierra para incinerar o enterrar la basura (orgánica o inorgánica ), porque no había un servicio  de parte del ayuntamiento de la ciudad que lo hiciera, así que continuamente había  barro húmedo , muy característico del subsuelo  Veracruzano. ( Hay  que notar que  en esa área se han hallado muchos vestigios de un estado avanzado en el desarrollo de este tipo de  arte, correspondientes a civilizaciones  que sobresalieron muchos siglos antes del arribo de los Españoles al nuevo continente ) y es precisamente aquí que a la edad de 5 años empiezo a incursionar en  la construcción  de  artefactos de barro como único medio para entretenerme  en el tiempo libre que  como infante se pueda tener.  Las limitaciones que pudiese tener en cuanto el espacio para desplazarme a esa edad , las suplía viajando en el espacio imaginario. Eso me ayudaba a crear mundos alternativos mientras amasaba el barro dando formas múltiples  que me permitieran  divertirme  mientras descubría  cosas que  no tenían ninguna influencia académica–debido al aislamiento de nuestra  comunidad  en relación con otras ciudades que tal vez pudieran tener acceso a algún tipo de educación artística.

En la escuela secundaria, algunos profesores se dieron cuenta que a un amigo, su hermano ( Nicolás y José Nava) y a mi nos gustaba dibujar  y pintar mucho así que  nos dio la oportunidad de pintar en  gran  formato para que pudiéramos hacer murales portables que se pudieran usar como  fondos para festivales. Recordemos que en México cualquier ocasión es buena para hacer pachanga ( fiesta). Entonces teníamos la oportunidad de contar con recursos para desarrollar estos proyectos que considero no eran tan comunes en nuestro medio un tanto cuanto  limitado. Con esos antecedentes podría aparecer extraño que no decidí estudiar arte o alguna disciplina relacionada con esa área como arquitectura o diseño gráfico. Pero en cuanto  terminé la preparatoria y un curso técnico en un colegio Nacional de Educación Pública, decidí aventurarme a trabajar en el área de la zona Petrolera de Campeche, buscando oportunidades económicas que en cierta forma me alejaban de  cualquier inclinación de la plástica visual.

Sin embargo  en un par de años  trabajando en la zona de las plataformas petroleras de la zona del Golfo de México, tuve la oportunidad de empezar a pintar murales en las barcazas de una Empresa llamada Corporación de Construcciones de Campeche , de una manera informal. Mi trabajo oficial era  desarrollar actividades subacuáticas como buzo industrial. Es ahí donde decido retornar en serio  mi verdadera vocación. Pues  mientras trabajaba ahí, empecé a tomar comisiones por retratos y pinturas comisionadas por el personal Norteamericano que trabajaba en la zona de Campeche.  En consecuencia cada vez que tenia oportunidad realice múltiple murales en escuelas secundarias en la ciudad de Veracruz que me permitieron definir mi estilo y mi propia técnica.

Para más información sobre César Viveros, vean su página de Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/cesar.viveros.904

Para más información sobre FLEISHER ART MEMORIAL y sus eventos de Día de los muertos: http://fleisher.org/community-programs/dia-de-los-muertos/

 

New Latino Art at PAFA!

At first glance this looks like a friendly happy painting. It is large and depicts a picnic in the park. A family sits at a table conversing, waiting for the food to be ready. Closer to the viewer, in the bottom right corner, we see workers cutting up produce. Behind them three men slaughter an animal. The title of the painting is “Slaughter.”

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The violence in Mexico is a topic that comes up regularly in discussions with Mexican nationals. This is a concern for those who live in the U.S.A. with family in Mexico as well as those actually living in Mexico, and visitors to Mexico. I spoke to the artist who created “Slaughter”, Juan Pablo Ruiz, at PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) on May 13, 2016. He said that violence was a major theme in his artwork. This painting combines three locales that are important to Ruiz, Mexico, Chicago and Philadelphia. We can see the Chicago skyline in the distance, Fairmount Park in Philadelphia and the Mexican landscape on the right of the painting. Ruiz was born in Mexico, grew up in Chicago and attended PAFA in Philadelphia. “Slaughter” won a Fellowship Juried Prize.

On the 2nd floor of the exhibition, Mr. Ruiz has three paintings that he said were meant to be shown together. They are called “ Prometeo, Falla and First Eighth.” The theme of violence is present again, he said. It begins in the Classical age and is traced to present day Guadalajara. Mr. Ruiz’ painting technique is astounding, in my opinion. Some of the work in the exhibition is more contemporary and abstract, but Ruiz excels in and owns his realism. His paintings are thought provoking as well as aesthetically beautiful. For more information about him and his artwork, please see his website: http://www.jpabloruiz.com/

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The 115th Annual Student Exhibition is currently open at PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts) in Philadelphia. PAFA was founded in 1805 by artist/scientist Charles Wilson Peale, who painted portraits of the founding fathers. The 115th Student exhibition is from May 13-June 5, 2016. The entire modern museum building (Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building) is full of student artwork, including prize winners from the concluding academic year, and graduating undergraduates and masters students.

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Another young artist who I spoke to on Friday evening, was Diego Rodriguez Carrion. He is still in school at PAFA, but had won prizes for three artworks in the exhibition. I was attracted to his woodcuts/wood engravings, because this is a rare art form practiced in the United States. Woodcuts have a long tradition in Latin America, especially in Brazil, but also Spanish speaking cultures. Mr. Rodriguez-Carrion is from Puerto Rico and his woodcuts depict scenes, people and places that he recalls from his upbringing and native island.  He also draws and paints. Check out his website to see: http://www.diegohiromi.com/

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Overall, there is something for everyone at PAFA’s Student exhibition, and many of the works are for sale! It is particularly encouraging and exciting to see the pieces by emerging artists Diego Rodriguez Carrion and Juan Pablo Ruiz. “Slaughter” follows in the footsteps of Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, Orozco and Siquieros, depicting Mexican realities. Meanwhile, Rodriguez Carrion’s woodcuts remind us of a beloved medium that is familiar and popular, grounded in folk art and culture, but at the same time worthy of fine art distinction.

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VISIT PAFA’s website: www.pafa.org

SAMBADELFIA! BRAZILIAN SAMBA DANCE CLASSES IN PHILADELPHIA

BRAZILIAN SAMBA DANCE WORKSHOP In Philadelphia February 14th at 11:30 am. Where? at The Performance Garage 1515 Brandywine Street, Philadelphia PA

It’s Carnaval season, so take advantage of this one day samba dance workshop with professional dancer and choreographer Angelica Cassimiro.

*The class starts with a 25-minute warm up that exercises basic isolation of the body, following by stretching and strengthening exercises. After the warm up, Angelica introduces the students to samba no pé (basic samba step) and passo marcado (simple choreographies), typical of the Rio Carnaval. The whole class is accompanied by the sound of upbeat and irresistible Brazilian music. Be ready to sweat!!

*Come with comfortable clothes and be prepared to be barefoot -PRE-PAY RATE -$16 per workshop class Payment accepted via PayPal following the link below: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=UEQAV9WGQG5TA

DROP IN RATE day of class- $18 per workshop class CASH only day of the event Please email, text or call Angelica with any questions or concerns at: Cassimiroa@gmail.com 973-220-7784

****Classes don’t happen weekly at this time because this young but experienced dance artist is constantly on tour. Be sure to spread the word and experience these classes while you can*****

 

 

 

 

 

Minas – Timeless Brazilian-American Music, Timeless Artistry

On February 2, 2014, I had the pleasure of interviewing husband and wife duo, Orlando Haddad and Patricia King, leaders of the Brazilian-American group, Minas. They are celebrating 30 years of musical composition and performing. One of their goals is to create music that is ¨timeless”. Some of their upcoming events include: February 8, World Cafe Live at Wilmington, DE, a tribute to Sergio Mendes; Feb. 14 at the Sofitel in Philadelphia, and Feb. 15 at the Burlap & Bean Coffeehouse in Newtown Square, PA.

Since 1984, Minas has been a pioneer in the Brazilian music presence in Philadelphia, in addition to presenting their own fusion of Brazilian and American sounds to enthusiastic audiences. Orlando, in the group ¨PhilaSamba¨, introduced Brazilian percussion, ‘batucada’ to Philly, and some of those original members went on to form Alô Brasil. Following Alô Brasil, members went on to start Philly Bloco and Unidos da Filadelfia. Minas has performed in schools in the area–about 500,000 students have been touched by their music. Orlando also reached older students, teaching at the University of the Arts and Temple University.

The story of Minas sounds like it was destiny, “estava escrito”, just meant to be. Patricia and Orlando met as students at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Curiously, young Patricia, from south central Pennsylvania, had developed an interest in and love of Brazilian music before she arrived at the conservatory. Orlando, thousands of miles away in Rio de Janeiro, had been playing music in English with his band since he was 12 years old, and was initially influenced by the Beatles. Due to a lack of resources at his conservatory in Brazil, Orlando decided to transfer if he was ever going to fulfill his musical dream. And the rest is history! Of course these two would eventually meet–Patricia’s strong curiosity about Brazilian music prompted her to seek out Orlando, as soon as soon as she knew he was studying at the school, and hear Brazilian music live. Through this connection, Orlando rediscovered the music of his country.

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After graduation, Orlando and Patricia went to Brazil. While there, they jammed, studied and performed with Brazilian musicians, including Dores Monteiro, Leny Andrade and Romero Lubambo. Some of the music and artists that have influenced Patricia over the years include, Keith Jarrett, Flora Purim, Tania Maria, Milton Banana and other piano trios, cool jazz, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. A child pianist and composer, Patricia studied voice and performed in church solos and musicals. Orlando was influenced by the Beatles, piano trios, bossa nova and MPB–Música Popular Brasileira–Gilberto Gil, Djavan, Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso, etc., and classical music. He explains how he and his brother would watch the TV show,”O Fino da Bossa” hosted by singer Elis Regina. Although he had this background, until he met Patricia, Orlando was not playing much Brazilian music.

When I asked about their favorite songs that they themselves had composed, Patricia praised Orlando’s Temporal, Ash Wednesday March, Primavera and Verde. Orlando admires Patricia’s Only the Moon and the Stars, Dream of Brazil, Bossa and Wait. Orlando asserts that he is overwhelmingly inspired by nature.

Girl from Ipanema in the Snow:

Over the years their music has evolved to be more complex and universal. The spirit is the same, but obviously after 30 years of collaborating, composing and performing, both have matured and polished their process and technique. Moreover, both have branched out to compose music in other styles. Orlando has been working on 20th century contemporary art music, while Patricia has been busy writing an operetta, called La Giara.

Minas, timeless, has stood the test of time for 30 years in Philadelphia. For the future, they hope to bring their music to listeners beyond the Philadelphia area. A long way from Rio de Janeiro, Orlando adds, ¨My goal has always been to tour the world with music.’

On PBS:
Minas, On Canvas, WHHY/PBS

For more information about MINAS and upcoming events, please visit their website: www.minasmusic.com

To listen to MINAS, visit their Pandora Station: Minas Radio

The Art of Conversation: Making History Come to Life in Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Minas Gerais, Brazil.  In the last two decades, according to locals, the monuments in the city have been better taken care of. Residents cannot change the exteriors of the buildings. Since my last visit there is much more commercial business–more stores, banks and more TRAFFIC.  One Ouro Preto resident declares that a plan is needed to ha(ndle the number of vehicles on busy Rua Direita (formerly known as Rua do Conde de Bobadela).  One can spend days exploring the many decorative churches, original art by crippled sculptor, Aleijadinho, eating in local restaurants and learning in unique museums.

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Conversing with Ouro Preto residents is a fundamental part of the cultural experience. Unlike my current city of Philadelphia, there are no professional storytellers or costumed historical interpreters wandering the streets, eagerly waiting to ´enhance the visitor experience.´ (Part of Historic Philadelphia, Inc.´s mission statement). So before heading out I wrote out a list of questions in Portuguese that I would ask locals in order to enhance my own experience!

The houses, churches–all of the buildings, the cobbled streets, the stone slabbed sidewalks–are all examples of great art and architecture.  Some of them are unique to the region (such as the Portuguese blue tiles in the Church of our Lady of Carmo) and historical testimonies. They nd the people tell the story of this early mining town, once known as Vila Rica–Rich Village.  An actual conversation with the residents here is an inspiring manifestation of love and pride for their city and its treasures.  Visiting Ouro Preto is to experience its history, the living art of centuries, by way of its architecture, its people and its stories:

–Ouro Preto is where many historical events happened in Brazil.  It influenced the entire country and the world.  The Industrial Revolution in England could not have occurred without Ouro Preto.

–I love living here.

–Yes, people still make oratories (portable altars with a saint inside). These are still special but often now they are much smaller.

— The most important person from Ouro Preto, in my opinion, is Tomas Antonio Gonzaga because…

— This is the oldest opera house still used for shows in South America. I wanted to be a musician myself. (Shows us a photo of himself at the piano in the empty opera house). I studied for 4 years at the university but then changed my major since it is hard to make a living as a musician.

GHOST OR DRUNK?

My first night on this trip to Ouro Preto, I fell into bed after 24 hours straight of traveling from the USA–Philly, Miami, Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto–then a walk around the city and tea at the Pousada across the street. I awoke with a start due to the loud ramblings  of a drunken man in the street–or so I thought. His words were as if amplified but they were unintelligible.  They made no sense in Portuguese or in any language that I was familiar with.  His verbal performance was repeated at least 10 times with an interval between each.  How long was this monologue going to continue? First verse was the incomprehensible yelling, the second was a short pause–then he would howl! This squeal did not sound human at all! Bizarre. What was it?  Following a few moments of silence, he would start again. The howl was animal like at best, at worst OTHERWORLDLY. I don´t know for sure if he finally stopped or if I´d fallen back asleep.  While awake, I wondered why the military police didn´t come get him off the street.Why didn´t anybody say anything to stop him in his tracks? Why didn´t anybody complain? Was this for real?

The next morning I awoke and had an epiphany! Perhaps it was not a drunk after all but a a ghost! Ouro Preto is 4 centuries old and there must be some haunted places and spirits with unfinished business roaming about.  Surely there are many ghost stories in its oral tradition.  I decided to ask at the hotel reception after breakfast.

— Yesterday I heard some weird noises. At first I thought it was a drunk but then I wondered. (I described the sounds). I don know quite how to ask this in Portuguese, but is this place haunted? Do you think that was Curupira ou Saci, or an Ouro Preto ghost?? (The manager and bellhop burst out laughing! )

–Here there are no ghosts, Miss. Don´t worry…Just drunks!!