Saying Goodbye to Essex Street Market with Art

Posted by for Bowery  Boogie

The end is nigh. With no Hercules in sight, the multi-headed Hydra better known as Essex Crossing is erasing memories all over the place. In an effort to assuage the inevitable, a final string of art exhibits is about to commence in the soon-to-be-former Essex Market space before it’s demolished.

In, of, and Crossing Essex comprises three artist installations by Sonia Louise Davis, Dillon de Give, and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, and curated by Anna Harsanyi. Visitors to the institution will be able to explore and interact with the public and private histories of the Market through stories, perspectives, and lived experiences of the people who work and shop there every day.

At this time of transition, In, Of and Crossing Essex aims to visualize moments from the day-to-day life of Essex Market as it prepares to move. By engaging the market’s vendors, shoppers, Lower East Side and city residents, this project seeks to share with a larger public what transition looks like for different people, making visible the often unseen or under-appreciated aspects of Essex Market in the present.

Among the exhibits includes an interactive post card project, where you can send a verbal message to the city through a facilitator; a reusable shopping bag project, on which the quotes from business owners within the Essex Market will send their voices out further into the city; and there will be several workshops and public forums throughout the duration of the installation as well.

Check it out (and say goodbye) April 27-June 10. More specifics here.

Parade of Perseverance

El Museo prepares for 41st Annual Three Kings Day Parade

Story by Gregg McQueen

Parade of PerseveranceDesfile de la perseverancia

Four decades later, the three kings (and queens) still reign.

The East Harlem streets will once again be taken over by real camels, giant hand-made puppets and live music, when El Museo del Barrio celebrates its annual Three Kings Day Parade on Fri., Jan. 5 at 11 a.m.

Long rooted as a neighborhood institution, the parade is now in its 41st year. It celebrates Three Kings Day, or the Epiphany, one of the most important holidays on the cultural and religious calendar of many from the Latin Caribbean.

The parade route begins at 106th Street and Lexington Avenue and ends on 115th Street and Park Avenue.

In the aftermath of Hurricane María, the observance of Puerto Rican heritage will take on a more poignant meaning, said Ana Chireno, Director of Government and Community Affairs for El Museo.

“We had a galvanizing event this year that brought the community together,” said Chireno of the hurricane. “It definitely hangs over this year’s parade.”

El Museo has been active in attempting to help those affected by María. In October, the museum held an artwork auction, raising $18,000 to aid hurricane victims.

In addition to the typical parade glitz, this year’s march carries added cultural significance, with the current U.S. political climate causing immigrant communities to feel oppressed.

“Parades aren’t normally thought of as political events, but with people feeling that that their heritage is under attack, celebrating culture is politically powerful,” remarked Chinero.

She said the theme for this year’s parade is “Freedom Fighters,” intended to celebrate individuals dedicated to promoting liberty and equality.

The parade boasts three women as its Honorary Kings, a rarity for the Three Kings Parade.

Bárbara Hernández, actress and LGBTQ activist, Paola Mendoza, filmmaker and artistic director of the Women’s March on Washington and Ana-Ofelia Rodríguez, Director of Community Development for Broadway Housing Communities, will all take center stage as 2018 Honorary Kings.

Hernández becomes the first Puerto Rican Transgendered artist to be honored in the parade, Chireno said.

“I think it’s a strong statement that all three Kings are women,” she stated.

Leading the parade will be its longtime King Emeritus, Jesús ‘Papoleto’ Meléndez, a poet, performance artist and East Harlem native.

This year’s Madrinas are Sandra García-Betancourt, Poet, Writer, Arts Activist and Administrator; Ana Maria López, Assistant Professor of the Humanities Department/Latin American and Caribbean Unit at Hostos Community College; Nancy Pereira, Family Leadership Coordinator, School District 4; Vanessa Pérez-Rosario, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College; and Jaritza Taveras-Caba, Director of Community Affairs, Manhattan North Management.

The 2018 Padrinos are Jorge Merced, Artistic Director of Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (PRTT); M. Tony Peralta, Designer and Artist, Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, Director of Programs and Community Engagement, The Laundromat Project; Adrián ‘Viajero’ Román, Artist; and Charlie Vásquez, Deputy Director at Bronx Council on the Arts.


The morning will kick off with a breakfast at El Museo featuring the Honorary Kings (who are Queens this year), Madrinas and Padrinos, as well as various elected officials.

Following the parade, community residents are invited back the museum for an improv theater performance by Teatro 220 and a parranda with Bombazo Dance Company.

Other performers slated to appear in the parade include Abya Yala Arte y Cultura, Annette A. Aguilar and StringBeans, Bomba Yo!, Fogo Azul Bateria Femenina, Gays Against Guns (G.A.G), KRT3S Dance Company, Los Pleneros de la 21, The Marching Cobras, and the PS/MS 57 marching band.

Counting both marchers and spectators, the parade typically draws more than 5,000 participants.

Chireno said she believes the parade’s appeal comes from its inclusive nature, and the tight-knit community of East Harlem.

“It’s a time-honored tradition,” she said. “It brings together different generations. It’s something that community members share with their children, and their grandchildren, and it’s become a neighborhood ritual.”

El Museo del Barrio is located at 1230 Fifth Avenue (at East 104th Street) in Manhattan. The Museum’s Galleries are currently undergoing renovations and will reopen to the public in the summer of 2018. For more information on these and other renovations, visit 

For more information on El Museo del Barrio, please visit

El Museo’s Three Kings Day Parade CANCELLED

Please note: El Museo del Barrio’s 41st Annual Three Kings Day Parade has been CANCELLED due to inclement weather. Instead, El Museo del Barrio will be hosting a special SUPER SABADO on Saturday, January 20th. The free afternoon will feature live musical performances, art-making workshops, storytelling, and more. For more information, please visit

41st Annual Three Kings Day Parade Bios

Bronx Artist Asks Visitors to Share Their ‘Sites of Struggle’ On NYC Map

By Eddie Small For DNAInfo

CONCOURSE — A Bronx artist wants to hear about your struggles.

Artist Hatuey Ramos Fermín has set up an interactive map of the city as part of the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ exhibit on the Young Lords Organization that asks visitors to write down something they are struggling with on a small paper flag and then place the flag in the corresponding location on the map.

“It doesn’t have to be exactly your place where you live,” said Fermín. “Maybe it’s where you’re from in the city, or it’s a struggle that pertains to that specific borough.”

Most of the flags are in The Bronx so far, which could be due to how many people from The Bronx have come to see the exhibit, according to Ramos.

A "Sites of Struggle" map is part of the Bronx Museum's Young Lords exhibit.
A “Sites of Struggle” map is part of the Bronx Museum’s Young Lords exhibit. Photo by Eddie Small

Struggles that people wrote down for the borough include environmental concerns (“Stop FreshDirect” and “Stop NYPA Power Plants“), economic concerns (“gentrification” and “empowering the underserved”) and personal concerns (“have fun”).

A few visitors also wrote down people’s specific names, which Fermín said he found surprising and possibly indicative of struggles the author was having with that person.

“It’s an open-ended invitation, so people can map what struggle means to them,” he said. “They’re invited to add their own meaning to that.”

The Young Lords were a radical group of social activists founded in the 1960s by young Puerto Ricans who demanded housing, police, employment, education and health care reform, according to the Bronx Museum.

In addition to the map, the museum’s exhibit on them also includes a reconstruction of the group’s Bronx office and an installation dedicated to women in the organization.

The map is meant to show how issues that the Young Lords fought for, such as social justice and racial equality, are still very relevant today, according to Fermín.

“I hope that it connects to today’s struggles. They’re all more or less similar,” he said. “They might not look the same, but they might be similar to the ones you faced 40, 50 years ago.”

The map will be up until the Young Lords exhibit comes down on Oct. 18, and Fermín said he was very pleased with the response it had received so far.

“I didn’t know if people were actually going to do it, first of all,” he said, “but it’s been great to see people walking through and reading and taking careful notice and writing thoughtful comments. That’s been great.”

“You never know with something like this how’s it going to work, if it’s going to work or not,” he continued, “but it seems like people are into it.”

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is located at 1040 Grand Concourse. Check their website for the hours of operations.

Artists in the Marketplace at the Bronx Museum


BY MOSTAFA HEDDAYA for Blouin Artinfo

The Bronx Museum of the Arts has long distinguished itself by its commitment to the communities that surround it, with its three-and-a-half decade Artists in the Marketplace (AIM) program a leading example of this dedication. The program assists emerging artists of varying degrees of seniority and experience with the more practical aspects of life as a working artist, and has produced a small coterie of notable alumni. Initially conceived as a means of training, the museum began tapping its AIM cohort for a biennial exhibition six years ago, and the latest iteration of this effort, “Bronx Calling: The Third AIM Biennial,” is now on view. Curated by the Bronx-based artists Laura Napier and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, the biennial is a dizzying mixture of styles and mediums, comprising the work of 72 artists of varying backgrounds and interests. We spoke with Napier and Ramos-Fermín about their approach to the third AIM biennial, and how they sought to bring two classes of AIM participants — from 2014 and 2015 — into the public eye.

The Young Lords’ Radical Agenda and the Problems that Persist

by Vic Vaiana for Hyperallergic

The Bronx Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, and Loisaida Inc. are exhibiting the work of the artists and activists in the Young Lords Party in ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York. Curated by Johanna Fernandez and Yasmin Ramírez, the Bronx exhibit aims to give local and global context for Young Lords’s activism while situating the social conflicts they addressed in ongoing struggles.

Young Lords memorabilia, including passports to China, a beret, and Rampart magazine (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)
Young Lords memorabilia, including passports to China, a beret, and Rampart magazine (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)
Shepard Fairey, “Visual Disobedince” (2004) screenprint on paper, 18 x 24 inches
Shepard Fairey, “Visual Disobedince” (2004) screenprint on paper, 18 x 24 inches

In the museum’s lobby, an interactive piece invites visitors to flag different “points of struggle” on a tabletop map of New York’s five boroughs. Some of these points on the map represent moments in the public consciousness, such as the lone flag on Staten Island indicating the site of Eric Garner’s death. Other points cryptically tell stories of personal struggle, such as “Ricardo Israel 1991-1992 #BlackLivesMatter.”

The Young Lords Party was a political group that emerged from the Puerto Rican community in the United States. Through its organizing, the group engaged with urban issues such as tenant’s rights and police brutality. The group’s political actions are immortalized through their pamphlets, newspaper, and posters, on view here. The Young Lords’s design is rooted in the leftist agitprop tradition, incorporating striking symbols and colors that can be easily reproduced and distributed. The exhibition is also showcasing radical art inspired by the Young Lords, including work by Shepard Fairey.

Several “sites of struggle” flagged on an interactive tabletop map of the the city
Several “sites of struggle” flagged on an interactive tabletop map of the the city, detail from installation vine pa, echar candela by Hatuey Ramos-Fermín.
Two of the Young Lords Party flags draped above a map of New York City, detail from Vine pa’ echar candela installation by Hatuey Ramos-Fermín.

Legal and photographic documents, including a wall plastered with photocopies of FBI documents, highlight the intimidation the activists must have felt in their pursuit of social justice. The radical community galvanized by the Young Lords — first in Chicago, then New York — is likewise documented through photography peppered throughout the exhibit, including work by Michael Abramson and Fred W. McDarrah.

¡Presente! fosters institutional memory of the Young Lords’s agenda by situating the group’s struggle within the persistent problems of urban life, defined by quotidian yet flagrant inequities like access to affordable housing. The flurry of dates and events denoted by the Young Lords’ poster art serve as plot points and touchstones in New York’s cultural and social history. The group’s work and anti-racist mission resonate with the current wave of movements like Black Lives Matter or the Fight for $15, who continue to organize against the same social forces that the Young Lords resisted.


Juan Sanchez, “Untitled (Las Tres Marias)” (1981) mixed media collage, 11 x 27 inches
Juan Sanchez, “Untitled (Las Tres Marias)” (1981) mixed media collage, 11 x 27 inches
Miguel Luciano, “Machetero Air Force One’s (Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns)” (2007) vinyl and acrylic on sneakers, 11 x 4 x 4 ½ in
Miguel Luciano, “Machetero Air Force One’s (Filiberto Ojeda Uptowns)” (2007) vinyl and acrylic on sneakers, 11 x 4 x 4 ½ in
Raphael Montañez Ortiz, “Archeological Find #21: The Aftermath” (1961), destroyed sofa, wood, cotton, vegetable fiber, wire, and glue on wooden backing, 84 x 54 x 24 inches
Raphael Montañez Ortiz, “Archeological Find #21: The Aftermath” (1961), destroyed sofa, wood, cotton, vegetable fiber, wire, and glue on wooden backing, 84 x 54 x 24 inches
Adrian Garcia “Julio Roldan, Young Lord” (1970), offset lithograph, 22 x 16 inches
Adrian Garcia “Julio Roldan, Young Lord” (1970), offset lithograph, 22 x 16 inches
Wall of FBI documents investigating the Young Lords
Wall of FBI documents investigating the Young Lords, detail from Vine pa’ echar candela, installation by Hatuey Ramos-Fermín

¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York continues at the Bronx Museum of Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx) through October 18; at El Museo del Barrio (1230 5th Ave, East Harlem, Manhattan) through October 17; and at Losaida Inc. (710 E 9th St, Alphabet City, Manhattan) through October 10. 



When the Young Lords Were Outlaws in New York

by Holland Cotter for the New York Times

The exhibition “¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York,” held in three parts at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio and Loisaida Inc., recalls the Young Lords, a revolution-minded group that gained traction in the late ’60s and ’70s. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

On July 26, 1969, a group of young Latinos stood in the band shell in Tompkins Square Park, in the East Village, and made an announcement. They were founding a New York branch of a revolution-minded political party called the Young Lords.

Inspired by the Black Panthers and an earlier street-gang-turned-activist Young Lords group in Chicago, their purpose was to gain social justice for New York’s working-class Latino population, then largely Puerto Rican and treated with contempt by the city government.

Most of the members onstage that day were recent college graduates well versed in leftist political theory. To gain the trust and cooperation of Latino communities — concentrated in the East Village, East Harlem and the South Bronx — they knew they needed to get their feet on the street, and they wasted no time.

The next day they started a “garbage offensive” in East Harlem, the Barrio, pulling mounds of trash left festering by the city’s sanitation department into the middle of Third Avenue and setting the refuse alight. Local residents pitched in.

In October of that year, the Young Lords teamed up with a band of mostly black and Latino hospital personnel to force improvements in labor conditions and medical services for the poor at Gouverneur Hospital on the Lower East Side. (Six months later, they would take over Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx for the same reasons.)

In December, they occupied an East Harlem church and, until the police evicted them, turned it into a food dispensary and free clinic by day and a performance space for music, poetry readings and history lessons at night.

The exhibition at El Museo del Barrio includes work by Puerto Rican artists. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

By that point they had started a newspaper, Palante. (The name, a contraction of “para adelante,” means “forward” or “right on.”) Bilingual and published every two weeks, it was a color tabloid with some of the jazziest graphics around.

You’ll find dozens of copies covering the walls in the tripartite exhibition “¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York.” Spread over three institutions — the Bronx Museum of the Arts; El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem; andLoisaida Inc., a cultural center in the East Village — this show departs from straight political history by presenting the Young Lords as a cultural phenomenon as well as an ideological one, with a highly developed instinct for visual self-projection, right down to having an official party photographer, the gifted Hiram Maristany.

Each of the show’s three parts is more or less self-contained, giving a general picture of the party’s brief history while centering on events specific to each venue. The Bronx Museum portion, for example, organized by two New York-based art historians, Johanna Fernández and Yasmin Ramirez, focuses on the July 1970 takeover of Lincoln Hospital, which is not far from the museum, but also touches on developments elsewhere in the city.

It gives particular attention to links between the Young Lords and Taller Boricua, a print workshop started in East Harlem in 1970 by a group of Puerto Rican artists — Marcos Dimas, Adrián Garcia, Carlos Osorio, Manuel Otero, Martin Rubio and Armando Soto.

Photographs and pages from Palante at El Museo del Barrio. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

Still in operation in a converted public school building at 106th Street and Lexington Avenue, the workshop was originally across the street from the barrio headquarters of the Lords, who occasionally appropriated prints for Palante covers. Mostly, though, the exchange was in the form of aesthetic influence: The workshop’s presence seemed to inspire members of the party who were artists.

Denise Oliver-Velez, an African-American member of the Lords who designed several Palante covers, was one. She was also one of the few women to gain a place in the party’s governing hierarchy. Like many other male-dominated radical groups, the Young Lords were inherently sexist and promoted a form of revolutionary machismo in their original statement of purpose. She would have none of it. Under pressure from her and another female member, Iris Morales, the group revised the statement to read: “We want equality for women. Down with machismo and male chauvinism.”

A 1970 video of the poet Pedro Pietri reciting “Puerto Rican Obituary” at El Museo del Barrio. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

Those words appear in the Bronx show and again in the installation at El Museo del Barrio, organized by Rocio Aranda-Alvarado and sharply designed by Ignacio Vázquez-Paravano. There are brilliant, monumental prints here by Antonio Martorell, Juan Sánchez and Rafael Tufiño, although the general mood is dark.

A photograph by Geno Rodriguez records a demonstration after a teenager named Martin Perez died while in police custody. An issue of Palante records the death, under similar circumstances, of Julio Roldán, a Young Lords member. When the Lords staged an anger-fueled funeral procession for him in the streets of the Barrio, they were fully armed.

Bimbo Rivas reading poetry at an event in 1975. Credit Máximo Colón

A 1970 video of the poet Pedro Pietri reciting his chantlike “Puerto Rican Obituary” feels like a lament for the end of a certain type of activism. The Young Lords Party was already beginning to narrow along hard ideological lines and splinter into competitive factions. It had bought into American gun culture, becoming its own enemy in the process. The group had lost its connection to the grass-roots communities it was meant to serve.

The Pietri poem, however, ends with a direct address to the people of those communities, exhorting them to carry on and to find joy where they can and in who they are. The exhibition at Loisaida Inc., which opens next Thursday, is pitched in that key. Organized by Wilson Valentin-Escobar and Libertad O. Guerra, it’s about the cultural legacy that the Lords left, a populist activism that produced vivid images and had the imaginative lift of performance art.

An installation by Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, in collaboration with Johanna Fernandez, inspired by the Bronx office of the Young Lords, at the Bronx Museum. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

In that upbeat spirit, Mr. Pietri often collaborated with another former Young Lord, Eddie Figueroa — you see them in beautiful photographic portraits by Adál Maldonado at the Bronx Museum. In 1976, Mr. Figueroa founded a space for experimentation, the New Rican Village Cultural Arts Center in the East Village.

Taller Boricua artists like Sandra Maria Esteves and Nestor Otero appeared there. So did a who’s-who of musicians combining African-Caribbean forms with jazz. The mood, as captured in a series of fabulous photographs by Maximo Colon, was ebullient and embracing.

In terms of identity, the Young Lords were, at least initially, also embracing. Puerto Rican society is multiethnic and multicultural; so was the party. This may be one reason that feminism was able to forge a presence, and why the Lords made common cause with the gay rights movement.

A month before the Tompkins Square Park announcement, the Stonewall riots happened across town. Sylvia Rivera, a transgender Latino performer who was rumored to have been involved in the riots and was arrested soon afterward, joined the Lords and helped attract a lesbian and gay contingent.

There’s a small photographic homage to her at Loisaida Inc. And there are tributes to other figures from the past by contemporary artists elsewhere.

A Young Lords march in 1971. Credit Máximo Colón

At the Bronx Museum, the young New York painter Sophia Dawson has three strong paint-and-collage pictures made in collaboration with women who had been Young Lords. And a sculpture by Miguel Luciano, also at the Bronx Museum, commemorates a militant offshoot of the Lords, a Puerto Rican nationalist group called Los Macheteros, or the Machete Wielders.

For them, Mr. Luciano has customized a pair of Nike sneakers by transforming the brand’s Swoosh logo into a machete emblem. In doing so, he symbolically gives these activists a swift means for attack and retreat. But he also asks a blunt question, particularly pertinent in the market-saturated present, about the bond between rebellion and consumption.

How revolutionary can you be if what you’re basically fighting for is the right to have the coolest — usually meaning the most expensive — shoes on the block? The Young Lords, who knew a lot about style, might have had a persuasive answer for that. We could use one.

Revisiting a heated chapter of Bx history

By Shant Shahrigian for the Riverdale Press

A large banner with an AK-47 silhouetted in front of a cutout of the Puerto Rican flag greets visitors to the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ latest show, conveying something of the shock New Yorkers might have felt when the Young Lords took the city by storm starting in the summer of 1969.

The exhibit offers a sympathetic history lesson on the group’s rise and fall by way of the posters, publications, paintings and other artwork that members used to fight for better conditions for Latinos and others in the Bronx, Manhattan and Puerto Rico. A recreation of the group’s Bronx office includes a wall covered in photocopies of FBI files on members, illustrating the police infiltration that contributed to the Lords’ disintegration in the early 1970s.

“¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York” also features items ranging from a list of the group’s 13 socialist goals to a sofa scorched during a 1961 work of performance art.

“A lot of the imagery is very violent. It’s obviously of its era,” said Yasmin Ramírez, an adjunct curator at the museum. “If we look at it at a broader level, I think it’s resonating with people in the community because these issues are still occurring, unfortunately, to this day.”

While the City Council continues to debate free lunch for all public school students, works documenting the Lords’ effort to provide free breakfast for children show the idea is an old one. There are also photos of the group’s one-day occupation of Lincoln Hospital and of demonstrations against the filming of “Fort Apache the Bronx.”

A wall covered in silkscreens by the still-functioning artists coalition Taller Boricua shows the Lords’ roots in Puerto Rican culture. One image is a vibrant homage to Puerto Rican labor organizer Luisa Capetillo, while another protests the death of Young Lord Julio Roldán while in NYPD custody.

Large collages commissioned for the exhibit emphasize the role of women in the movement, who demanded that the Young Lords’ 13 goals said “Down with machismo and male chauvinism” along with battle cries like, “We want self-determination for Puerto Ricans—Liberation of the Island and inside the United States.” Sophia Dawson’s  “Women of the Young Lords” incorporates a photo of activists Iris Morales and Denise Oliver-Velez. Her “Sistahz” references a 1970 poster protesting the sterilization of Puerto Rican women.

Organizers said the exhibit was five years in the making and incorporated lengthy discussions with original Lords members. Some of them, like Ms. Oliver-Velez, continued work as community organizers while others, like Juan González, have made their mark as journalists.

A long with Young Lords banners and the wall of FBI files, the recreation of the group’s Longwood Avenue office includes a table map of all five boroughs. Little blue flags mark the locations of demonstrations like the 1970 Lincoln Hospital takeover and a protest for greater minority representation at the Museum of Modern Art in the same year. Visitors to the free museum are invited to plant white flags and write causes that are important to them.

“What does struggle mean to you, and where can we map it?” said education curator Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, who made the office recreation. “It’s really open-ended.”

“¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York” runs at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, located at 1040 Grand Concourse, through Thursday, Oct. 15. Admission is free. For hours and more information, visit

The Art and Activism of the Young Lords

Three New York City venues look back at the Puerto Rican nationalist group

By MARK ARMAO for the Wall Street Journal

Máximo R. Colón, ‘Partido Young Lords,’ is included in the El Museo del Barrio exhibit. As part of the exhibition, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Loisaida Center will also focus on different aspects of the Lords’ history. MÁXIMO R. COLÓN Three New York City venues are looking back at the Puerto Rican nationalist group the Young Lords in the exhibition ‘¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York.’ Máximo R. Colón’s ’Untitled,’ seen here, is on view at the Bronx Museum. MÁXIMO R. COLÓN

When garbage started piling up on East Harlem sidewalks in the late 1960s because of irregular trash collection, a group of young activists decided to intervene. They dragged the discarded mattresses, old refrigerators and abandoned cars into the street, blocking traffic in a dramatic protest. They then set the garbage aflame.

The protesters were members of the Young Lords, Puerto Rican nationalists who would go on to become one of the most radical civil-rights activist groups in New York City. Controversial in their heyday, they are now the subject of a new, multi-venue exhibition.

Like their better-known collaborators, the Black Panthers, the Young Lords—whose New York chapter was founded in 1969—aimed to combat social oppression in their community through highly organized protests that sometimes involved run-ins with the law.

The exhibition, titled “¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York,” documents those efforts with photographs, publications, films and artwork that came out of the movement. The Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio and the Loisaida Center will each focus on different aspects of the Lords’ history, which began as a struggle for Puerto Rican independence and racial equality, before evolving into a much larger fight.

Máximo R. Colón, ‘Partido Young Lords,’ is included in the El Museo del Barrio exhibit. As part of the exhibition, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Loisaida Center will also focus on different aspects of the Lords’ history. MÁXIMO R. COLÓN Three New York City venues are looking back at the Puerto Rican nationalist group the Young Lords in the exhibition ‘¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York.’ Máximo R. Colón’s ’Untitled,’ seen here, is on view at the Bronx Museum. M?XIMO R. COL?N The Young Lords were Puerto Rican nationalists who would go on to become one of the most radical civil-rights activist groups in New York City. Shepard Fairey’s ‘Visual Disobedience’ is on view at the Bronx Museum. SHEPARD FAIREY/OBEY GIANT ART

“The civil-rights movement is imagined in black and white,” saidJohanna Fernández, co-curator of the Bronx Museum’s exhibition. “But the movement in itself was diverse, and it was concerned with problems of social and economic import” in Puerto Rican neighborhoods, such as unemployment and poor health care. Their work testing East Harlem children for lead poisoning—and trumpeting the dire results at news conferences—helped lead to city legislation on the issue.

The intersection of activism and art is a major theme of “¡Presente!” The Bronx Museum’s portion of the exhibition, which runs until Oct. 15, features an artistic re-creation of the Young Lords’ headquarters, complete with their distinctive posters and a ’70s-era radio that plays interviews with its members.

It also includes around 30 pages from group’s bilingual newspaper, Palante, many emblazoned with vibrant artwork by artists associated with the Young Lords. Several in the group were themselves artists and writers, said co-curator Yasmin Ramírez. Founding New York member Juan Gonzáles, for one, has written several books, and the original party chairman, Felipe Luciano, is a published poet.

The Lords’ history began as a struggle for Puerto Rican independence and racial equality. Hiram Maristany’s ‘David with Palante, V. 2, N. 4,’ is on view at El Museo del Barrio. El Museo’s piece of the multi-venue exhibition, running from July 22 to Oct. 17, will focus on the Lords’ East Harlem activity. HIRAM MARISTANY

Prints and paintings from the era are interspersed with newer pieces, such as a reimagined Young Lords poster by contemporary street artist and activist Shepard Fairey.

The walls of the main gallery are lined with photographs depicting the organization during fiery demonstrations in the Bronx.

In 1970, Denise Oliver-Velez became the first woman elected to the party’s central committee. (Gender equality was a big issue.) She was among the Young Lords who barricaded themselves inside Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx to protest the facility’s unsafe conditions—an event portrayed in the exhibition with both photographs and film footage.

‘Vine pa’echar candela’ is an installation by Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, an artist artist and curator of education at the Bronx Museum, in collaboration with curator Johanna Fernandez. PHOTO: HATUEY RAMOS-FERMÍN

Paintings and political prints created by prominent Young Lords artists will also be on display in the Harlem museum, including a colorful silk-screen print byAntonio Martorell protesting the U.S. Navy’s occupation of an island off Puerto Rico.

Several contemporary works were commissioned specifically for the exhibition. Miguel Luciano fashioned a piece consisting of four fuchsia-colored AK-47s, recurrent symbols in Young Lords iconography.

The Young Lords—whose New York chapter was founded in 1969—aimed to combat social oppression in their community through highly organized protests that sometimes involved run-ins with the law. Máximo R. Colón’s ‘Borinquen Plaza’ from 1971 shows a commemorative march for the anniversary of the 1937 Ponce massacre. The initially peaceful march ended with violence. MÁXIMO R. COLÓN

A third exhibition, opening July 30 at Latino social-service and cultural center Loisaida Inc., will focus on the Lords’ presence in the Lower East Side. Documents include audio recordings and found footage of party members reciting poetry and speaking about their cause.

The show will also feature unpublished photos by Mr. Maristany, and posters by graphic artist and poet Sandra María Esteves. It will examine the efforts of the Young Lords Gay and Lesbian Caucus, as well as the organization’s influence on the neighborhood’s burgeoning Latin-jazz scene, said Wilson Valentín-Escobar, who is co-organizing the exhibit with Libertad Guerra.

Máximo R. Colón, ‘Partido Young Lords,’ is included in the El Museo del Barrio exhibit. As part of the exhibition, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Loisaida Center will also focus on different aspects of the Lords’ history. MÁXIMO R. COLÓN

“The Young Lords redefined the mainstream stereotypes of Puerto Ricans [as being] prone to violence, drug addiction and welfare dependence,” Ms. Fernández said. “They challenged that perception through their eloquent, strategic and smart activism.”

The Young Lords Party newspaper, Palante, on view at El Museo del Barrio. EL MUSEO DEL BARRIO, NEW YORK

Artists respond to call from the Bronx

Work by more than 70 emerging artists from across New York featured in Bronx Calling

by VICTORIA STAPLEY-BROWN for The Art Newspaper

Video still from Cat Del Buono’s Voices (2013)

Twice each year, 18 emerging artists living in the New York metropolitan area participate in Artists in the Marketplace (AIM) at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, a professional development residency programme whose alumni include Glenn Ligon, Rina Banerjee and Polly Apfelbaum. The exhibition Bronx Calling: the Third AIM Biennial (until 20 September) features one piece from each of the 72 artists who have participated in AIM in the past two years.

The artists are “talking about their work in their own terms” in the show, says Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, the museum’s curator of education, who co-organised Bronx Calling with the artist and curator Laura Napier; each label, for instance, includes an artist’s statement. The exhibition reflects the diversity of the artists’ practices, with a range of media, from installations like Erik Shane Swanson’s picnic table Saltwater, Piss and Vinegar (2015), made of scagliola, to oil paintings like Eden Morris’s Biblically-inspired Tamar’s Chance (2013). The works are arranged to dialogue with each other on different levels—“some of [the connections] are very subtle, some of them are more thematic”, Ramos-Fermin says.

Installation view of Cat Del Buono’s Voices (2013) in Bronx Calling: the Third AIM Biennial

Cat Del Buono’s Voices (2013), given its own separate space in a hallway, perhaps speaks loudest all on its own. From a distance, the 13-screen sound and video installation of the lower half of women’s faces speaking is a pretty picture of moving mouths and a hum of indistinguishable chatter. But up close, each screen features a different woman speaking about her own harrowing experience with domestic violence. The work has a simultaneous anonymity and extreme intimacy, and the brief blackness of a screen when its monologue ends adds to the haunting sentiment. Napier recalls her initial hesitation to include the work, and admits it was difficult to handle—she eventually had to turn off the videos during installation—but is happy to have included the piece. “It’s a really important conversation to have,” she says.

Bronx Calling and its associated programmes are supported by Agnes Gund, the Jerome Foundation and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund among others.

Marchers demand cleaner air, healthier food

By Rachel Brown for the Hunts Point Express

Dozens of Hunts Point residents marched with nearly 400,000 demonstrators in the People’s Climate March in Manhattan this past Sunday, calling on world leaders to make drastic changes, all the while chanting slogans such as, “The South Bronx is under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

Local marchers gathered at 9 a.m. with the Bronx Climate Justice bloc at La Finca del Sur community garden in Mott Haven, and started the day with some yoga, a contrast to the huge cardboard fists people would soon carry. Led by two yoga instructors, the marchers were encouraged to remove their shoes, spread their toes, feel grounded to the earth and breathe deeply, bringing calm to the already palpable hustle of the day.

Representatives from Sustainable South Bronx, South Bronx Unite, the Green Worker Cooperatives, Mothers on the Move, Percent for Green, The Point, Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition and La Finca del Sur then took turns outlining their platform points, from waterfront access to healthy food. Most of the groups also made the point that while climate change affects everyone, vulnerable communities such as Hunts Point often bear the brunt of the negative impacts. Another common theme among speakers was that the people have solutions for the issues they face, and lawmakers need to listen to them.

By 9:30 a.m., the group dispersed to take the 1 train to Central Park West, where the citywide march began. A faction of the crowd instead mounted bicycles, and several riders wore lime-green gas tanks labeled with “Stop FreshDirect” stickers to symbolize the health effects that the company’s diesel trucks would bring into a community already burdened with very high asthma rates.

“As a mother whose daughter grew up with asthma, I decided to join today,” said Candace Adams of Morrisania, who rode her bike to midtown after the Bronx gathering. The South Bronx bike group later joined with a larger bike bloc, a group advocating for divestment in fossil fuels and calling attention to bicycles as an environmentally friendly way to get around the city.

Also on the bicycle route was Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, one of the co-founders of Boogie Down Rides, a Bronx-based cycling group. “As a South Bronx resident, at a time when the city is making decisions that affect us, I’m here today because I want to be a part of that,” Ramos-Fermin said.

Longwood resident Nicolás Dumit Estévez said he was participating in the demonstration to be united with the people of the South Bronx who are routinely neglected by the city government. He suggested that climate justice is connected to race, class and gender. “There is a reason we refer to the earth as mother,” Estevez said. “I think we need to change that idea to lover. We have to start loving the earth.”

Mychal Johnson of South Bronx Unite, a coalition working to improve and protect the social, environmental, and economic future of the area, was also one of 38 international civil society delegates to the United Nations Climate Summit held on Sept. 23. He marched along while monitoring the FreshDirect parade float, which was the size of a delivery truck and bore the message, “FreshDirect aims to bring 1,000 daily diesel truck trips through a South Bronx community where 1 in 5 children have asthma.”

“Hopefully I will have the opportunity to bring issues facing people every day in the South Bronx to the world stage,” Johnson said, interrupting himself to tell marchers to watch their step, and, a second later, to pick up the pace. “And I hope that the governments will create a binding agreement on carbon emissions.”

“Sustainability with Dignity!” was a phrase on Alicia Grullón’s Percent for Green sign at the march. Through months of conversations with Bronx residents, she has drafted the Percent for Green bill, which would require that city-funded development projects dedicate 5 percent of costs to public green space. The youth activist program A.C.T.I.O.N and the circus program from The Point could likewise be seen marching, juggling and holding up a banner that read “The Bronx is Breathing.” “It feels amazing to be part of a huge march like this,” said Twahira Khan, a long-time Bronx resident and volunteer with the Bronx River Alliance. “When you’re in a small community trying to solve problems, it can feel overwhelming. But when you know that others are out there working on the same issues in their communities, it’s inspiring.”

‘Boogie on the Boulevard’ to Turn Grand Concourse Into Thoroughfare for Recreation

By: Erin Clarke for NY1

Link to original article and video

A popular event from the past is being revived that will close the Grand Concourse for three days this summer and turn it into a wide thoroughfare open for recreation. NY1’s Erin Clarke filed the following report.

No vehicles, not even one, will pass along a stretch of the Grand Concourse for three days this summer.

Instead, live performances, music, workshops and more will fill the space as part of Boogie on the Boulevard.

“This idea of being open, inviting community to bring children, bring their families, bring their friends and have fun here,” said Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, curator at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

The event revives the tradition of car-free Sundays, when nearly the entire length of the Concourse closed every Sunday of the summer. It stopped in the ’90s.

“I remember when I was younger, when the concourse on Sundays was closed and all I would see was bike riders and people walking around, and there was this big sense of community,” said Ed Garcia Conde, a blogger with Welcome2TheBronx.

Several community partners are bringing the idea back as a way to showcase the borough, its people and culture, and to encourage healthy lifestyles.

“It’s good to have it for the community, but they should have been done this a long time ago to all the people that get to see different cultures of everything that is going around this city,” said one member of the community.

Another goal of Boogie on the Boulevard is to start a conversation among community members about the Grand Concourse.

“Folks can reimagine the Grand Concourse, where they can look at how they would improve the Concourse or changes they would make so that they can have it, have better access to it all year-round,” said Jill Guidera, filed organizing manager with Transportation Alternatives.

Organizers hope to open a dialogue about the roadway, especially since Transportation Alternatives found that similarly constructed roadways accounted for 60 percent of fatal crashes or serious injuries citywide.

“It’s still sometimes referred as the Boulevard of Death because the cars are really zooming and racing by,” Conde said. “I really would love to see it be more pedestrian-friendly, also friendly for bikers and rollerbladers like myself to be able to experience that. Do we really need all these lanes for cars?”

They’re questions that will hopefully get the wheels moving in the direction of change.

Boogie on the Boulevard will be held on August 3, August 10 and August 17.

Community leaders looking to restore Bronx tradition by bringing ‘Boogie on the Boulevard’ to Concourse Village

Bronx organizers and business leaders hope to bring ‘Boogie on the Boulevard’ to Grand Concourse nearly two decades after the pedestrian-friendly event was axed by Giuliani administration


A beloved Grand Concourse tradition put on hold under Rudy Giuliani may be revived for the first time in two decades if a Bronx police precinct approves, The News has learned.

“Boogie on the Boulevard,” a summer right of passage that until 1996 shut a three-mile strech of the Grand Concourse to vehicular traffic and replaced cars with Bronx families, may be returning in an abbreviated form, officials said.

“It’s a no brainer,” said Community Board 4 District Manager Jose Rodriguez, whose board voted to bring back to event this August following a presentation last week by The Bronx Museum of the Arts and Transportation Alternatives.

“It brings about a sense of community,” added Rodriguez. “Folks will see what will be happening and be compelled to participate, because it’s such a positive thing.”

f approved by the 44th Precinct this month, the event would close down Grand Concourse’s center lanes between 165th St. and 167th St. for interactive art exhibits, fitness classes and live music on Aug. 3, 10 and 17.

A petition circulated in favor of the proposal garnered more than 1,400 signatures — and organizers say Concourse Village residents believe the project would be a slam dunk.

“It would be a huge added value to the community, which we’ve heard over and over from residents,” said Caroline Samponaro, senior director of campaigns and organizing at Transportation Alternatives. “It’s so pro-neighborhood to have an event where neighbors can come together in public space and have positive, healthy activities to do.”

For some partners, “Boogie on the Boulevard” is an ideal scenario to showcase their offerings.

“This is something that we thought would be a great opportunity to bring programming outside the museum’s walls,” said Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, The Bronx Museum of the Arts Curator of Education. “This will be a great opportunity for us to provide our neighbors with great programming. It’s a great way to bring people together.”

The project was submitted as part of the city’s Weekend Walks program, which allows commercial streets to close in order to host pedestrian-friendly activities.

The idea was introduced in 1991 by then-Borough President Fernando Ferrer, before the Guiliani Administration ended it in 1996. A scaled-back iteration was reintroduced in 2006 but fizzled out shortly thereafter.

[email protected]



A Bronx Blast From the Past: Car-Free Grand Concourse Gets CB 4 Support

by  for Streetsblog

It’s been an on-again, off-again tradition for at least two decades: Turning the center lanes of the Grand Concourse into a car-free space for stress-free walking, biking and exercise. With an overwhelming vote of support from Community Board 4 earlier this week, it seems this tradition is poised for a return this summer.

In the early 1990s, then-Borough President Fernando Ferrer supported car-free Sundays on the Grand Concourse, giving Broxnites a chance to enjoy three-and-a-half miles of the borough’s main boulevard. The program, which started in July and August, was extended through November due to its popularity, but the Giuliani administration stopped the program in 1996. A limited version was brought back by Adolfo Carrión, Ferrer’s successor, in 2006, and was documented in this Streetfilm before again fading out a couple years later.

Now, the program is set for a return — if only for a few blocks and a few hours. On Tuesday, Bronx Community Board 4 lent its support with a 27-1 vote in favor of a proposal led by Transportation Alternatives, the Bronx Museum of Art, and a host of local health, cultural, neighborhood and business partners.

The groups are applying to DOT’s Weekend Walks program to open the center lanes of the Grand Concourse between 165th and 167th Streets to walking, biking and public events on three consecutive Sundays in August. Last year, there were three Weekend Walks events in the Bronx, but none on the Grand Concourse.

The event, called “Boogie on the Boulevard,” is scheduled for August 3, 10 and 17 — the same days that Summer Streets, the city’s marquee open streets event, has traditionally been held in Manhattan. ”It’s definitely playing on an extension of Summer Streets, coming up to serve folks in the Bronx,” TA field organizing manager Jill Guidera said. ”People from the Bronx go down to Park Avenue to enjoy their city in that way, and they were wondering where theirs was.”

While Summer Streets is a massive event featuring corporate sponsorships and thousands of people, the Grand Concourse organizers are planning something that better fits with the surrounding neighborhood, with an emphasis on arts, culture, and health.

“The museum is on the Grand Concourse, and it became a natural fit for us to become involved,” said Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, curator of education programs for the Bronx Museum of Art. “We’re not just a building with artworks on the wall. We see ourselves as a community-based organization.”

Organizers are planning to feature live music, interactive art, health screenings, and fitness classes from TA, the Bronx Museum and other partners including Bronx Health Reach, the Bronx District Public Health Office and Montefiore Hospital. Last September, organizers started off with a small installation on Park(ing) Day, converting two car parking spaces into a green (if temporary) space to build momentum for Boogie on the Boulevard.

In addition to cultural and health institutions, there are 13 small businesses along this section of the Grand Concourse, Guidera said, and they have all signed a letter of support [PDF]. Some store owners have already planned to set up tables outside during the event. A petition in support of Boogie on the Boulevard has gathered more than 1,400 signatures, most of which were collected by volunteers on the Grand Concourse and at events throughout the Bronx.

The community board was very receptive to the plan at Tuesday’s meeting. “There was nothing controversial and nothing negative in having that portion of the Grand Concourse closed,” said district manager José Rodriguez.

Guidera said some members of the community board were interested in extending the event’s hours and boundaries, from 161st Street to Moshulu Parkway all summer long. She hopes this enthusiasm could set the stage for bigger things to come, but is focused on getting this year’s event off the ground. “We’re going to see four blocks reallocated,” she said, “which is really great.”

There are still more approvals to get before the event becomes a reality: The group is beginning to work with the police precinct before sending its request to DOT, which will make the final decision as part of its Weekend Walks application process.


Guest Lesson | Thinking Critically About Food in a Season of Plenty

By Suzie Boss for the Learning Network of the New York Times

Go to related article »

This is the second post in a series in which the education writer Suzie Boss suggests ways to use The New York Times Fixes blog and other resources as inspiration for designing real-world projects for schools.

In her first post, “For Authentic Learning, Start With Real Problems,” Ms. Boss explains the concept of project-based learning and suggests ways in which this strategy can work with recent issues in the news.

Thinking Critically About Food in a Season of Plenty

With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays practically upon us, it is natural to be thinking about favorite recipes and family celebrations.

Without dampening that holiday spirit, you can turn this into a season for critical thinking with projects that encourage students to investigate why we eat what we do.

In a previous post we suggested how you might use Fixes, a series that is part of the Opinionator section of The Times, as the starting point for timely, relevant project-based learning, or P.B.L. The authors of Fixes explore some of today’s most pressing social problems and the innovators working to solve them.

Through P.B.L., students can investigate and develop solutions to similar issues, often focusing on their own communities. In the process, they learn academic content and also develop important “soft” skills, like collaboration and problem-solving.

Let’s whet your appetite with some examples.

Filling the Grocery Gap

In “Time to Revisit Food Deserts,” the Fixes author David Bornstein highlights recent research about access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods. He also models the kind of questioning and analysis that you want to encourage students to do in project-based learning. Mr. Bornstein asks: “Is access to healthy food a primary barrier to healthy eating? And, if so, will increasing it lead to better health outcomes?”

Students could bring this line of questioning closer to home by finding out whether their community fits the United States Department of Agriculture definition of a food desert. (Here’s a mapping tool from the Department of Agriculture.) If students determine that their community is lacking when it comes to fruits and vegetables, they might be motivated to find out, “How can we fill the grocery gap in our neighborhood?”

P.B.L. hooks students’ interest by asking them to explore questions that matter to them. Investigating access to fresh, affordable foods in their community might involve taking surveys, mapping locations of grocers or produce carts, and interviewing nutritionists and other experts. Often, projects end with students sharing what they have learned with a public audience.

Earlier this year, for instance, high school students from CUNY’s College Now at Hostos Community College set out to discover whether there are enough supermarkets in the Bronx. They wanted to find out, “Who gets supermarkets, who doesn’t, and why?” Collaborating with the Center for Urban Pedagogy, they conducted consumer research in the aisles of grocery stores. They interviewed experts from fields ranging from real estate to food distribution to urban planning. They summarized their findings in a booklet about food justice called “Funky Fresh” and hosted a public event to share their research and recommendations.

Food deserts aren’t limited to urban neighborhoods. Last year, students in rural Bertie County in North Carolina designed and built a farmers’ market for their community as a strategy to improve eating habits in a region where many families experience obesity-related illnesses. Read about the evolution of their project in this Edutopia post, “Studio H: How Design/Build Curriculum Can Transform a Community.”

Reframe the Food Drive

Many schools take part in holiday food drives. Expand on this tradition by planning projects that challenge students to examine the causes and consequences of hunger, and, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, learn about the role these food drives play in emergencies. Here are some resources for inspiration:

— Start with statistics to give students a better understanding of who goes hungry. “Families Struggle to Afford Food, Survey Finds” paints the big picture of what experts call “food insecurity.” An online tool, “Map the Meal Gap,” allows students to research and compare statistics about hunger at the country level.

— For a poignant look at the issue of childhood hunger, read how “Sesame Street” has responded in the article “Food Stamps in Elmo’s World.”

— Oxfam America Hunger Banquet is an awareness-raising event where the luck of the draw determines what you eat. A free planning guide outlines how to host an event in your community.

— The Empty Bowls Project integrates art and social action. The basic concept is simple: Students make ceramic bowls, which are used to serve soup at a fund-raiser. Patrons take home their empty bowls to remind them of those who go hungry around the world. Expand on the project by having students investigate and think critically about which charity should benefit from their fund-raiser.

— According to this article, food banks provide assistance to more than 37 million Americans a year through more than 61,000 outlets. During Hurricane Sandy, food banks were on the front lines with food, bottled water and cleaning supplies. But, as the article describes, their mission is expanding beyond just handing out food. Have students read the article, then investigate where their food drive collections will go locally, and what more they might do to help that organization or get involved in its mission.

— Two Learning Network lesson plans, “Helping the Hungry: Researching the Causes of Hunger and Related Charities” and “World Food Day: Addressing Hunger Around the Globe,” supply more ideas and resources for learning about how to help.

Many Right Answers

In project-based learning., there may be multiple solutions to the problem or issue that students are investigating. That means there is room for creativity when it comes to brainstorming potential solutions. Projects also set the stage for critical thinking because students will need to evaluate the pros and cons of ideas.

To get students primed for innovative problem-solving, have them read Tina Rosenberg’s Fixes column, “In ‘Food Deserts,’ Oases of Nutrition.” She explains why in poor places like Jakarta, street food offers cheap eats but leads to poor childhood nutrition. She explains: “Overcrowded, kitchenless housing has given rise to a culture of street food that has done wonders for tourism in Asian cities — the most crowded parts of the planet. But it has also condemned tens or hundreds of millions of people to an almost nutrition-free diet.”

Ms. Rosenberg describes how Mercy Corps, a humanitarian organization, has encouraged some street vendors to pursue a niche market — creating a special menu of cheap but healthy fare for children 5 and under. Vendors operate out of brightly colored carts that play music. There is education along with enterprise. As Ms. Rosenberg explains: “Four dolls on the cart represent different food groups and are named for benefits of good nutrition — Strong, Smart, Lively and Taller. The cart also has built-in toys teaching shapes or colors that kids can play with while they wait.”

From that article, you could shift to a discussion of how fast-food restaurants in the United States appeal to young diners. That is a topic for which most students will have plenty of background knowledge.

Depending on your subject area, you might design a project that explores the ethics of fast-food advertising or analyzes the economics, nutritional impact or cultural history of fast food. For a social studies project, students might investigate a recent proposal to allow food stamps to be used to buy fast food. (For background, read “No Funds for Fast Food.” ) As a culminating event, students could hold a public forum and offer pro-and-con arguments about the proposal.

Related: Our collections of lessons and other resources, All About Food and Thanksgiving.

Ms. Boss is the author of “Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age” and “Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World.”


Citizen Placemakers: Elizabeth Hamby & Hatuey Ramos Fermín Use Art to Bring People Together

By  for Project for Public Spaces

Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermín are people connectors. As artists, activists, and Bronxites, their creative collaborations are all about gathering information from neighbors and presenting it in ways that allow communities to better understand themselves and the urban spaces they create. The two have worked in all kinds of public spaces, from major thoroughfares and street corners to laundromats, grocery stores, and vacant waterfronts.

Recently, they organized Boogie Down Rides: Bicycling is Art. The artists used the social act of biking as a springboard for talking with people about the creation of healthy, active urban environments. Throughout the month of May 2012, they set up many different formats for engaging the public: a temporary bike shop that simultaneously served as an education hub, group rides across the Bronx, and visioning workshops about biking and greenway initiatives in the city.

The project was organized as part of the public art exhibition, This Side of Paradise, by No Longer Empty at the Andrew Freedman Home. I recently sat down with Hatuey and Elizabeth to talk aboutBoogie Down Rides and the other urban projects they have in the works.


What was it about your community that inspired Boogie Down Rides? Was there a particular need that you were responding to or wanted to address?

Hatuey: Boogie Down Rides grew out of another project of mine, Transmit-Transit. It explored the idea of taxi drivers as a mode of transport in the the Bronx, and the need for cabs to move around. Public transit in the north-south direction works well but east-west not so much. No Longer Empty first approached me about that transportation project, which became a video installation at the Andrew Freedman Home that connected the gallery space to the outside world. Then we began thinking about how to physically and conceptually expand transportation within the community. Transportation was a major theme extending back to Mr. Freedman’s time, with Mr. Freedman being a major backer of the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), New York City’s original underground subway. The IRT addressed the linking of open space from Central Park to Van Cortlandt Park. Extending the idea of Transmit-Transit beyond cabs, we wanted to look at bikes as another viable option to address mobility in the Bronx.

One of the great things about Boogie Down Rides is how it brings together many activities that people may not normally associate but which all contribute to healthy places. Your tagline, for example, is Bicycling is Art. Can you explain how biking, public art, and urban spaces are linked in your project?

Elizabeth: Instead of representing reality as a painting, we live it on a bike. The bike embodied action for this issue of transportation in the Bronx, where biking is a social act and a political act. Instead of designing a solution to a problem, we tried to figure out the questions that exist in real life through the experience of biking. We both live in the Bronx. It’s part of our day-to-day reality, and because we’re artists, we have a compulsion to make what we see public. We often talk to people about the role that artists play as citizens and neighbors in our communities. We hope our work as artists can help make our neighborhoods more safe, lively, and liveable in many ways.

The project also involved community visioning sessions for the Bronx’s longer-term development. What came out of these sessions?

Elizabeth: The visioning sessions were really spearheaded by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which was just launching an interactive toolkit to gather data and address threats to active transportation and public space. They were key in leading some of the concrete visioning work happening around the Sheridan Expressway, where dangerous connections make it unsafe to bike between the parks. Rather than focusing on cause and effect, the visioning sessions were about figuring out opportunities for improvement. Safety—specifically, feeling safe in public—was an ongoing theme in the conversations we had with our neighbors.

Throughout your various interactions with the public, did you come across questions or reactions that particularly surprised you?

Elizabeth: One of the most surprising things that we learned from Boogie Down Rides was the number of adults—particularly women—who had never learned how to ride a bike, and who were very excited to find out about opportunities for biking in the Bronx. In the instance of another project, Mind the Gap/La Brecha, we talked a lot with folks in our neighborhood about their ideas for the waterfront. One of the critical components to the waterfront that came up over and over again was the basic need for clean public restrooms!

Collaboration seems integral to your work. What other community partners were vested inBoogie Down Rides?

Hatuey: Conversations and collaborations were important from the start; we worked with Transportation AlternativesDepartment of Health and Mental HygieneBronx River AllianceBike the BronxBronx Health REACHPartnership for ParksVelo City

Elizabeth: We also had a meeting with City Planning and the Mayor’s Office where we were able to show our recommendations. It was perhaps an unusual case in that the Mayor’s Office and City Planning came to us. Our collaborations really grew organically, and our project was timely in terms of how they related to conversations already happening in New York about biking, complete streets, and the South Bronx Greenway Plan.

And did people express any misconceptions that you were able to address through these collaborations?

Elizabeth: I think that artists working in public the way that we do are often confused with non-profit or other community-based organizations. We often talk to people about the role that artists play as citizens and neighbors in our communities—and the ways that we hope that our work can help make our neighborhoods more safe, lively, and liveable.

Any advice you would give to communities who are trying to build healthier places?

Elizabeth: You have to remember the factor of critical mass. If you notice a problem, someone else probably has too, so it becomes about working together in a long-term way.

Hatuey: It’s realizing there are already resources within the community, and that becomes the main point of departure. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel. You want to create space to bring stakeholders together.

Elizabeth: Also humility and willingness to listen and genuinely collaborate—those are really important, in regard to attitude. There’s a lot of work that goes into working together.

Hatuey: Listening is the biggest thing, listening with a big ear.

How Do Supermarkets Decide Where to Open?

A funky, fresh look at how supermarkets work in urban neighborhoods

By CUP for Gilt Taste

Last year, we shared a fantastic video made by high school students on the food in convenience stores in their Bronx neighborhoods. Rather than take the tsk-tsk approach of many who write about the “food deserts” where low-income people can’t find fresh, healthy produce, it was a balanced, smart, and fun look at the issue, one that saw the store owners as their neighbors.

In that same spirit, we’re happy to share a peek at Funky Fresh another project by another group of students. Both of these projects (and many more!) were produced in collaboration with CUP, a nonprofit organization that uses design and art to improve public participation in shaping the places where we all live. Check them out. – Ed.

Who decides where supermarkets go? Are there enough supermarkets in the Bronx? Why does it matter? For Funky Fresha group of public high school students worked with teaching artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, to took a look at who gets supermarkets, who doesn’t, and why.

To find answers, the students got out of the classroom and into the frozen food aisles. They visited grocery stores across the boroughs, the Fresh Direct distribution site planned for the Bronx, and the real estate department of a major supermarket. For the story on how supermarkets choose sites, they interviewed the CEO of Western Beef supermarkets; a supermarket site analyst; the Department of City Planning; a Bronx Community Board member; organizers; and public health experts.

Afterwards, the group designed a booklet to teach others what’s funky and what’s fresh about Bronx supermarket access. Here are a few pages of their work. For the rest, check it out here.

Bienal de Arte en el Bronx

Por: EFE para Telemundo

Más de 75 artistas participan en la Tercera Bienal de Arte Latinoamericano en El Bronx, que se realiza bajo el tema de “correlación ilusoria” en un evento cultural que busca establecer el arte como lenguaje común en este condado.

“La mayoría de los países latinoamericanos están representados” en las cinco sedes de la bienal en El Bronx y una galería en el condado de Manhattan, dijo a Efe el comisario y cofundador de la muestra, el artista puertorriqueño Luis Stephenberg.

Los artistas de la muestra, que se extenderá hasta el 30 de noviembre, provienen de diversos estados del país, así como de países de Latinoamérica, el Caribe y Europa, explicó Stephenberg.

El comisario destacó que entre los artistas hay creadores de la talla de los puertorriqueños Diógenes Ballester y Carlos Fajardo, el ecuatoriano Amaru Chiza, el dominicano Hatuey Ramos, la peruana Carolina Bazo y el español Jesús Algovi.

La bienal de arte latinoamericano se realiza como parte del Festival Hispano de El Bronx, que cada año festeja el mes de la Herencia Hispana.

Stephenberg dijo que esta bienal aspira a contribuir en el trabajo cultural de la misma forma que las bienales de Sao Paulo (Brasil), La Habana, Cuenca (Ecuador), la trienal poligráfica de San Juan o la trienal del Caribe de República Dominicana.

“En sicología, la correlación ilusoria es la percepción de algo que aparentemente es pero no es. La discriminación está basada en la correlación ilusoria, se llega a una conclusión de algo que no se ha estudiado”, explicó el comisario, que agregó que los estereotipos también están incluidos en este concepto.

De acuerdo con Stephenberg, esta bienal, que en su primera edición de 2008 exploró el tema de los recuerdos y la historia y en 2010 el tema de la inmigración, contribuye a cambiar “la imagen negativa que muchos tienen aún de El Bronx”, agregó.

2 BX artists bring ‘Mind the Gap’ project to Mott Haven

2 BX artists bring ‘Mind the Gap’ project to Mott Haven by Bornx News 12

MOTT HAVEN – Two Bronx residents have launched a project in an attempt to bridge the gap between the waterfront and Mott Haven. ‘Mind the Gap’ is part of The Laundromat Project, which brings artists to neighborhood Laundromats to document what locals think about the waterfront and how to improve access to it. The participants hope the project helps residents appreciate the area’s natural resources. ‘Mind the Gap’ will be stationed at the Blue and White Laundromat on East 140th Street through September.

Mott Haven artists transform laundromat into interactive art site

By Patrick Wall for DNAinfo

MOTT HAVEN — With its rumbling dryers and stinging smell of detergent, the Blue and White Laundromat on East 140th Street is a fine place to wash clothes, but an odd one to dream about a river.

But that is what two Mott Haven artists are asking patrons to do as they conduct interviews outside the laundromat and invite passersby to fiddle with a whimsical model of the South Bronx waterfront, where popsicle sticks stand in for bridges and blue tape signifies water.

“Feel free to touch things and put things here,” said artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín as locals approached the tabletop river. “Make your own little place along the water.”

Through the model, the recorded interviews, maps, photographs and riverside walks, Ramos-Fermín and his creative partner, Elizabeth Hamby, want to draw their neighbors’ attention to the South Bronx waterfront, which sits just a mile south but often feels a world away.

“There is a disconnect between people’s everyday experience here and the waterfront,” said Ramos-Fermín, noting that many locals travel some nine miles northeast to Orchard Beach or walk along the Manhattan bank of the Harlem River to spend time near the water. The piece, which will culminate with a public presentation in October, was commissioned by The Laundromat Project, a citywide nonprofit whose residency program gives artists $4,000 to launch interactive art projects inside laundromats in the neighborhoods where they live. Other artists have converted sections of laundromats into yoga studios, reading rooms and English language classrooms for immigrants — all with the blessing of the storeowners, who are not paid by the artists or the nonprofit.

The Mott Haven pair hopes their piece, called “Mind the Gap/La Brecha,” can connect residents with the ongoing efforts of local activists, city officials and urban planners from as far away as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge to convert stretches of Bronx waterfront from their old industrial uses into public spaces. “A lot of plans already exist,” said Hamby, including ones for new riverside parks, pathways and a long-delayed footbridge to Randall’s Island. But, she added, there is a need to carry “that conversation out of those meetings and onto the ground.” Riverfront access gained new attention this year when some Bronx residents loudly opposed FreshDirect’s plan to build a new 500,000-square-foot facility in the Harlem River Yards in Port Morris.

But when the art project began this month at the laundromat on East 140th St., talk of the water was far less contentious and much more personal. After shoving her clothes into a dryer, an elderly woman told the artists that she loves dipping her feet in the water. A man passing on the sidewalk pulled out his cell phone to share a picture of his favorite beach in Puerto Rico. Alex Alonzo, 9, played with the river model until he had designed his dream waterfront, with pipe connectors as telescopes, a plastic badge as a police station and a pack of pink wafers as a cookie factory. Alex’s older brother, Alberto Alonzo, stopped folding clothes for a moment to imagine fishing and picnicking by the river. “You sit by the water and feel the breeze and you feel relaxed,” Alberto Alonzo, 25, said. “You forget about the city.” When the artists asked their neighbors about their visions for a reclaimed South Bronx waterfront, they mentioned shade, bright colors, swimmable water, security and, of course, restrooms. “What this exercise reveals is that everybody has feelings about water,” said Hamby, while some young children pushed plastic fish through the blue-tape river. “It’s elemental.”

‘Paradise’ Boosts Bronx Arts Scene

By Sarah Ramirez for Norwood News

The success of this spring’s “This Side of Paradise” exhibit, which took place at the Andrew Freedman Home on the Grand Concourse, has people talking about the emerging art scene in the Bronx like never before.

Curated by the nomadic non-profit arts organization No Longer Empty, “This Side of Paradise” brought over 9,000 people, over the course of two months, to the historic 1920s building that once served as a retirement home to the formerly wealthy.

The featured galleries and projects, created by over 30 artists, many based in the Bronx, weaved together themes such as history and socioeconomics.

“The positive energy generated by bringing artists together to create art works that reflect some aspect of the Bronx and Bronx history was a terrific idea,” said Linda Cunningham, one of the artists featured in the exhibit.

The once-lavish Andrew Freedman Home was a source of inspiration for many, including the staff at No Longer Empty.

“There’s really a sense of paradise here, not just in the building and its history, but to the first generation of people coming to the Bronx and making it their destination, the beginning of a new life,” said Naomi Hersson-Ringskog, executive director for No Longer Empty. “[The sense of paradise extends] well into the art scene here that’s reemerging, rebirthing and there’s a lot of potential here in the Bronx to really showcase it to a wider audience.”

The exhibit was able to attract audiences not only from the Bronx, but Manhattan and beyond. In addition to the art installations, No Longer Empty also organized a variety of educational and cultural programs at the Home. Nearly 2,200 students attended hands-on workshops, free of charge. Other events included movie screenings, panel discussions and dance workshops.

“It’s creating a variety of entry points to experience the arts,” said Hersson-Ringskog.

No Longer Empty also relied on other arts organizations in the Bronx to make “This Side of Paradise” a remarkable success.

“This year, No Longer Empty has done a lot to bring this art and people together into this huge show, and I think that’s a big, big step,” said Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, who participated in the show.

“Organizations in the Bronx are coming together, weaving this cultural landscape,” Hersson-Ringskog said.

“The No Longer Empty project generated energy and interest in the arts that has now affected all of the arts institutions,” Cunningham said.

One recent offshoot of these collaborations is the formation of the Bronx Arts Alliance (BAA), a collective of 20 Bronx anchor art organizations, including the

Bronx Council on the Arts, BronxArtsSpace, The Point, the Bronx River Art Center and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

The BAA aims to support a cohesive and vibrant arts presence in the Bronx, using its collective resources to bring more group exhibitions and events to the borough, as well as advocate for art and cultural policies.

This coordinated effort is a far cry from how the art scene in the Bronx was even a decade ago.

“When I moved here in 2000, if there was an art scene, it was nothing I knew about or participated in,” Cunningham said. “By 2004, artists like Wanda Ortiz and arts organizer Mitsu Hadeishi had begun putting on periodic events, video showings, performance and art exhibitions, and soon coordinated with the Bronx Council on the Arts.”

The growth in the art scene reflects the progress throughout the borough over the last 20 or so years.

“I started working in the Bronx in 1989, 1990 because I got a grant to do murals from the MTA from the early arts project Creative Station,” said Carey Clark, now the visual arts director at The Point and its representative to the BAA. “It was a very tough neighborhood when I started going there, and I’ve seen nothing but improvement since then.”

Clark, who resides in Mott Haven, said that even today’s economic roadblocks “won’t ever stop what’s going on in terms of this being an incredibly artful, soulful place.”

“I think everyone is doing the best they can with the circumstances, and there’s not a lot of economic support for the arts in the Bronx,” said Ramos-Fermín. “The [Bronx Museum of the Arts] is really trying to change the perception that art is only for certain people, that it’s only for the elite or something like that. They’re really trying to be more inclusive of people of different backgrounds.”

Just as before, an evolving art scene is changing some perceptions of the Bronx outside the borough.

“The Bronx has an amazing, rich history that people are not as well aware of as they should be and the more organizations and artists and even residents talk about it, and its beauty and dynamic quality, more people will come and more people here will be bolstering that borough pride,” said Hersson-Ringskog.

Many involved in the arts see even more potential for the Bronx.

“The most important thing is to work collaboratively, to create sort of festival days and you sort of have to keep pushing for those sorts of things and more and more,” Clark said. “It’s coming up with sort of promotional strategies [for the Bronx] to become more of a cultural destination.”

An ‘Art of the 5’ shout-out!

At the center of the “Art of the 5: A Shout Out to the Bronx” exhibit at the galleries of the Interchurch Center is a life cast by Jeanine Alfieri. It’s just one of her five pieces that are alternately composed of wool, oil paint, denim, leather, steel and cotton.
Alfieri’s pieces are scattered throughout the impressive exhibit. One greets you as you enter the gallery, with another near the back entrance of the Interchurch Center in a curvaceous repose, guiding visitors along a wall of art that on one side ends with Xavier Figueroa’s “Inundation.”
Viewers are drawn to Figueroa’s work, a mask crying out amid a crush of paper, wire, mesh and vinyl. Encased behind glass and illuminated by fluorescent lighting, paper portions of the installment seep out or creep, depending on one’s perspective.
Matching Alfieri’s number of pieces are paintings by Daniel Hauben, and some of his depictions of locations in the boroughs will be familiar. His “Urban Undulations” are accurately named since they vibrate with an active intensity, inviting you to walk down the streets, to step into the shops.
Amir Bey is one of the country’s most versatile artists, and his several works on sheet aluminum, copper foil, brass, acrylic and ink on plywood are as visually attractive as they are intricate, challenging onlookers to figure out how the embossed words are created on the aluminum. Three of them are from his “New Times Holler” series, which is also the name of his informative website. It should also be noted that his essay in response to the late Dr. Manning Marable’s biography of Malcolm X can be found in “By Any Means Necessary” (Third World Press, 2012).
As the curator, Debra Vanderburg Spencer, observes, the exhibit is a diverse collection of styles, techniques and ideas. It isn’t a thematic show and that is intentional, she says, since “it encompasses each artist’s individual practice rather than looking for links between them.”
Even so, it’s hard not to see at least a modicum of connection among the painters who seek meaning and expression in urban scenes, particularly William Behnken, Elena Bouza and Hatuey Ramos-Fermin. Likewise, John Ahearn’s mounted plaster pieces do, to some extent, signal Alfieri’s conceptions. Many visitors will not surprised by Betty Blayton’s acrylic and mixed media on canvas because her creations here invoke what she has done for years at the Children’s Carnival in Harlem. And if Kuniyasu Hashimoto’s contributions take on a classical mode, then Hrvoje Slovenc’s “Partners in Crime” will perhaps remind you of Frida Kahlo’s art. Prices of the pieces range from $350 to $35,000, including Calderon’s “formal and detached” embroideries, one of which you can take home for $1,800. But it’s hard to put a price on a beautiful work of art. The real value is derived from viewing them and taking home the often-riveting impressions, the lovely renderings that often defy monetary evaluation.
Come see for yourself in the remaining days of the exhibit, located at the Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive at 120th Street, on Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All the artists, said Paula Mayo, Interchurch Center president and executive director, will be on hand for the closing of the show on June 19, 6:30 to 8 p.m. If you can’t make it, the exhibit will be mounted again next year in Queens, so be vigilant.  For additional information, call (212) 870-2940 or email [email protected].

Art show at Bronx Museum curated by local teens features artworks also by area teens

By Tanyanika Samuels / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

When “The Other I” art exhibit opens Thursday at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, it will be a triumph not only for the artists but also for the curators.

The exhibition, inspired by the theme of alter ego, was curated by the museum’s Teen Council–13 high school students who work with two staffers to produce media projects on issues affecting youth.

“The idea is to give teens a forum to express themselves,” said museum educator Hatuey Ramos Fermín.

After choosing the theme, the Teen Council put out an open call for teen artists citywide and received about 100 submissions.

“It’s a great opportunity for (young artists) to show at a museum at such a young age,” said Hannie Chia, the museum’s programs manager.

Teen Council members narrowed the selection to 24 drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures. Earlier this week, they worked to install the pieces.

Among them, is an untitled painting by artist Mohammed Hossain that shows a man emerging from a pyramid and reaching for an apple. It’s one of teen curator Kwadwo Asamoah’s favorites.

“The apple symbolizes truth but the the man is being held back by his foundation. That’s what I see,” said Asamoah, 17, of Concourse. “I think this picture is so important because I feel that a lot of people today aspire to become things that they want to be, but they’re being held back.”

Another piece, “Not Everyone Can See It” by Yrma Batista, is an intricate drawing with the words “Everything has beauty but not everyone can see it” hidden within the swirling pattern of lines.

“We felt like this picture summarizes alter ego, that everyone has a beautiful side but it’s not always brought to the surface,” said curator Eric Avila, 17, of Harlem.

Putting together the art show proved quite the learning experience.

“It definitely broadened my view of art,” Avila said. “I’m a photorealist artist. But with this gallery show, I tried to look for the deeper meaning in the pieces.”

The experience brought life lessons as well.

“We learned to work together,” said Asamoah. “Sometimes it was very difficult to get your voice heard but we got past that. And that’s how we were successful.”

“The Other I” will be on exhibit until July 8 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse. For more information, visit

[email protected]

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This Side of a Postmodern Paradise: No Longer Empty in the Andrew Freedman Home


The two-month run of This Side of Paradise, the much celebrated exhibit by No Longer Empty, is quickly coming to a close. Last minute viewers have until June 5th to see the works of 34 artists occupying the Andrew Freedman Home (1125 Grand Concourse) before it closes this Tuesday.

Since the opening on April 4th, the exhibit has received over 2500 visitors and significant press attention, making it by far the most successful show for the nascent arts organization No Longer Empty. Founded in the heart of the recession by the prominent curator Manon Slome, No Longer Empty transforms the vacant storefronts littering NYC into temporary art exhibits. Slome, former curator of the Guggenheim, stresses that No Longer Empty’s unique vision does not produce ‘pop-up’ shows; their mission is rather to dissolve the barriers between public and private art through curated, site-specific exhibits which are truly inspired by the empty spaces they occupy. In this way the group also revitalizes forlorn streetscapes; a key part of No Longer Empty’s mission is to provide neighborhood benefits by fostering activity in and around their show spaces.

This Side of Paradise, however, differs from most of No Longer Empty’s previous exhibits as it utilizes a historic site rather than a commercial space. Looming over the 167th street B / D stop, the Andrew Freedmen Home opened in 1924 as a retirement home for former millionaires to live their last days in the manner in which they had become accustomed. Freedman, who died in 1915, used his eponymous project as an extension of his interests in life. He was known as a great connector and developer critical in the growth of New York around the turn of the 20th century. Freedman was a member of the controversial Tammany Hall development machine and a key financier of the original IRT subway line. His substantial wealth funded the Home’s operations until the endowment dwindled in the early 1980s, making the living conditions for later residents considerably less luxurious than Freedman originally intended.

Justen Ladda, German-born artist featured in This Side of Paradise, first noticed the Andrew Freedman Home in this period of decline. Ladda began exploring the South Bronx in 1970s for spaces for his installation pieces. “Coming from Europe,” Ladda said, “I can only compare the state of the South Bronx in the 1970s to Pompeii. Whole streets were abandoned and vacant, like some European cities after World War II. I noticed the Andrew Freedman home then- it was already derelict. The place was dimly lit, and you could tell that the residents were heavily sedated. I was able to enter the grounds and building and look around with no questions asked.” Ladda’s piece, “like money like water” (2012) acknowledges the tension between wealth, death and relationships. “My piece is about pissing money,” said Ladda, “how dead these people are who are constantly buying stuff to fill the content of their lives. It does things on a personal level, and also on a wider societal level, this influences our interpersonal relationships.”


Ladda’s piece transforms depending on the stance of the viewer. Similarly, the Andrew Freedman Home transforms depending upon the time and space in which the Home is seen. Naomi Hersson-Ringskog, the Executive Director of No Longer Empty, describes her first engagement with the Andrew Freedman Home much differently than Ladda: “My first impression of the home is the amazement that you don’t recognize it exists. It occupies an entire block and you don’t really notice it. The fence around the grounds still gives off its original air of exclusion; it remains a gated space.” Artist Frederico Uribe’s installation “The Fence” (2012) installed on the exterior gate, softens the Home’s disconnection from the Grand Concourse promenade. Similarly, show’s opening drew over 2,400 people thanks in part to the large blue flag flying in the front lawn with a simple word and message: “free.” According to Hersson-Ringskog, the show receives around 60 visitors each day, a record breaking average for a No Longer Empty show.

While the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council currently owns the property, it is no longer used as a retirement community. The Home is in a period of transition; the Council is renovating separate sections of the large building into a bed and breakfast and community arts and education center. This Side of Paradise acts as a bridge between the old and new uses for the space- the exhibit explores the Home’s captivating past and burgeoning future. Hersson-Ringskog describes the show as a celebration of “human ingenuity, the strength of the human spirit and the resilience needed to fashion beauty, hope and rejoicing.”


According to Hersson-Ringskog, Slome conducted over 60 studio visits to Bronx-based artists to ensure the show featured a cadre of local artists. Their pieces explore the different facets of the Home’s past, present and future. For example, Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermin’s piece “IRT” (2012) indirectly alludes to Freedman’s impact on NYC’s subways while explicitly illustrating how Livery cabs fill in public transit service gaps in the Bronx. Bronx-based couple Hamby and Ramos-Fermin also collaborated with many existing community groups in the neighborhood to create Boogie Down Rides, a temporary bike shop near the Home. The shop was open throughout May and served the area with bike rentals and repairs. Boogie Down Rides also served as an outpost for residents to learn about the development of bike paths and greenways in the Bronx, as well as the new city-wide bike share. Hamby describes the couple’s work as a means of “bringing about meaningful change in the world. As citizens, neighbors and resident of this area, a better network of active transportation is something that {Ramos-Fermin and I} really want to see. It’s something that our neighbors value as well. Something that has a life beyond just a gallery.”

Boogie Down Rides is an extension of No Longer Empty’s Urban Initiative. An urban planner by training, Hersson-Ringskog described the Initiative as following the same site-specific model inspiring the exhibits: “We noticed that transportation was the issue in the Bronx, and so we formed our partnerships around this issue.” She continued to describe how “ No Longer Empty thrives on hybridity. We like the mixing of things- urban planning with professional art. We wanted to put the Andrew Freedman Home on people’s radars and foster visitors for its future programming.”

This Side of Paradise is open until June 5th.
1125 Grand Concourse
Thursday – Sunday
1 – 7 PM

Public Art Review: Taking it to the Streets

by Jules Rochielle for Public Art Review, Food for Thought Issue

“Artists hit the road using creativity, communication, and food to address social issues.”

This issue explores the theme of Food for Thought and how what we eat affects public art (and vice versa) on a global scale. They covered the topic from a holistic lens of the entire food cycle — revealing how public artists address the topics of growing and raising our food within fragile ecosystems, the infrastructure of the global food business, the culture of eating and sharing food within our communities, and ultimately the politics that influence our food system — again, all from the angle of how public artists shape and communicate these processes to their audiences.

In Jules Rochielle article she talks about EAsT Harlem project.

The Serrano Report, Vol. IX, #11

In the Bronx

Unveiling Pro-Immigrant Art Made from Anti-Immigrant Bricks

Jose Serrano’s Newsletter reports

Last Saturday, Congressman Serrano joined Hostos Community College President Dr. Félix Matos Rodríguez, community leaders, and artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín to unveil a the first part of a newly installed art feature at the Hostos Memorial Plaza. The Conversing Bricks installation, which is in the form of a “wall of hope”, is made from bricks that were sent to Members of Congress several years ago in an effort to convince them to build a wall on the U.S. – Mexico border. The bricks were collected and brought to the Bronx for use in a pro-immigrant art installation—turning their message of intolerance and division into one of hope and reconciliation. Soon, a “table of dialogue” art installation, made from the same bricks, will join the “Wall of Hope” in the plaza.

“I was so pleased to be invited to speak at this important community event, where we reaffirmed our commitment to immigrants’ rights, diversity, and community solidarity,” said Congressman Serrano. “This art installation takes the worst anti-immigrant messages, and turns them into the message of unity and dialogue; the best message that the immigrant-friendly Bronx has to offer. Here in the Bronx we celebrate immigrants, we defend them, we uplift them, and we welcome them. Our example—a community of immigrants and long-time citizens living together in peace and harmony—should be emulated around the nation. This ‘wall of hope’ and ‘table of dialogue’ will be a constant reminder to the Bronx and the nation as a whole that we are a country of diverse origins, and must be a place of tolerance through dialogue. I commend Hostos Community College, Bill Aguado, and artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín for their work on this project and their dedication to the message that it contains.”

“A round table has no head or foot, no person who sits at it can claim a more important position than the other; thus making everyone equal, the table becomes a symbol of equality for all citizens regardless of their immigration status,”  said Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, the artist who carried out the installation.

The Conversing Bricks project emerged from a campaign waged by anti-immigrant groups that sent bricks to members of Congress who opposed the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States. The bricks were sent with messages like “Build a Wall,” “No to Illegals,” and “Secure our Borders.”  Of the thousands of bricks sent to Capitol Hill, 273 were donated for this project. For the past three years, community leaders worked to conceive the concept for Around the Table: Conversing Bricks, now shortened to simply, Conversing Bricks. The bricks are meant to become a public art installation in the form of a wall and a round table with the intention of transforming messages of intolerance into a site for dialogue on issues of citizenship, immigration, and human rights.

The Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza, a public gathering place for students and community members recalls and honors the passengers that died on November 12, 2001 en route to the Dominican Republic in American Airlines Flight 587. The Memorial Plaza includes a water-wall of polished granite inscribed with the names of all that perished.  Since its founding days Hostos Community College has welcomed students of all backgrounds. Community leaders felt that the Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza was the best site for the Conversing Bricks art installation.

Ramos-Fermín was awarded a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Community Arts Development Fund for the public art project Conversing Bricks.

“Wall of Hope” artwork at Hostos Community College

By TANYANIKA SAMUELS for the New York Daily News

Hundreds of bricks once used as anti-immigrant messages are finding a new artistic purpose in one of the borough’s most diverse communities.

Artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín is creating a two-part art installation piece called “Conversing Bricks” at Hostos Community College in Mott Haven.

The installation uses bricks that anti-immigrant groups sent to Capitol Hill in 2006 as Congress debated building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immmigrants.

“I hope this project becomes a symbolic place for gathering, for conversations and a place for reflection,” said Ramos-Fermín, 33, of Mott Haven. “I want people to be able to reflect on how important immigrants are in this country, and in the Bronx.”

Thousands of bricks with slogans like “No to illegals” and “Secure our border” were sent to members of Congress who opposed the wall.

Congressman José E. Serrano collected 273 bricks and brought them back to the Bronx where they sat outside a local church.

“These bricks had nasty comments on them,” Serrano recalled. “So I came up with the idea to say ‘Why don’t I take these bricks and do just the opposite, and make them a tribute to all immigrants.’”

He partnered with Bill Aguado , now artistic director of the Bronx Heritage Music Center, who spearheaded the effort to create an art piece and find an artist.

“It’s a very genuine and respectful project,” Aguado said. “It speaks to our heritage, whether you’re from the islands or the South, it doesn’t matter. We are all immigrants and we need to learn to respect each other.”

Since the bricks were kept outside, the weather stripped away most of the messages. Only 30 of them remain in tact.

Ramos-Fermín held a series of workshops last month and asked local immigrants to include their own messages on the bricks.

“I saw it as a way to connect the history of the bricks,” Ramos-Fermín said. “You can see the past and the present side by side.”

Last Saturday, Ramos-Fermín, Serrano and Aguado joined others to dedicate the first phase of “Conversing Bricks,” a 4-foot tall wall in Hostos’ Memorial Plaza.

“Now we have a wall of hope rather than a wall of division,” Serrano said.

The second phase, to be dedicated this summer, will feature a roundtable using the remaining bricks.

“With a roundtable, there’s no head or foot. No one can claim more importance than another person,” Ramos-Fermín said. “So no matter your immigration status, you are all the same.”

[email protected]


Immigration Opponents’ Bricks Repurposed For A Respectful Bronx Artwork


By: Natasha Ghoneim for NY1

Immigration reform inspires passionate views, and hundreds of bricks sent to members of Congress to oppose amnesty have now formed a pro-immigrant artistic installation at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. NY1’s Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.

During the heat of the immigration reform debate several years ago, people sent bricks to members of Congress, symbolizing support for building a wall along the Mexican border.

Scrawled on the bricks were messages such as “No Amnesty,” and a few bore the verbal equivalent of hurling a brick through a window.

Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano became angry and collected 273 bricks, which were transformed into an art installation at Hostos Community College in Mott Haven, Bronx.

“I was able to tell them, ‘You sent these to me in anger and I’m returning them to you in peace,'” says Serrano.

The artist, Hatuey Ramon-Fermin, who is also a teacher and an immigrant, wanted to transform the hate on the bricks into a more respectful dialogue through his artwork, entitled, “Conversing Bricks.”

“There were different kinds of messages that were really hateful,” says Ramon-Fermin.

Immigrants were involved in every step of the creative process, from transporting the bricks to the Bronx to writing messages of their own on the bricks.

“I wish that people reflect and go deeper into the conversation. We’re all a part of this country,” says Ramon-Fermin.

Alvaro Ceballos, a 19-year-old Dominican immigrant, says the message he painted on his brick, “We Are The World,” sums up the issue simply.

“Who immigrants are, we are the world because we’re here. So we are the world,” says Ceballos.

Now the bricks are part of another wall intended to celebrate immigrants, legal or not.

Un muro de tolerancia se alza en el Bronx.

POR: Carolina Ledezma / EDLP


El Bronx.- En 2006, grupos antiinmigrantes se unieron para enviar a congresistas en Washington más de 20,000 ladrillos con consignas en pro de la construcció n de un muro y otras medidas para reforzar la seguridad fronteriza.


Seis años después, en la plaza memorial del Hostos Community College (HCC) de El Bronx, 40 de esos bloques han sido transformados en un muro que simboliza la tolerancia y diálogo llamado “The Conversing Bricks”.


Su autor, el dominicano Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, lo concibió como un foro abierto para que “familias de inmigrantes expresen sus ideas sobre ciudadanía, inmigración y derechos humanos”.


Globalización y migración son temas constantes en la obra de este artista criado en Puerto Rico, quien recibió una subvención del Departamento de Asuntos Culturales de la Ciudad para acometer esta instalación.


Unos 273 ladrillos fueron traídos a la iglesia St. Jerome de El Bronx y allí permanecieron a la intemperie, cuenta el artista. Por eso muchos de los escritos se borraron.


Ramos-Fermín usó su experiencia como educador para que las personas de diferentes generaciones, nacionalidades y razas usaran su creatividad para intervenir los bloques.

“Nunca se sabe lo que otros harán y por eso me llevé muchas sorpresas”, explica sobre ciertas frases e imágenes conmovedoras que desde este 12 de mayo se podrán ver en la plaza universitaria.


“Uno de ellos es la imagen de un niño gritando a una pared con tanta fuerza, $si quisiera derrumbarla”, comenta el artista sorprendido por la pasión y la claridad del mensaje de quien hizo el dibujo.


The Conversing Bricks fue imaginada como una obra en constante transformación, que ciertamente reflejará la manera de pensar de la gente sobre estos temas y su evolución en el tiempo. Por eso, parte de la pared incluirá también ladrillos en blanco, en los que las personas podrán escribir en tiza sus mensajes.


“Voy a llevar un registro con fotos y videos de todos esos mensajes”, agrega Ramos-Fermín.

Para el autor no podría haber un mejor lugar para su obra que la plaza memorial. Este espacio es un lugar de encuentro para estudiantes y miembros de la comunidad, que honra la memoria de los 260 pasajeros que murieron en 2001 en el vuelo 587 de American Airlines, siniestrado en ruta hacia República Dominicana.