Celebrating Conversing Bricks

Please join us on Wednesday, December 5th 2012, 6:30 PM  @ Hostos Community College, to celebrate Hatuey Ramos-Fermin’s “Conversing Bricks” permanent public art installation. The installation was constructed from bricks sent by an anti-immigrant right wing organizations to those congressional representatives who voted against the legislation to build the wall between Arizona and Mexico. The artist repurposed the bricks by inviting immigrants to write their own messages on them and build a round table and a bench.

This event is part of BCA’s 1st Wednesday’s Bronx Culture Trolley.

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.

Funky Fresh debut presentation

Who decides where supermarkets go? Does the Bronx have enough supermarkets? Does it matter?

This summer, CUP collaborated with teaching artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín and a group of Bronx public high school students from CUNY College Now at Hostos Community College to look at who gets supermarkets, who doesn’t, and why.

To find answers, the group got out of the classroom and into the frozen food aisles. They visited groceries across the boroughs, the Fresh Direct distribution site planned for the Bronx, and the real estate department of a major supermarket. For the scoop on how supermarkets choose sites, they interviewed the CEO of Western Beef, a market research guru, the Department of City Planning, a local Community Board, organizers, and Bronx health experts. They’ve designed a booklet to teach others what’s funky and what’s fresh about Bronx supermarket access.

Please join us for the world premiere of Funky Fresh on Thursday, September 13, at 7 pm! Free and open to the public. RSVP to [email protected]

Funky Fresh was made possible by the CUNY College Now program. Additional support was provided by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Culture in partnership with the City Council.

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.

Unveiling Pro-Immigrant Art Made from Anti-Immigrant Bricks

In the Bronx

Unveiling Pro-Immigrant Art Made from Anti-Immigrant Bricks

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.

 

Conversing Bricks

Printable Version

Link 

Hostos Community College

Bronx Lebanon Hospital

&

Bill Aguado

Invite You to the Unveiling of

Conversing Bricks

A special art installation by artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín

Keynote Speaker

Congressman José E. Serrano

Immediately followed by the Bronx debut of the leading Batz’i Rock band from Chiapas, Mexico

SAK TZEVUL

Saturday, May 12, 2012 / 12:00pm

Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza
500 Grand Concourse at 149 Street ● The Bronx

 

The Bricks
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 contained messages like, “Build a Wall,” “No to Illegals,” and “Secure our Borders.”  Of the thousands of bricks sent to Capitol Hill, 273 were collected for this project.

For the past three years, the bricks were collected and the concept for the Conversing Bricks project was conceived.

The Bricks are meant to become a public art installation in the form of a round table with the intention of transforming messages of hate into a site for dialogue around issues of citizenship, immigration, and human rights. The goal of Conversing Bricks is to create a site for dialogue, conversation, and thought.

The Site
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 was designed by Goshow Architects and 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.

Nearly 45 years later, Hostos still welcomes older and younger generations of immigrant families to the campus. Today, they represent over 70% of the Hostos community.

Community leaders felt that the Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza was the best site for the public artwork.

The Artist
Hatuey Ramos-Fermín was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Puerto Rico. He is an educator and multimedia artist. He’s studied at the San Juan Art League and received his B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Puerto Rico in 2002.

Ramos-Fermín studied theater as an exchange student at Hunter College / CUNY from 1998-1999. He was later awarded a scholarship from the Prestigious Dutch Education Ministry HSP Huygens Programme for Excellent Students From All Around the World (2006) to complete an M.F.A. in Photography at St. Joost Art and Design Academy in Breda, The Netherlands, (2007). In 2008 Mr. Ramos-Fermín was a core participant of the Night School project by Anton Vidokle at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Hatuey is also an alumnus of the Immigrant Artist Project at New York Foundation for Arts. In 2010 he won first prize in the “other media category” from the “Show Your Impact” contest by the non-for profit organization Tech Soup, for the project “I Heart East New York,” a book created in collaboration with the Center for Urban Pedagogy and high school students from Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Hatuey Ramos-Fermín was awarded a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Community Arts Development Fund Award for the public art projectConversing Bricks to be unveiled on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at the Hostos Community College Memorial Plaza.

Sak Tzevul
SAK TZEVUL celebrates the Conversing Bricks art installation and unveiling ceremony as part of their “Time for Healing” grassroots New York City tour, produced by HABANA/HARLEM®.

Damián Guadalupe Martínez, founder of SAK TZEVUL, and the independent arts concern, HABANA/HARLEM® are committed to honoring the shared spiritual and cultural values which genuinely connect the multicultural Bronx communities of Mexican, Caribbean and African Diaspora heritage, among others. With lyrics in Spanish and various Indigenous languages, SAK TZEVUL advocates for unity and harmony while highlighting social justice themes such as public safety, cultural equity, environmental justice and human rights. SAK TZEVUL transforms centuries-old Indigenous rhythms with Rock music along with Classical and Native American inflections to create their distinctive signature sound. Audiences will enjoy selections from their latest body of work, Selva Soñadora.  Sak Tzevul’s debut in New York City is made possible through the generous in-kind support of AeroMexico Airlines. For additional information about Sak Tzevul’s “Time for Healing” community programs, visit: www.habanaharlem.com or email: [email protected].

This program is made possible thanks to the generous contributions of
AeroMexico Airlines, Bill Aguado, Benfica Transportation Inc.,  Bronx Council on the Arts, Bronx Lebanon Hospital, Bronx Museum of the Arts Education Department Bronx Museum, CASA Redi-Mix, HABANA/HARLEM®, Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, Hostos Community College student organizations: Hip-Hop Club and Mexican Student Association and Modern Languages Club. LIUNA/Laborer’s International Union of North America, The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs (DCA), Steve Delgado, Associate Dean for Campus Planning and Operations Hostos Community College, St. Jerome’s Church and WHEDCO.

Press Contact:
For Hostos & Artist Hatuey Ramos-Fermín
Soldanela Rivera (Sol) Cell: 917-627-9097[email protected][email protected]

For Congressman Serrano
Philip Schmidt [email protected]/ (202) 225-4361

Share, Where? at Newtown Creek

Check out congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck touring Newtown Creek with CUP’s latest youth education project “Share, Where?” The booklet takes a look at NYC’s Fair Share legislation two decades after its passage.

For more info visit: CUP collaborations and The Center for Urban Pedagogy

Share, Where?

 

I was involved in this project as the teaching artist! Come and check it out!

Where do you put the stuff that nobody wants but everyone needs?

Join us on Tuesday, September 6 for the debut presentation of Share, Where?, CUP’s most recent Urban Investigation. An intrepid group of Bronx public high school students in the College Now program at Hostos Community College teamed up with CUP to find out how NYC decides where to put the burdensome, smelly, and dangerous facilities that make the city run – but nobody wants in their backyards.

Turns out, there are some guidelines called Fair Share that were made a couple of decades ago to try to spread the burden of noxious facilities more evenly throughout the city. How does it work? Are communities taking on their fair share? How else could the city promote fairness?

To get the scoop on Fair Share, the crew hit the streets and interviewed sanitation workers, environmental justice advocates, an anti-waste facility neighborhood group, policymakers, policy-shakers, and the father of Fair Share. The crew collected their knowledge nuggets into theShare, Where? book. Check it out and find out how Fair Share works now, and how it could work better in the future!

RSVP  here: welcometocup.org

Share, Where? debut presentation
Tuesday, September 6, 7 pm
The Savoy at Hostos Community College
120 East 149 Street (at Walton Avenue), 2nd Floor
Bronx, NY
2/4/5 to 149 St – Grand Concourse

Major support for this project was provided by the CUNY College Now Program. Additional funding was provided by the Bay and Paul Foundations; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the Henry Luce Foundation.

Reports of art scene’s death are exaggerated

Reports of art scene’s death are exaggerated

Posted on 03. Jun, 2011 by Cheryl Chan in Art (Mott Haven Herald)

Artists say change defines their relationship with Mott Haven
Hatuey Ramos Fermin sits in the most famous apartment in Mott Haven, recording a podcast called “South Bronx Filter.”
Fermin is the current tenant of Apartment 3A at 309 Alexander Avenue, which housed the Blue Bedroom where for two years his friend Blanka Amezkua displayed the work of contemporary artists who agreed in exchange for the show to offer a workshop or discussion in the neighborhood.
When Amezkua moved out of the Bronx, many took her departure as a sign that the art scene in Mott Haven was withering. More recently, AM New York and The Wall Street Journal have written its obituary. But artists who live or work in Mott Haven disagree.
For people like the seven artists gathered around Fermin’s dining table to record the first of his “Hubs and Spokes Conversation Series,” the turnover in Apartment 3A symbolizes the Mott Haven art scene.
They say that galleries and artists may come and go, but the creative energy remains.
“The Bronx is very transient place,” says Ellen Pollen, director of the Bronx Council on the Arts South Bronx Cultural Corridor. “People come here on their way to other places a lot.”
After six years of showcasing local work, the Haven Gallery on Bruckner Boulevard closed in 2009.
More recently, noted Pollen, who runs the Bronx Council’s Culture Trolley, the Iron Works Gallery, at 259 East 134th Street, closed. But, she emphasized, a short time later the trolley added LDR Studio on Alexander Avenue to its itinerary.
“To run a gallery takes a lot of time, and money,” said Barry Kostrinsky, founder of the Haven Gallery, who said the weak economy after the real estate bubble burst hurt. But Kostrinsky can now be found at the Bruckner Bar & Grill on Monday evenings, offering a version of the life drawing classes that used to be a staple at the Haven.
Bronx Arts Space, on East 140th Street, opened a year ago, and draws artists from outside Mott Haven. Avery Syrig, a sculpture and jewelry designer, found it through craigslist.
“It’s looking different, from a newer perspective than a lot of things I see in Manhattan,” she said.
“There seems to be a commitment to get people out to see different work, and not just visual arts,” said Amee Pollock, who displayed pop-up books at Bronx Arts Space during the Bronx Council on the Arts Fifth Open Studio Tour, where sculptures, photographs, video installations and a jazz performance, were highlights.
In May, a new kind of showcase was born, when Bronx artists displayed their work for four days in a pop-up museum created by the Mott Haven-based business From the Bronx in a renovated landmark building on Courtland Avenue in Melrose.
“There’s an emerging sense about culture and people,” says Bill Aguado, who headed the Bronx Council on the Arts for three decades. “What’s important is we have alternative spaces.”
Mott Haven also continues to attract artists to live or work in the neighborhood. When Fermin gathered seven of them to inaugurate his conversation series, the relationship of artists to the community was one of their subjects.
Fermin, a multimedia artist and educator at the Teen Council Program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and Hostos Community College, devised the South Bronx Filter as a way for Bronx-based artists to express themselves in their own voices. He says he was inspired by Bronx hip-hop photographer, Joe Conzo, who advised: never let outsiders document you.
Recorded in Fermin’s living room, as the open windows captured the noise of cars whizzing by and sirens from the nearby 40th Precinct, the conversation included Libertad Guerra and Monxo Lopez of Spanic Attack, Rayzer Sharp and Yelimara Concepción of the Welfare Poets, and artists Elizabeth Hamby and Laura Napier, the curator of the first Hubs broadcast.
Napier vigorously disputed the notion that when artists arrive, gentrification arrives with them. A white woman who has lived in the Bronx for seven years, she said she’s constantly encountering and fighting against being stereotyped. Too often, she feels “I don’t exist anymore; it’s about the larger social issues,” she said.
Interviews with Bronx based artists, many of whom live or work in former warehouses and manufacturing spaces near Bruckner Boulevard, and with curators and gallery owners showed that they’re fed up with the label SoBro, conceived by real estate sales people to attract clients looking for a hip placed to live.
Recognize us for our work, not our location, they say.
The faces and spaces may change, but the networks forged by artists through the Culture Trolley and Open Studio Tour remain “the social capital” of the Bronx, Pollen contends.
“Artists are looking for community, and take advantage of it when they find it,” she says.
A version of this story appeared in the June/July 2011 issue of the Mott Haven Herald.

2010-11 BCA/DCA ARTS FUND GRANTEES

Bronx Council on the Arts Fund

The Bronx Council on the Arts proudly announces the recipients of this year’s
BCA/DCA Arts Fund Grant.

Arts Organizations
Bronx Concert Singers, Inc., Garces Puppeteria, One World Arts, Inc., and Sinfonietta of Riverdale,

Individual Artists
Andrew Geddis, Christian Diaz, Christopher Flick, Dalia Davi, David Valentin, Dennis Redmoon Darkeem, Freddy E. Sepulveda, Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, Hilda Rivera-Pantojas, Ira Merritt, Jessica Danser-Schwarz, Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli, Kevin Kane, Linda Cunningham, Marcos Napa, Milteri Tucker, Nancy Benignus, Nicholas (Nicky) Marrero, Jr., Ray Felix, Ray Martinez, and Vivian Vazquez.

The DCA Greater New York Arts Fund Grants are open to Bronx-based artists and arts organizations with organizational budgets under $100,000 who do not receive direct funding from DCA and provide arts activities to borough residents.

Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Battle Draws Fresh Voices

Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Battle Draws Fresh Voices

By Lauren Raheja for City Limits

Last week, fifteen Bronx high school students added their voices to the volatile mix of dialogue over the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, a former National Guard ammunitions warehouse in the Bronx.

Kingsbridge — About four years ago, the city put out a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, a former National Guard ammunitions warehouse that has been vacant since 1994. Of the three proposals that were submitted by developers in 2008, one was taken into serious consideration and it spawned extensive analysis, debate and vehement opposition. Last week, fifteen Bronx high school students added their voices to the volatile mix.
The students spent their summer researching community benefit agreements and last Tuesday — in a dining hall at Hostos Community College — 10 of them presented their findings to an audience of about 80 people, including community leaders, teachers, family members, and peers. Also present were stakeholders in the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment project.

The students did not unearth new information about the redevelopment project, but took sides on one of the most divisive issues – living wages. They said they agreed that the redevelopment should require prospective retailers to pay every worker a living wage of at least $10 per hour.
The students took turns explaining how they conducted their research and what they learned, and presented their final product: a 24” x 36” poster they created (with the help of artists Hatuey Ramos-Fermin and Prudence Katze) complete with diagrams, illustrations, and talking heads to summarize their perspective on CBAs and the politics of the Kingsbridge Armory project.
During the panel discussion that followed the student’s presentation, stakeholders talked about the armory. No new areas of consensus emerged among them about the project, but the event gave them an opportunity to get input from Bronx youth about the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment. One of the panelists who participated in the discussion — Desiree Hunter, a community activist who belongs to the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance (KARA) and the Kingsbridge Armory Task Force — said that she plans to show the students’ poster to the task force.
“I think it’s wonderful to see young people grapple with complex issues,” said Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York, one of the other panelists at the presentation, “and come out with a knowledge of how a democratic process should work.”
The city’s 2006 request for Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment proposals led to a high-profile protracted community development battle. The proposal that the city selected was submitted by Related Companies and aimed to convert the castle-like 575,000 square foot building into retail, entertainment, and community space. When KARA, a coalition of Bronx community groups, asked Related Companies to agree to require all prospective retailers to pay their workers a living wage of $10 or more plus benefits, the company said no. Because Related and Bronx community organizations could not reach an agreement about the redevelopment, the city council voted the company’s proposal down in 2009, and the development process was sent back to the drawing board. In March of this year, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. created a new task force to help move the Armory redevelopment forward.
The students presenting their views of the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment were ten of the fifteen who participated in the most recent installment of a program called Urban Investigations, a series of projects coordinated by The Center for Urban Pedagogy. In each Urban Investigation, high school students are charged with collaboratively investigating one facet of how the city works. In the past, Urban Investigations have researched what happens to garbage after it’s thrown away, who owns the internet, and where public housing comes from. The question underlying the Kingsbridge Armory research was ‘Who benefits from CBAs?’

o create their poster, the Urban Investigators conducted interviews with decision makers and stakeholders involved in the Kingsbridge Armory project, including Desiree Hunter of KARA; Jesse Masyr, the lawyer for Related Companies; David Lombino of the Economic Development Corporation; Tom Angotti from the Comptroller’s Task Force on CBAs; and Vicki Been, a co-author of a report on CBAs. The students also went on site visits to the Kingsbridge Armory and conducted street interviews with members of the communities that will be most affected by any development that happens there.

The project gave some of the students an opportunity to learn about the city in a way that regular classroom learning does not. “I learned about CBAs,” said Luis Peña, a fifteen-year-old from the Urban Assembly for Applied Math and Science, whose mother told him to either do something constructive with his time over the summer or be sent back to the Dominican Republic, where their family is from. He chose the Urban Investigation. Before July, “I didn’t know [CBAs] existed at all,” he said.
“It’s hard to really construct a city,” said Taylor Feliciano, 17, a student at the Eagle Academy for Young Men and another Urban Investigation participant, as he reflected on what he learned over the course of the summer. “[Development] has to be settled with the community.”
The goal, according to project leader Valeria Mogilevich, was for students to not only learn about the complex development process that CBAs are a part of, but also to create a poster, a tangible final product, that would educate the public about the significance of CBAs in the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment. She hopes the students will play a role in city-wide debate and have an impact on decision making.
“We’re trying to get students to change their perception of how the city works, and their potential impact on it,” said Mogilevich.

Dispatching Art In Real Time

Dispatching Art In Real Time

By Xavier Figueroa Tue, Sep 28, 2010 for Bronx Art Guide (B.A.G.)

Melrose – The Longwood Gallery’s project space always seems to have interesting and thoughtful art pieces to show and this past season was no exception.
On speaking with Fermín, he explained to me his early encounters of using cab services when he arrived in the Bronx. These encounters initiated his idea for Transmit-Transit. In creating this installation, he compiled hours and hours of filming, working with cab bases and getting immersed in the cab culture so intrinsic to the transportation system of the Bronx.
Using a live radio dispatch emanating from speakers atop the roof of a car, Hatuey Ramos Fermín places the viewer inside a virtual passenger’s environment. Along with the partial segment of a vehicle, there are two monitors with headphones where viewers may listen to video interviews of cab drivers talking about their experiences, some in their own native languages. Also on the large wall is a satellite projection of the Bronx with lights displaying locations where cab bases are situated. Although there is no urgency to get to a desired location, one becomes interested in stepping outside of the gallery “box” and taking a walk down the block in order to see the virtual base Fermín created as part of his installation.
This concept of letting the viewer in allows one to hear much more clearly to the transmission and attempt to decipher the melting pot of languages being utilized to help transport locals all over the borough. Also, the top of the vehicle resting in the middle of the gallery presents another interesting feeling for someone to encounter, not as an actual passenger, but more like a fly on the wall listening in on the happenings of the local scene.
With Transmit-Transit, Fermín makes a provocative statement about the economy, its social implications and the virtual documentation of our surrounding environment.

Review and Interview with Hatuey Ramos Fermin

BY Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga for his blog

Puerto Rican publication, Dialogo Digital ran a review and interview of “Transmit-Transit” Hatuey Ramos Fermin’s first solo show in NYC that I curated. The article presents an in depth interview with Hatuey regarding the development and concepts behind the exhibition currently on exhibit at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos in the Bronx.

Hatuey Ramos Fermín’s first solo exhibition in NYC opens tomorrow night at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos!  Last fall, Dominican / Puerto Rican artist Hatuey asked me to work with him and to help him realize his first solo show as its curator.  I listened to his concept – an exhibition that investigates the livery cab drivers in the Bronx and was intrigued and agreed to help however I could.  The conversation got started, we shared ideas, he presented to me portions of his interviews with drivers, I gave the best feedback possible and tried to lend some direction in how to translate the video interviews into a gallery installation and Hatuey executed!

The show looks great and presents an intriguing insight into the little considered labor of the livery cab drivers.  I also wrote an essay and designed a small catalog in the form of a full spread newspaper sheet, English on one side, Spanish on the other and featuring a map created by Michael E Jimenez for the exhibition.

The day before the opening, Hatuey and I did a walk through and here are a couple photos taken.

And below is an excerpt from the essay that I wrote for the exhibition:

“Attending to the local, by taking the local seriously” this is the mission of TRANSMIT – TRANSIT.  Ramos Fermín has engaged in deconstructing an element of local space to investigate just one detail of modernity and globalization.  He has not done so as a traditional artist, walking the streets of the Bronx, getting lost in the vernacular of the city to generate creative musings that reflect one person’s vision.  Instead he has worked as an investigative journalist or documentary filmmaker. Ramos Fermín has logged several hours of video interviews with livery cab drivers, he has visited several dispatch offices, diners, gas stations, car repair shops… the local spaces of the drivers.  Over the last several months, he has engaged with the livery cab community to learn of its reality, document it and create an engaging portrayal that is both attentive and serious.  The final outcome of his investigation is a rich installation that attempts to capture the hardship and diversity of the trade.  And the encompassing device of the installation is the live radio feed from cab livery dispatches surrounding the gallery.

By incorporating the live radio dispatch, Ramos Fermín transforms the gallery visitor from art viewer to voyeur, listening in on the orders being transmitted all around us.  Radio transmissions that direct one human being to drive a vehicle to a specific site, pick up a passenger, and drive to a new destination.  It happens at all hours of each day; it is a common reality of the urban space and absolutely nothing exceptional.   And yet it is fascinating to take a moment, listen and consider the wide implications of these transmissions.  By having us listen, Ramos Fermín effectively dislocates our consciousness into a private space – that radio spaces employed between dispatch and drivers – transmissions that we are only privy to when in a cab and even then hardly take note of.  But when these transmissions are re-contextualized within the gallery walls, when we are invited to listen, not as passengers eager to arrive at our destination, but rather as art viewers expecting to engage with creative work, the transmissions gain new depths.   The gallery becomes a portal to an alternate real-time reality – we listen to what others are doing and experiencing at that same moment, but elsewhere, not far, but beyond the gallery’s walls.