Visiones: Episode Descriptions

 

 Episode One  Episode Two Episode Three
     
 Episode Four  Episode Five Episode Six

 

Visiones: Latino Art & Culture- Episode One

Episode one features the Latino Mural Movement of the 1960’s, Nuyorican spoken word, and editorial cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz. Created in New York, the Nuyorican spoken word is a form of artistic expression that emerged from the tumultuous 1960’s and continues to influence and inspire the American Puerto Rican community. Episode one includes interviews with Nuyorican poets Pedro Pietri, Piri Thomas, and Caridad (La Bruja), and muralist/artist Judith Baca.

 

Judith F. Baca

As a visual artist and one of the nation's leading muralists, Judith F. Baca is best known for her large-scale public art works. In her internationally-known /The Great Wall of Los Angeles, a landmark pictorial representation of the history of ethnic peoples of California from their origins to the 1950's, Baca and her planning and painting teams of approximately 700 participants produced 2,435 running feet of murals in segments over seven summers, from 1976 to 1984. The Great Wall along with the research and design for its continuance into the 1990’s is currently underway.

Baca founded the first City of Los Angeles mural program in 1974. It produced over 400 murals and employed thousands of local participants during its ten years of operation. In 1976, she founded the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice, California, where she still serves as the Artistic Director. In 1988 at the request of Mayor Tom Bradley, she developed a new city mural program based on the previous successful model of /The Great Wall of Los Angeles. This program, entitled Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride Program, has produced over 85 murals in almost every ethnic community in Los Angeles. It has provided training for hundreds of artists and youth, making it one of the country's most respected mural education programs.

 

Pedro Pietri:

Pedro Pietri, one of the top Puerto Rican/Latino poets in the country. He is best known for writing /Puerto Rican Obituary/, a collection of poems dealing with the Puerto Rican reality in the United States. He is also, author of the play, "The Masses are Asses." His poetry is included in many publications, magazines, journals, newspapers, television, public television, and video productions. Pietri gives dynamic, exciting presentations that audiences love. He covers serious subjects with humor that leave people laughing and thinking.

 

La Bruja:  

Caridad De La Luz a.k.a. La Bruja, is a multifaceted performer and writer, known for her mesmerizing poetry and characterizations. She was featured on Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam for HBO. Spike Lee let her improvise her lines in his film Bamboozled. Her one-woman show received raving support since 1998 from San Francisco to Switzerland. In 2003, the show was developed into Boogie Rican Boulevard, a fictional tale directed and developed by Nelson Vasquez (of Da Spanish Mob). She wrote and performs this theatrical, where she plays seven different characters struggling between the Puerto Rican tradition and the modern day values taught on the streets of the Boogie Down Bronx.

TV appearances also include HBO Latino, The Roof, Galascene, Primer Impacto, Urban Latino TV, public service announcements for AmericansForTheArts.Org, several NYC Cable programs and commercials directed by Spike Lee for IAM.com.  She is featured in the documentary Hip Hop Hope (about the effect of 9/11 on Hip Hop) screened in the first Tribeca Film Festival, and was cast as supporting actress in the independent movie directed by Deborah Granik called Down to the Bone as Lucy, a recovering addict and best friend to Irene (played by Vera Farmiga) trying to stay clean in a world of temptation.

Theater performances include the Hip Hop Theater Festival NYC/Washington DC/IHX Miami, Ubu Enchained which toured in Poland and NYC, Pedro Pietri's El Spanglish Language Sandwich, and Hip-Hop festival Women Like This held in Switzerland.

This dedicated artist/activist makes time to teach writing workshops called "How can I change the world?" which was first developed first for The East Harlem Tutorial Program. She has since been a speaker at countless schools, universities, jails, health centers and community organizations around the country to shed light on the benefits of art, culture and self-expression.

 

Piri Thomas

Author of:

Down These Mean Streets

Savior, Savior Hold My Hand

Seven Long Times

Stories from E1 Barrio

Born Juan Pedro Tomás, of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents in New York City's Spanish Harlem in 1928, Piri Thomas began his struggle for survival, identity, and recognition at an early age. The vicious street environment of poverty, racism, and street crime took its toll and he served seven years of nightmarish incarceration at hard labor. But, with the knowledge that he had not been born a criminal, he rose above his violent background of drugs and gang warfare, and he vowed to use his street and prison know-how to reach hard core youth and turn them away from a life of crime.

In 1967, with a grant from the Rabinowitz Foundation, both his career and fame as an author were launched with the electrifying autobiography, Down These Mean Streets. After more than 25 years of being constantly in print, it is now considered a classic.

In Down These Mean Streets, Piri Thomas made El Barrio (the neighborhood) a household word to multitudes of non-Spanish-speaking readers. A front-page review in the New York Times book review section May 21, 1967 proclaimed:

"It claims our attention and emotional response because of the honesty and pain of a life led in outlaw, fringe status, where the dream is always to escape."

Savior, Savior Hold My Hand also received wide critical acclaim, as did Seven Long Times, a chronicle of one man's experience in New York's dehumanizing penal system. Stories from El Barrio, a collection of short stories, is for young people of all ages.

Piri's extensive travel in Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Mexico, Europe, and the United States has also been perceptively documented in free-lance articles by him. His eye-opening experiences have contributed to a unique globalist perspective on peace and justice so necessary in these days of international problems and conflicts.

Piri currently resides in Berkeley, California, with his wife Suzanne Dod Thomas and two daughters. He is working on a book entitled  HYPERLINK "" A Matter of Dignity (the sequel to Down These Mean Streets), refining the play, The Golden Streets, publishing, recording, and distributing his poetry with music, Sounds Of The Streets and No Mo' Barrio Blues. He is also working with award-winning director Jonathan Robinson on an educational film,  HYPERLINK "" Dialogue with Society, with an award-winning director, publishing his books in audio form, and writing and recording more poetry with music, in addition to speaking at universities and schools and in the community throughout the United States.

 

 

 

Visiones: Latino Art & Culture- Episode Two

Episode two features Miriam Colon and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater Company (PRTT) of New York, Tejana musical artist Selena, and the Santero art tradition of New Mexico.  

As part of this episode, a story reveals New Mexico artisans known as Santeros who engage in an art form heavily steeped in history and tradition. Santeros present an interesting juxtaposition of imposed religion and Native American culture.

 

Miriam Colon:

Born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Miriam wanted to be an actress since childhood and performed in many school plays and was a member of the drama department of the University of Puerto Rico where she received a scholarship to study at the Dramatic Workshop and Technical Institute in New York.

In addition to an extensive number of film credits, she has over 250 television credits. Miriam has guest starred in a variety of programs from Alfred Hitchcock, Gun Smoke, The Virginian, Ben Casey, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Sanford & Son, Murder, She Wrote, NYPD Blue, and Third Watch. Miriam is also the artistic director of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater that she founded in 1969, which has produced 104 plays. In addition to her work with the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, she has also appeared in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway productions.

 

Charlie Carillo:

Charlie has been painting and creating art work since he was very young, but discovered his destiny to be a Santero during a "dig" he was directing at La Capilla de Santa Rosa de Lima in Abiquiú, New Mexico in 1977. It was in Abiquiú where Charlie re-discovered much of his cultural heritage. Charlie had always been a creative artist and a devote Catholic, but he became infatuated with with the Spanish Colonial religious artifacts, their symbolism and the cultural heritage of Northern New Mexico during his initial involvement as an apprentice with the Morada at Abiquiú. What began as historical research into the area and the retablos and bultos, became his destiny as a world famous Santero, for soon afterwards, he started creating retablos and later bultos using traditional colonial period methods.

Artisan, Scholar and Teacher and a Man of Faith. Charlie's selflessness to the Santero tradition is unquestionable. He has re-introduced the traditional methods of the Santero and has many protégés with whom he has shared his wisdom, faith and techniques with over the years. This "new generation" of Santeros along with other contemporary Santeros and Hispanic artisans has led to a renaissance of Hispanic Art in recent years. Charlie is the consummate Santero, for he not only creates the actual artwork and practices the faith behind each piece, he is also passing on the tradition for future generations.

 

Nicholas Herrera:

Nicholas (Nick) Herrera is called El Santero de El Rito after the northern New Mexico village where he was born, grew up and continues to live and work. He carries on the family tradition of woodcarving, following his great-uncle José Inéz Herrera, who also was a respected santero. Beginning his artistic endeavors by creating retablos (two-dimensional images) and bultos (three-dimensional figures) of santos, or saints, Nick Herrera has expanded upon that tradition by creating an array of artwork raging from traditional to modern, from sorrowful to whimsical and humorous. Herrera's work is in the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Autry Western Heritage Museum, Harwood Museum, Smithsonian Museum, Regis University, Millicent Rogers Museum, Museum of International Folk Art, and Museum of American Folk Art. He has been part of exhibits in New York City, Paris, Chicago, Denver, Taos, Baltimore, Tucson, Dallas, Minneapolis, Colorado Springs, El Paso, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Los Angeles.

 

Selena:

Selena Quintanilla was born on April 16, 1971 to Abraham and Marcella Quintanilla in Lake Jackson, Texas. After learning that she had much singing talent, her father began to teach her how to sing in Spanish. Her older sister Suzette already knew how to play the drums and her older brother A.B. knew how to play the guitar. Together they formed a family band. They named it "Selena y Los Dinos". They made their first recording in 1984 when Selena was just twelve years old. Slowly they started to become famous. Selena y Los Dinos made their first hit album in 1986. That year Selena won "Female Vocalist of the Year" and "Performer of the Year" at the Tejano Music Awards.

  • In 1994, Selena won a Grammy for "Best Mexican/American Ablum" for her album "Selena: Live". It was her first time ever being nominated for a Grammy.
  • Selena then signed a major world wide English-language crossover album recording contract. "Dreaming of You", which was released in 1995, was the only semi-completed album.
  • In February of 1995, Selena held a record breaking concert at the Houston Astrodome where over 61,000 fans attended.
  • Selena's life was cut short on March 31, 1995.

 

 

 

Visiones: Latino Art & Culture- Episode Three

Episode three features Luis Valdez and the legendary Teatro Campesino, a segment of San Antonio, Texas Day of the Dead Celebration, the image of the Virgen de Guadalupe as a Latina icon, Experimental border filmmaker Willie Varela, and a profile of Chicago’s soapbox artist Carlos Cortez.  Featured artists include Alma Lopez and Cesar Martinez.

 

Teatro Campesino:

In 1965, an aspiring playwright named Luis Valdez left the San Francisco Mime Troupe to join Cesar Chavez in organizing farmworkers in Delano, California. Valdez organized the workers into El Teatro Campesino (The Farmworkers Theater) in an effort to popularize and raise funds for the grape boycott and farmworker strike.

In 1968, El Teatro Campesino left the fields in a conscious effort to create a theater that reflected the greater Chicano experience. Within a year, the company was awarded an Obie Award, for "demonstrating the politics of survival," as well as its first of two Los Angeles Drama Critics Awards.

By 1970, El Teatro Campesino had established what would come to be known as teatro chicano. It was style of agitprop theater, incorporating the spiritual and presentational style of the Italian Renaissance commedia dell'arte with the humor, character types, folklore and popular culture of the Mexican theater, the type presented by vaudeville companies and tent theaters that had toured the Southwest earlier this century.

For over 25 years, company has produced an evolving series of plays termed "The Miracle, Mystery, and Historical Cycle of San Juan Bautista" or simply, "The Cycle Plays." During the Christmas season, either the miracle play classic of LA VIRGEN DEL TEPEYAC, or the traditional shepherds play, LA PASTORELA is performed in the Old Mission of San Juan Bautista. In 1991, Luis Valdez adapted and directed El Teatro Campesino's film version of LA PASTORELA for the PBS Great Performances series, which starred Linda Ronstadt and Paul Rodriguez.

Recently, the company has undergone major reorganization to better achieve its mission to serve as a unique institution for artists, and to develop, produce and present new works in the theater, film and video.

Now in its 30th year as a professional theater-arts organization, El Teatro Campesino is especially proud of its new generation of talented actors, directors, and producers, who are spearheading the company into the 21st century. Like a serpent crawling out of its own skin, El Teatro Campesino continues to evolve and refine its aesthetic in order to realize its full artistic potential.

 

Dia de los Muertos:

An annual Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead celebration in San Antonio, Texas is profiled in this segment featuring beautiful altares and a community procession.

 

Alma Lopez:

Alma Lopez is a visual and public artist, whose innovative digital work re-contextualizes major cultural icons, bringing issues of race, gender and sexuality into relationship with trans-nationalist myths and urban ecology. She holds a B.A. from the University of California Santa Barbara and a M.F.A. from the University of California Irvine. She exhibits her work extensively and has received numerous awards for her work such as the Brody Emerging Visual Artist Grant, the City of Los Angeles (COLA) Individual Artist Grant, and the California Community Foundation Arts Funding Initiative’s Individual Artist Grant. Her work has been featured in several publications including, Art in America, Flash Art International, and Ms. Magazine. Lopez is the co-founding member and art director of Tongues, a Queer Women of Color webzine, magazine, and performance venue. She is currently working on a short digital video about short hair.

 

Cesar Martinez:

San Antonio-based Cesar Martinez was born in 1944 in Laredo, Texas. A major figure in the Chicano Art Movement of the late 1970s and 1980s, Martinez’s portraits are icons of Texas art history. Martinez’s work has been included in the landmark exhibits La Frontera/The Border: Art About the Mexican/U.S. Border Experience, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Centro Cultural de la Raza, San Diego; CARA: Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation 1965-1985, organized by the Smithsonian Institute; and Hispanic Art in the United States, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He has also shown at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago; Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City; the San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio; and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston.

A prolific painter and printmaker, Martinez works with a wide range of materials. Primarily known for his Bato series of portraits of Pachucos and rucas, Martinez also paints abstracted landscapes that incorporate Aztec imagery and history, and constructions made of found wood.

 

Willie Varela:

Willie Varela has been making film in the independent, personal tradition since 1971. To date, Mr. Varela has completed 91 films ranging in length from 30 seconds to 104 minutes. In addition, Varela has completed 15 videotapes since 1991. Varela's image making practice also encompasses photography and visual/text pieces incorporating found imagery, photos, text, and graphics.

Mr. Varela's public exhibition career has spanned over twenty years, with one-man shows at such independent film showcases as the San Francisco Cinematheque, Los Angeles Film Forum, Chicago Filmmakers, Millennium Film Workshop, Rice University, Berks Filmmakers, the Boston Film/Video Foundation, Anthology Film Archives, Collective for Living Cinema, Pacific Film Archives, Austin Film Society, Guadalupe Central Arts Center, San Antonio, Donnell Media Center, and many others. Highlights of Varela's career include a Cineprobe at the Museum of Modern Art in 1988; videos in the 1993 and 1995 Whitney Biennials; and inclusion of 12 Super 8 films in the Big As Life: An American History of the 8mm Films, the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

 

Carlos Cortez:

Carlos Cortez has been writing and creating art for many years. His first book, /Crystal Gazing the Amber Fluid & Other Wobbly Poems/ through Charles H. Kerr Publishing, was awarded the Kwanzaa Award. March Abrazo first published /de Kansas a Califas & back to Chicago/ in 1992.

Carlos has been recognized for his many contributions to the art world as a respected print artist whose themes deal with Chicano issues, Latino identity and worker's rights.

Son of a Mexican Wobbly father and German socialist-pacifist mother, Cortez was born and raised in Milwaukee, but has long made his home in Chicago. During World War II, he served two years in the federal pen at Sandstone, Minn. as a conscientious objector, and soon afterward joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). He has served as one of the union's best know figures--poet, artist, editor and public speaker.

Renowned especially for his powerful woodcuts and cartoons --- he is probably the only Wobbly whose work has been exhibited at New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institute and leading galleries in Germany and Spain--- Cortez has also been a noted columnist for the union's newspaper, the /Industrial Worker /for over 20 years.

Cortez' poems and poetry collections such as /Where Are the Voices? & Other Wobbly Poems (Charles H. Kerr Pub.) have received praise form the likes of Dennis Brutus and Edward Abbey. Cortez is also the editor of the book ,Viva Posada, published in 2002 by Charles H. Kerr.

 

 

 

Visiones: Latino Art & Culture- Episode Four

Episode four begins with New York’s Latino hip hop dance and culture. Then it travels to Miami’s unique Afro-Cuban sound, and ends in Los Angeles with modern dance pioneer Rudy Perez.

 

Rokafella and Kwikstep:

Rokafella and Kwikstep are co-founders and co-artistic directors of Full Circle Productions, a Hip-Hop dance theater company that offers an equal balance of men and women in presentations of authentic Hip-Hop dance technique from NYC Hip-Hop street culture.  Founded in 1996 (inc. 1998) by veteran hip-hop performers Rokafella (A. Garcia) and Kwikstep (G.Dionisio), Full Circle offers 360 degrees of NYC hip-hop culture informed by the urban artistic experience, reaching musically from percussion to turn-table to beat-box; from hip-hop, latin, garage and house to spoken word and the visual world of graffiti artists.  Their hip-hop dancing references breaking, uprocking, poppin' and lockin', plus Latin, African and house styles.  Kwikstep and Rokafella bring the fullness of an urban artistic world through their multi-ethnic 12-member dance company including 4 core musicians, their choreography and interdisciplinary collaborations. Their latest project Soular Power'd was presented at P.S. 122, New World Theater and the New Victory Theater. They bring a standard of hip-hop steeped in street history and authentic dance technique to connect soul energy and help keep the light lit for the next generation.

 

Willy Chirino:

Few artists in popular music have been able to go beyond the barriers of time, trends and geography, keeping the timelessness of their own style. On this small list the name of Willy Chirino is inscribed. His contribution to the development of the culture of his own country and of Latin America in general, together with his struggle in favor of the freedom of his people, make him one of the most important exponents of popular music in our times.

Sensible, unaffected and very talented, Willy Chirino has managed to live with the same passion he transmits through his art. His personal history is similar to what many others dream about, but that few have the courage to live.

Born in Consolación del Sur, a small town in Western Cuba, Willy Chirino was sent to the United States through Operation Peter Pan, especially designed to give Cuban children a different vision of the world. There, he grew in his musical abilities, helping to spawn a new sound--The Miami Sound. His songs have traveled several times around the world, in his own and other artists' interpretations. That is the case of Soy that has been recorded by more than 70 artists, among them the Gipsy Kings. His albums, with more than twenty original works, went Platinum with Oxígeno (1991) and Acuarelas del Caribe (1990,) while Zarabanda (1985, South Beach (1993,) Asere (1995) and gold with Afro-disiac (2000).

 

Rudy Perez:

For more than five decades, this creative dancer/choreographer has made the stage his home, and at 71, he shows no signs of hanging up his shoes. Rudy Perez recently honored a $30,000 grant he received from the James Irvine Foundation by documenting his teaching and choreographic process, then topped off that assignment by choreographing and producing an entirely new show. The work heavily reflects the artist's most recent challenge: that of a prominent dancer who is battling with severe visual impairment.

Puerto Rican by descent, he honed his craft by studying with some of the greats, including Martha Graham, then Merce Cunningham. Eventually, Rudy became part of the team who developed the Judson Dance Theatre. Through the years, Rudy has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other foundations as well as an honorary doctorate from Otis School of Design in 1992. And today, at 71, he's still /moving.

 

 

 

Visiones: Latino Art & Culture- Episode Five

Episode five highlights the Taco Shop Poets Southern California, early tent theater of the Southwest called Carpas, and performance art in San Francisco.

 

Taco Shop Poets

The Taco Shop Poets is a group of artists devoted to creating community empowerment through the arts. A group that realizes the Latino community's intangible treasures that can be explored through all of the arts, the Taco Shop Poets learn from the struggles and successes of all those who came before them and create venues of artistic expression for those who are currently involved in the continuing creation of the community.

The taco shops throughout the border and beyond are inherently flavored places of culture and of celebration, where all walks of life collide for a brief moment and the Taco Shop Poets wish to affirm this coalescence in an explicit manner,and contribute to it, in the most humble of ways, through their performances.

 

Amparo Garcia Crow

Amparo Garcia-Crow is a multi-disciplinary artist who acts, directs, sings and writes plays, screenplays and songs. She has been produced Off-Broadway, Los Angeles, Chicago and the Southwest. She has appeared in various regional theatres including the Kennedy Center and has directed in many theatres in Austin, Texas.
A recipient of the prestigious NEA/TCG Director's Fellow, Garcia-Crow teaches Acting and Directing. This spring she was awarded the Outstanding Professor award by the Fine Arts Council which seeks to recognize excellence in teaching. She is one of the premiere faculty of the newly formed Humanities Institute at the University of Texas. Presently she is the Artistic Director of Prism Works, an artists' cooperative housed at the State Theatre Company, that develops new work about the diverse experience of people of color.

The company is presently developing a musical by Garcia-Crow entitled LA CARPA GARCIA. She is a former Fellow of the Michner Center for Writers and has been a professional actress for sixteen years. Her favorite roles include the starring role in MARISOL and Carla in Big State's IN THE WEST. Currently Garcia-Crow starts in LOAVES AND FISHES, (a short film she also wrote) that is touring national festivals as one of the SWAMPS "Best Texas Independent Films".

Guillermo Gomez Pena

Performance artist and writer, Guillermo Gomez Pena was born in Mexico and arrived in the US in 1978. Since then he has investigated border culture and trans-cultural identity. Through journalism, performance, radio, video, poetry and installations he has explored the relationship between Latinos and the US. From 1984 to 1990 he founded and participated in the "Border Arts Workshop", and contributed to the national radio programme "Crossroads." He is one of the editors of "High Performance" magazine and of the "Drama Review." He has received the Prix de la Parole at the International Theatre Festival of the Americas (1989), the Bessie prize in New York (1989) and a MacArthur Fellowship (1991), among other awards. Author of the book "Warrior for Gringostroika" published by Graywolf Press in 1993. In 1997, his book "The New World Border" received the American Book Award.

Royal Chicano Air Force

The Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) is an artistic collective based in Sacramento. Initially named the Rebel Chicano Art Front, the RCAF was founded in 1969 to express the goals of the Chicano civil rights and labor organizing movement of the United Farm Workers. Its mission was to make available to the Chicano community a bilingual/bicultural arts center where artists could come together, exchange ideas, provide mutual support, and make available to the public artistic, cultural, and educational programs and events.

The founding members of the RCAF include José Montoya, Esteban Villa, Juanishi V. Orosco, Ricardo Favela, and Rudy Cuellar. Montoya and Villa knew of each other through their involvement in the Mexican American Liberation Art Front and the California College of Arts and Crafts. During the Chicano Movement students pressured colleges and universities to diversify their faculties. As a result, Montoya and Villa were hired as professors of art at California State University, Sacramento. Their academic positions gave them the creative freedom to initiate programmatic exchanges between the university and the barrio community. Through this effort they initiated many programs including the Barrio Art Program, which required university students to go out into the community including senior centers to teach art courses.

 

 

 

Visiones: Latino Art & Culture- Episode Six

Episode six features Salsa music and dance in Philadelphia, Prima Ballerina Evelyn Cisneros, Tejana music pioneer Lydia Mendoza, and the father of Chicano music, Lalo Guerrero.

 

John Santos

John Santos is one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today. He is known for his innovative use of traditional forms and instruments in combination with contemporary music, and has earned much respect and recognition as a record and event producer.

He has performed, recorded and studied with acknowledged masters of the Afro-Latin and Jazz idioms such as Cachao, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Lazaro Ros, Armando Peraza, Eddie Palmieri, Patato Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, Orestes Vilató, Rene López, Max Roach, Walfredo de los Reyes, Milton Cardona, Roberto Borrell and Chocolate Armenteros.

This experience has provided a solid foundation for Mr. Santos' ground-breaking work in bringing together styles, rhythms, concepts and artists from different generations.

 

Evelyn Cisneros

Evelyn Cisneros began her training as a ballerina at the age of seven and a half. She continued to study at the School of American Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet School. Her career began at 16 with the San Francisco Ballet, and she has been dancing with that company for 20 years. She has performed locally and internationally, making guest appearances in Spain, Mexico, and Cuba. She has been and continues to strive to attain perfection in technique and artistic expression. Her desire to dance has developed into a passion that is very internal, very personal, and very essential.

She has most recently been honored as one of the Most Gifted Women in San Francisco. Ms. Cisneros is also very active in the community and supports organizations such as the School of Creative Arts, Children's Hospital, and KQED.

 

Lydia Mendoza

Lydia Mendoza, known as /la alondra de la frontera/ ("the lark of the border"), made her first recording in 1928 as a member of her family-based Cuarteto Carta Blanca, which Leonora Mendoza,^qv her mother, managed. In her four-decade career as a soloist, she usually accompanied herself on a twelve-string guitar and was considered a uniquely artful and dramatic interpreter of Spanish-language songs. Among her most famous singles were "Mal Hombre" ("Cold-hearted Man"), a song she said she got off a chewing-gum wrapper from Monterrey, Nuevo León, and "Delgadina," which expressed a critical view of a father's questionable intentions toward his daughter. Lydia Mendoza was honored in 1982 with a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1985, and became the first Tejana admitted into the Conjunto Hall of Fame in 1991.

 

Lalo Guerrero

Lalo Guerrero is rightfully recognized as the “Father of Chicano Music” because no other Chicano artist has come close to writing and recording more great songs in virtually every genre of Latin music, including salsa, norteña, banda, rancheras, boleros, corridos, cumbias, mambos, cha cha chas, socially relevant songs, swing, rock & roll and blues. He has also created children’s music, comedy songs and parodies, in addition to being a world-class singer. Generations of children in Mexico and the U.S. grew up with his “Ardillitas” (squirrels), and his parodies such as, “Tacos for Two,” “Pancho Claus,” “Elvis Perez” and “There’s No Tortillas,” have brought laughter to Chicanos and Anglos alike. His songs about Cesar Chavez and the farm workers, the braceros, martyred journalist Ruben Salazar, and the plight of illegal aliens, have chronicled Chicano history and inspired his people.

He has performed all over the United States, Mexico and in Paris, France. He has received countless awards, including being declared a National Folk Treasure by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., the National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, the Nosotros Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Medal of the Arts, presented by President Clinton. He has been invited to the White House three times, by Carter, Bush and Clinton.