Friday, May 25, 2007

Una Cultura

Manuel Ramos


These three Denver artists -- Carlos Fresquez, Jerry De La Cruz and Tony Ortega -- have been challenging assumptions about "Chicano art" for decades. Make that "art," period. Their combined show at the William Havu Gallery is exciting and diverse. If you haven't stopped by yet, get down there before June 2 when the exhibit ends. And if you don't plan to be in the neighborhood of 1040 Cherokee Street soon, you can get a good sampling of the show on the gallery's website. Call 303-893-2360 for hours, more details.

Meanwhile, now through May 29, Daniel Luna is showing samples of his eye-catching work at the Bonacquisti Wine Company, 4640 Pecos, Denver (yes, the North Side has its own winery.) Daniel is the label artist (nice wine -- and the labels are perfect for the different blends) and also did the cover art for the latest KUVO Cancion Mexicana compilation CD, Raices: Roots Music Volume 1, The Young Turks of New Mexico Music. ( A classic bit of Chicano art, by the way.) 303-477-9463.


Rise, Do Not Be Afraid
Aaron A. Abeyta

(Ghost Road Press, 2007)

The author, an English professor at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado, describes his first novel this way:

"It was the last good year for Santa Rita, a town that once thrived in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. But the communidad's fragile bonds of honor, obligation, and love unravel when the devil comes like bad water through the oldest and weakest parts of a place. Embedded in the novel's winding tales, memory and dream mingle and sing, asking us to question our preconceptions about history-whose version becomes truth? Faced with outsider infiltration and greed, Santa Rita's faith rests in the hands of her people, both the living and the dead.

"Today, Santa Rita exists mostly in memory, the only road in blocked by an iron gate and a no trespassing sign. This book is for the people of Santa Rita. It is also for the people of every village and every town that knows the sensation of loss, but also of beauty and perseverance."

The Guardians
Ana Castillo
(Random House, July, 2007)

Ana Castillo is a fearless storyteller. In The Guardians, she addresses the key issues racking our immigrant nation and hemisphere. This brave, unflinching novel shows the tragic consequences that come from not facing what is happening in our communities to those without true guardians to protect them.”
-- Julia Alvarez, author of Saving the World and Once Upon a Quinceañera

The Devil's Mambo
Jerry A. Rodriguez
(Kensington, 2007)

Jerry Rodriguez 's debut novel has been getting quite the buzz, including endorsements from several tough guy writers: Ken Bruen, Gary Phillips, Jason Starr, Mario Acevedo, etc. I just started reading it, and it moves, man. Here's the publisher's rap about the book:

"Nicholas Esperanza couldn’t believe his luck. A winning $30 million lotto ticket took him out of NYPD Homicide and bought him Sueño Latino, a popular salsa club on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Dancing, drinking, partying, women—every day was a good day. The nights with his girlfriend, Legs, are even hotter. But now, Legs needs Esperanza to do her a solid: find her missing 14-year-old niece, Alina. With that, Esperanza’s luck is about to change.

"Before he knows it, Esperanza’s plunged into a dangerous sexual underground of S&M clubs, fetishists, pornography, and murder. Anything can be bought and sold, especially innocence. The most beautiful faces mask the most vicious predators. As the quest gets more personal, and the lines between good and evil blur, Esperanza spirals into the darkest recesses of his soul, to places he never wanted to see. He’s in so deep that turning back is not an option."

The Paterson Prize for Books for Young People is given annually for a book which, in the opinion of the judges, is the outstanding book for young people published in the previous year. A prize of $500 is awarded in three categories: Pre-K - Grade 3; Grades 4 - 6; and Grades 7 - 12. For further information about any of these prizes, contact Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Executive Director, The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College at (973) 684-6555, mail a self-addressed stamped envelope for the application and guidelines, or visit the website at

The 2007 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, Grades 7 - 12, was awarded to two Latina authors for their recent books:

The Throwaway Piece by Jo An Yolanda Hernández (Piñata Press) received the Chicano/Latino Literary Award from the University of California, Irvine, in 2003, and it continues to gather awards and recognition such as the Paterson Prize. As described by the publisher, it is "a dramatic novel for young adults about a teenage girl forced to live with foster families."

Call Me Henri
Lorraine M. López
(Curbstone Press) "Lorraine López has created a vivid picture of barrio life, filled with honesty, insight, and humor for young adults. She paints a balanced and detailed landscape of Enrique's world. Though Enrique is confused and angered by his mother's refusal to stand up for him against the abuse of his stepfather, he also draws strength from his friend Francisco's supportive and loving family." Professor López also published Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories (Curbstone Press), which won the 2002 Miguel Marmól Prize.

A plug for a homeboy, Rick Garcia and his group, the Rick Garcia Band, Colorado favorites, who recently released their latest CD, Mañana Me Iré. This displaced Texican has found a home in Denver. Rick is an excellent singer and he always surrounds himself with the best talent. On the weekends you can't find a better party than at Rick's Tavern, 6762 Lowell Boulevard, Denver, 303-427-3427. The CD is a mix of old school (Pretend, Kansas City) and kickin' Chicano (Traigo Mi .45). More details about the band, the bar, and the CD at Rick's website.

We received word that La Bloga has been nominated for a Blogger's Choice Award in three categories: Best Blog About Stuff, Best Entertainment Blog, and Blogitzer (Best Writing). Cool, and we appreciate the acknowledgement of our efforts. So, thanks to whoever nominated us. Now, if you agree, go to Blogger's Choice and vote.

In case you missed it, keep reading below for Daniel Olivas's report on Al Martinez's sudden departure from the L.A. Times. As Daniel notes, "
If you’ve enjoyed Martinez’s columns and/or his books and you’re not happy about this, I urge you to write to the Los Angeles Times at: "

Art, books, music. That's a lot of cultura. Go get it.

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