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Carnal Masquerade – Art Exhibit @ IPRAC

Posted on 05 March 2013 by alejandro

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Carnal Masquerade @ IPRAC
Paintings by Santiago Flores-Charneco 

The Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture is opening a new art exhibitMascarada Carnal/Carnal Masquerade, featuring ten large scale paintings by Puerto Rican artist Santiago Flores-Charneco, a recent grant recipient from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, in New York, as part of their program for support and recognition of artists whose creative production is of exceptional quality. The work of Flores-Charneco is characterized by the fragmentation of the canvas, manually sewing pieces of paintings over which, on occasions he also integrates the glossy element of the sequin. The subject matter of these paintings is the carnival, which is manifested not only in the paintings’ display of vivid colors and throbbing flesh, but also in the disarticulation of stances that music and dance provoke, in unison, a sensual unleashing of rhythmic orgies. The exhibition will be open until August 23, 2013 at the main gallery of IPRAC, located in Humboldt Park, at 3015 W. Division Street, in Chicago. For more information please call (773) 486-8345, or fax: (773) 486-8806.

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Carnal Masquerade

Flesh and color burst in abundance out of these ten paintings by Santiago Flores-Charneco. Both elements are paramount and not by mere coincidence to the celebration of carnival, to which this Puerto Rican artist has decided to pay a vibrant visual tribute through this recent series of works. For, in these works, such an outburst is not a simple, casual metaphor. It becomes manifest not only in the paintings’ display of vivid color and throbbing flesh, but also in the disarticulation of stances that music and dance provoke, and which generate, in unison, a sensual unleashing of rhythmic orgies. Such outburst also permeates the materials and the composition that form these works; created and recreated by the untiring artist, the paintings are made up of cut-out fragments from other paintings, which Flores joins by means of sewing, as if putting together a pictorial jigsaw puzzle. The streams of paint, the circles of impasto and the glitter of the sequins build the work upon itself in a continuous process, thus erasing the antagonistic essence between the fragments and the finished work.

Through the paintings that make up this series, Santiago Flores-Charneco once again takes up and culminates a creative process and the formulation of a visual lexicon that span a few decades. Painting and sewing be it of pieces of fabric or beads a practice that links him to the tradition of popular arts and crafts) furnish his production with an enormously tactile richness and a lavishness that Puerto Rican art often lacks. In regard to Flores-Charneco, the delayed abstractionism he has practiced thus far begins to fade as he now introduces his work to latent, figurative references, with traces of masks of traditional Puerto Rican cabezudos and vejigantes, and with a true display of playful eroticism through the use of the human figure. Appearance and delusion take on a vital role in this pictorial masquerade, as well. Imbued with the liberty that carnival festivities grant, the figures that stir their bodies to the rhythm of the son in carnival parades unleash their unbridled passions, shielded in the anonymity of their sketched faces.

The life force that these paintings radiate, along with the apparent creative swiftness of the artist, conceal the technical scrupulousness and determination of someone who works with the outmost precision and care. Nothing in these works by Flores-Charneco is the product of randomness; not the feverish motion, nor the dislodged figures or the exuberant chaos of color in which they bathe. They are all inescapable elements of carnival, that carnival that stems from ancient African and Caribbean tradition, and which now flows into this Puerto Rican dance troupe. / Laura Bravo, Ph.D.

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IPRAC’s 4th Annual Navi-Jazz a Triumph!

Posted on 05 March 2013 by alejandro


On Friday, December 7th over 450 people packed the auditorium at Roberto Clemente High School for the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture’s 4th Annual Navi-Jazz, which featured the Grammy award-winning Latin Jazz bassist, John Benitez, and his band. His electrifying performance mesmerized the crowd and received a standing ovation.  The highlight of the performance was a piece composed by John Benitez’s son, Francis Benitez (the group’s drummer) dedicated to the freedom of Oscar Lopez-Rivera, a Puerto Rican political prisoner who has served 31 years in jail.

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Senator Durbin at IPRAC Meets with Community Leaders

Posted on 24 October 2012 by alejandro







On Wednesday September 26, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), held a luncheon meeting with several community leaders including Paul Roldan (Hispanic Housing), Jose Sanchez (Norwegian American Hospital), Ofelia Navarro (Spanish Coalition for Housing, Sol Flores (Casa Norte), Tim Eagin (Norwegian Foundation), Rev. Wilfredo DeJesus (New Life Covenant Ministries), Ray Vazquez (IPRAC), Billy Ocasio (IPRAC), Velia Soto (Erie Charter School) and Marcey Sorensen (Roberto Clemente High School). Alderman Roberto Maldonado welcomed the Senator to the 26th ward and State Representative Cynthia Soto welcomed him to the 4th District. Ray Vazquez, President of the Board of Directors of IPRAC, not only welcomed the Senator to IPRAC, but thanked him for his support and noted that this was the second visit that the Senator had made to the Institute. On behalf of IPRAC, Jose E. Lopez, Executive Director, presented the Senator with a poster of the Institute as well as a commemorative piece of IPRAC’s permanent installation Veveviejo by artist Antonio Martorell.

The Senator engaged the community leaders in a lively dialogue about many issues including housing, particularly the question of foreclosures, health, community services and education.
Nellies Restaurant donated the excellent Puerto Rican food that was eaten during the luncheon.

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Chicago’s Puerto Rican Community Makes History: IPRAC becomes a Museum In The Park

Posted on 19 February 2012 by alejandro

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(Chicago Park District Board of Commission)


(Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture)


– Wednesday, February 8th marks a new benchmark for Puerto Rican Chicago. On that date the Chicago Park District Board voted unanimously to designate IPRAC as a Museum In The Park. This momentous event caps off nearly 10 years of struggle by community leaders to establish IPRAC as a Museum In The Park. IPRAC now becomes the only museum in the United States exclusively dedicated to the artistic and cultural expressions of the Puerto Rican community; and joins the exclusive domain of such museums as the Museum of Science and Industry, the DuSable Museum and the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Ray Vázquez, Chairman of the Board of IPRAC, in expressing his gratitude to the board of commissioners of the Chicago Park District, stated: “This is a historic day for Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, but more importantly, it speaks to Chicago’s commitment to diversity. Today, all of Chicago should celebrate this momentous occasion.” There are many people who need to be thanked, too many to name here, but a special thanks must go out to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Pat Quinn, State Representative Cynthia Soto, Billy Ocasio and Carmen Lonstein. Without their efforts, this historic moment would not have been possible. A celebratory event will take place in the near future for community residents to partake in a celebration of IPRAC’s recent achievement and the major milestone it represents for the Humboldt Park residents and the Puerto Rican community.

3015 W. Division St. • www.IPRAC.ORG •

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Humboldt Park, a Place of Meaning and Belonging for Puerto Rican Youth

Posted on 13 January 2012 by alejandro

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On December 16, 2011 the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture (IPRAC) hosted an opening celebration for a photography exhibition with over 50 people present, including the twelve Puerto Rican and Latina/o youth who participated as co-researchers in the educational project. The project, “Exploring Place Attachment, Sociopolitical Development, and Community Action among Latino Youth” is a part of the doctoral dissertation of the lead researcher, Mayra Estrella, and was executed by the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in partnership with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Institute of Policy and Civic Engagement and the School of Public Health.
The project and exhibition, utilizing the “PhotoVoice” methodology, included four original photographs by each youth printed on four by six feet paper with a short narrative accompanying the picture describing its importance and meaning. This was done with the purpose of inquiring about the significance and relationship of place attachment for the youth and how they develop an understanding of the ways in which social forces affect the well-being of the community. Moreover, it was designed to provide a voice for the diverse experiences and expressions of Humboldt Park residents and for the youth to reflect upon the implications on becoming transformative citizens in their community.
This special event also included some influential and prestigious leaders, such as our State Representative Cynthia Soto, who spoke on the importance of bridging resources between the community and Chicago universities. Also present was Dr. Joe ‘Skip’ García, Vice Chancellor for Research at UIC, who said a few words on the important and inspiring aspects of this community-inspired project. Other attendees included Marvin García, a member of the Board of Trustees at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) and Dr. Michelle Kelly, Associate Professor from the UIC School of Public Health.
Moreover, the audience was able to hear from the youth who co-researched this project. Jazmira Bota, a Boricua freshman at DePaul University and a life-long Humboldt Park resident, spoke on how eye-opening this project was for her because she was able to witness the commonalities and differences among her peers in the community that she never fully reflected upon before. The audience also heard from Alyssa Villegas, a Boricua Sophomore at NEIU who grew-up in Uptown and Albany Park, but with deep roots in Humboldt Park. In her conversation with the audience, Villegas spoke on the importance of this community being a nexus for Puerto Ricans throughout the city and how in this place she and others will find their identity and discover a sense of belonging and meaning.
The event concluded with certificates of completion given to each youth by Estrella and myself. The youth will also receive a free laptop at the end of this month in recognition of their hard and important work, and to assist in their educational studies.

By Xavier “Xavi” Burgos

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IPRAC Celebrates an Unforgettable Evening: 3rd Annual Navi-Jazz

Posted on 13 January 2012 by alejandro

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On December 10th, over 400 people attended the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture’s (IPRAC) third annual Navi-Jazz concert held at Mambo Café. This unforgettable evening was filled with excitement and countless memorable moments. It included a silent auction of several art pieces by master artist Antonio Martorell, four Southwest airline tickets and several products from Verizon wireless. Prior to the start of the concert, community partners were treated to a VIP reception where a traditional Puerto Rican cuisine was served by the wait staff of Nellie’s restaurant.
In the past three years, Navi-Jazz has brought some of the most talented Puerto Rican Latin jazz musicians to Chicago. This year’s event featured Latin Grammy Award winning artist, Paoli Mejías as well as Antonio Quijano, Endel Dueño, and Edgar Abraham and his Latin Jazz Project.
Navi-Jazz has become a signature event of IPRAC. It was made possible by this year’s generous contributions by sponsors and community partners, which included Verizon, Southwest Airlines, Baker & McKenzie LLC, Hoy, Fifth Third Bank, FV Plumbing, Hispanic Housing, ASPIRA Inc of Illinois and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

For more info on IPRAC go to or

By Julio Urrutia

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Navi-Arts Fest A Complete Success!

Posted on 09 December 2011 by alejandro


On the weekend of December 3-4, 2011, the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture celebrated its first holiday arts sale event Navi Arts Fest. The event featured arts and crafts from Puerto Rican artists that included Galería Cuca (mixed media), Edgar “El Pintor” (ceramics), Leo Negrón (coconut art) Miguel Arroyo (photography and graphic design), Elias Carmona (photography), Lebster Pabón (paintings), Between Rags and Dolls (hand made rag dolls), Zoraida Rivera Tañón (artisanal coquito), Mr. Myke (urban art) and El Quijote Bookstore.

On Saturday, December 3rd, Navi Arts Fest, kick off with the musical flavor of La Trova del 31 at noon. The presentation of Adolfo Colón’s book Pasto y Maleza and the musical presentation of the up and coming bomba group Buya.  Later on, IPRAC hosted two amazing parrandas, received with one of the López family’s sweetest recipes of ‘leche con jengibre’. The first traditional parranda sponsored by ¡Humboldt Park NO SE VENDE! and the second one by the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center’s traveling parranda led by los pleneros of Nuestro Tambó.

The event concluded with an amazing children’s workshop led by Happy Kids Chicago on Sunday afternoon. This joyful celebration brought many Puerto Ricans together, like back home, enjoying excellent music, arts, delicious holiday treats, gifts and good memories.

by Brenda Figueroa

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Navi-Jazz 2011: Edgar Abraham & His Latin Jazz Project

Posted on 16 October 2011 by alejandro

You Do Not Want To Miss This Rare Moment in the Latin Jazz Scene
An All-Star Line-Up For The Ages.

This year marks the 3rd Annual Navi-Jazz Concert and will feature the following renowned Puerto Rican Latin jazz artists:

• Edgar Abraham is a saxophonist, composer and master of sixteen instruments. Additionally, he is the creator of the unmatched Hyper-Virtuoso technique for the saxophone.

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• Latin Grammy nominee Paoli Mejias is a distinguished master percussionist, ranked among the best in both Latin jazz and salsa. As a bandleader Paoli fuses straight-ahead jazz with African, Mediterranean & Caribbean folkloric rhythms to create a new dimension of Latin jazz that is global, energetic, and modern.

Antonio Quijano is an electric bassist, composer and theorist. Quijano is author of Secessionist Method of Composition Encyclopedia which discusses the dozens of theories he has developed over the years. Quijano is the composer of more than 150,000 pieces of music and creator of the 2:1 technique for stringed instruments. He has lectured at major universities as an independent cultural researcher, writer, and theorist and is a pioneer in posthuman music and new music theory.

Endel Dueño, known as the encyclopedia of the “Timbal,” has taken the place of “King of the Timbal” left by the legendary Tito Puente. Master of both the Timbal and Drums, Dueño is undoubtedly one of the most prodigious and talented musicians in the world today.

IPRAC is an art and educational institution devoted to the promotion, integration and advancement of the Puerto Rican culture. IPRAC brings to the community a visual arts and exhibition program that furthers the Puerto Rican arts tradition. IPRAC is in the process of transforming the historic Humboldt Park Stables into a world-class arts and cultural center.


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Reflexiones al final de la Fiesta

Posted on 15 October 2011 by alejandro

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Bienvenido Hormigueros/Video Fiesta Boricua11/Flickr

No es al comienzo de la construcción cuando se valora lo que se va a construir. No es el ímpetu inicial, ni la energía que se pone al principio, ni la idea que se tiene de lo que será lo que da la justa medida, el valor total de lo que se busca lograr. Es el resultado final, al llegar a la meta lo que nos pone ante los ojos y en el corazón el valor de aquello que con tanto trabajo y sacrificio se ha  logrado.
Acaba de terminar la 18na jornada de la Fiesta Boricua de Bandera a Bandera. Los que estamos de afuera no vemos el proceso, solamente el final, el resultado. Podríamos acaso imaginarnos los sinsabores, los conflictos, el arduo trabajo, las dificultades, las prolongadas reuniones, las pocas horas de sueño, las diferencias y desavenencias en cuánto a cómo hacer las cosas y las dificultades para reunir los fondos para sufragar los gastos de unas fiestas que, por lo que se ve, deben costar “un dineral”.  Más allá de eso, de tal vez imaginarnos ese escenario, creo que no podremos llegar nunca a aquilatar el trabajo que conlleva la organización de una fiesta como ésta. Hemos manifestado anteriormente en este espacio la admiración y el respeto que sentimos por esta comunidad del Paseo Boricua y por todos y todas los que componen el Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño Juan Antonio Corretjer, en Chicago. Me reitero en esa afirmación y la pongo en grado superlativo.
Después de la fiesta, después de la 18na Fiesta Boricua de Bandera a Bandera nos sentimos muy agradecidos por un espectáculo maravilloso de afirmación cultural puertorriqueña, de hermandad y solidaridad latinoamericana y de talentos extraordinarios. A propósito de la Fiesta, el alcalde del municipio homenajeado, el pueblo de Hormigueros, el Hon. Pedro J. García Figueroa expresó lo siguiente: “La hospitalidad y el orgullo patrio desplegado por la diáspora puertorriqueña en Chicago, ponen de manifiesto que, salvo algunas diferencias en el idioma, somos todos hermanos boricuas. En Chicago pudimos palpar lo que somos y lo que juntos podemos hacer para la redención de nuestra nación puertorriqueña”. Por otro lado, el director de la Oficina de Arte y Cultura del municipio, el Sr. Félix A. Ponce Labiosa puntualizó: “Esta Fiesta Boricua ha puesto de manifiesto cuán profundas están las raíces de nuestros compatriotas, aunque no estén afincados en el lar nativo. Estas raíces están sembradas en el alma colectiva.” “La muestra de talento artístico que se presentó fue de una variedad y calidad extraordinaria”, fue otro entre muchos comentarios muy positivos de los que fuimos testigos.
Compañeros y compañeras del Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño Juan Antonio Corretjer, ¡Gracias, un millón de gracias! Nos imaginamos que es muy difícil, y por fuentes fidedignas nos enteramos que esta pasada Fiesta Boricua tuvo muchas y grandes dificultades de distinta naturaleza, pero el resultado, como exponemos al principio, es lo que les da la justa medida del valor de sus esfuerzos, aunque los deje extenuados.
Como en todo lo que se hace con el corazón, hay que continuar a pesar de los sacrificios, continuar a pesar del arduo trabajo, continuar a pesar de los infortunios y los sinsabores, continuar a pesar de las presiones económicas, continuar a pesar de los que nos dificultan el trabajo, continuar a pesar de los pesares, a pesar de todo.
Como dejara dicho nuestro Poeta Nacional Juan Antonio Corretjer Montes: “La vida nunca cesa, la vida es lucha toda”. Adelante, adelante siempre. Esperamos verlos y abrazarlos nuevamente el próximo año.

by Carlos Quiles


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IPRAC Opens A Year of Martorell in Chicago

Posted on 07 September 2011 by alejandro

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In a celebratory atmosphere the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture opened its first major exhibit: “A year of Martorell in Chicago” with the master artist Antonio Martorell on June 11, 2011.
The celebration began with a reception honoring Antonio Martorell, hosted by Congressman Luis Gutiérrez and his wife Soraida. This was followed by a “Conversatorio” among three young Puerto Rican artists – Ramón Miranda (Puerto Rico), Miguel Luciano (New York) and Josue Pellot (Chicago) – with the master Antonio Martorell.  Brenda Torres served as the mistress  of ceremony.
The lively conversation served as the opening for the exhibit itself.
Martorell explained his intentions with this exhibit “Gestuario 1 and Gestuario 2 and the “Árbol Caído”. An exhibit which focuses on Puerto Rican and Caribbean gestures across generations with particular emphasis on the body and its changes and through it, a dialogue between the youth and what he frames as the “super adult”. Additionally “Árbol Caído” cripples of the issue of de-forestation and the human carbon footprint. The more than 200 people who gathered at IPRAC were deeply impressed with the beauty, simplicity and the message of Martorell’s exhibit.


The evening culminated with a gala in which several of the sponsors were recognized including Clayco, Harris Bank, Hispanic Housing, as well as Congressman Gutiérrez and the Master himself Antonio Martorell.
Martorell will be returning to Chicago on serveral occasions including Friday, September 2, when he will conduct a workshop with students and faculty of Aspira and offer a guided tour of his exhibit at IPRAC at 5pm.


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