Uncategorized

SU Students and Alumni Team Up with Local Musicians for Make Music Day

Musical instruments displayed against a mural of a Cuban sunset
La Casita Celebrates Make Music Day with musical performances by local youth, Syracuse University Alumni, and Near Westside Musicians.

La Casita, in partnership with CNY Arts, will join in the global music celebration of Make Music Day on June 21, 2022. La Casita will host its Fiesta de la Música an afternoon open house showcasing live performances by Syracuse University students, recent graduates and alums with musicians from the City’s Westside community. Performances at La Casita will include an acoustic guitar ensemble, drumming & percussion, Latin music, blues, rock & jazz fusions, children’s performances, and more. Live music will fill La Casita on the evening of the summer solstice! Admission to this event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Students and alums of Syracuse University performing at this event include: Liamna Pestana (’22), Sebastian Escribano (’20), Hector Prieto (G’23) and Zachary Pearson (G’22). “These talented musicians and scholars have dedicated a great deal of their time at Syracuse University to serving La Casita’s children as arts and music instructors, facilitating workshops and weekly classes,” said Tere Paniagua (‘82), executive director of the Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community. “Their commitment to our youth is truly admirable and we all look forward to seeing them perform with the kids and with some of our long-established Westside musicians. Very exciting!”

“Music education brings an opportunity for children to connect with a sense of harmony and freedom,” said Catalina Niño Cordero (G’22), community engagement coordinator at la Casita. “They learn to express themselves with joy, while developing the ability to align with others in a positive common goal to achieve together. Music at La Casita presents an opportunity to support families in their desire to provide children with a positive sense of belonging and a nurturing social environment where they feel acknowledged.”

The history of Make Music Day begins 40 years ago in France, when the Ministry of Culture envisioned a holiday dedicated to celebrating and appreciating music; a day where musicians would fill the streets and perform live and free music for everyone to enjoy across the French Republic. This dream became a reality in 1982, when June 21st became a holiday named Fête de la Musique (Festival of Music). The celebration has become a global phenomenon where over 1000 cities around the world now participate every year.

In accordance with this annual holiday tradition, iconic landmarks and buildings used as venues for the event in the U.S. will light up or be decorated in orange, a color representing the sun and commemorating the summer solstice. Orange, of course, has a very special significance for all of us at Syracuse University!

Open to the Public. Free Admission. Light refreshments will be served. Support for this program comes from CNY Arts and Syracuse University. For more information and updates about this event, visit La Casita’s Facebook Event Page: Fiesta de la Musica/Make Music Day Facebook Event

La Casita Cultural Center Exhibiting Art Works by Local Youths in its NEW SHOW: YOUNG ART 2022

Syracuse University students team up with La Casita Cultural Center in the annual spring exhibit YOUNG ART 2022/ARTE JOVEN 2022, now open to the public Monday to Friday, from 12pm to 5pm through June 30.

Young Art 2022 Exhibit Grand Opening
La Casita Cultural Center presents its annual exhibit YOUNG ART 2022/ARTE JOVEN 2022, now open to the public Monday to Friday, from 12pm to 5pm through June 30.

Dozens of Syracuse University students partnered with La Casita this spring to design and facilitate youth programs in this off-campus program of the College of Arts & Sciences, located in the heart of the Near Westside of Syracuse. The cohort of programming coordinators and instructors included students from the School of Social Work, Public Health, Creative Arts Therapy, Museum Studies, Setnor School of Music, Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric and Composition, College of Engineering & Computer Sciences, among various other academic units collaborating as a team. Students from SUNY Upstate Medical University also contributed significantly in all areas of programming.

The Young Art exhibit recognizes the talent and achievements of local youth enrolled in arts education programs offered by guest artists and partner organizations, with the support of Syracuse University. La Casita is located at 109 Otisco St, Syracuse 13204.

La Casita welcomes the Narratio Fellows and youth from the Northside Learning Center on May 5th starting at 6pm, for a special poetry and photography presentation titled “Conventions of Care”, that is part of the show.

La Casita’s partner agencies this year also include the Huntington Family Centers and the Boys & Girls Club of Syracuse. Youth arts programs from both organizations are represented in the exhibit. The Huntington program co-hosted a Writing Workshop led by Syracuse University students Ting “Kelly” Xu (G ’22), Camila Paez (’22), Daniela Dorado (’24) and Megan Rienzo (’24). The workshop culminated with the release of a book titled Reflections, Notes for a Personal Journey. written and illustrated by teens at Huntington. A painting workshop also led by Syracuse University students took place at the Boys & Girls Club. The workshop produced a collection of paintings now on view at La Casita.

“We are happy to bring back this important event where our young artists can be recognized and celebrated by the larger community,” said Tere Paniagua, executive director of the Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community and director of La Casita. “Now more than ever, we must aim to inspire our youth through explorations in creativity and self-expression as a way to cope and heal from the traumatic experiences of the last two years.”

A native of Havana, Cuba, La Casita’s teaching artist, Abisay Puentes, has been leading drawing and painting classes since last fall. Puentes is currently exhibiting a collection of his own visual and aural compositions titled Paradox, at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. La Casita’s show will present over 60 pieces from the workshops led by Puentes, assisted by Puerto Rican artist Richard Riefkohl.

A collection of work will also be presented by the Experimental Art workshops led by Jessica McGhee, a graduate student in Syracuse University’s Creative Arts Therapy program at the College of Visual & Performing Arts.

Liamna Pestana-Roche (’22) has worked with young participants in music and dual language literacy programs at La Casita for the last six years, encouraging young artists to explore and develop their abilities. This year, her young authors in the Writing Workshop produced a new publication, Poemitas /Little Poems. This is the 5th children’s book released by La Casita in the last six years. Pestana-Roche was assisted by Syracuse University alumna, Ivette Cruz (G’18) and Yinzhu “Jullie” Zhao (’23).

“It is always a pleasure to work on projects that illuminate the heart; that bring you closer to those little hearts always ready to give and receive love. Every project has been an adventure and this time, the adventure was of no less importance. On the contrary, exploring emotions when the world is so full of adversity, sadness, and problems of various kinds feels like a titan’s job,” said Pestana-Roche.

Syracuse University members of the Society of Hispanic Professionals in Engineering (SHPE) student organization, and their STEAM youth workshops at La Casita, also produced work that is now on view. Workshops were led by Jenifer Pena (’22) and Mohammed Ali (’22).

For more information about this exhibition program and about La Casita’s free youth programs, please contact Catalina Niño at 315.443.2151 or via email at lacasita@syr.edu.

La Casita is a vibrant cultural, artistic, and educational center supported by Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. The center is committed to promoting and documenting the arts and culture of Central New York’s Latinx/Latin American community through collaborative programming in the visual and expressive arts, education, and civic engagement.

La Casita Releases Anthology of Children’s Stories

La Casita Children's Stories
La Casita is pleased to announce the release of it’s latest anthology “La Casita Children’s Stories/ Cuentos de los niños y niñas de La Casita”
La Casita is pleased to announce the release of it’s latest anthology ” La Casita Children’s Stories/ Cuentos de los niños y niñas de La Casita”.
 
The four books compiled in this collection were written and illustrated by children attending La Casita Cultural Center’s Dual Language Literacy Programs between 2017 and 2022, and made possible through the support of Syracuse University student volunteers. Special thanks to Professor Emma Ticio’s students of Spanish in Action (SPA 439/639) for their collaboration in this publication project.
 
The characters, settings, themes and illustrations for “Palo: A Chicken Mystery”, “Gabi: In Her Little World”, and “Nikala: Behind the Waterfall” were developed collectively by program participants. “Little Grandmas”, the last book in the collection, came to fruition as children captured memories of their grandmothers through photographs and lively in-program discussion.
 
“It was an honor to work with the children in the development of these stories and to witness their creativity and pride as published authors and illustrators. I wish to express my deep gratitude to the families involved, Syracuse University students and to the staff of La Casita whose support helped give shape to these wonderful stories.” – Margot Clark, Co-Editor and former Librarian for La Casita Cultural Center.

Engaging Urban Communities: Rebounding from COVID-19 and the “New Normal”

Engaging Urban Communities: Rebounding from COVID-19 and the “New Normal” will be the focus of open dialogue at La Casita on Thursday, February 24, from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. This event will be held in person at La Casita and via Zoom. A group of panelists to lead the discussion will include Syracuse University faculty, students, and community partners across the City of Syracuse. Admission is free and open to the public. Face masks are required, along with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result.

As we all try to regain some normalcy past COVID-19 related lockdowns, isolation, and loss, engagement with and support for largely marginalized urban communities has presented vast challenges. This dialogue will focus on the many roles of community-based programs, and the challenges in community building and participation.

A cohort of panelists will reflect on the experiences, inadequacies, and successes of various community engagement initiatives as programs reopen to the public. The panel will be moderated by Tere Paniagua, executive director, Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community at Syracuse University, and will include:

BEA GONZÁLEZ
Community Organizer & former VP of Community Engagement at Syracuse University

FANNY VILLARREAL
Executive Director, YWCA

ELISA MORALES
Executive Director, Spanish Action League of Onondaga County

EMMA TICIO
Associate Professor of Spanish; Chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics at Syracuse University

BRICE NORDQUIST
Arts & Sciences Dean’s Professor of Community Engagement at Syracuse University

ZACHARY PEARSON
MSW candidate at Syracuse University’s School of Social Work

LIZMARIE MONTEMAYOR
Engaged Humanities SOURCE undergraduate researcher at Syracuse University

ZAKERY MUÑOZ
PhD candidate, Writing and Rhetoric at Syracuse University

More details and online registration can be found here: Zoom Registration Link .

For accessibility requests or for more details contact La Casita at lacasita@syr.edu or by calling (315) 443-2151. This Program is part of the 2021-22 Syracuse Symposium on Conventions.

La Casita 2021 Year-End Review

Thank you to all the families, students, faculty, sponsors, and community members for being a part of our Fall 2021 semester. After a year and a half of being shut down, La Casita has re-opened it’s doors to our community. This year has been filled with many great events and programs including, the Corazon del Barrio exhibit, our weekly Youth Programs, Trunk or Treat, and our Luces de Navidad holiday open house. La Casita would also like to thank all the student interns and volunteers who contributed to the success of all of these events and programs.

 

Check out this Video highlighting La Casita’s Fall 2021 Programming. Special Thanks to Edward Reynolds for the Photography and Videography. Additional thanks to Liamna Pestana-Roche, Jose More, and Sara Silva for providing the music.

 

La Casita will be closed from Saturday 12/18/2021 until Monday 01/03/2022 for the Holidays. Community programming will resume in February of 2022.

La Casita Memories: Balcón Criollo 2013

Balcon Criollo 2013 Exhibit at La Casita.
El Balcón Criollo, October 8, 2013 at La Casita, Syracuse, NY.

To commemorate La Casita’s 10th anniversary, the center wants to highlight the artists, community members, and events that define its history. In 2013, La Casita hosted its first Balcón Criollo exhibit. Inspired by the work of Puerto Rican artist Pepón Osorio and through a community engagement effort led by Luz Encarnación, the Balcón Criollo has since become the signature program commemorating Hispanic Heritage at La Casita.

La Casita’s gallery walls filled with family photos contributed by community members for the 2013 exhibition program.

La Casita’s Balcón is a permanent corner installation in the center’s gallery. The Balcón, which means porch in Spanish, is representative of the space where we interact with our community. “The front porch is usually where we have coffee with our neighbors, or watch the kids play. The front porch is where our home life connects with our community,” said Tere Paniagua, Executive Director of La Casita.

 

El Balcón Criollo 2013, incorporated photographs, memorabilia and culturally significant artifacts donated by members of La Casita’s Community.

The model concept of the Balcón was inspired by the work of Puerto Rican installation  artist Pepón Osorio. Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Osorio was educated at the Universidad Inter-Americana in Puerto Rico and Herbert H. Lehman College in New York and received an MA from Columbia University in 1985. Osorio’s work is influenced by his experience as a social worker in The Bronx. Osorio says, “My principal commitment as an artist is to return art to the community.” Osorio’s work bridges museum installation with field-based community engagement, often incorporating pieces collected directly from his community.

 

It was this concept that inspired La Casita’s Balcón Criollo exhibition program. The 2013 exhibit included a gallery-wide installation of meaningful relics from the homes and heart of the local Hispanic community. “There is a story behind every piece… stories about our neighborhoods, our countries of origin, our families, and our culture,” said Paniagua. The exhibit was a collaborative effort between La Casita staff, volunteers, local artists and community members who contributed pieces and stories to the exhibit’s installation. Highlights of the exhibit were the Balcón and the traditional Piragua cart, both built by local carpenters and community volunteers.

A Piragua Cart created by local carpenter in our community. A Piragua is a Puerto Rican shaved ice dessert, shaped like a cone, consisting of shaved ice and covered with fruit-flavored syrup.

 

Since the initial Balcón Criollo in 2013, La Casita has redesigned the gallery display each year to explore different themes. Although the themes of the installations have varied, the concept behind the Balcón remains the same: community engagement. “The Balcón is the cornerstone of the gallery and has become the signature program of La Casita. The idea behind the Balcón is  for people in our community to see themselves represented and their stories valued and shared,” says Paniagua.

La Casita Memories: 2012 Art Exhibits

Selection from “The Photographer as a Child: Memories from Guatemala” exhibit in 2012

To commemorate La Casita’s 10th anniversary, the center wants to highlight the artists, community members, and events that define its history. In 2012, La Casita hosted two exhibits: “The Photographer as a Child: Memories from Guatemala” and “Angels on the Border”. These are some of the first exhibits presented at La Casita and are representative of the artwork and narratives the center would highlight in the following years.

Efren Lopez'12
Efren Lopez’12 was a student in the Military Photojournalism Program in Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and the exhibiting artist of “The Photographer as a Child: Memories from Guatemala”

In the Spring of 2012, La Casita hosted an exhibit featuring the photography of Efrén López ’12. Lopez was a student in the Military Photojournalism Program in Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Lopez’s experience as an aerial photographer for the U.S. Air Force allowed him to document real-world situations and the military from around the globe. “The Photographer as a Child: Memories from Guatemala” focused on Lopez’s return trip to Guatemala in 2009. “My life began in a bamboo hut at the side of a road in a tiny town named Petaca, Guatemala, in 1966,” Lopez writes. “It’s a town so small that it is next to impossible to find on most maps of Guatemala, much less Central America.” Additionally, the exhibit included artwork created by students of the Westside Academy at Blodgett Middle School. These students participated in photography workshops led by López while he was a student at Syracuse University.

Retablo
Retablos are devotional art pieces using iconography derived from traditional Catholic Church art. The retablos in this exhibit portray the blessings of the Virgin Mary and the Trinity’s protection of immigrants in their struggles across the border.

In the Fall of 2012, La Casita hosted the exhibit “Angels on the Border”, featuring retablos by Mexican immigrants from 1912 to 1996. Retablos are devotional art pieces using iconography derived from traditional Catholic faith and imagery. The retablos in this exhibit portray the blessings of the Virgin Mary and the Trinity’s protection of immigrants in their struggles across the border. The works include text that describes the miracle, an image of the place where the miracle occurred and an image of the deity to whom the miracle is ascribed. The exhibition was curated by the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University, co-directed by Jorge Durand, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Guadalajara (Mexico), and Douglas S. Massey, Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

These two exhibits depict the complex nature of life in Latin America. Through these exhibits, La Casita was able to share stories relevant to the Latino communities in Central New York. Commemorating these two exhibits is a way to honor and celebrate the personal and collective narratives shared at La Casita over the past 10 years.

 

Support for this program comes from the Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community at the College of Arts & Sciences, the Humanities Center, the Latino-Latin American Studies Program, and the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean at Syracuse University.

BOMBA: The Rhythm of the Barrio

La Casita's Dance Troupe at the opening event of the 2011 Bomba y Plena Festival
La Casita’s Dance Troupe at the opening event of the 2011 Bomba y Plena Festival

Music and dance have always been at the heart of La Casita’s programming. From exhibits to recitals and performances, to youth programs, student projects and more, La Casita has embraced the rhythms that define Latin music and dance, and expands on these traditions. As we commemorate La Casita’s 10th anniversary, we reflect on the Center’s dance programs and the vital role that they play in community building and cultural heritage preservation.

 

Led by Luz Encarnación, La Casita’s very first dance troupe was formed within the year of La Casita’s opening to the public in 2011. Luz already had a long history in the Syracuse community as a Bomba & Plena dance instructor and choreographer, and perhaps more importantly, as a mentor to the youths who participated in her programs. The dance workshops were designed to also educate in wellness and self-care, developing confidence and self-esteem in youths who actively engaged with their community through year-round live performances at La Casita and across the City of Syracuse.

La Casita's exhibit space including 40 limited-edition silkscreen prints
In 2011, La Casita hosted the Bomba y Plena Festival which include a stunning exhibition of 40 limited-edition silkscreens created and signed by master print makers from Puerto Rico

In 2012, La Casita hosted a Bomba y Plena Festival commemorating the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. Bomba & Plena are important genres of folk music from Puerto Rico, typically associated with the coastal parts of the island, where African roots and cultural heritage are strong. The music is characterized by the style of drumming and lively dancers with long swirling skirts. It is especially popular in the Eastern coastal town of Loíza, Puerto Rico, which is the place of origin for a large segment of the Puerto Rican community in Syracuse’s Westside neighborhood.

The 2012 Bomba y Plena Festival included live dance performances and a stunning exhibition of 40 limited-edition silkscreens created and signed by master print makers from Puerto Rico to commemorate the annual Bomba & Plena festivals on the island. Three of the pieces from that exhibit were donated to La Casita and are currently on display as part of La Casita’s exhibit Corazón del Barrio (Heart of the Barrio).

Luz and Marianela Encarnación, and Jaydia Perry, performed at La Casita for a special 360 video.
Luz and Marianela Encarnación, and Jaydia Perry, performed at La Casita for a special 360 video.

One of the projects commemorating La Casita’s 10th anniversary this fall, involved a reunion of dancers from the original troupe, once again led by Luz Encarnación. The trio included Luz and Marianela Encarnación, and Jaydia Perry. Their Plena dance performance was caught on video by Professor Dan Pacheco and his students at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. Pacheco, a specialist in emerging technologies, developed a class project to collectively produce a 360 video with his students. It was especially moving for Professor Pacheco to work on a project that represented his own Puerto Rican roots and cultural heritage. The video features dancers in full costume, dancing to an original piece of Plena music composed and recorded especially for La Casita by Rochester-based musician from Puerto Rico, José Mora. You can view the video using this link: La Casita Plena 

Children from our community join our Danza program every year.
Children from our community join our Danza program every year.

Through the years, SU students have followed in Luz Encarnación’s footsteps. Luz inspired the work of these students by setting the precedent as dance instructors and as mentors to our youths and familias. To this day, La Casita continues to offer weekly dance workshops through its Danza Program for children on Saturday afternoons. For more information about joining the workshops for children or for adults, please call La Casita at 315-443-2151. Everyone is welcome!

The rhythms, rich music and dance traditions from around Latin America bring us together to celebrate our culture as a community.

 

Building Community

La Casita Blueprints
The Original Blueprints diagram the selected building project that would later become La Casita

Prior to 2011, the historic Lincoln Supply Building remained an empty warehouse space located on Syracuse’s Near Westside. In September of 2011 it became the home to La Casita Cultural Center, a vibrant and colorful space dedicated to Hispanic and Latino communities. It was the combined efforts of Syracuse University faculty, staff, students and community stakeholders that made La Casita the space it is today.

La Casita Blueprints
Blueprints presented by the Para Project. PARA is an office for architecture in New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts, led by principal Jon Lott.

 

In September 2009, a ceremony was held to commemorate the start of a $3.2 million renovation project of the Lincoln Building, located at 109 Otisco Street, Syracuse. Initial funding for the renovation of the 100-year-old, former warehouse into mixed-use commercial and residential space came from Syracuse University (SU). The project also garnered funding from the Round 2 Restore New York Communities grant awarded by the state to the City of Syracuse as part of a statewide initiative to revitalize urban areas.

Ricon Criollo Cultural Center
Ricon Criollo Cultural Center served as the deign inspiration for La Casita at Syracuse University

The model concept for La Casita at SU can be traced to Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx. La Casita’s interior was designed by former SU professor in the School of Architecture, Jon Lott, to honor the Center’s mission in the New York City-based Casitas tradition. Lott drew inspiration from the Rincón Criollo Cultural Center in the Bronx, and developed a model that incorporates the outdoor/indoor aspect of the original Casita. The Center’s different spaces were designed with input from Syracuse University faculty, staff, and students, as well as from local residents of the Near Westside.

The original blueprints and design proposals show the collaborative nature of this project. It was the combined efforts of architects, designers, community organizers, academic scholars and students, that made La Casita the place it is today.

This year La Casita commemorates its 10th anniversary with its exhibit: Corazón del Barrio (Heart of the Barrio), which celebrates the community that have collaborated, participated and filled this space with life. Their art, their music, their wisdom, their stories and dreams create indelible learning experiences for all who enter here. They are the true Heart of the Barrio.

Interior design concepts for La Casita
The Interior design of La Casita was created with input for the educators and community leaders to meet the needs for the community.

 

 

Support for La Casita’s 10th Anniversary program comes from the College of Arts & Sciences at Syracuse University.
Additional support comes from Syracuse University’s Humanities Center and its 2021 Syracuse Symposium on “Conventions”
Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community
Latino Latin-American Studies Program
Program on Latin America and the Caribbean (PLACA)
The Central NY Community Foundation on behalf of the Zayas Family

La Casita Honors the Founding of the Center

Syracuse Post Standard Article announcing La Casita Cultural Center's Grand Opening in 2011
Syracuse Post Standard Article announcing La Casita Cultural Center’s Grand Opening in 2011

 

As La Casita celebrates its 10th Anniversary with the latest exhibit, “Corazón del Barrio/Heart of the Barrio”, the center looks back at its milestones and accomplishments. The opening of the center in the fall of 2011 is one of those landmark achievements.

In 2011, La Casita Cultural Center, found a home located in the heart of Syracuse’s Near Westside. It all began as an initiative of Syracuse University’s Latino-Latin American Studies Program (LLAS) in collaboration with partners within the local community. Co-founders, Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla (now a faculty member of Hostos Community College, CUNY) and Silvio Torres-Saillant (Professor in the English Dept. and former director of LLAS at Syracuse University) spent two years getting to know this community and hosting open dialogues to discuss the needs and wants of the local Hispanic communities. These conversations informed the design of the space and the programs that continue to develop at La Casita today.

The model concept for La Casita can be traced to Spanish Harlem and the South Bronx. With the help of neighbors, Jose (Chema) Soto created a bright, lively, and sustainable space for Latino communities to gather, celebrate their culture and traditions, host events, play music, dance, or simply visit. “Our mission is artistic, cultural, educational, and it has to do with this neighborhood. It has to do with the Latino population in Central New York and anything that relates to Latin American and Caribbean-American heritage,” said Lara-Bonilla at the opening of the center.

10-years later, La Casita is still dedicated to the addressing the needs of the local Hispanic communities. To this day the center continues to engage with the organizations, community leaders, and families, who have collaborated and participated in La Casita’s programs. To each of them we dedicate this exhibit since they are the true heart of the barrio.

 

Support for this program comes from the Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community at the College of Arts & Sciences, the Humanities Center, the Latino-Latin American Studies Program, and the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean at Syracuse University.