Newbery award winner and New York Times bestselling author

Posts tagged ‘Latin Ballet of Virginia’

Hispanidad Meets First Fridays: Helene Ruiz at Art6

from ¡Azucar!

This month you’ll find celebrations of Hispanic heritage in all sorts of corners of the city – and that’s thanks in part to the efforts of Helene Ruiz. The Bronx native lives in Mechanicsville VA these days, but nothing has slowed her commitment to artists, culture and the community.

Before we launch into the quick Q & A, here are two events to keep track of:

Sabor Feminina (Female Flavor) at Pine Camp Cultural Arts Center through November 2. The free show features Ruiz’s Goddesses series, with nods to Cuban Yoruba spiritualism.   Mon – Fri 10 – 7 pm. Saturday 10 am – 2 pm.

¡Azucar! at Art6 Gallery, Oct 5, 5 – 10 pm. Ruiz ushers in First Fridays doing what she does best: gathering artists together to celebrate in one voice. This multimedia event will feature the work of several Latin visual artists as well as the Latin Ballet of Virginia and Cuban percussionist (click to listen) Melena la Rumbera.

Five questions with Helene Ruiz

Helene Ruiz

What’s a nice Bronx girl like you doing in Mechanicsville?

My parents moved to Virginia almost 30 yrs ago. My father passed back in 2001, my mom is getting old and my sister suffers from MS, so I figured, why not move there, help out with the house and help them? After all, art is everywhere anyway! I can always get back and forth to NYC whenever I need, it’s not that far away.

Why did you think it was important to pull together ¡Azucar! in Richmond?

I thought it was important to use art as a means of education on the diversity of Latinos thus hopefully eliminating stereotypical images. Also, in this exhibit, I am dedicating one area to the Orishas in order to show the connections of spirituality and culture to Africa. When the slaves were transported to the islands, they were forced into Catholicism. They worshipped their gods secretly under the Catholic icons since they were not allowed to worship their gods openly.

You met Salvador Dali in 1973! Not many people can say such a thing. Tell us about the experience and how it impacted you as an artist?

I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to be part of an art class at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In one of the life drawing classes, we were asked to sketch a very large model. I was sketching her like she seemed to me, as a large melting candle dripping over the chair. Dali was walking through the classroom looking over the students’ shoulders at their drawings of this model. When he came to mine, he patted me on the shoulder and winked his eye. I, at the time, had no idea who he was. Then the teacher told me OMG! That was Dali! He liked your drawing! This further confirmed my love for surrealism at a young age.

You were the founder of an artist collective called the Urban Individualists. Does that group still exist in New York? Is ¡Azucar! a sample of the arts collective experience? When I moved from New York, the collective kind of scattered all over the USA and internationally as well. However, most still do participate in shows I organize. And, yes! This is a sample of an arts collective experience I would say!

New projects you want to tell us about? If I could slow down this mind of mine it would be weird! lol…but I am certainly thinking of a few proposals for the future! And there will always be ideas for projects, the usual set backs are funding, venues, etc.

The Hope Tree Exhibit Opens

The milagros make a beautiful sound in the breeze.

Last night was a nearly perfect launch for the Hope Tree Project at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  I say nearly because the school bus carrying 27 artists from Meadowbrook High School got a flat tire on I-95. They missed the opening, but not to worry. The folks at the garden are going to send them free passes so the students can come see their creations. I do wish they could have seen the outpouring of support from the community, though, especially the Latin Ballet dancing in their honor.

Here are some shots of the private unveiling. I’m including the program and the text of my comments, in case you love long-winded speeches. Here’s a link, too, to Latin Ballet of Virginia and to Kevin’s contagious music with Ban Caribe.

Some photos of the milagros appear page 2 of today’s Richmond Times Dispatch (metro sec.), and there will be an article in StyleWeekly tomorrow.

The exhibit runs through July 4. I hope you’ll take the time to visit the Garden soon. It really is a stunning place where you can gather your thoughts and refuel, whatever age or interest.  Be sure to stop by the exhibit. It’s an amazing thing to be surrounded by aspirations.

Many, many thanks again to L.C. Bird, Meadowbrook High School, Huguenot High School, The Steward School, J.R. Tucker High School, Lee Davis High School, Hermitage High School, and Henrico High School. And a huge shout out to my publisher, Candlewick Press for the facebook ads and for help in funding the refreshments.

The wild animals from the ballet "Verde" by Latin Ballet

Little dancers!

Kevin Davis of Ban Caribe and two young drummers from LBV. I've watched these boys grow up!

Some people make life easier. Kelly Riley at Lewis Ginter is one of them.

Some of the Nat'l Art Honor Society students from L.C. Bird. As sweet as they come.

The Hope Tree is Growing

Just a little update about The Hope Tree Project. (Details en español here.) Student artists are working out their answer to What is a dream you have for yourself or for our community? I got a sneak preview of their milagros thanks to Megan McConnell, art teacher at Meadowbrook High School, who brought a few to share at my book launch party for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind this past weekend. (Thanks, Megan!)

I’m also happy to announce that the fabulous Latin Ballet of Virginia will be joining us for the launch on April 30 and will perform selections of Verde. This work celebrates nature, hopes and dreams. What could be more perfect? (And check out these costumes!) Let me know if you are interested in an invitation to the opening.

Can you guess what she represents in Nature?

Latin Ballet of Virginia, scenes from Verde

Where I’ll be next:   

March 21, 2012: University of Richmond, Gotwald Science Center, 5:30 pm. Lecture, reception and  book signing.

March 23, 2012: The Steward School 11600 Gayton Road, Henrico, VA, 9 am. International Day presentation

March 28 – 30, 2012: National Latino Children’s Literature Conference: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Presentation on YA and community building — The Hope Tree Project!