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The Star-Ledger

Puerto Rican Art Through Children's Eyes

By Arturo Martinez

September 23, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Ledger-Star, Norfolk, VA. All Rights Reserved.

Puerto Rican beauty, Puerto Rican sensibilities, permeate two exhibitions running concurrently through Nov. 17 at the Newark Public Library. One features prints and poetry extolling the capital city of San Juan. The other offers 100 paintings by middle school children from the isle of Vieques . The works express the children's concern for the environment and fear of war due to the presence on the island of a U.S. Navy training ground.

The paintings, created in 1999, were previously shown in Chicago and will become part of a traveling exhibition organized in part by QUEST, a youth service organization of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, according to Ingrid Betancourt, director of the library's Latin American section.

Some of the works had not yet arrived from Puerto Rico due to air traffic disruptions in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center last week. The pictures that were mounted were colorful scenes of the island with messages such as "No More Wars," "I Want to Live in Peace" and "Save Our Island." They contain images like crying fish and falling bombs.

The San Juan exhibit was organized by William Dane of the Newark Library, who heard that the city was assembling a special collection of works by local artists and writers for the millennium. The then-mayor of San Juan, Sila Calderon, now the governor of Puerto Rico , agreed that heavily Hispanic Newark should have a copy for its permanent files. Fifteen poems and 15 prints are on exhibit now.

The exhibits are among the library's free programs for Hispanic Heritage Month in October.

Also on the schedule:

Johanna Bermudez Ruiz will screen her film, " Vieques : Una Isla Forjando Futuros (An Island Forging a Future)," Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. A question-answer session with the director follows.

"Nuyorican Dream," a film about a struggling Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, screens Oct. 13 at 2 p.m.

On Oct. 20 at 2 p.m., an afternoon of Spanish-language music, poetry and short stories by Latin American authors and musicians residing in New Jersey.

A live theatrical program, "Yo Soy Latina (I Am Latina)" features six Hispanic women of different nationalities, race and age, trying to make sense of their lives in the U.S. today. 3 p.m. Oct. 27.

For further information, pick up a program brochure at the Latin American section of the library at 5 Washington St., call (973) 733-7772, or go to The exhibitions can be viewed during regular library hours, Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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