Friday, September 10, 2010

Sinergia Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with Local Artist Exhibit

To coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month, Sinergia and the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute are holding a joint opening reception of "A Nuyorican's Nostalgic Journey," an art exhibit featuring the work of East Harlem artist Clemente Flores.

Flores was born and raised on 112th Street and Madison Avenue and his watercolors depict his childhood experiences growing up in the migrant, urban, mostly Puerto Rican community that was El Barrio in the 1950s. Kites flying from tenement rooftops, an afternoon of dominoes, and rush hour at La Barberia, the local barber shop - Flores has laid a multitude of memories on canvas to depict scenes from his youth.

"We are very pleased to feature a community artist in our exhibit space. There is tremendous talent in El Barrio and we want to do what we can to cultivate creativity," says Ms. Cuadra-Lash, director of Sinergia.

"I am proud that through my eyes and expressions I am able to stimulate interest in my cultural background. I never believed that one day my paintings would help me to be accepted as respected artist in the community, especially in East Harlem where I grew up and still reside," says Flores.

Art Exhibit: "A Nuyorican's Nostalgic Journey"
by Clemente Flores

Date:     Tuesday Sept. 21, 2010

    6:00 - 8:30pm

: 2082 Lexington Avenue, 4th floor (between 125th & 126th Streets; #6 train to 125th Street)

Contact: 212-843-2840, information at

Note: The exhibit "Gateway, An Artistic Response to the Immigration Crisis," presented by Art For Change, will also be open for public viewing on the 1st and 2nd floors on that same date and time.

About the artist:
Clemente Flores was born in 1943 to Puerto Rican immigrant parents and raised in East Harlem, El Barrio, within a family of artists and musicians. A self-taught artist, he began to draw and paint in 1985 where upon he began sketching on sheets of paper and realized his hidden gift for art.

Mr. Flores grew up and came of age on 112th Street and Madison Avenue in the 1950s in what he describes as an adventurous life in a colorful vibrant Puerto Rican community caught between American values and those of his immigrant parents. “It was a period much cherished as the entire neighborhood took care of its children. Especially in the summer time, when you stepped out of your house and were bombarded with so much liveliness. You could hear the shouts of kids playing stick ball, fighting over marble games, or arguing about who could spin the top better on the street pavement. I cherish these moments, because as working class kids, we were very crafty about creating our own games or building wooden scooters and go-carts from baby carriages. Likewise we created our own kites that we flew from rooftops. In the 1950’s you could see what seemed to be hundreds of kites floating in the sky.”

At street corners you could see the older men we used to call ‘jibaros,’ proudly wearing their Guayabera shirts, playing dominos, talking about their beautiful island Puerto Rico, politics, baseball or “La Bolita.’ At the same time, you could see the Doo Wop singers on the street corners, singing at house parties called ‘Sets’ and in the hallways, to enhance their songs with the beautiful echo sounds. It was a fun way to attract girls. You could also hear the sounds of Plena and Bomba players and conga drummers playing Latin rhythms of Afro-Cuban beats.”

“The images of this nostalgic journey are the creative forces that continue to be pervasive in my mind reflecting upon a tender period of my life that I thought I lost forever. But I have a reservoir of memories and I am inspired to express them in my art.”

Clemente Flores’ artwork has been exhibited extensively throughout New York City and Puerto Rico since 1988. His work was the subject of a major retrospective “Clemente Flores, Memories of El Barrio” at Museo del Barrio of New York in 2001. Other exhibits have been hosted at Boricua College, Union Settlement, Cuando Gallery and the Spanish Institute among many others.

Mr. Flores holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology from City College of New York and continued his studies at Fordham University. His work garnered recognition for his diverse talents and community work including an Award of Appreciation from the school of Medicine of Mount Sinai Hospital of New York and a 2009 East Harlem Arts Grant from the Association of Hispanic Arts.

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