Casita Maria


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“We’re Not So Far Apart” Opening Reception

Please join OTHERS ARE US and the IS 190 School Community for the opening celebration of

“We’re Not So Far Apart”

An exhibition of art created and exchanged by the sixth grade students of IS 190 and the children of the Fabretto Center in Esteli, Nicaragua, during their school-year long exploration of each other’s lives and cultures through Project EMBRACE*

A special word to the children by Commissioner Galen Kirkland, New York State Division of Human Rights

Opening Reception Tuesday, June 15th from 10AM to Noon.
Exhibition will be on view from June 15 through June 25
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

RSVP: 212-595-6814 or by June 13, 2010

Project EMBRACE engages young people from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs in an extended exploration of who they are, how they live and the problems they face. Their ideas and thoughts are recorded in drawings and paintings and shared through technology. Our goal is to promote intercultural communication, understanding and cooperation as the norm in our rising generation of global leaders.

Fresh produce brought to our children and families courtesy of the Hunts Point Alliance for Children through a donation by Heather Mills Food Program


Filed under: bronx community, opening

Jasmine Robinson’s Thoughts on Painting with Pictures

Painting with Pictures, the current art exhibit, at Casita Maria is very creative. As I walk through the show, I become more and more interested. There are many different styles, mediums and cultures. Some of the questions I asked myself while viewing the show were: what did the artist want to say? What does the piece of art mean? Who’s the artist? What is the artist’s purpose? What was the artist’s inspiration? How long did it take? Did the artist ever want to give up? I love that the show leaves me with so many questions about each piece.

Deciding upon my favorite piece is a difficult choice. When I left the show, two pieces lingered in my mind. I think of them as a set.The two paintings are as opposite from each other as black and white. One of the two is beautiful. It isn’t a painting of anything specific. It’s a mural full of different types of bright pinks, with different areas of black, purple, blue, green, orange, yellow, and white. In my opinion the painting is full of life. It’s beautiful. It made me feel warm inside. The second painting is the exact opposite, it’s specific. The color is a wood brown. There’s a young child on the floor, laying lifeless.  There are what looks like spirits of people all around him. The painting is dull and emotionless. It almost makes me sad, but when I see this painting I think of the beautiful pink mural. Just like when I think of black I think of white.

I wish I could have the opportunity to thank each artist in person. I also wish that everyone could experience the kind of sensations the show stirred in me, particularly the rushing sense of curiosity.  I urge everyone to come see the show!

– Jasmine

Filed under: art gallery

CASITA Presents with Bronx River Art Center: Independent Artists

Independent Artists

Originally uploaded by CasitaMaria

On Saturday June 19th at 4:30PM please join us for a FREE traditional African dance performance by Independent Artists, a multicultural dance group.

Independent Artists:
Sandra Passirani – Dancer
Nathalie Dispagne – Dancer
Jenny Efremova – Dancer
Myriam Gadri – Dancer
Julien Kanor – Dancer
Myriam Salmon – Dancer

Independent Artists are a multicultural dance group whose members hail from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Avid participants of modern, urban, and African dance forms, they met as members of N’zassa, a New York-based Nigerian dance company. Independent Artists’ members are Jenny Efremova, Sandra Passirani, Nathalie Dispagne, Myriam Gadri, Julien Kanor, and Myriam Salmon. They have studied, interpreted, and danced on stages around the world. The members have a distinct understanding of the spiritual evolution of West African dance forms, through performance, academic study, and teaching. Whether through ritual or presentation, their global backgrounds give the audience an experience that expands beyond choreography. The members aspire to continue the spiritual evolution of African dance into the future.

Filed under: bronx community

A few musings: superhumanness, white walls and a new show!

Today we are finishing installing the show Painting with Pictures. Only last week, we took down the show for the Scholastic Art Awards. During the day, parents, teachers and students came to pick up artwork. One parent saw Lyla Rose painting parts of the wall and said “you sure wear a lot of hats!” I’m even amazed at how many roles and jobs Lyla takes on. One minute, she’s extending her arm out to Lila Downs, the next she’s inspiring young artists to BE BOLD and now she’s installing an entire show for tomorrow night. What does she eat? Super human food? Probably. Or maybe there’s a cape in her desk drawer that she keeps for the moments she needs to fly. Yep. Shrimp and capes.

Our walls never seem to be empty. If they are empty, it’s usually because there’s work resting on the floor, waiting to be hung.  It was strange to scrub the white walls down today. Without artwork, the walls blurred and almost dizzied me. The work that is going up now – curated by David Gibson, Savannah Spirit and Asya Geisberg – is amazing. I’ve never seen a show devoted to collage work before. The work is so alive it bursts. I love the use of color, text, pop culture and cultural history. The work is also very diverse. In our two large rooms, there are a total of 31 artists!

I’m sorry that I will be missing tomorrow night’s opening reception. Will you let me know it goes?

Painting with Pictures

May 21-July 21, 2010

Opening Reception: Friday, May 21, 6-9PM

Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education

Casita Gallery, 6th floor

928 Simpson Street

Bronx, NY 10459

6 train to Hunts Point Av, 2 or 5 to Simpson Street

Filed under: art gallery, opening

Profile: Hope Paul

Hope Paul is in 6th grade at the Choir Academy of Harlem. She is twelve years old.  Hope Paul seems very happy and has many great dreams/goals. She has a great head on her shoulders and is heading in the right direction. Hope’s personality and dreams have really warmed my heart so thank you Hope Paul. I hope she accomplishes all of her dreams!

Please read my interview below and get to her know her a little better!

Q: What are your short- term goals/dreams?

A: Hope states that she wishes to finish middle school and get a job.

Q: What do you wish to learn in school?

A: Hope wants to learn about world’s history and how to play different types of instruments.

Q: What would you do with your money you get from your dream/goal to get a job?

A: Hope states she would like to buy more clothing, games, and things for her family. She also wants to help the people who live on the streets.

Q: Who do you live with at home?

A: She says, “I live with my mom, dad, two sisters, Jamila and Jasmine, and two brother, Jonah and Isacha.” She says that she loves when her oldest sister, Sade and her nephew Isaiah come to spend the night.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: Hope states that she would like to be a singer because everyone loves her and they tell her that she sings well. She also wants to be a doctor, an artist, a chef, a teacher, and the president of the United States.

Filed under: bronx community, interview

Art Show

This Friday, May.21, 2010 from 6-9 pm, Casita Maria will be hosting Painting With Pictures: A Show Curated by David Gibson, Savannah Spirit and Asya Geisberg.  People from all around the world have sent in their artwork to put on display. This week all of the interns and co-workers have been busy with the project. We’ve hung photographs and made sure to be careful with the artwork by keeping everything properly labeled. Hopefully things will be a success this weekend and a lot of people will attend!

Filed under: art gallery, opening

Profile: Little Kiara

I, Desiree Watson, have interviewed a young girl in the Bronx named Kiara. She is 8 years old and lives with her mom. Kiara loves the Bronx and also enjoys attending school. She attends C.E.S 53x which is also in the Bronx. Kiara describes the Bronx as a place of wonder. In the Bronx, she says that she gets to be herself and no one tells her how to behave a certain way.

I asked her questions like: where would she rather be besides the Bronx? How is life for her in the Bronx? Does she enjoy living in the Bronx? Kiara answers seemed very well put.

Kiara doesn’t want to leave the Bronx. Life for her in the Bronx is great and she wouldn’t want to change that. She enjoys living in the Bronx. Kiara wants to grow up and become the president of the United States!

Filed under: Uncategorized

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Exhibition and Ceremony

This past weekend, we celebrated the 2010 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for Middle School students and High School art students! We are now gearing up for the final ceremony at Casita Maria on Saturday!

Last week’s ceremony for middle school artists and writers was absolutely packed. At Scholastic, Inc young artists stood proudly next to their artwork on display. We expected over four hundred people to attend! There were so many guests that we had to broadcast the ceremony to another space.

As students, families and friends moved through the gallery, I became a little more nervous about speaking in front of everyone. I worked on my speech for weeks and often rehearsed it in front of my computer screen or patient boyfriend, blushing. Speaking to the 2010 Award Recipients was so important to me – I didn’t just want to encourage, I wanted to ignite. While supportive parents, friends and teachers are some of the best resources any young artist can ask for – an artist’s sense of agency is essential to realize early on.

At the ceremony, each recipient walks up to the microphone and says what school and award he or she received. Many students took the brief public speaking lightly – often breaking nervousness with funny remarks. It was wonderful to see everyone gathered as one New York Unit. I think that the recipients left with a real feeling of community.

Filed under: art gallery, Scholastic Art & Writing Awards,

And so it began…

Originally uploaded by CasitaMaria

Lila Downs arrived at Casita Maria on Thursday afternoon with her kind staff and band mates. They ate lunch in our conference room (and no one was shy to finish the brownies!). After lunch, Lila and the band went through our gallery. We had just finished putting up the artwork from the New York Region Scholastic Art Awards. They were very impressed! Some could not believe that this was “student” work.

Later on in the afternoon I could hear Lila Downs warm up. From my desk I heard the range of her vocal chords.  Listening to her practice felt almost too private – like I was intruding on some great magic before the performance. I tried to concentrate on my work but it was hard! Her presence was so graceful and humble. When she smiles, she means it.

As six drew near, the phone did not stop ringing: “how can I get there?” “What is the status of the waiting list?” “I can’t BELIEVE Lila Downs is here!”

Our performance space felt like it was going to burst. No one could resist the energy of the room. Or when Lila Downs first walked on stage! The crowd roared and then danced. Some of the audience brought their hands to their cheeks in awe and celebration. Lila Downs is more than a performer. She is a presence.

We are so proud to look back on that night. We cannot thank Lila Downs, her wonderful band, generous staff and Carnegie Hall enough.

Filed under: Community Sing, music

Community Sing with Lila Downs!

Lila Downs, a Oaxaca, Mexican-born, Minnesota-raised singer, draws from a range of pan-Hispanic experiences and has a style that ranges from reggae to country to folk to rock and “weaves rancheras, cumbias, boleros, and other Mexican and Latin styles.” She has recorded with such greats as Mercedes Sosa and her stunning voice has been compared to Edith Piaf.

Reserve your free tickets for Lila Downs at – or – call 718.589.2230

Filed under: Community Sing, music

Smile! Casita’s Camera Roll

We Are

Jacqueline Weld Drake

Chairman Emeritus
Norrisa O’Keeffe

Vice Chairman
Benigno Rodriguez-Cubeñas

Mario Buccellati, II

John E. Avery

Nancy Barry
John L. Bernbach
Martha Bograd
Elizabeth A. Caldas
Ambassador Paul L. Cejas
Gaetana Enders
Miguel A. Fuentes, Jr.
Alan G. Levin
Alberto Mariaca
Alberto Mejia
Liliana Melo de Sada
Violy McCausland Seve
Joseph Unanué, Sr.
Saundra Whitney
Michael L. Ziegler, Esq.

Chairman’s Council
Daniel Brodsky
Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
Anne Eisenhower Flöttl
Wolfgang K. Flöttl
Sergio Millerman
Frank T. Modica
Lewis S. Ranieri
Pilar Crespi Robert

Executive Director
Sarah Calderon