May 28, 2014

The Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. “La Borinquena” Will be hosting A Press Conference At Affinity Health Plan.

On Thursday May 29, 2014 at 10am The Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. “La Borinquena” Will be hosting A Press Conference At Affinity Health Plan.
Located at:

2500 Halsey St #2, Bronx, NY 10461
Your participation will be welcomed

On Sunday June 1st, 2014, the 27th Annual Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade presented by LaSorsa Auto Group will run along the Grand Concourse from 192nd Street to Van Courtlandt Ave East. Opening Ceremonies at 192nd Street at 11:00AM, with a VIP reception in Poe Park at 10:00AM. Parade begins at 1:00PM

This is the largest Multi Cultural Event held in the Bronx that is celebrating the diversity of the Puerto Rican Culture and People. Joining us, there will be over 100 organizations from New York, from throughout the United States and internationally.

This year we are honoring La Fiesta Folklorica Puertorriquena, Ms. Aurea Mangual, President and Special Recognition to Oscar Lopez Rivera. This Press Conference will take place May 28, 2013 at Affinity Health Plan at  2500 Halsey St #2, Bronx, NY 10461. We will also be presenting our Queens and Princesses, along with our Kings and Princes. The god father of this year’s parade is George Hulse of Healthfirst. Also participating with us are many elected officials representing the City, State, and Federal Government, and our Grand Marshall, LaSorsa Auto Group!

Our Founder Mr. Angel Luis Rosado incorporated the Parade in 1987.  It was his vision which saw the need for the Bronx to host its very own parade, honoring those which our forefathers whom came to this country looking for meaningful employment and a brighter future for their families and children.

The Bronx then and now is the location with the largest population of Puerto Rican outside to the beloved Island, over 350,000 strong. We began with 10-15 organizations and now number well over 100 local, national and international groups.  We are proud of our diversity, cultural heritage, music, foods and dance coming together in celebration.

We invite everyone to bring their families and flags and join us in our celebration.

EVENT INFO
What: 27th Annual Bronx Puerto Rican Day Parade
When: Sunday, June 1, 2014
Where: Grand Concourse from 192nd Street
Event Contact: Jacqueline Acevedo T: 917-640-1003/

BEST TIME FOR PRESS: 11:30am

May 24, 2014

NYC Small Business Services Provides Relief to Kingsbridge Road Merchants Affected by Building Collapse

On May 16th, some members of the Kingsbridge Road Merchants Associations (KBMA) received partial financial assistance from the NYC Small Business Services (SBS) as a way to cover their expenses resulting from the collapse of a parapet wall last year.

Christian Ramos, the owner of Blue Chus and Vice President of the Kingsbridge Road Merchants' Association, explained that SBS provided checks of one thousand dollars each to four owners whose businesses were disrupted. The association had reached out to the agency on the behalf of these businesses and facilitated meetings between them and the city to help them recoup some of their losses.

When the parapet roof collapsed along 2618 Jerome Avenue, businesses were not allowed back into their storefronts for almost ninety days. In addition to the loss of business, the owners also had to make additional repairs to their stores, including replacing their storefront awnings. The thousand dollars presented to the merchants by SBS is a reimbursement for the new awnings or lost inventory. 

"We worked with Ms. Bernadette Nation [of SBS] to see how we can help the merchants and work together. Most merchants don't know about the services the city has to offer in case of disruptions such as this" explained Christian. "We helped the businesses to go through the process and qualify for the grants." Christian notes that they were not able to help some of the businesses because, "...they couldn't provide tax receipts for the previous year, or show that they had a bank account. The city wants to know these things before they can provide assistance. Only those merchants that did received the funding." 

In addition to acting as a liaison to the city, the association provides many other services to its members. "For example, we work with the Legal Aid Society to provide pro-bono business advice to our members," says Christian. "We also help them to get information about small business loans from the Small Business Administration at Lehman College so that they can keep their business, especially in this time when the economy hasn't been so good for us."

When asked why he became involved with the merchant association, Christian stated, "The reason is service, serving my community and my fellow merchants. I've been in business for ten years, but a few years ago, I said to myself that it was time to do something for the area. There are a lot of programs that business owners don't know, and I wanted to help them understand what was out there."

Christian's final advice to his fellow merchants about business disruption was, "Never forget that we are here to help along with the city agencies. Don't feel scared about speaking up, but do the right thing. Keep your paperwork handy, including your tax records, because if you are not running your business the right way, you won't be able to get assistance when you need it." 

Stay in touch with the Kingsbridge Road Merchants' Association by visiting their Facebook Page.

May 23, 2014

Speaker Viverito's "Follow Me Fridays" Draws Audience and Attention to the Shoppe Bronx

Earlier this afternoon, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito launched the second of her "Follow Me Fridays" campaign at the Shoppe Bronx, the first time held in the Bronx portion of her district. This initiative by the Speaker is to draw her constituents to visit and support local businesses, locations, and other destinations within her district. The Shoppe Bronx, a combination clothing boutique featuring local Bronx artist apparel and coffee shop, greeted the Speaker along with over two dozen other patrons and constituents with open arms.

According to a quote in Harlem World Magazine, the Speaker's initiative is, "...a great way of highlighting our diverse and vibrant district while giving an opportunity for local residents to get one-on-one time with [the Speaker]".

Speaker Viverito's actions continue to signal an approachability not previously seen by her predecessors, and is one that continues to build her popularity with her new base in the Bronx. Many local activists also came out to join her in the event, hoping to catch a moment to greet her, while providing a show for the Shoppe Bronx, which benefitted from the Speaker's presence and continues to have a positive impact in the Mott Haven community. 

The Speaker's actions set an example for other local elected officials: providing a presence to local establishments and being approachable to constituents can have both a positive economic and social impact in their local neighborhoods. We hope that others take heed and follow in her example.

To see more pictures from today's event, visit the Bronx On The Go Facebook photo album. Visit the Shoppe Bronx website for more information on their services and products.

May 18, 2014

Bronx Week 2014 Closes on a High Note with Parade and Festival on Mosholu Parkway

BOROUGH PRESIDENT DIAZ HOSTS THE 43RD ANNUAL BRONX WEEK PARADE

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. kicked off the grand finale of Bronx Week 2014, hosting a parade marching down Mosholu Parkway that included dozens of community groups, Bronx schools and youth organizations, and local elected officials joining in. Additionally, the five new members of the Bronx Walk of Fame—Grammy-award winning hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz, actor and star of Showtime’s “Dexter” David Zayas, film and TV star Rachel Ticotin, New York Jets offensive lineman William M. Colon III and Tony-award winner Priscilla Lopez—also joined the parade after the unveiling of the "Walk of Fame" signs that will carry their names on the Grand Concourse earlier in the day.


Before and after the parade, Bronxites also streamed onto Mosholu Parkway to enjoy the Annual Bronx Week Food, Art, & Music Festival, with over sixty vendors participating and selling a wide variety of popular and ethnic dishes, crafts and jewelry, and numerous games and activities for kids. Many vendors expressed a sigh of relief that the weather held up, particularly because previous years have not always been favorable to them. One of the more memorable children's activities was the mobile Bronx Children's Museum, a converted school bus with nature displays, crafts, and activities to inspire children and families while learning about their surroundings and the environment.

The music festival provided Bronxites with a stage including a DJ that played music all day and included special live performances from across all music genres, including legendary hip-hop artist Rakim, salsero Tony Vega, and R&B singer Elle Varner. BP Diaz even got into the mix a number of times on stage, mingling with the artist and at times joining in on the action, all the while pumping up the crowd. 

As the sun setted and the crowds made their way home, this year's event is certain to be a very memorable one for all that attended. 

View our videos (one, two, three, four, five, and six) of parts of the performances and additional pictures from the parade and festival on the Bronx On The Go Facebook Page

Enjoy!

BP Diaz Hosts A Bronx Centennial Arts Event at Boro Hall

Celebrating Creativity and Diversity in the Bronx with Artist Daniel Hauben

On Thursday, May 16th, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. hosted an arts event at his office in Borough Hall to celebrate the centennial of the county and displaying the works of Daniel Hauben, a born and bred Bronxite, who continues to set the bar higher as he captures the evolving character of the Bronx at this pivotal point in the borough's history.

During his introduction, Diaz highlighted the county's diversity informing everyone that over 40% of current residents are foreign born, and nearly forty percent of residents came within the last 25 years, not having witnessed the difficult times of the borough during the 1970's and 80's. These are the years captured in Daniel's art. Diaz also highlighted the other contributions of the Bronx to the arts, such as being the birthplace of Doo-Wop, Hip-Hop, and Salsa. Recognizing Daniel, Diaz states that, "We can never forget who we are and where we come from, and what better way than to pay homage to our borough than to have a talented Bronxite, who can capture through his art the life, the very essence, of what it means to be in the Bronx." Diaz also commented that Daniel's art has, "...single-handedly immortalized what it means to be a Bronxite."

"I really appreciate this opportunity to share my work," comments Daniel, who is lending his artwork to be displayed for the rest of the year at the Borough President's office. "I believe that as an artist, that you can somewhat fit in and be a part of the community. Happily, I'm living to see a time where there is a feeling of community beginning to bubble up and an awareness of artists and of the community of artists."

In addition to the artwork being displayed, the Bronx Artists Collective promoted the upcoming Bronx Artist Documentary Project, a borough-wide, multi-faceted endeavor involving Bronx artists. Thirty photographers are capturing seventy artists at work, and these photographs will be exhibited at the Andrew Freedman Home from September 10th through October 8th. The goal of the project is to raise awareness of the community of artists that work and reside here in the Bronx and that the arts are a powerful building block of strong communities.

For more information about the Bronx Artist Documentary Project, visit their website at www.BronxArtistDocProject.org. For additional photos from the event, visit the Bronx On The Go Facebook photo album. And in the spirit of this project, lets support the work and the goal of the artists in the hope of further building up our communities.

May 17, 2014

New Visual Arts Center Comes to Westchester Square

In a small storefront on East Tremont Avenue, the recently relocated Westchester Square Arts Center captures the attention of passersby with the buzzing of activity from its students and supporters. Lenny Sneed, the Executive Director of the Center, beams with pride when discussing their new location, where they have been for the last four months. 

The Center, which had previously been located at St. Raymonds Avenue for the last year, has lots to offer residents says Lenny. "Our mission is to offer the community professional art instruction, workshops to introduce them into the business of art, and instruction on how to put together portfolios to aspire to get themselves into the art world."

Regarding his inspiration for this project, Lenny recalls how he had been in the art business for 40 years. Having recently retired, he felt that opening a center was a perfect opportunity to immerse himself into the community. "Everybody who has any kind of artistic passion can come in and see what we are about." 

To find out more or to join the Arts Center, visit their location at 2616 East Tremont Avenue or on their website at www.w2ac.org. Check out additional pictures of the artists in action on the Bronx On The Go's Facebook photo album.

May 14, 2014

A Bronx Small Business Celebrates Defying the Odds, Blue Chus Celebrates 10 Years Serving the Community

The US Small Business Administration estimates that 80% of all new businesses fails within the first five years of their existence. But this past weekend, Blue Chus Shoe Repair and Sales founder Christian Ramos invited his customers to come celebrate the 10th anniversary of his store by having a wine and cheese reception and enjoy music and each other's company. While it is not unusual for businesses to celebrate milestones, it is the rare community-minded business that goes all out to thank his customers.

Christian, who emigrated to the US from Guayaquil, Ecuador, first opened his store exclusively as a shoe repair store in the Kingsbridge Heights community. At a time when independent shoe stores were fading away to big box stores, Christian listened to his customers and ventured into the shoe sales business, specializing in dress shoes exclusively for men and women. Christian admits that he was "Very nervous" about expanding his business, but for the last several years, it has paid off, despite the Great Recession starting in 2008. And Christian has done moderately well given his location, which has had double digit unemployment since the 2000 census.

Christian spoke to his family, friends, and customers during the reception, thanking them for their support and for creating "...a family away from home." His parents also thanked everyone for supporting Blue Chus and expressed their gratitude and pride in Christian's success.

Christian's dedication to his customers does not stop at the entrance of his business. He also serves as the Vice President of the Kingsbridge Road Merchant's Association (KBMA) and has been involved in trying to rally his business associates to do more for the community. Working with KBMA president Nancy Fernandez of Divino Pharmacy a few stores down, they put together a number of events to raise the morale and improve business throughout the corridor, including planning for the 3rd Annual "Unity in the Community Festival" scheduled for Saturday, June 21st.

The reception included over two dozen varieties of cheese and over a dozen bottles of various wines, again, not a typical celebration of your small businessman. But Christian feels that it is well worth it. He expressed that his customers can choose to go anywhere else, but they keep coming back to him. Even when he was supposed to be closed for business, some of his customers came to make a purchase or inquire about his service. As a true businessman, Christian stopped whatever he was doing to take care of his customers. This being National Small Business Week as per the US Small Business Administration, Bronx On The Go salutes Blue Chus as the ideal Bronx business.

Visit the Blue Chus Facebook Page for more information about the businesses. To view additional pictures from the event, check them out on the Bronx On The Go Photo Album.

May 13, 2014

Bronx Army Vet Sal Conforto to be inducted to the NYS Veteran's Hall of Fame

On Tuesday, May 20th, local community activist and Army veteran Sal Conforto will be inducted as the Bronx representative to the New York State Veteran's Hall of Fame this Memorial Day. Nominated by NYS Senator Jeff Klein, the 2014 award was created to pay tribute and celebrate exceptional veterans from the state who have distinguished themselves, both in military and civilian life. The award, which is presented by the New York State Senate, originated in 2005 as an expression of gratitude and admiration for our veterans.

Sal served in the United States Army, 502 Armored Division, from 1964 to 1966 as a Military Police Officer both in the US. He later served in the 7th Infantry Division when he was deployed to South Korea. Sal, who immigrated to the US from Italy and was raised in East Harlem, describes his experience in the military as formative. "I came into this country at the age of 13 and was drafted into service at the age of 21. I wasn't even an American citizen yet," he explains. "The regimentation was tremendous. We were part of a huge team and everyone embraced the same spirit. The pride of being a new American to wearing the uniform of the Army was exhilarating." 

When he came out of the Army, he was invited to continue his career in law enforcement by serving as a corrections officer for New York City for 20 years before retiring. Sal commented on his receiving this nomination only two days ago by stating that he was, "...both proud and humbled for being nominated for this award." He goes on to say that, "...so many people lost their lives during this time and have not been recognized. But as a symbolic gesture, I am excepting it in their memory too."

Sal has also been very active in his civic life. Upon retirement, he attended law school under the G.I. Bill, graduating with his Juris Doctor. Among many other activities throughout his life, Sal performs pro bono work and is a member of Bronx Community Board 11, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Community Advisory Council, the Morris Park Kiwanis Club, and the Morris Park Community Association. Additionally, he founded both the Bronx Advocacy Group on Facebook and publishes the Bronx Chronicle newspaper online.

Previous Bronx inductees to the New York State Veteran's Hall of Fame include Silvio Mazzella and Jeremey Warneke, District Manager of Bronx Community Board 11. To find out more about this award, please visit the NYS Senate Veterans page

May 12, 2014

Daniel Hauben's "Urban Oasis" Paintings on Display at Poe Park

There is a blooming arts community making waves throughout the Bronx over the last couple of years. One such example is the latest exhibit at the Poe Park Visitor's Center, with renowned Bronx artist Daniel Hauben featuring his latest work, "Urban Oasis: 30 Years Painting Bronx Parks", curated by Lucy Aponte and Laura Alvarez of the Parks Department, and featuring 36 pieces of oil on canvas. Daniel, who currently resides in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, states that the exhibit represents a cross-section of his exploration of the beauty found in the borough's parks over the last thirty years, capturing the natural landscape with the people and surrounding architecture that most others take for granted. 

Daniel admits that during his early years as an artist, the landscape element was missing. However, he soon discovered the nuances of being in nature and the new parts of the color-spectrum that are currently incorporated throughout this exhibit. The latest of Daniel's works were painted last summer and include such locations as the Bronx Zoo, St. James Park, Poe Park, and Highbridge Park. 

Daniel recalls his time in art school at the School of Visual Art in Manhattan, where his teacher commented how he incorporated trees into his artwork, of which he replied, "Have you ever been to the Bronx? We have trees." As the borough with the most parkland in the City, Daniel says we have the wonderful experience of being able to get out of the street and into nature, and that is what is being celebrated at this exhibit.

Why paint Bronx parks? "Number one, it is an untapped subject matter. You can look through the entire history of paintings of parks and you won't find anything in the Bronx until maybe 50 years ago. Second, when you go out into the wilderness, you are painting the same subject that painters have painted throughout history. But here in the Bronx, its new turf, its the layers of history in the city getting thrown together, including new people and local architecture, because no one could have ever planned it the way it looks." Daniel reflects that painting a street scene in the Bronx is definitely more of a challenge then his previous work, and that sometimes it could be difficult to bring cohesion to his work when painting local Bronx scenes.

Daniel's other works include the tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the Grand Concourse in 2009 and his most recent work, a three year, 22 painting commission for the new Robert A. Stern Library at Bronx Community College. He is also working on a project called the Bronx Artist Documentary Project, in collaboration with the Bronx Documentary Center, which consists of thirty Bronx-based photographers taking pictures of 70 Bronx artists in their studios. The exhibit of these photographs will take place on September 13, 2014 at the Andrew Freedman Home. This particular work will catalogue what he believes is a transition occurring in the history of the Bronx, which Daniel compares to where Brooklyn was twenty years ago. "I am excited to be a part of this project, where we are discovering an artists' community who are in turn, waiting to be discovered. We want the art community to be more sustaining here in the Bronx, to be acknowledged, and that we are a positive influence." 

"Here's my bottom line. Everyone has a creative soul, a creative spirit," remarks Daniel. "It is the job of the artist and society to remind everyone of what is inside themselves and when you discover that creativity within, its very enriching and gives life a whole new dimension. And that's what I'm here to do."

Urban Oasis has been on display since April 26 and will remain at the Poe Park Visitor's Center until May 31st. For more pictures of the exhibit, please visit the Bronx On The Go photo album. For more information on the artist, visit his website at www.danielhauben.com or contact him at info@danielhauben.com.

May 5, 2014

Borough President Diaz Officially Launches Bronx Week 2014 Today

Swizz Beatz, David Zayas, Rachel Ticotin, William M. Colon III and Priscilla Lopez to be Inducted to Bronx Walk of Fame during County’s Centennial Celebration

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. officially launched Bronx Week 2014 today, hosting a celebration of the “Best of the Bronx” at the newly-opened Gun Hill Brewery on Laconia Avenue.

At the event, Borough President Diaz announced that five Bronx natives—Grammy-award winning hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz, actor and star of Showtime’s “Dexter” David Zayas, film and TV star Rachel Ticotin, New York Jets offensive lineman William M. Colon III and Tony-award winner Priscilla Lopez were this year’s inductees to the Bronx Walk of Fame.

“2014 is our county’s centennial, and I can think of no better way to celebrate the best of our borough than by welcoming home these five individuals, who have made a major impact in their respective fields, back to where it all began, right here in The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“Bronx Week is where we showcase the Borough's rich history, its institutions, and cultural diversity. This is an exciting time to be in The Bronx, especially this year as we celebrate the last 100 years. Bronx Week is just the beginning and we have a slew of events lined up across the Borough as part of our Bronx centennial celebration,” said Bronx Tourism Council Executive Director Olga Luz Tirado.

“Bronx Week is a way to honor Bronx businesses, veterans, seniors, youth, volunteers and our hometown greats. It is a week devoted to the people who matter most to this borough. Tourism is up, crime is down and what has been accomplished in the area of economic development here in the Bronx is outstanding. Now’s a great time to learn more, during Bronx Week 2014,” said Marlene Cintron, President of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.

With over 14 years of creating music for some of the biggest musicians in music history, Grammy-winner Swizz Beatz has contributed to the sale of over 280 million records in just the US alone, working with the likes of Jay-Z, DMX, Beyonce, Kanye West, and Bono to name a few.  When not creating music, Swizz is an avid art collector and painter whose goal is to inspire new artists around the world to express themselves and is working on opening his own international “new artist” art gallery. He is also a philanthropist who is involved in many charities and recently served as the first Global Ambassador for New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation. He is also heavily involved with the Bronx Charter School for the Arts and, more recently, was accepted into the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management for executives of top-billing companies.

A resident of Riverdale, David Zayas was born and raised in The Bronx, originally from Hunts Point and then later the family moved to the Soundview. He attended Adlai E. Stevenson High School and after graduating joined The United States Air Force. After his time in the service, David returned back to The Bronx and joined the NYPD, where he served for 15 years before retiring in 2000. Zayas began his acting career in 1992 in theater. He is best known for his role as “Angel Batista” on the Golden Globe-nominated psychological drama “Dexter.” His other television credits include “Oz,” “New York Undercover,” “Law & Order,” and “NYPD Blue.” He has also starred in numerous films, including “The Expendables,” “Sixteen Blocks,” “Bringing Out the Dead” and “The Interpreter.”  Zayas will next star opposite Helen Hunt in the indie feature “Ride,” the upcoming film remake of the 1982 movie musical “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz, and can currently be seen as "Junior" in the series Saint George opposite George Lopez for FX.

Rachel Ticotin was born and raised, along with her five siblings, in The Bronx. Her father Abraham was a used car salesman on Jerome Avenue and her mother Iris, after raising most of their children, became a bilingual teacher for the New York City public school system.  Ms. Ticotin began her career, along with her sister Nancy and brother Marcus, in a production of The King and I at City Center. She would then go on, along with her sister Nancy, to become one of the founding members of Tina Ramirez’s Ballet Hispanico of New York dance company.  After a switch of careers Ms. Ticotin became an actress and began her film career co-starring in Fort Apache, The Bronx. Since then she has appeared in many films, stage, and television shows such as “Total Recall,” “Don Juan de Marco,” “Con Air,” “Man on Fire,” “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “Law & Order: Los Angeles.” She currently mentors and works with students at the La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts and is currently a student in the school of General Studies at Columbia University.

William M. Colon III is entering his second season as the starting right guard for the New York Jets.  He entered the NFL in 2006 as a fourth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers and went on to win Super Bowl XLIII in January 2009.  A Bronx native, Colon played college football at Hofstra University in Long Island after he earned the outstanding defensive player award at Cardinal Hayes High School. Colon is passionate about giving back and dedicates his off the field philanthropic work to The Alliance for Lupus Research as well as hosting an annual Thanksgiving Turkey giveaway benefiting those less fortunate in the Melrose Section of The Bronx.

Born on Simpson Street, Priscilla Lopez has been a fixture of stage and screen since the 1960’s, and in 1980 won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in “A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine.” Ms. Lopez was a part of the original production of “A Chorus Line,” and appeared as Camilla in the Broadway production of “In The Heights” from 2008-2011. She has also appeared in “Maid in Manhattan,” “Law & Order,” “All in the Family,” and recently completed production on the film version of the off-Broadway hit, “Tony & Tina’s Wedding.”

Bronx Week 2014 is made possible thanks to the support of the Montefiore Medical Center, the principal sponsor of this year’s events.

"Montefiore is proud to support Bronx Week, a great annual celebration that brings the borough together and promotes healthy living," said Steven M. Safyer, M.D., president and CEO of Montefiore Health System. "As an institution committed to improving the health of the communities we serve, Montefiore not only provides high quality, patient-centered health care, but we also work to ensure all Bronx residents have access to health coverage.”

Other Bronx Week 2014 sponsors include Healthfirst, HealthPlus Amerigroup, Affinity Health Plan, CenterLight Healthcare, conEdison, Lehman College, Bronx Community College, Hostos Community College, Metro Plus Health Plan, Cablevision, WellCare, VNSNY, Mercy College, Jewish Home Lifecare, Fordham University, News 12, Domino’s, Bronxnet, Coco Delicioso Helado, and the Bronx Design Group.

Contributed by John DeSio, Communications Director, Bronx Borough President's Office

May 4, 2014

Bronx Heroes' Comic Con 6 draws crowds to meet local artists

On May 3rd, comic book fans throughout the Bronx made their way to the Bronx Library Center on East Kingsbridge Road to take part in the 6th Annual Bronx Heroes' Comic Con. The number of comic book artists, designers, storytellers, and fans has been steadily growing over the years, with plenty of homegrown and emerging talent taking part in this year's event.

Ray Felix, the originator of both the comic book series "Bronx Heroes" and of the comic con, expressed that he was pleasantly surprised by the turn out earlier in the day, having been concerned that he was competing with so many other events throughout the Bronx. This event also coincided with National Free Comic Book Day, where kids are given free comics and was designed to promote literacy.

One of the artist that was at the event was Sara Woolley, a Columbian-American illustrator from the Soundview section of the Bronx. Her major work is a graphic novel called "Los Pirineos", a memoir of her mother's family's escape from the ravages of war in Columbia in the mid-20th century. Featuring intense artwork, Sara explained how she wanted to capture the memories of her grandmother in the best way she knew how, in word and art. Many of the other artists, including Sara, have also collaborated with each other or with other well-known comic companies such as Marvel, DC, and Image Comics. But like Sara, display a noticeable sense of pride in their work and in trying to elevate their own brands.

Catching up with Ray later in the event, I asked him what made him get involved in this labor-intensive project. "I feel that the whole idea is to inspire kids to become artists and to live out their dreams, while we promote literacy and being creative and being artists," stated Ray. "We want you to know that when you come out to one of our shows, you can meet professionals in this industry, this is what they do for a living, and they can help you learn how to do this too."

Regarding the literacy component, Ray expressed how important it was to promote literacy in the Bronx. As a high school teacher himself, he discussed how too many students aren't prepared adequately to pass the English language proficiency exams. "Kids don't read enough, and they need to find new channels and sources of interests so that they can pick up their pace and read something that sparks up their own interests and imagination."

Regarding the influence of comic book artwork, Ray also commented on the decline of art instruction in the classroom. "They have been taking out art systematically from the school system, and we think that it is also important for kids to have that outlet to steer them away from negative behaviors and tap into their own self-value, finding something beautiful in themselves that they can share with others."

To find out more about the Bronx Heroes Comics, visit www.aworldwithoutsuperheroes.com or www.bxhcc.com. Visit the Bronx On The Go Facebook Photo Album of the event for more pictures of today's event.