Sunday, March 18, 2012

East Harlem's newest art installation

The entrance to La Casa Azul Bookstore was transformed today - from the wall you see in the first picture below to a BEAUTIFUL canvas made by Manny Vega. 

Manny and I have been friends for years - which means he has known about my dream of opening La Casa Azul Bookstore for a very long time. 

When I asked Manny last month if he could create one of this public art pieces for me, he didn't hesitate. We met that week, and within days I had a sketch - and it was exactly what I envisioned! 

It is a blessing to have Manny's work be the first thing people see when they enter the bookstore. It is a beautiful tribute to three of East Harlem's literary heroes - Piri Thomas, Julia de Burgos and Pedro Pietri and a perfect way to commemorate their legacy as writers and artists, in a place that will be the literary haven for the next generation of writers. 

Art installation: March 18, 2012
Art by: Manny Vega
Photos by: Henry Pacheco

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Those who have come before us...

Sunday March 18, 2012

Multidisciplinary artist Manny Vega will install a public art piece at La Casa Azul Bookstore  this Sunday. Manny’s latest piece portrays a literary sanctuary that includes portraits of three East Harlem writers, Julia de Burgos, Pedro Pietri and Piri Thomas.

East Harlem is home to multiple works by Manny, including a mosaic mural portrait of Julia De Burgos, a series of mosaic panels for the 110 street train station, and murals like “The Spirit of East Harlem”. Manny’s  art is greatly appreciated and respected by the community, youth, schools and local organizations and is known to attract visitors and tourists who come to East Harlem in order to enjoy his street art, mural and other projects.

About Manny Vega:
Manny Vega is a painter, illustrator, printmaker, muralist, and set and costume designer. His work portrays the history and traditions of the African Diaspora that exist in the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America and has been exhibited extensively in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Brazil. Manny has a deep commitment to the preservation of our historical existence as well as innovation to reflect present day influences. His devotion to craftsmanship, together with his appreciation for history have created a unique and important body of work that portray the humanity and dignity of a people in these times. Manny has taught for organizations such as El Museo del Barrio, Arts Connection, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Caribbean Cultural Center.
Art installation:
Sunday March 18, 2012 
12:00pm – 2:00pm
La Casa Azul Bookstore
143 E. 103rd Street, at Lexington Ave.
East Harlem, NY 10029  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

La Casa Azul Bookstore featured in Fox News Latino

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

La Casa Azul Bookstore featured in Fox News Latino

Latina To Open First Latino Bookstore in East Harlem

Read the full article:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


La Casa AzulBookstore is pleased to announce an open call for submissions for our inaugural 2012/13 exhibition series that will take place within the store. Grounded in Latino culture, La Casa Azul Bookstore is dedicated to providing cultural, and educational programs via literature and art in East Harlem. It is our vision to foster public awareness and appreciation of the arts by being a focal point where people come to find unique gifts and participate in culturally-based workshops that celebrate Latino traditions.

We are seeking works that explore the themes of books and literature in straightforward, abstract, conceptual or unexpected and innovative ways. Work submitted may be of any traditional or non-traditional mediums or genre (painting, drawing, collage, photography, printmaking, sculpture, new media, site specific installation, performance etc.) using books as a source of inspiration and exploration.

8-16 artists will be chosen from entries to be included in the exhibitions. There will be 6 shows in the 2012-2013 season, each show running for 8 weeks.
Exhibition space is roughly: 400 Square feet  
Maximum size of work: 20”x 20”
Artists will be notified by end of April 2012 if their proposal is accepted.

DEADLINE:  MARCH 31, 2012 Midnight
• Call for entries is open to established and emerging artists, illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, writers and art and design students. Students and professionals are equally encouraged to enter.
• All artwork submitted must be ready to hang / install.
• Artists are responsible for the delivery and pick-up of final work selected.
• Artists submitting work in new media, interactive, film, or video: you will be required to use your own equipment for the duration of the exhibition.
• Artist is responsible for assigning a retail price, from which La Casa Azul Bookstore claims 30% commission. Works do NOT need to be for sale to be considered

Please submit all of the following documents by attachment to: 
Subject Line: 2012/2013 ARTIST SUBMISSION
• Resume, artist statement (1-2 paragraphs) and bio (1-2 paragraphs) in a single PDF document
• Cover letter describing work/exhibit proposal in a single PDF document
• 2-5 Images/sketches of projected work (see image specifications below)
• Contact information, including link to website 

Image Specifications:
• Image format: JPEG, 72dpi – 800K Maximum size.
Note: This equals 600 pixels on the longest side for horizontal images and 450 pixels on the shortest side for vertical images
• Rename each image with your first and last name (example: 01firstname_lastname.jpg)

Monday, March 5, 2012


It has been amazing to witness milestones on a daily basis for La Casa Azul Bookstore. Every day there is something new to do, something new to learn about opening a business, and something to celebrate.
This weekend, my friends and I had a painting party at the bookstore. I arrived a few hours before everyone else to take pictures of the space before the transformation. The wall colors were about to change to bring hues of blue, yellow and purple. 

Amidst music and laughter, we reached a major milestone - putting the AZUL in La Casa Azul Bookstore.