Puerto Rico and the American Dream
1355 Park Avenue, First Floor
New York, NY 10029
Tel. (212) 828-0401
Fax (212) 828-0402
Judith Escalona, Co-founder and Director
Hours open to the public
Tuesday–Saturday, 1:00–7:00 p.m.
History of the Institution
Puerto Rico and the American Dream, also known as PR Dream, was founded in 1998 by Judith Escalona and Stephanie Owens. Initially it functioned as a website on the history, culture, and politics of the Puerto Rican diaspora. Thanks to a grant from Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Judith Escalona, co-founder and co-director of PR Dream, was also able to offer training on digital film and TV production for the community of El Barrio, as a means of preserving the oral histories of the Puerto Rican diaspora.
In 2003 PR Dream opened an office space and established a multimedia center and computer laboratory for the community with the help of a larger grant from The New York Foundation. This space also functions as a training center for film production and editing. Recently PR Dream received a significant grant from Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer, to acquire new equipment in order to expand their programs which now include: The Oral History Project; MediaNoche: digital gallery and digital film studio; MediaNoche_WiFi: offering free wireless access to the community and extending the gallery outside into a virtual exhibition space; Webcasting; The Handball Court Summer Films Series; and their website, www.PRdream.com.
In light of the changes in technology and demographics that have taken place in the decade since PR Dream was founded, the institution is rethinking its use of technology and its role in the community.
Scope and Content
The archives pertain to the history, culture, and politics of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora. Most of their records are preserved on magnetic and digital formats rather than on paper. The institution also collects art books and exhibition catalogues on Puerto Rican art from the island and the mainland. Some exhibitions, lectures, and art essays are available online. Among these are the exhibition catalogue for Intersecting Circles: Metaphors of Caribbean and Latin American Transnationalism (2003); the exhibit Cambios: 50 años de transformación en la vida puertorriqueña, with photographs by Jack Delano; and the lecture "The Epitaph of El Barrio" by Diógenes Ballester. PR Dream also preserves its own administrative records. It also receives private donations of research materials on the Puerto Rican diaspora in formats such as CDs, CD-ROMs, and videos.
The gallery MediaNoche has as a policy keeping at least one work of every artist showcased at that venue. Projects from MediaNoche residencies involve interacting with the community of El Barrio. The ongoing project DIALel barrio is one example, through which new-media artist Stephanie Owens leads a team of designers and technologists in the creation of a wireless technology project that disseminates information on the cultural legacy of Spanish Harlem.
Overall holdings of archives and research material:
Twenty linear feet
This number represents only the paper records. The archive also contains over 575 megabytes of web-based material and another three to five gigabytes of files stored on ZIPs, CDs and DVDs.
Overall holdings of archives and research material related to Latino art:
Ten linear feet
This number represents only the paper records. There are approximately two gigabytes of digital material that is either web-based or stored on ZIPs, CDs and DVDs.
Inclusive dates of files: 1890-present.
Bulk dates: 1990-present.
Languages in which records are written:
Spanish (40%) and English (60%)
Holdings: Primary Sources
Archives of institution's history and operation:
2.5 linear feet
This number represents the records that pertain to Latino visual arts. PR Dream and MediaNoche operation files document artists who have been or will be showcased at La Galería (a section on PR Dream's website) or at MediaNoche. Artist files contain artists' biographies, clippings, and images of artists such as Eduardo Cintrón, Mateo Zlatar, Diógenes Ballester, and Miriam Hernández.
Newsletters and magazines published in-house:
PR Dream does not publish any printed materials. Their publication is in the form of a website accessible at www.PRdream.com. Several sections of the website concern the visual arts. These include the virtual gallery La Galería, which currently showcases the art of Miguel Luciano, Juan Sánchez, Diógenes Ballester, and Rafael Tufiño. In this section one can also find clips of interviews with the artists. The Nuyorican Cinema section contains a curated selection of clips of films written or directed by Puerto Ricans living in New York. This section features an essay by Escalona titled "Our Latin Thing: The Nuyorican Experience in Narrative Film". The Forum section if the website offers public debates related to the arts. Outstanding among these were debates in 2003 dedicated to the new Latin American direction of El Museo del Barrio. Other forums have also discussed the existence of a Puerto Rican national painting aesthetic. Although past forum discussions are not accessible on the website, PR Dream intends to publish them eventually in an e-book format. The Oral Histories section includes some oral histories by Puerto Rican artists such as Tanya Torres, and Juan Sánchez. The Corrientes section has postings of exhibitions, lectures, and cultural events currently happening in the United States and in Puerto Rico.
There is also MediaNoche, accessible online at www.medianoche.us. MediaNoche features information on all the new-media artists exhibiting at this online gallery.
Twenty to thirty items
One of the main projects of PR Dream is to document the Puerto Rican diaspora by collecting the oral histories of New York-Puerto Ricans. Some visual artists who have recorded oral histories include Juan Sánchez and Tanya Torres. Excerpts of some oral histories can be accessed online on PR Dream's website. Full interviews are available to the general public at PR Dream's space on 106th Street. Items are recorded on MiniDV.
Recorded interviews and performances:
The material documents artists' performances and talks, poetry, music, and plays.
Some of the archive's outstanding holdings include an interview with the graffiti artists of Tats Cru and footage of their artwork. PR Dream also has extensive interviews (longer than one hour) with artists Diógenes Ballester, Marcos Dimas, Miguel Luciano, Antonio Rodríguez, Carlos Ortiz, Juan Sánchez, Nitza Tufiño, Rafael Tufiño, and Fernando Salicrup. PR Dream is continually interviewing Puerto Rican artists from both the island and the mainland for their archive. These interviews are recorded on mini-DVD.
Recorded artist talks of the artists whose work has been shown at MediaNoche are also available. These include Mateo Zlatar, La Manga, Eduardo Cintrón, nicoykatiushka, Antonia Guerrero, and Ursula Endlicher.
PR Dream has also a two-hour interview with José García, producer and director of Realidades, the first national Latino TV show. There is also a one-hour interview of Dylcia Pagán, a regular contributor to the show and a former political prisoner.PR Dream also has footage of a poetry series with Nuyorican poets Pedro Pietri, Miguel Piñero, and "El coco que habla." The material is recorded on ¾ inch tape, ½ inch tape, Betacam, High 8,and VHS. Please note that equipment to view this material is unavailable.
Slides and photographs:
Approximately sixty items (ten per artist)
Includes slides of Nuyorican artists Nicholasa Mohr and Marcos Dimas.
Includes all the digital images of artwork used on the website, as well as others that have not yet been put online. They include the artwork of artists who are or will eventually be showcased in La Galería. Among these there are images by Diógenes Ballester, Jack Delano, Miriam Hernández, Miguel Luciano, Nicholasa Mohr, Juan Sánchez, and Rafael Tufiño. The website also contains a section on Nuyorican Cinema which has clips and stills of films written or directed by Puerto Ricans. Some titles include La carreta (1970); Short Eyes (1978); Los dos mundos de Angelita (1982); Brincando el charco (1994); and The Krutch (2005).
Art objects and artifacts available for research:
PR Dream owns several original posters by Rafael Tufiño. In addition, PR Dream has the artwork of artists who have been showcased at MediaNoche Gallery. Some Latino and Latin American artists who have given some of their artwork to MediaNoche and PR Dream include Eduardo Cintrón, Mateo Zlatar, and Diógenes Ballester.
Fifty to sixty items
PR Dream has approximately twenty-five features and shorts of Puerto Rican and Nuyorican Cinema. For a list of their titles please consult www.PRdream.com. PR Dream also has many of the films produced by the Division of Education of the Community (DIVEDCO) in the late 1930s. Items are on VHS and DVD format. In 2007 PR Dream started to produce films with its own crews. The organization is currently in the postproduction of its first film Bx3M: the story of three Latino youths coming of age in a city going up in flames.
Unpublished anthologies, film screenplays, and plays:
Some titles include Chico For Mayor by Pedro Pietri; Kiss of Chaos by Ricardo Thompson; Four Fiery Tales, four short screenplays presented by Fuego Films; The Big Pick Up by Jaime Sánchez; Descarga by Fabiola Herrera and Akigami Baval; Where the Señoritas Are by Janis Astor del Valle; Lavoe: A Love Story by Tony Felton; and U.S. Spanish Roots, a plan for a historical dramatic television mini-series by Angel Gil Orrios and Judith Escalona. PR Dream also has some unpublished plays including Lolita de Lares by Migdalia Cruz; Sneaking Out of the Revolving Door, a monologue by Pedro Pietri; The Return of the Mismatched Socks Salesman by Pedro Pietri; and The Krutch by Judith Escalona.
PR Dream also has the following unpublished poetry anthologies: If You Can Sleep, You Are Heartless by Pedro Pietri, Anthology of poetry by Tato Laviera, and Prophetic License: Anthology of Poetry by Rodrigo E. Ortiz III, which will be eventually published as e-books.
Books and periodicals and exhibition catalogues published by other institutions:
Six linear feet
This collection includes art books and exhibition catalogues on Puerto Rican art from the island and the mainland. PR Dream also has the Association of Hispanic Art's printed newsletter through early 1990s, which thereafter became a digital subscription. Most of these materials are at the house of Judith Escalona, and are inaccessible to the public at this time. There are plans to make them available, however.
Some outside exhibitions, lectures, and art essays are available online. These include the exhibition catalogue for Intersecting Circles: Metaphors of Caribbean and Latin American Transnationalism organized in conjunction with the Krakow Print Triennial. The exhibit Cambios: 50 años de transformación en la vida puertorriqueña organized by the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and containing photographs by Jack Delano is also on view at La Galería.
Vertical file materials: artist files, brochures, pamphlets, clippings
Two linear feet
The artist files are part of PR Dream's files covering the institution's history and operation. They contain artist biographies, clippings, and images of the work of artists who have been showcased at MediaNoche.
Recorded lectures and symposia pertaining to Latino visual arts:
Approximately 150 hours of videotape
Since 2000 PR Dream has been filming most of the lectures and symposia organized by The Center for Puerto Rican Studies (El Centro). Among those that are relevant to the arts is the two-part panel discussion, The Making of Modern New York: Puerto Rican Architects and Their Contributions to New York, organized by the architect Warren James in the spring and fall of 2004.
In the spring panel architects Raymond Plumey, Luis Salazar, and María Antonia Rosselló (Salazar & Roselló) and Warren James spoke about their architectural practice in New York. The moderator of this panel was Dr. Jesús Escobar of Fairfield University. Carlos Rodríguez Infanzón, from Rodríguez + Ayuso, Daniel Rodríguez, from Montoya-Rodríguez, and Madeleine Sánchez participated in the fall panel. The moderator of this panel was Warren James, architect.
PR Dream has also filmed many symposiums organized at El Museo del Barrio. They have three to four boxes, or fifteen to twenty hours of videotape. These recordings include all the public programs organized for the Rafael Tufiño retrospective in 2003.
These items are recorded on mini-DV.
In 2006 PR Dream started producing Webcasts in conjunction with cultural events. Their first featured a discussion of the landmark exhibition of Diógenes Ballester held in 2006 at the Museum of the History of Ponce. The Webcast was done in cooperation with the Museum and the Caribbean University and the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. More recently they produced a second webcast with with Prinardi Galleries in Puerto Rico and West Palm Beach that took place during the San Juan-based CIRCA 2007.
There are no finding aids available. Digital material on the PR Dream website and on their computers is easily searched. Other holdings such as ZIP disks have to be researched individually in order to sort their contents.
The research material on the web is permanently accessible at www.PRdream.com. Those without computer access can use the computer lab free of charge at PR Dream’s office on 106 Street.There is no space specifically set-aside for researchers who want to consult hard copies and materials that are not online, but there is often an empty desk where they can work. The staff at PR Dream is willing to assist researchers who want to consult the archival material that is not online, as there is no finding aid or clear classification system for the records.
Most interviews (ninety-five percent) are available and have been released by the interviewee to PR Dream. There are a few materials (particularly interviews and oral histories) that have not been approved by the interviewee to be released to the public and may be available only for future generations.
The visual arts archive of PR Dream constitutes a great and unique resource thanks to the variety of primary sources it contains on the art of Puerto Ricans from the island and the diaspora. Outstanding among its holdings is its collection of Nuyorican films, which include films written or directed by Puerto Ricans on the subject of the diaspora. A list of these films can be viewed at www.PRdream.com.
Another valuable asset of PR Dream's archive is its collection of interviews with Puerto Rican artists from the island and the mainland, and also its videotaped symposia and lectures on Puerto Rican and Nuyorican art. The Forum discussions on Puerto Rican art and the cultural politics of New York's Puerto Rican community are also great resources, as they include the participation of community artists, activists, and intellectuals.
PR Dream's use of the web as its primary medium to publicize the history, culture, and politics of the Puerto Rican diaspora makes their material reachable to anyone with Internet access.
Relations to other Latino and Latin American organizations:
PR Dream collaborates with El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (Center for Puerto Rican Studies) in the production and filming of the Centro Talks. Centro Talks presents a digest of the scholarly talks given at the Centro each academic year.
Recently, PR Dream partnered with the Ateneo Puertorriqueño, the oldest and one of the most prestigious cultural institutions of Puerto Rico, with plans to survey Puerto Rican cinema from its beginning to the present in a permanent online exhibition.
PR Dream has also filmed many symposia and lectures on Puerto Rican art and culture organized by El Museo del Barrio. PR Dream also has a partnership with Manhattan Neighborhood Network for film, editing, and TV production workshops.
PR Dream has collaborated with other organizations including the Museum of The City of New York, in which it organized a lecture on Nuyorican cinema and screened film clips. In Puerto Rico, PR Dream worked with the Museo de la Historia de Ponce in a tribute to the late Nuyorican poet Pedro Pietri on April 23, 2005. PR Dream has partnered with Columbia University's Center for Ethnic and Racial Studies Conferences to organize "Latinos Inside" and "Sovereignty Matters," which PR Dream has made available on DVD.
A main goal of PR Dream is to see the US-Puerto Rican and Latino communities in a global context. The organization's international collaborations are integral to its strategy of fostering dialogue between the Latino art community and other artists worldwide, while building new audiences and peers through technological means like the Internet. PR Dream's program of public interventions in White Park, located in East Harlem, is a means to this end. The first of these interventions was RNC Redux OPEN DOC project, held in 2004 in collaboration with Screensavers. It connected the Netherlands, Ohio, and Oregon to the community of El Barrio in NY, gauging views on the Republican National Convention. The second intervention, titled The Digital Block Party, launched Medianoche_WiFi in 2006, presenting music being streamed from Chile and virtual gaming. This was a collaboration with Feedtank (Full Body Games) and Digital DJ Mz. That same year, a third intervention involved screening San Yuan Li: A village trapped within a city, a digital video produced by twelve Chinese artists, critiquing the urban sprawl and displacement of people in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. People's Architecture collaborated with PR Dream in framing the international issue of gentrification within the Spanish Harlem context. A fourth intervention took place in 2007 with Transvoyeur exploring the role of gender in art and architecture by facing off two artists, one from the US and the other from the UK, in a transatlantic dialogue. Based in Liverpool, England, Transvoyeur utilizes the BBC Big Screen in a manner similar to PR Dream's use of the White Park handball court wall.