BRONX COUNCIL OF THE ARTS (BCA)
Bronx Council of the Arts (BCA)
1738 Hone Avenue (main office)
Bronx, NY 10461-1486
Tel.: (718) 931-9500
Longwood Arts Project (LAP)
Gallery, Hostos Community College
450 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451
Tel.: (718) 518-6728
Fax: (718) 518-6690
William Aguado (BCA), Executive Director
Edwin Ramorán (LAP), Gallery Director and Curator
Hours open to the public
Monday–Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
History of the Institution
Founded in the early 1960s, the Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage and increase the public's awareness and participation in the arts, and to nurture the development of artists and cultural organizations. Longwood Arts Project (LAP) is the visual arts program of the Bronx Council on the Arts. LAP's mission is to raise the profile and the technical/creative ceiling of artists from under-represented groups, including women and artists of color. It does so through exhibitions at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos Community College and the Longwood Cyber Residency and Exhibition Program.
Initiated by the BCA in 1981, LAP was founded under the direction of artist Fred Wilson in the former Public School 39 at 986 Longwood Avenue in the Bronx. The school was closed due to attrition of school-age children in the district at that time, when the area was physically and economically devastated. Community leaders turned the unfortunate closure into an opportunity to help stabilize the neighborhood by developing it into a multi-service building with city agencies and non-profit organizations as its tenants.
From 1981 to 2002 LAP occupied ten rooms on the second floor of the Longwood building. From the onset, most of the rooms were turned into artist studios that were available as part of the Scholarship Studio Programs or at a subsidized rental fee. Past resident artists include Ernesto Pujol and Pepón Osorio. In 1985, the Project established the Longwood Arts Gallery with a strong commitment to presenting works by contemporary local, national, and international artists in its thematic and solo exhibitions.
In 1991, a second gallery was created to focus on Bronx-based artists. The exhibition program at the gallery has addressed urban conditions and space, national and cultural identity, immigration, violence, racism, the environment, street culture, local Bronx history, and popular culture.
In the autumn of 2002, the PS 39 building at 965 Longwood Avenue was converted back into a school administered by the NYC Board of Education. A year later LAP relocated its office and Cyber Residency Program to La Casa Blanca at Pregones Theater (www.pregones.org), at 571 Walton Avenue, in the South Bronx. One block east of their new offices at Pregones Theater, they established a new exhibition program known as Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos in cooperation with the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture on the campus of Hostos Community College at 450 Grand Concourse. LAP continues promoting the creative visions of artists living in the Bronx and fostering exchange between these artists and their community.
Scope and Content
The Archives of BCA/LAP contain all the administrative documents related to their organization and management of cultural services and arts programs in the Bronx. BCA has an independent artist program named BRIO, through which they support artists who are Bronx residents. Approximately forty percent of the funds managed by BCA are related to the visual arts. About one-third of the artists who have received funds are Latino. In other words, between twelve and fifteen percent of the total funds granted by BCA are dedicated to Latino artists.
The BCA collects records they generate, as well as the records of visual artists, writers, and musicians that apply for their grants and programs. The records at the Longwood Arts Project pertain to the exhibitions they have organized. LAP collects vertical files on artists the gallery has showcased.
Overall holdings of archives and research material:
BCA: 850 linear feet
LAP: Forty linear feet
Overall holdings of archives and research material on Latino art:
BCA: Eighty linear feet
LAP: Sixteen linear feet (40% of their archival records)
Inclusive dates of files: (BCA and LAP) 1985–present
Bulk dates: (BCA and LAP) 1990s-present
Languages in which records are written:
Holdings: Primary Sources
Archives of institution's history and operation:
BCA: Twenty-seven linear feet
LAP: Twelve linear feet
The BCA's institutional papers generated before 1990 are stored at the Bronx Historical Society. The estimate of twenty-seven linear feet of institutional records on Latino and Latin American artists stored onsite at the BCA was obtained by multiplying 560 linear feet (the total of operation records) by forty percent (percentage of records on visual arts), and multiplying the result by twelve percent (percentage of records pertaining to Latino and Latin American artists).
Newsletters and magazines published in-house:
BCA published a newsletter until 2001. Currently they publish a bimonthly or quarterly leaflet with opportunities for artists. BCA also publishes monthly updates on the Internet and a yearly journal that started circa 1991–92.
BCA has oral histories with cultural activists pertaining to the "Casitas" project, which documented the cultural centers in New York built after the model of wooden houses in Puerto Rico's countryside. The recorded interviews are stored at BCA. This project became a traveling exhibition in 1991 titled "Las Casitas: An Urban Cultural Alternative" organized by the Smithsonian Institution.
Recorded interviews and performances:
A video produced for the "Casitas" project is available to researchers at BCA. LAP holds recorded performances by artists such as Josely Carvalho, Claudia Joskovicz, and Paul Henry Ramírez, among others. Items are on DVD and VHS formats.
Slides and photographs:
There is no registry of slides at BCA. LAP holds un-catalogued slides of artists such as Freddy Hernández, Manny Vega, the artists in residence at BCA, and recipients of the Community Arts Grants. The artists in residence are listed by year on LAP's website.
Over 200 items
Some of the artists whose work is documented digitally at LAP include Judith Escalona, Marcos Dimas, George Crespo, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, and Jaime Permuth. Some of these images are accessible at the gallery's website.
Art objects and artifacts available for research:
These include some murals that were taken down from the original site of Longwood Arts Project and are now stored at BCA. Esperanza Cortés and Ernesto Pujol were among the artists who participated in the creation of these murals. BCA also owns a print by John "Crash" Matos.
LAP does not own artwork by Latino artists.
Exhibition catalogues published in-house that include work by Latino artists:
LAP published annual journals for years 1992/1993 and 1993/1994. These feature curatorial statements and essays by Bettie Sue Hertz, Edwin Pagán, and Yasmín Ramírez, among others, who wrote on the artists showcased at LAP during the years of this publication. Artists discussed include Carlos Barbot, Daniel del Valle, Luis Flores, María Mar, Carlos Ortiz, Ernesto Pujol, Eurípedes Rodríguez, Juan Sánchez, and Kukuli Velarde.
Exhibition catalogues, books, and periodicals related to Latino art:
Twelve linear feet
LAP has a small library primarily for internal use. It includes catalogues for solo exhibitions of numerous artists whose work has been exhibited at LAP. Among these there are catalogues for solo exhibitions of Dina Bursztyn and Grimanesa Amorós.
Films by or about Latinos:
LAP keeps approximately thirty videotapes related to Latino art. They are divided into performance art, symposia, and panel discussions. The videos include a recording of the public program Artists in Cuba, organized in conjunction with the exhibition 1990s Art from Cuba held at Art in General (1997); Aztlán Today, a program organized for the traveling exhibition Chicano Art Resistance and Affirmation (1991); Images of Memory–Cuba & the 6th Havana Biennial (1997); Vanessa Aquino: Child Cries Freedom; and Paul Henry Ramirez: Unruly Acts (1998).
Vertical file materials related to Latino art: artist files, brochures, pamphlets, clippings
5.75 linear feet
LAP holds an artists registry with artist files. The artists represented include Luis Cruz Azaceta, Diógenes Ballester, Rocío Cabello, William Córdova, Humberto Chávez, Marcos Dimas, María Domíguez, Esperanza Cortés, Tatiana Garmendia, Félix González-Torres, Marina Gutiérrez, Renny Molenaar, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Juan Sánchez, Elaine Soto, Nitza Tufiño, Virginia Ayress, among others. Not all the artists showcased at Longwood have artist files. Artist files are not regularly updated, except for artists shown since 2002 and past Resident Artists and Commissions Artists.
LAP is working on an artist registry for their records.
The records at BCA and LAP have been developed for internal use. At BCA the records are not separated according to artistic genre (e.g. music, literature, visual arts). It is up to the researcher to go through these materials and sort out the projects related to visual arts and to Latino artists. The records at BCA are stored in a basement. There is no study space designated for researchers.Records at the LAP are easier to consult due to their location in the gallery space and because of their focus on the visual arts. There is no space designated for researchers at LAP, but the gallery staff is willing to receive researchers and to assist them with their queries.
Financial information of BCA and LAP is confidential.
For over forty years the Bronx Council on the Arts has been a major funder and promoter of arts in the Bronx. Thus, its archives constitute an important record on the development of music, literature, and visual arts in that borough. Some Latino visual artists that have benefited from their support, and who may be documented in the BCA's archival records include Arthur Avilés, Marcos Dimas, Carlos Ortiz, Moses Ros, Joe Wippler, and dance and visual arts organization Pepatián. Through its cyber residency and its gallery, the Longwood Art Project has been instrumental in facilitating and showcasing the projects of both established and emerging Latino visual artists. The artist registry and the exhibition records at LAP reflect this long trajectory and offer valuable information on artists whose works are not extensively documented elsewhere.
Relations to other Latino and Latin American organizations:
BCA/LAP have worked in collaboration with the following Latino art institutions: the Association of Hispanic Arts, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, En Foco, Hostos Community College, Lehman College, MediaNoche, El Museo del Barrio, Pepatián, Pregones Theater, PR Dream, and Taller Boricua.