El Cerro Favorite 



Jan 1 2002


Naranjito, Puerto Rico

Excerpts from Chemi Rosado's lecture at The Creative Time Summit 2011:

"For me, there are four major aspects that this project has achieved:
1. It’s a Social Active work of art
2. The exchange of knowledge between people that normally wouldn’t share [artists, guest and volunteers from different social backgrounds meet, share and learn from each other].
3. An open community for other artistic or social projects, activities and workshops.
4. And finally it is still a formal or traditional painting brought to the spectacle of reality.

We started this project by visiting the people in the community, showing them some proposals in sketches, drawings, and suggesting the possibility of painting their houses in different shades of greens for free. Some neighbors told us: “Finally someone is looking up here; someone wants to do something with us!” Others were skeptical about the project and about us, asking "Are they from the government?, "do they come from the police? As for the color, some neighbors would make comments about it right away: “GREEN!! But this is a mountain already!” Others would joke, saying, “Now the cows will eat the balconies,” or, would say in a derogatory way: “What will we do on Thursdays? That’s a gay color to have on that day!”

Another objection to the color was politics: the color green is linked to the pro-independence party (blue with the pro-statehood party and red to the commonwealth party.) That is why painting the first house in the neighborhood was so significant. It was Ivette Serrano’s house. Her house was blue. She decided to paint her house because she thought that the project would help unify the community and bring something positive for the younger generation, and also because she wanted to help the artists that pretended to make an art work of the whole community. Some people just said “yes” because their houses would be painted for free; others preferred to paint with us, while others would take the paint and do it themselves, as they said: We’ll paint”, so they painted their houses themselves. I won’t forget to see Cabe and Jossy cleaning and preparing the exterior of their house in order to paint it. After finishing, they sat in front of their newly painted house, having some beers and admiring their work, even the colors, and saying, “This is a work of art.”

Through the process of painting, the neighbors met and visited one another. In some cases, neighbors that hadn’t visited each other in 14 years met again while painting each other’s house. Even neighbors that didn’t talk each other would find a way to communicate again. Others TOLD me how they were ashamed of living in the community most of their lives and that now they were proud of being from El Cerro and were able to see how beautiful their community is. Some would appreciate how we worked letting the kids and teenagers work closely with us. Even people who didn’t paint their houses would participate as volunteers and leaders of the project."

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