When I first met Leticia Vazquez, she taught me the word tocaya – it’s the Spanish term for “name twin.” She’s my first tocaya – and the only person I’ve ever met who pronounces our name in that special way, “Leh-tee-see-ah.” Our relationship has been based on sharing since our first encounter at a “paper flower” workshop at Global Gallery in the early 2000s. Vazquez has been committed to cultural sharing since her arrival to this city.
When I met Orlando Ruiz, he unabashedly told me of his propensity for playing Pokémon Go, love of hockey and weight-lifting, and pride in his ride – a Subaru WRX that runs on E85. Ruiz has many interests that play a huge part in the way he identifies as a true “melting pot of cultures,” and makes him immediately likeable.
A 2013 study stated that women only make up 24% of the workforce in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Even more startling, only 3% of workers in the field are Latina. Jessica Cáceres is counted in this 3%. Working for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), she merges her passion for environmental advocacy with her interest in community development.
Adam Hernandez’s art will take you to another place. A land where surreal creatures meet heroic figures cast in vibrant hues. You’ll find yourself immersed in this world, which is Hernandez’s very intention. Since moving to Columbus nine years ago from the Bronx, Hernandez has expanded and refined the realm his art encompasses in the city he finds both calm and gracious.
On their way to school each day, two sisters passed salon Azul Violeta in their hometown of Michoacán, Mexico. The constant presence of the storefront inspired them to one day operate their own beauty shop. Years later and thousands of miles away, the sisters opened a salon in Whitehall, Ohio. They named it Azul Violeta Salon, commemorating their hometown’s business. When the sister’s decided to sell the shop to care for an ailing loved one, the salon became Cristal Galloso’s. The acquisition fulfilled yet another aspiration for the 24-year-old Galloso, who dreamt of one day running her own business.
Amarelis Martinez was born during one of the most devastating storms in recent memory. The category 5 tempest, Hurricane Hugo, robbed Puerto Rico of electrical power. Martinez’s mother gave birth in a lightless and waterless hospital room with nineteen other women while the hurricane raged on outside. Her birth, Martinez suggests, set the tone for the rest of her life. She can go without much and still make it – head first.
A broom in constant motion and the consummate jingling of store bells accompanied Martin Noriega. He was busy sweeping the floor at Estetica Ivette Salon when we first arrived at his North Side business. Ivette is his mother, the salon Noriega’s gift to her. Once finished at the salon, Noriega dashed next door to answer phone calls and stock the shelves of his newest endeavor – a small Mexican styled grocery store. During our visit, he continued darting between the brick and mortar realities of Noriega’s decade long dream to one day own a business.
The term “power-couple” is often used to refer to two individuals – dating or married – who are independently successful. At times, this phrase seems somewhat trite – terming “power” as economic success. Yet, in many ways, I am tempted to use this label for Maylin Sambois-Sanchez and Javier Sanchez. These two look to strengthen the Columbus community through their focus on youth programming. The vision they each have for improving children’s lives coupled with their support for one other lends a special kind of power to their endeavors.
Seven large canvas frames lean against a corner of Natalia Sanchez’s new studio space. She spent most of this Friday building, breaking down, and then rebuilding these wooden rectangles. This CCAD graduate appears the perfect combination of exhausted and exhilarated. The canvases are slated to feature a series of paintings inspired by chakras – or psychic energy centers.
In the 1950’s, representatives from a steel company in Lorain, Ohio traveled down to Puerto Rico to recruit much-needed factory workers. They succeeded in convincing Crucita Flecha’s maternal and paternal grandparents (among many others) to move from their small town in Puerto Rico to the Midwest. Flecha’s grandfather worked in these Ohio steel mills until retirement, while her father found work at a Ford Automotive Plant in the neighboring city of Vermillion, Ohio.