Silicon Valley Latino 40 Under 40 Latin@s2Watch

Inaugural Silicon Valley Latino 40 Under 40 Latin@s2Watch Event

Silicon Valley Latino held its inaugural 40 under 40 Latin@s2Watch event celebrating up and coming Latin@s at Charles Schwab headquarters in San Francisco.

Manuel Romero: El orgullo de ser Latino

Manuel Romero photos courtesy of Keepsake Photography Š

Manuel Romero singer, song writer, and guitarist expresses his Orgullo through his music and for his Latino roots and for Silicon Valley. He performs for local sports teams, the President of Mexico, as well a having performed for the Pope John Paul II in Mexico City.

Romero made his first recording at age nine. He adds, “Ever since I was just two years old … (his family) they have videos of me singing at the house with him (my father) playing at the house.”

Interview with Manuel Romero by Alex Ontiveros on traditional mariachi musical talent, vision, and proud heritage.

Written by Eydie Mendoza | Videos by Jose Posadas

Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit 2012

Alex Ontivero interviews Frank Carbajal about the third annual Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit 2012 scheduled for May 19 is presented by Es Tiempo, LLC., Hispanic-Net and Gracefully Global. 

SVLLS will bring together 250 leaders in business, government, education, and diverse industries throughout the United States, plus selected MBA students, for a one-day conference at the Stanford Faculty Club at Stanford University.”

Photo and video by Jose Posadas

Dr. Lopez addresses National Hispanic University online courses

Dr. Lopez speaks at the NHU 30th Anniversary on Feb. 24, 2012. | Photo by Jose Posadas

National Hispanic University celebrated its 30th Anniversary on Friday, February 24, 2012, with special guest Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Dr. Lopez addresses National Hispanic University online courses | Video by Jose Posadas

Sal Movie Review

Goya Award-Winning Spanish Actor Fele Martinez in Sal

Sergio played by Fele Martinez in Sal | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest

Also being featured at the 22nd Annual Cinequest running February 28 to March 11, is the Spanish/Chilean movie Sal/Salt, a fanciful and loving homage to the western genre that brings to mind classic westerns from John Ford to Sergio Leone. Director Diego Rougier’s story depicts the life of Sergio (Fele Martinez) a screenwriter with a very bad script. His western is so poorly written and lacks a compelling story, that he is told by his agent that even the names of the characters are awful. His only recourse in salvaging his script is to go to the very place where his fictional story is set, the Atacema Desert in Chile, where he hopes to bring life to a dead plot.

In doing so Sergio becomes a character in a real life western thriller when he is mistaken for someone else with a secret past and a very angry enemy. After accepting an invitation from a stranger who has mistaken him for someone named Diego, Sergio is soon abducted by a mysterious villain named Victor, played by Patricio Contreras. Sergio is whisked away to a secluded shack surrounded by nothing but desert and an old man who becomes his unwilling caretaker.

Chilean Actress Javiera Contador in Sal

Javiera Contador in Sal | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest & Fesia Saldias

Sergio/Diego’s trials get even more complicated when he is visited by a sultry and fiery woman, played seductively by Javiera Contador, who was once Diego’s lover. Her passion for Diego/Sergio is still explosive as is her anger towards him for having left her behind. Sergio, for his part, is absolutely clueless to her past as he is to everything else that now seems to have befallen him.

It is in this state of uncertainty that life imitates art as our poor protagonist tries to uncover the mystery unfolding before him while at the same time trying to edit his script using cues from this real life drama.

Like all good scripts the protagonist must have an antagonist, a villain, and in Sergio/Diego’s case that person is Victora nemesis seeking payback for what Diego has done to him.

The film is beautifully shot with wide vistas of the Chilean desert and requisite scenes popular in western films. Sal is a fun combination of parody and classic western drama. The film serves to remind us, as noted by Sergio’s agent, that a movie has to tell you something, whether a movie script or reality life can spring from even the driest desert.

Catch this western Sal/Salt – is in Spanish w/English subtitles – at Cinequest Twenty Two Film Festival.

La Otra Familia Movie Review

La Otra Family | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest

At the 22nd Annual Cinequest running February 28 to March 11, Family is redefined in the film La Otra Familia (The Other Family) by director and writer Gustavo Loza.

Set in Mexico (in Spanish with English subtitles) the film centers around the fate of a young boy abandoned by his drug-addicted single mother and the fate of a wealthy gay couple who try to care for him. The film also contrasts the social and widening economic disparities in Mexico, a country with very distinct social classes where people know their place or suffer the consequences as they do in this wrenching film.

The drama begins when Nina (Nailea Norvind) once again abandons her son Hendrix (as in Jimi played by Bruno Loza) in order to spend days getting high at her boyfriend/dealer’s apartment. Coming to the boy’s ill-fated rescue is Nina’s friend Ivana (Ana Serradilla) who hands off the boy to Jean Paul (Jorge Salinas) and Chema (Luis Guzman) a recently wed gay couple. The story thus is set in Mexico City as this is one of only two places where same-sex marriages are allowed in the entire country.

Nina played by Nailea Norvind in La Otra Familia | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest

The gay couple, at first, is apprehensive of taking in this child especially Chema, played convincingly by Guzman, but it is Chema who eventually bonds with the child and becomes his most vocal defender. The newlywed couple soon confronts another hurdle, one of many for openly gay individuals in a traditionally conservative Catholic country, when they try to enroll Hendrix in a private Catholic school. Here the director offers us another glimpse of Mexico’s social disparities where the very rich can dictate who has access to what and exceptions can be made for the right price. Even representatives of the church are not above playing this game when it is to their benefit.

The story’s heart is sealed during the scenes that take place inside Jean Paul’s and Chema’s fittingly upscale and exclusive home. Here the men are presented as a loving couple, a nurturing family- exactly what the boy lacks from his biological mother who once she discovers he has been “kidnapped” from her begins a crazed effort to get him back even if she cannot care for him as he deserves.

The film picks up steam when Nina’s boyfriend has his own plans for Hendrix involving another couple who have recently lost their own newborn son. A side story involving Ivana and her lesbian lover explores another definition of family when Ivana’s brother is approached to be a sperm donor for a child Ivana and Gloria (played by Ana Soler) wish to conceive.

Director Gustavo Loza | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest

Those viewers who are seeking to peel back the curtain of life inside modern Mexico City, who want a glimpse of the criminal element that lurks behind every door or rooftop, who have long suspected injustices in the way things are done, and how life works in Mexico won’t be disappointed in this challenging, at times troubling but in the end life-affirming film.

La Otra Familia is one of many productions shown in Latino Film Showcase at Cinequest February through March 2012. Trailer:

On the Right Side of the Tracks

Carlos Rodriguez works on a painting at The Tracks located inside San Jose's T Citadel | Photo By Jose Posadas

The path toward being an artist can take many forms. For some it starts with nothing more than a number 2 pencil and plain sheet of paper. For others it may be a box of crayons, colored markers or a water color paint set.

For 11-year-old Carlos Rodriguez, newly arrived to San Jose from Mexico in 1988, his path to being an artist was through creating graffiti on walls throughout San Jose in Latino neighborhoods that allowed spaces for public murals.

Twenty three years later Rodriguez opens a studio called The Tracks, located south of downtown San Jose in the Spartan-Keyes Neighborhood, he and co-owner/founder Helene Ehrlich hope to create a space where other aspiring artists can learn and grow, a place where, as Rodriguez elaborates, “Artists can express their passion and create things people will enjoy, create things that people can like or hate at the same time.”

“Graffiti helped me to make friends, I was no longer a stranger, I learned at an early age how powerful art was,” Rodiguez said. As a young artist and new immigrant, his work on graffiti murals served as a means to connect to other kids his ageand he soon found that other kids admired his work.

In graffiti culture the railroad and boxcars are considered the ultimate canvas. That is where a graffiti artist can display his/her talent and showcase art that will eventually be seen throughout the state if not the entire country as the train travels across the landscape day and night. It becomes in essence a moving exhibit, thus his choice to name his studio The Tracks.

But prior to opening The Tracks Rodriguez first cultivated his skills and developed his style, when at 18 years-old, he started spending time at MACLA Arte, a gallery serving the Latino community. He would then go on to work at a youth center in Mountain View where he began to teach art to other Latino youth, and he introduced art programs at the Alum Rock Counseling Center and worked for the City of San Jose’s gang prevention program.

It was only a matter of time for his hunger to start his own business led him to opening a vinyl business and later a silk screening business which he still currently runs.

Like most new business startups, it has not been easy but he learned that having a business is very liberating. “We still struggle as young artists but still we sell our art whether it’s murals, paintings, T-shirts, our own clothing line or photography services” he says.

Today his company New Edge Creative Studios consists of T-shirt printing, design work, murals and photography by co-founder Ehrlich. She is a third generation photographer, has 15 years of experience as a photographer and credits a Kodak Instamatic camera she once had as a child, for her love of photography.

When not working at their studio Ehrlich works as a teacher at ACE Charter school in San Jose where she takes pride in bringing art and culture to the classroom. She takes T-shirts designed by Rodriguez or other Latino artists bearing cultural images of Mexico like Dia de los Muertos or Zapata to share with the children in her classroom, one of many ways to teach art and history as well as instill pride in Latino culture.

“Education is power!”

Ehrlich adds, “I especially enjoy empowering young girls as artists and showing them that they can make a living as an artist. I want people to feel empowered, to live their dreams, to not be scared and I hope that Carlos and I can inspire others by what we are doing with a little blood, sweat and tears as working artists.”

When asked what he wants to be remembered for Rodriguez added, “I want people to view me as a staple in the art community, that the San Jose art community grew because of what we are trying to do at The Tracks studio, that I want to inspire the City to have faith in our youth, not to demonize the graffiti artist, and that people walk away with a sense of what San Jose art is and represents.”

The Tracks had a Grand Opening & Customer Appreciation on Thursday, Jan. 26th, from noon to 7pm which included a raffle, refreshments and prizes.

The Tracks Studio is Located at The Citadel: 855 5th Street #407, San Jose, CA 95122
Feel free to contact Carlos Rodriguez and Helene Ehrlichvia email with inquiries and to visit the studio.

On Facebook:

Written By Jose Posadas | Photos By Jose Posadas

White House Summit in San Jose

White House Initiative | Photo By Eydie Mendoza

Chancellor Rita Cepeda speaks to SVL Publisher Alex Ontiveros about the upcoming White House Hispanic Community Action Summit taking place Saturday, January 21, 2012 at Evergreen Valley Community College.

Video By Jose Posadas

The Passion of Rose

“I wanted the shop to be a combination of traditional folk art and contemporary Latino art. The goal being to preserve the Latin American tradition many of us grew up in.” Rose answered when asked what her goals were in opening up her store, smartly named Ay Dios Mio! (exclamation point included).

“But I also wanted our products to appeal to three generations of Latinos in our community – our parents, adults and younger generations.”

For long time California native, Rose Mendoza, collecting and selling Latino art has been her passion. The perky Latina is always excited at the chance to travel to Mexico, stopping in Oaxaca, Mexico City, Tlaquepaque (near Guadalajara) or San Miguel de Allende to visit familiar artists and purchase their merchandise for sale back here in the USA.

What started as a website, evolved into event sales (like the Mariachi Festival in San Jose or Day of the Dead festival in Oakland) has blossomed into a boutique retail store in San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose. There Rose offers up unique merchandise from artists both internationally and locally. One can find works from artisans from Mexico as well as Peru, from Texas and also Los Angeles.

Rose Mendoza in her store Ay Dios Mio! located in the San Pedro Square Market | Photo by Eydie Mendoza

Her products, both originals and replicas, include such things as handbags in the shape of pan dulce conchas, dinnerware plates painted with Lotería cards, paper mache items popular on Dia de los Muertos as well as seasonal items like Christmas tree ornaments designed by Casa Q, plus many more.

Rose learned about knowing her customers with her first business venture called La Fina Cocina. There she sold Latino-inspired kitchenware but soon found that her customers were more drawn to the art related products thus Ay Dios Mio! was born.

She and her sister, Betty Campos, tend to the shop that Rose believes reflects positively on her Latino culture. Rose looks forward to her annual shopping excursions in Mexico to bring back new, fun and unique arte popular that connects emotionally to her growing customer base.

Rose advices other Latina entrepreneurs: “Feel passionate about what you want to do, ask yourself, is it in my DNA? Also, find out who, really, is your audience, your customer, know them well, because knowing them will help you to develop your business model. Know your industry and what customers want and what your competition offers. Lastly, build partnerships and collaborate with others that can help your business grow.”

Visit Rose Ay Dios Mio! in San Jose’s new San Pedro Square Market or online

The Return of Chacho’s

Chacho's Grand Reopening | Photo By Eydie Mendoza

It is perhaps fitting that on September 16, seasoned business owner George (Jorge) Sanchez finally got the keys to the building that will soon be the second coming of Chacho’s restaurant in downtown San Jose. That date of course is the anniversary of Mexico’s Independence. For George it is his independence of sorts as he re-opens a business that many long time San Jose diners remember fondly.

The original Chacho’s, located across the street from San Pedro Square, was opened by the Sanchez family in 1994. But with this new venture George is partnered with Mauricio Mejia, another long time downtown business owner and promoter. Now located at 87 E. San Fernando, near the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, George is making plans for a mid-December grand opening.

Chacho's wall displays photos, arte de Mexico, local art and works by Francisco Franco | Photo By Jose Posadas

Diners will be met with a restyled look for Chacho’s. The interior boosts many historic photos of Mexico’s cultural and revolutionary past courtesy of George’s many trips to his native country over the years. But in keeping with the new generation of Latinos that live in the Silicon Valley the walls of restaurant also showcase works from local artists like painter Francisco Franco.

When asked why re-open in downtown George replies, “Downtown has always been in our heart, it’s where we started, our family business was here for 14 years.”

Chacho’s menu will feature once again favorites like Enchiladas Suizas topped with creamy white sauce, Steak a la Chicana, Blue Monkey Tacos, mole imported from Toluca in the State of Mexico and of course the always popular Margaritas. “It will be good to hear the clatter of drinking glasses again,” he jokes as he mentions that Chacho’s will be open seven days a week offering breakfast, lunch and dinner in addition to the catering currently available.

With many years of experience as a business owner under his belt George offers the following advice to other Latinos seeking to start their own venture whether it is a restaurant or not: “First, ask questions, lots of them, ask experts in the field that interests you, learn from them. Second, do your homework, there are no simple directions for opening your business, find out who can help you in the city, for example, with getting permits and approvals for getting your business started. Third, resources, find them, tap into them, get to know those who can help you. I am always eager to help somebody, for me the more Latinos in business the better, I’m willing to share my resources.”

Congratulations George Sanchez and Mauricio Mejia for the Grand Opening on January 19, 2012.

George Sanchez looks on to Chacho's durring the grand opening | Photo By Eydie Mendoza