Monday, August 03, 2015

Enigmas of Cuban Spanish

Anthony T. Rivas starts his entertaining "Enigmas of Cuban Spanish" by noting that "Non-Cuban Spanish speakers have occasional trouble understanding fast Cuban speech. While less educated Cuban speakers can be difficult to understand, as with speakers of other dialects of Spanish, better educated speakers of Cuban Spanish can also exhibit speech sounds typical of "careless" or relaxed speech." 

Ahhh... my own experience, especially around the DMV (where most "native" Spanish speakers are from Central America, and in my neighborhood from Argentina), is more like a perplexed look... this chart (from his research) exemplifies the nuances, even within Cuba, of Cuban Spanish.

Old Oriente ProvinceRest of CubaEnglish Meaning
cutara chancletas slippers
papaya fruta bomba papaya
balance* sillón rocking chair
balde cubo bucket
rallado, rasco-rasco (Matanzas) granizado (Bayamo and Santiago)ice cone
macholechónsuckling pig
pluma, llave** faucet tap
túnico* vestido dress
hallaca tamal tamale
guineo plátano (fruta) banana
fana fanoso good-for-nothing/cheapskate
tienda *** bodega grocery store
* Also used in Camagüey Province
** "Pluma" and "llave" coexist in Camagüey Province.
*** In Havana, "tienda" with no modifier denotes a clothing store.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Another tree falls

Elvira Campello de Quevedo (Tia Cuca)
My gentle and kind aunt, (my father's sister) Tia Cuca, passed away in her sleep in Miami this morning, and yet another tree falls in the silent forest of the bitter exile of the Cuban Diaspora. 

She was born in the countryside, near the city of Guantanamo, in the Oriente province of Eastern Cuba, the fifth daughter (of six) of Galician immigrants to Cuba.

In the 1960s, Cuca and her family escaped Cuba (via Spain) and settled in Brooklyn, in the six apartment brownstone owned by her sister, my aunt Nica.

When I was a kid in Brooklyn, Tia Cuca lived in the apartment above ours in that house, and no matter when I'd pop into her apartment, she'd always sit me down at the table and would start feeding me - and she was one of the best cooks ever! There's no cook on this Universe who ever made a better black bean soup!

My Campello aunts in the 1950s - Tia Cuca is the second from the left in the top row
My Campello aunts in the 1950s - Tia Cuca is the second from the left in the top row.
I never saw her angry, and she had the most contagious laugh on the planet! Don't get me wrong, Tia Cuca was also tough as nails, but her toughness came in a brilliant and pliable form - she would bend, but never break, as the saying goes.

We will miss you, Tia.

Saturday, August 01, 2015


Now in its ninth year, the $50,000 Black Swan Prize has attracted a record 375 entries...
 Are you serious? Only 375 entries and that's a record for this Aussie prize? Details here... 

Why am I yapping about an Aussie prize? Because I am always dumbfounded by the low number of entries to most visual art prizes and opportunities - especially the "free" ones, such as the DC Arts Commission's various grants and buying calls...

Friday, July 31, 2015

Artists' Websites: Anne Cherubim

Anne Cherubim is an abstract contemporary landscape painter. She works predominantly in acrylic. Her art is rooted in real life images and textures, with a modern abstraction, often in a limited colour palette.
Her art is a reflection of contemporary art as portrayed by someone who is a product of a myriad of cultures: a Canadian girl, born of Sri Lankan parents, now residing in the US. 

This unique 'lense' through which she sees the world informs her work, undeniably. ‘Tolerance’ is the word we use to talk about being open to, and welcoming of, one another.  

Anne believes ‘embrace’ is a much better word for talking about cultures, and the ways in which we can coexist. Art and music transcend language - among other barriers- and create commonalities, harmony. They are universals that can be appreciated no matter where you come from, or what language you speak. 

This is the type of experience Cherubim hopes that her art allows for.
Though she has been an artist for many years, her professional pursuit of it began more recently.  
Anne has exhibited her work locally around the DMV and internationally. She currently resides with her husband and children in the USA, and is a Resident Artist at Artists & Makers Studios in Rockville, MD and later this year at the Affordable Art Fair in New York City.

Her work can be seen at:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The touch of darkness

Every once in a while, the possible terrifying touch of evil passes by, leaving behind a wake of fear and also (in this case) relief that it just went by.

A few days ago a man approached our five year-old-son while he was playing in our front yard.

My wife had just gotten home about five minutes before, and she was unpacking grocery bags inside while our son was playing soccer on the front lawn.

A man approached in a dark gray 4-door sedan on the opposite side of the street, closest to where my son was playing. He rolled down his window, called my son over and told him about "a boy who lived down the street and who had a tiger in his house" and asked if my son knew him.

My son's inner alarms went off and he ran inside and told my wife, and when she came out, the car was gone.

We called the police and provided the following description based on what my son could see from the yard into the man's car: age 50s, black straight short hair, white skin, brown eyes, and fat (this is a 5yr old's description!).

My son  also mentioned that the license plate had an American flag on it, and then pointed to one of the Maryland plates with the American flag in our neighborhood as an example.

We shared the information with our neighbors via our listserv, and discovered that just down our street, a couple who has a three year old son, has a giant stuffed animal tiger in the boy's play room; a tiger that could easily been seen by someone walking around their house and looking into their windows. 

Disturbing beyond belief. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2015 Trawick Prize Finalists

The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District and the Bethesda Urban Partnership will showcase the work of The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards eight finalists in a group exhibition. The exhibit will be on display September 2 – 26, 2015, at Gallery B, located at 7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite E.

2015 Trawick Prize Finalists

Selin Balci, Annapolis, MD
Lynn Cazabon, Baltimore, MD
Catherine Day, McLean, VA
Jason Hughes, Baltimore, MD
Timothy Makepeace, Washington, D.C.
Sebastian Martorana, Baltimore, MD
Jonathan Monaghan, Washington, D.C.
Nara Park, Washington, D.C.

The award winners will be announced on Wednesday, September 2, 2015. The first place winner will be awarded $10,000; second place will be honored with $2,000 and third place will be awarded $1,000. A “young” artist whose birth date is after April 7, 1985 may also be awarded $1,000.

The public opening reception will be held Friday, September 11 from 6-9pm in conjunction with the Bethesda Art Walk. Gallery hours for the duration of the exhibit are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 – 6pm.
The 2015 Trawick Prize jury includes Stefanie Fedor, Executive Director, Arlington Arts Center; John Ruppert, sculptor, Professor and former Chair of the University of Maryland’s Department of Art and Richard Waller, Executive Director of University Museums for the University of Richmond.
The Trawick Prize was established in 2003 by Carol Trawick, a longtime community activist in downtown Bethesda. She is the past Chair of both the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District and Bethesda Urban Partnership, and also the Founder of the Bethesda Painting Awards. In 2007, Ms. Trawick founded the Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation to assist health and human services and arts non-profits in Montgomery County.

The Trawick Prize is one of the first regional competitions and largest prizes to annually honor visual artists. To date, The Trawick Prize has awarded $175,000 in prize monies and has exhibited the work of more than 100 regional artists. Previous Best in Show recipients include Richard Clever, 2003; David Page, 2004; Jiha Moon, 2005; James Rieck, 2006; Jo Smail, 2007; Maggie Michael, 2008; Rene Trevino, 2009; Sara Pomerance, 2010; Mia Feuer, 2011; Lillian Bayley Hoover, 2012; Gary Kachadourian, 2013 and Neil Feather, 2014. 
For more information, please visit or call 301-215-6660.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Elise Campello nominated for best actress!

Congrats to my Klingon daughter Elise L Tor-Cam, who just got nominated for "Best Actress" in a South Sound (Tacoma, WA area) theatrical performance during the 2014/15 season!
Details here.