Maria Estela Diaz

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Maria Estela Diaz is a woman who believes in the power of education to empower, the ability of the arts to connect, and the responsibility to build community. In her 50s, Maria’s background has had her experience both Visual and Literary Art as student and as part of an educational team being inspired and inspiring others.
Maria was born in Jalisco, Mexico and was raised and schooled in California. Growing up in Baldwin Park, a predominantly Hispanic community in the East San Gabriel Valley, Maria grew to identify and appreciate the community where she still resides to this day with her family.
From an early age, Maria was always fascinated by literature, drawing and writing. Herself a creative and expressive youth, she received awards for her art work during junior high school. However, it was literature that had a lasting effect on her, as she chose to develop her writing skills instead. In High School, this passion for writing translated to Maria writing for the Baldwin Park High School newspaper. Not one to limit her exposure and attachment to the arts and organizing, Maria was also one of the principal students involved in creating and instituting a drama program which to this day remains active at Baldwin Park High School.
After graduating from Baldwin Park High School, Maria attended Mt. San Antonio College where she received an AA in Liberal Arts and transferred to Cal State University Los Angeles to pursue a bachelors in Psychology. Unfortunately, family obligations and unforeseen circumstances had her interrupt her studies, and she was unable to obtain her BA.
Nevertheless, while her studies may have been put on hold, her desire to improve her community never wavered. Since the age of 18, Maria has been a volunteer and employee of the Baldwin Park Unified School District (BPUSD) in various capacities and positions, While at BPUSD, Maria was able to observe the benefits of a well rounded curriculum which included arts and literature as well as how a curriculum suffered when visual, performing, and literary arts were not integrated into studies.
Maria also committed herself to improving her community through service at her local church. As a volunteer at her church, Maria was able to implement music, drawing and poetry in her catechism classes to help children learn abstract ideas such as faith and spirituality.
Through her instruction and assistance at her local church and schools, Maria was able to connect with her students by word and example, as she provided them invaluable lessons about team work and leadership participating in band, choir and color guard at the local schools.
Maria feels exposure to art, music and literature provides a depth and richness that creates a fertile environment for creativity and original ideas. Art is an important part of humanity, and any cause that furthers creativity and expression is one of the main reasons for Maria joining the Nuvein Foundation for Literature and the Arts.
As part of Nuvein, Maria sees opportunity to reach out to the community and provide services that promote and support the arts and literature. It is her hope that in doing so, Nuvein will be contributing to the cultural development of the San Gabriel Valley and beyond by increasing the number of students who can continue to pursue their careers in the arts becoming men and women whose creativity and vision will influence generations of budding artists, authors, dancers, and musicians.

 

Learn more about the Nuvein team

Enrique de Jesus Diaz

It is still hard to accept that he is so suddenly gone. Yet, I like to think that each time I look up towards the San Gabriel Mountains, there he is and will be, watching over us, enjoying the legacy of his great work to promote the arts spreading across the Valley through Nuvein in its events, projects, and board members.

– Javier Hernandez, Nuvein Advisory Board Member, April 2, 2011
(Man vs. Art podcast with Raul Aguirre Jr., The Vital Importance of Arts Advocates…)

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Enrique de Jesus Diaz, the late founder and President Emeritus of the Nuvein Foundation for Literature and the Arts was a soul too great to be understood in a single sentence. This is simply because his life was a multi-layered story that continues to tell itself.
Enrique was many different things to many different people. For some, he was a passionate poet, for others, a steadfast friend. He was a dedicated mentor, devoted lover, accomplished dancer, loving husband, an ambitious entrepreneur, a family man, trusted business partner, a naturalized immigrant, a dutiful Navy seaman, an empowering publisher, approachable media personality, an ardent LGBTQ and minority advocate, an ingenious web designer, avid reader and writer, goodwill ambassador, charismatic philanthropist, a storyteller with a striking memory for detail, and a tenacious arts advocate.
Yet, to one and all, he was an open hand, mind, heart, ear, and soul. Enrique‘s life inspired the vision of limitless possibilities for which his organization, Nuvein, would become known.
Born in Tecomatlan, Jalisco, Mexico, Enrique immigrated here as a child with his parents and his four siblings. They lived in various parts of eastern Los Angeles, including City Terrace. A graduate of Roosevelt High School, Class of 1977, Enrique joined the Folklorico dance troupe while at the high school and, after graduating, performed with a professional dance troupe throughout the region. He also taught and choreographed Folklorico dances for youth in the Los Angeles Unified School District. In 1979, Enrique enlisted in the United States Navy, proudly serving on the USS New Jersey (BB-62), where he collaborated with like-minded servicemen to share written stories and essays. This group was the beginning of Nuvein Magazine, which in turn spawned the Nuvein Foundation for Literature and the Arts.
Nuvein Magazine began production in 1982, using a photocopy format and was distributed by hand and through the mail. After an honorable discharge from the US Navy, Enrique returned home to enroll at Cal Poly Pomona, earning his degree in 1992 in English Literature. All the while, Enrique was staying in contact and making new contacts for the relaunch of Nuvein Magazine online. In 1996, Nuvein Magazine made its debut on the web. This was the case up to the Fall of 2004.
During this time, Nuvein Magazine was available online and was also printed in anthology format and was one of the first online literary magazines on the World Wide Web. The writers who were part of Nuvein Magazine came from around the world. The magazine included voices from the community, ranging from entertainment to education.  Enrique made a point of being inclusive, with authors from many backgrounds and experiences – men, women, gay, straight, a vast range of cultural and ethnic diversity. As a Mexican immigrant to the US and a gay man, Enrique had great empathy for marginalized and misunderstood human beings, those considered “outsiders” or “different.”
Enrique was never confined by convention, and often surpassed it in amazing and wonderful ways. This was never more true than with respect to his devotion to the love of his life and husband, Jeffrey Bickel. He and Jeff met in 1986 at KPFK radio in Los Angeles. Jeff was a staff member at KPFK, and Enrique got to know him when they worked together on “IMRU”, an LGBTQ radio magazine. Shortly thereafter, in 1988, he and Jeff made a lifetime commitment to each other. From the beginning, Enrique called Jeff his husband, even though much of the world did not recognize their relationship. Enrique, always a visionary, knew that marriage equality was on the horizon. In 2000, Jeff and Enrique became registered domestic partners and were married on June 21, 2008.
Enrique was a tireless mentor to high school, collegiate, and adult students. His extensive teaching experience includes a 23-year teaching position at Mt San Antonio College. In addition, he taught at United Education Institute, Pasadena City College, El Dorado College, Palladium Technical Acadmemy, and, at his own school, Digital Business and Design College, “DBD”. Enrique and Jeff founded DBD in El Monte as a private, vocational college providing degrees in computer technology. DBD served students and business professionals from the Greater Los Angeles area, and provided a technical education for careers in web design, information technology, networking, and graphic design.
With his educational projects, technical school, and Nuvein magazine so well-received, Enrique was encouraged to organize a non-profit arts organization, the Nuvein Foundation for Literature and the Arts. He believed that the foundation could offer literature and arts programs and performances to young people and adults who lived in the San Gabriel Valley region and in communities throughout Southern California. The goal was to increase exposure to arts and literature for those communities that had been overlooked and underserved. This process began in 2004 through a series of collaborations with local schools, libraries, community centers, and chambers of commerce throughout the San Gabriel Valley. From 2004 to the present, Nuvein has continued to offer arts and cultural programming throughout the communities of the region. In 2007, Nuvein became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with the help of the community and business leaders from various San Gabriel Valley cities, and established its home in El Monte, California.
Prior to his unexpected passing in March of 2011, Enrique led Nuvein to launch a series of workshops and arts education programs out of  DBD, LA County Libraries, and local recreation centers in the region. His leadership also helped unite and support  groups such as the SGV Cartoonistas, as well as award arts scholarships to students pursuing digital/graphic design, animation, dance and other disciplines. Additionally, he supported the establishment of two of Nuvein’s biggest annual events – Dia de Los Muertos in El Monte and the San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Expo. This as well as countless other arts and cultural events that provided lasting connections between communities and their resident creative individuals.
Forever remembered as “our storyteller”, Enrique is sorely missed by the countless lives he enriched through his mentoring, entrepreneurship, artist collectives, scholarships, fundraising, and leadership in community service.  Despite his loss, Enrique ensured a lasting legacy that is carried on through the members of the Nuvein Foundation and through the important connections that are made to individuals and communities throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond as Nuvein’s mission continues on into the future.

2013: A Nuvein Retrospective (Part I of II)

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2013 was a year of discovery.

The year brought significant transitions and upward mobility for the Nuvein Foundation for Literature and the Arts (Nuvein).  The year brought with it changes, expansion, and challenges that in the end, have served to strengthen Nuvein’s overall presence, impact, and profile among so many exciting developments in the San Gabriel Valley region of Southern California.

The year began with the continued support and accommodation of Nuvein meetings by the generosity of the staff and leadership of Longo Toyota at the Penske College campus.

Penske College (courtesy of www.longolexus.com)

The Penske College campus allows local non-profits and community causes to request meeting space usage and other resources to advance their charitable causes that impact and benefit El Monte and surrounding communities.  For additional information on how to connect with Longo Toyota as pertains to Penske College, see details here.

JANUARY

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“Nuvein” (artwork by Jim Lujan)

January 2013 had Nuvein’s 2012-2013 Nomination Season in full swing. (We are currently in our 2013-2014 Nomination Season.) As Nuvein board members and the artistic and cultural leadership community of the San Gabriel Valley sought to connect to one another, statements of interest as well as invitations were made to solidify the organization for what promised to be a year of significance.

2013 Nuvein Board (photo courtesy of Nuvein)

In the end, Nuvein’s board of 7 active members grew to 12 with the addition of 5 new members from the communities of La Puente, Covina, Whittier, and Pico Rivera. New members included artisan vendors sisters, a community organizing couple, and a tech savvy poet. All of which proved to be indispensable to the organization in the months ahead.

 

FEBRUARY

SGV LitFest logo (courtesy of sgvlitfest.com)

February 2013 had Nuvein begin its participation in a variety of artistic and cultural events yearlong. Nuvein was invited to participate in the San Gabriel Valley Literature Festival (SGV LitFest). The SGV LitFest was a weekend long event, February 15-17 of 2013,  that showcased literary luminaries from across the globe, the US, and featured many local Southern California writers and poets at the West Covina Civic Center, the West Covina Branch of the Los Angeles County Library, and City Hall.

 

2013 SGV Litfest Map (courtesy of sgvlitfest.com)

The inaugural literary arts event was organized by local published authors, poets, small press publishers, and literary arts collegiate educators. Nuvein was well represented at the event by its board members and community partners. During the course of the weekend, board members Petra Nieto and Estella Neyer vended their one of a kind artisan crafts, board member Kimberly Cobian and fellow ZZyZx WriterZ offered their Anthology “A Three Hour Tour”, board member Javier Hernandez, artist and comic book creator,  offered the vast catalogue of his Los Comex created works, while board member, Chris Trevilla, offered up his chapbook preview of his upcoming Chicano poetry collection to be entitled “Cantos a la Luna Burlona de sus Lobos Bohemios”. Also invited to participate at the Nuvein Booth was Sal Gomez, online radio host and programming coordinator of the Soul Pilot Radio Experience show on Mid Valley Radio as well as to represent Mid Valley News, a longtime Nuvein partner and sponsor.

Left to Right – Kimberly Cobian, Christopher Trevilla, and Sal Gomez at SGV Litfest. (photo courtesy of Nuvein)

Additionally, Nuvein President, Chris Trevilla, was among a group of Los Angeles writers/poets/organizers invited to showcase the vitality of LA Letters that included Don Kingfisher Campbell poet/educator/organizer of the SGV Poetry Festival and the Emerging Urban Poetry/Saturday Afternoon Poetry group from Pasadena, Mike the Poet Sonksen poet/organizer and contributor at KCET Departures – LA Letters, and Chiwan Choi poet/editor/author at Writ Large Press and organizing partner of the Grand Park Downtown Book Festival. Other literary luminaries featured were Suzanne Lummis, Tony Barnstone, Sunny Frazier, erald Locklin, Charles Harper Webb, Christopher Buckley, Laurel Ann Bogen, LA’s newly named poet laureate Eloise Klein Healy, and many others.

Cornucopia of Poetry/Prose at the SGV LitFest (photo courtesy of Washing Machine Press)

The event garnered high praise for uniting several prominent literary figures at a family friendly event that tallied over a thousand guests from beginning to end.  The event featured literary artists, small press and independent publishers, artisan vendors, food trucks, and musical performances.

Two months In, Nuvein already found itself full steam ahead for the next few hectic and rewarding months.

 

MARCH

LP Artwalk logo (designed by Heyzen Contreras)

March 2013 kept Nuvein busy with the return of the successful quarterly arts and culture showcase known as the Un Poquito Mas Arte: Old Town La Puente Artwalk.  This marked the second year of this event in the City of La Puente‘s historic Old Town district. The artwalk began in February of 2012 as a coalition formed by Nuvein of local artists, educators, business owners, civic leadership, partner non-profit organizations, and community members created a space for arts and culture to be showcased and offered up to the La Puente Community.

Photograph of Star Theatre iconic “Star Light Tower”, taken by Sal Gomez.

The March 2013  edition of the La Puente Artwalk featured 10 artistic and creative spaces including an artisan vendors bazaar, scrapbook workshops, poetry and live performance open mic, and 7 galleries featuring the arts in all its forms. Curators and producers of this even included Chris Penalber of Cakeshop Oddities, Heyzen Contreras, Sal Gomez, Kimberly Cobian, Ricardo Ocampo, Lauren Carboney, and others.

Inside the Blood Lust art show at the RiT Gallery (photo courtesy of La Puente Artwalk)

Nuvein maintained a physical presence at the La Puente artwalk by organizing the vendor’s bazaar at the La Puente Arcade lot, and facilitating communication between civic leadership, business, artists, and the local community.

Poet’s Corner with Curator Kimberly Cobian (photo courtesy of Heyzen Contreras)

Overall, the event was a great success, as over 500 guests participated in the initial 2013 edition of the artwalk series from across Southern California and the local comnunity. The La Puente Artwalk, now officially over a year old, had firmly taken root and established itself as a community driven, artist built, and city supported arts showcase.

El Monte-Rosemead Adult School ESL students create family tree project displays. (photo courtesy of Mary Torregrossa)

El Monte-Rosemead Adult School ESL students create family tree project displays. (photo courtesy of Mary Torregrossa)

March also presented Nuvein with the opportunity to showcase local artistry and encourage cultural identification through supporting a small grant proposal towards the purchasing of arts supplies. The proposal was to support a family tree project proposed by El Monte/Rosemead Adult School educator and activist, Mary Torregrossa of Baldwin Park. The small grant was approved. The project moved forward, led by educator Torregrossa, which helped each student create a visual statement of their identity, heritage, and history.  Ultimately, the Adult ESL students of El Monte/Rosemead Adult School were able and successful participants at the District Open House at Wilkerson School that month.

March provided Nuvein the opportunities to educate, encourage, and showcase the arts and creativity in all its forms.

 

APRIL

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SGV Poetry in Motion (designed by Javier Hernandez)

April brought Nuvein into National Poetry Month 2013. Poetry has always occupied an important part in the history and development of Nuvein. The founder and president emeritus of Nuvein, the recently departed Enrique Diaz, was not only a published author and poet, but also helped incorporate the foundation following the success of Nuvein Magazine, a literary and media publication.  The current president of Nuvein, Chris Trevilla, himself a poet, met Enrique and the members of Nuvein at the Arts and Literature Festival at the Lakes in West Covina in 2009. Thus, rooted in mutual love for the written/spoken word and creative expression, Nuvein was more than capable of diving into National Poetry Month once again in 2013.

CLT spits Poetry at the Lakes (art by Raul Aguirre Jr.)

 

April 2013 brought about the 5th edition of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival, a month long celebration of poetry and spoken word through a series of special performance showcases, workshops, and public events that featured several of the region’s writing groups, as well bringing together many of the emerging and established poets of the area.  The festival’s events spanned all across the San Gabriel Valley and were all highly successful and a strong testament to the vitality of Poetry.

2013 SGV Poetry Festival logo (courtesy of 2013sgvpf.blogspot.com)

 

One of the SGV Poetry Festival’s events was the 4th Annual SGV Poetry in Motion, a teen and youth poetry competition and open mic showcase held at the Arcadia Public Library. A joint venture of the Library and Nuvein, the event hosted over 30 participants in the competition and open mic showcase portions.

From left to right: Apryl Skies, Xochitl Julissa-Bermejo, Don Campbell, Angela Moore, RIck Stepp-Bolling, and Gary Imperial (photo courtesy of Nuvein )

The event also served to connect the youth to the several poets and poetry group/small press organizers and publishers that served as judges for the event. Among the judges were poets Apryl Skies of Edgar & Lenore Publishing, Xochitl Julissa-Bermejo host of the HITCHED reading series at Beyond Baroque, Don Kingfisher Campbell of the SGV Poetry Festival, Angela Moore of Moms Write SGV, Rick Stepp-Bolling of the Coffee House Writers, and Gary Imperial of the Whittier Poetry Group.

Youth spectators and participants at SGV Poetry in Motion event. (photo courtesy of Nuvein)

All in all, a very successful event that celebrated the creative writing and spirit of middle school and high school aged youth in Arcadia and surrounding communities. The event enjoyed the attendance of over 50 youth and local community members.

DAC logo (courtesy of downeyarts.org)

As part of National Poetry Month, Nuvein was invited to participate in the inaugural edition of State of the Art. a public arts and arts resource fair, organized by the Downey Arts Coalition (DAC) and hosted by the Downey Moravian Church. The event hosted over 20 different artists and artist organizations from across the area and neighboring communities.

State of the Art event at the Downey Moravian Church (photo courtesy of the DAC)

Among the participants were the Last Minute Arts Collective, SGV Literature Festival, the Downey Museum of Art, Stay Gallery, and others.  Guests and participants were given a directory of arts groups and resources supplied by the DAC. The highly successful event brought to a close an artistically and culturally rich month full of celebrations and events that Nuvein was privileged to participate in. The event in fact, was the brain child of artist/poet/healer Roy Anthony Shabla of the Downey Arts Coalition and curator of the Green Salon, one of many arts programs offered by the DAC.

Nuvein at the State of the Art event organized by the Downey Arts Coalition (photo courtesy of Nuvein)

MAY

May 2013 brought greater participation and partnership for Nuvein with other San Gabriel Valley communities. This time with the community of South Pasadena, CA. The South Pasadena Arts Council or SPARC and the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce both invited Nuvein to coordinate a poetry and spoken word event as part of the Eclectic Music Festival and Art Walk. As a result, Nuvein coordinated an event titled Vision and Voices of the Valley II: The Cultural Landscape of LA Poetry. The event unfolded against the backdrop of the beautiful Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena.

Main entrance to Fremont Centre Theatre (photo courtesy of southpasadena.patch.com)

The event was hosted by the dynamic and talented Mike the Poet Sonksen and featured female  poets representative of the diverse poetic communities across Los Angeles County. Poets featured included Traci  Akemi Kato-Kiriyama, Blazhia Parker, Kimberly Cobian, and Jessica Wilson. Among poets participating in the open mic were Don Campbell, Chris Trevilla. Lee Boek, Karineh Mahdessian, Charles Davis, and others.

Mike the Poet Sonksen hosts the Vision & Voices of the Valley program at the SoPas Eclectic Music Festival & Artwalk SPARC stage (photo courtesy of Nuvein)

The successful showcasing of poetry and spoken word as part of the SPARC Stage lineup of performances at the Fremont Centre Theatre was a welcome addition to a day full of inspiring and memorable moments. The yearly event gathers crowds in the thousands who come to enjoy a one of a kind experience full of art in all its forms, a perfect environment for a dynamic partnership between Nuvein and SPARC to flourish and work together to showcase the literary world of art in a unique experience.

The band ‘Torches’ perform at the Emerging Artist Stage at the Eclectic Music Festival & Artwalk (photo courtesy of South Pasadena Chamber)

Not even halfway through the year, 2013 brought Nuvein from El Monte to West Covina, La Puente, Arcadia, Downey, and South Pasadena. If this part of the year was any indication of what lay ahead, Nuvein was in for an exhilarating remainder of 2013.

EDUCATE/ENCOURAGE/SHOWCASE

 

To be continued in 2013: A Nuvein Retrospective (Part II)