Lady of the Arts: A Profile of Tere Paniagua

by Maximilian Eyle

La Casita Cultural Center and Punto de Contacto (Point of Contact) are two of the foremost Latino cultural institutions in Syracuse. Point of Contact is celebrating its 42nd year of showcasing Latin American contemporary art and literature, while the newer La Casita has blossomed into an active community center that provides educational opportunities, historical awareness, and cultural exhibitions. A peek behind the curtain of each reveals the tireless work of Tere Paniagua, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community at Syracuse University – an educator of Puerto Rican descent who has been a driving force in Syracuse’s art and culture community for over 15 years.

Tere is a slender, energetic woman with long silver hair and an ever-present smile. Before coming to Syracuse, Tere spent over 20 years working as a journalist profiling artists and literary figures in Puerto Rico and Los Angeles. She earned her degree from Syracuse University, Class of ‘82 and developed a strong connection to the city where she has now raised three children. In 2002 she started work at SU’s Latino and Latin American Studies program (LLAS) and the Department of Languages, where she began teaching and designed her own course in Spanish titled Hispanic Journalistic Practices. One of her colleagues was Point of Contact founder, Pedro Cuperman. She began helping him out and working with him during her extra time and soon fell in love with the gallery’s projects.

Today she is Point of Contact’s Executive Director, working to further the gallery’s role as a platform for showcasing visual artists and literary figures from Latin America. “People often have a preconceived notion of what Latin American art is,” Tere explains, “Point of Contact allows us to break many of those stereotypes.” One of the most important things that the gallery does is shine light on new artists, drawing attention to emerging voices in the arts community. Currently, Point of Contact is working with Abisay Puentes to plan a show for next year. The Cuban-born painter is known for his dual approach of presenting his visual work with a corresponding orchestral soundtrack.

Tere’s second project, La Casita, opened in 2011 with a distinct mission: to focus on the local community, to work with Syracuse youth, and to provide educational programs that integrate with the life of the community. La Casita presents opportunities for students that have a special interest in Syracuse’s Latino community to work as volunteers, mentors, and instructors. They exhibit visual arts, music, and dance – including monthly Argentine tango events. Tere says the goal is to choose “exhibitions that document the traditions and the life of this community.” Exhibits often include historic photos, memorabilia, and other artifacts that tell family histories among Latinos in Syracuse.

There is also an archival element to the work of La Casita. In 2017, they featured a beautiful collection of traditional musical instruments from Caribbean cultures that examines the history of that musical heritage. Before that, there was an exhibition telling the stories of Latino veterans and documenting the experiences of local and campus Latino families who had members in the military, with interviews exploring their experiences. Two years ago, La Casita entered into a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution to engage in a project that would showcase community collections. The theme of the project is “Latinos in Baseball”, presenting a view of Latino baseball culture “from the barrios to the big leagues.” The Smithsonian project now includes nearly 2 dozen partner galleries and cultural centers across the nation and will culminate in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. in 2020 before becoming a traveling show.

“The scope of these projects would not be possible without the help and support of Syracuse University and the College of Arts & Sciences,” Tere explains. But the benefits are not one sided. While the community is nourished by the many cultural resources provided by La Casita and Point of Contact, the University is rewarded with a wealth of opportunities for student involvement, experiential learning and career advancement. Speaking to the future of Latinos in Syracuse, Tere reinforces the importance of these cultural institutions. “We ought to feel very proud of this community,” Tere says, “It is essential that we expose our youth, our students to our proud history, to our rich traditions, and to the art of our people.”

The Point of Contact Gallery is located at The Warehouse Building, 350 W Fayette St, Syracuse, NY 13202

La Casita Cultural Center is located at 109 Otisco St, Syracuse, NY 13204

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at


Sardines with Jamaican Callaloo and Green Bananas
by: Suellen Pineda, RDN, CDN

This is an inexpensive yet delicious, well-balanced, easy-to-make and nutritious meal. Sardines can be part of a healthy diet. They provide about 17 grams of protein, 23% of daily recommendation for calcium—mostly from the edible soft bones—and 10% of daily recommendation of iron. Their fat content may be slightly higher than other types of leaner fish, however, sardines are also a good source of omega 3s.

Callaloo also provides protein (about 6 grams in ½ cup), fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.

1 18.3oz can Callaloo, liquid drained (Look for low sodium 140mg/serving OR LESS)
1 15oz. can Sardines in tomato sauce
1 small onion, julienned
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
½ cup pitted black olives (green olives are ok)
1 8oz. Low sodium tomato sauce
1 cup vegetable broth or water
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. granulated sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 green bananas

Step 1 Prepare the bananas
• Peel each banana with the help of a sharp pairing knife. Cover with water and bring to a boil with a dash of salt.
• Cook until fork tender and reserve. (To avoid dryness, do not drain the water until just before serving).

Step 2
• While bananas are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and cook the onion for about 2 minutes.
• Add garlic, olives, callaloo, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
• Add sardines, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, granulated sugar, cumin, salt and pepper.
• Continue to cook until all ingredients are fully incorporated. (About 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

Step 3
• Drain the bananas and serve sardines mixture over. Enjoy!

Suellen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in the Rochester, NY area. Connect with her at or follow her on Instagram at @Suellen_Pineda.

Tangoing Across Central New York

Every Wednesday night, a group gathers at the Skybarn on Syracuse University campus. It is a mixture of students, community members, men, women, old people, young people, Americans, Europeans, Middle Easterners, Latinos, and more. What brings them together is Argentine tango, a dance that has enjoyed a strong following across Upstate New York for decades. In addition to Syracuse – Ithaca, Buffalo, Utica, and Geneva all boast their own tango communities and many dancers travel from city to city to take classes and dance with new people. These tango events include “practicas” where dancers gather informally to practice and learn from one another, and “milongas” – more formal social dances with lots of wine and food.

As I learned more about tango, I began to wonder how an Argentinean dance spread so far and attracted such a diverse array of devotees. The story begins in Buenos Aires during the late 1800s and early 1900s. As a powerful seaport, the city had lots of traffic coming in and out from Europe and other parts of the world. Tango had developed locally but carried strong influences from abroad. Many of its most influential composers have Italian names and the instrument most associated with tango – the bandoneon, is of German extraction. Buenos Aires was plagued by a lack of women compared to the number of men, and tango grew in popularity as a way of allowing men some contact with the opposite sex. Though it started in the brothels, bars, and rougher areas of Buenos Aires, the dance was spread across the world by sailors. It would catch on in Europe and eventually across the world.

At its basic level, Argentine tango is based on walking in unison with your partner in connection to the rhythm of tango music. I call it “walking while hugging”. However, as it develops for the individual dancer, it becomes an incredibly creative dance. Individual movements are strung together in an infinite number of ways in an improvised manner, so that each tango danced is a unique experience. Additionally, you can dance to the melody of the song instead of just the rhythm. Rather than memorizing figures, dancers develop the connection to their partner so that each step is communicated individually. When the connection is strong, the result is magical.

If you are interested in visiting a tango community near you, the local schedules are summarized below:

Syracuse: Wednesdays at the Skybarn on SU Campus (7:30 pm – 10:30 pm)
Ithaca: Thursdays at the Baker Portico on Cornell Campus (7:00 pm – 10:00 pm)
Utica: Sundays 6:15 to 9:15 pm at the Function Better Studio, 5094 Commercial Drive, Yorkville NY Buffalo: Every Wednesday except the last Wednesday of the month. Movement 716 at 3111 Delaware Ave, Buffalo NY (7:00 pm – 10:00 pm)

About the author – Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He has experience working in the drug policy field and writes about it every month for CNY Latino. Maximilian learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at

A Unique Way to Discover Cuba

Cuba Welcomes U.S. Participants to the 2016 Titan Tropic Cuba by GAES

The second edition of the Titan Tropic Cuba by Gaes will take place in Cuba from the 3rd to the 8th of December 2016. Registration is available to U.S. participantsat until October 31st, 2016.

With the recent change in U.S.-Cuba relationships, it’s now easier than ever for American Mountain Bike enthusiasts to participate in the Titan Tropic Cuba by GAES ( second edition of the MTB marathon kicks off through the most prominent streets of exotic Havana on December 3rd, ending at a stunning finish line in the paradisiacal beach ofCayoJutías on December 8th, 2016.

The Titan Tropic Cuba by GAES is a race of self-improvement and individual challenge. This unique adventure continues to grow in popularity, with a high percentage of cyclists from all over the world competing this year for the second time including Diego Tamayo, from Colombia, who won first place last year. Other countries such as Spain, Canada, México and Italia, will also be represented.

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Quinoa with Calamari Salad

Quinoa is one of my favorite “grains” to eat! You can make savory and sweet dishes using quinoa. This seed is less starchy
than rice or wheat, which makes it a great choice for people watching the quality/quantity of carbs they eat. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein as well as gut-friendly dietary fiber.

One of the most important steps when cooking quinoa is to rinse it under cold water. This step is essential to get rid of the compound ‘saponins’ which actually protects the seeds from natural predators but has an unpleasant bitter flavor.

There are various types of quinoa such as red, black, white or golden. They all have similar nutritional profiles, however, the black and red variety seem to have higher levels of flavonoids or antioxidants than their white or golden counterparts.

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Time to… live with pride…

Time to celebrate their lives…

                                 Time to live with pride…

Dear World,

On Sunday, June 12, a massacre occurred in Orlando, Florida. At Pulse, a night club. It was a massacre against our community. Forty nine people were killed, fifty three others were wounded. It was the worst single person mass shooting in modern American history.

Omar Mateen was an American citizen, born in New York, of Afghan descent. He was twenty nine years old, and worked as a security guard. He was a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a friend, and apparently, a very angry, hate-filled man. Though he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during a 911 call he made at one point in the shooting, he had no official ties to them. The motives remain mysterious.

Was it hatred in the name of Islam? Many seem to think so, and have called it a terrorist attack. Although even his father said this was not done in the name of religion. Was it terrorism? Personally, I don’t like that label. Perhaps you do. I just find that term detracts from the fact that it was an attack specifically against our community. It wasn’t against Americans in general, it was against gays because of who we love and how we identify. It was hatred and prejudice that was focused solely on LGBTs. It was terrorism or sorts, but to me, it was much more of a hate crime against the gay community.

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Bringing the Latino Family in America

La Familia Villarreal, a Latino family dedicated to promoting culture and values

Alicia has 5 children and 17 grandchildren. 30 years ago she decided to come and live in Syracuse, after her daughter took the first step to emigrate from their country, Peru, in the 70s. The Villarreal are a large, united family and fervent to keep their Latino traditions day by day, and to pass them to the younger members of the household. Mrs. Alicia and her daughters believe that communication is the key for the little ones not to lose respect and affection for the family, one of the core values of the Latino family. The South Americans are characterized by putting family as the center, and this has been a duty to them to keep their roots and values while away from their home country.

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