"Remember El Alma" First On-site Performance Challenging the Alamo, March 2010

"Remember El Alma," First on-site performance
challenging the Alamo
original poem written by Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

Adapted by Virginia Grise; Produced by Bihl Haus Arts, Kellen McIntyre, Ph.D; Performed at Luminaria!
San Antonio, Hemisfair Plaza, San Antonio, Texas, March 13, 2010; 5 Actresses, 1 Musician
A cast of beautiful women, all ages and colors, from
all over San Antonio
; Foto Credit: Joan Frederick @2010

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Media Watchate! The San Antonio Current Mocks Me instead of investigating the Guadalupe Center

En vez de focusing on what I've uncovered about R. Bret Ruiz (see blog
archives/"What I've discovered about R. Bret Ruiz"), the alternative newspaper in this town, the San Antonio Current, spends valuable ink targeting me and this blog.

You call this journalism? Sad to say, it isn't. Tan jealous, porque my research is solid. Why don't they publish it? Because they work for corporate-owned media, bursting with sex ads, that doesn't want to deal with a character defamation suit. Because they know I'm right when I say all the media in this town is managed by whites. And they want to be in control of everything, even if they know it's wrong.

At the Guadalupe Board Meeting I attended on March 23rd, I spoke before the board, and listed my years of concrete board experience in Dallas - to substantiate why I thought the Board should resign. I reeled off my past board credentials, not my resume: I've been a boardmember of the Girl's Club; Women's Forum; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; ACLU (officer); Teatro Dallas (Chair); and a member of the Dallas Commission for Cultural Affairs (a political appointment, I served three long years). From this base, yes, I told the Board they should resign.

And I meant it.

As I've said many times, I was censured at the San Antonio
Express-News in 2000 for my stand against the war. I guess it's
too much for one brown woman to have a blog as a way to speak
out. Men like Michael Cary deeply resent a latina asserting her
equality to them.

You see, I don't act like the sexy, sencilla, servile latina that
the Michael Carys out there would like me to be. How dare I? I threaten
them. Ridiculous. So they make yellow journalism.

They write just like the conservative media they profess to hate.

Because they are afraid of me. Why? I'm poor, I just bought a little car this year, I certainly don't want to be on a board ever again or want a job at the Guadalupe or anyplace else. I just want to write. The Michael Carys are the ones writing in the mainstream media, because they make sure I can't. But I'm not afraid of what they think of me. I'm only afraid of not telling the truth.

Here are three stories I've broken:
1. the firing of Kristina Ruiz-Healy at the SAEN
2. the revelations about R. Bret Ruiz, President of the Guadalupe Cultural Center, and possibly the beginning of the end of the nation's premier cultural center
by and for Chicana/o culture
3. the violation of students' civil rights in San Antonio by the imposition of
"lockdowns," which prevent the students from protesting and exercising their freedom of speech

But according to Michael Cary, my desire to tell the truth is my "show."
Here's the link to his latest below, when he should've been writing about
what the national impact of the Guadalupe Cultural Center is. When he had the chance to write about how the premier cultural center for brown gente known as La Lupe is on her knees, begging for us to help her.


Party lines
By Michael Cary

The Barbara Renaud Gonzalez show

Two new members of the board of directors of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Cynthia Segovia and Javier Guevara, sat for their first time last week with four veteran members. Chairman Juan Aguilera called the meeting to order.

GCAC President R. Bret Ruiz and board members Patricia Celis and Laura Hernandez sat with their backs to the audience at a portable table in the Guadalupe’s theater.

A Spanish-language TV cameraman jostled for the perfect angle as the meeting, declared open to the public thanks to a new policy of the Guadalupe directors, got under way.

One of the first items on the agenda was “citizens to be heard,” and self-promoting freelance writer Barbara Renaud Gonzalez stepped into the breach to speak her mind. But first, she asked someone to focus her video camera on her, ostensibly so the footage could be published on her eponymous vlog. “You operate in a very unconscionable way,” she told the board after she recited her curriculum vitae.

Aguilera interrupted her when she criticized Ruiz’s tenure at the center. “No personal attacks. We’ll be happy to speak to you afterwards.”

Aguilera avoided discussion of the topic on everyone’s mind: Ruiz recently has come under fire for alleged ill treatment of the center’s employees. He fired Mary Jessie Garza, the former education director, and Public Relations Marketing Manager Dolores Zapata Murff is on leave from the Center after she reportedly filed a sexual harassment and racial discrimination complaint against the Center with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The chairman said the complaints were aired “all over the media. This is a personnel matter. We have to respect the privacy of those individuals. Our silence doesn’t mean that we don’t care. We’re working on this matter and we’re trying to resolve things.”

Gonzalez, who blogs regularly and copiously about her mission to oust Ruiz and the current board of directors, told the board to “move on and let us rebuild the Guadalupe.”

More people filed more complaints during their allotted three minutes.

Santiago García, aide to District 5 City Councilwoman Patti Radle, delivered a letter from her to the board.

“I’m sorry that I can’t be with you this evening,” read Radle’s letter, dated the same day. “The reason I wish I were with you tonight is because I understand that the strain of controversy surrounding the Guadalupe Cultural Arts organization has gotten to a very volatile level.”

Radle urged the board to “take immediate action in responding to the concerns of the community and accusations as we have seen appear in the media [see “Culture War,” February 8-14]. Not addressing the issues immediately has allowed the issues to fester and has been a discredit to the reputation of the organization. To wait so long is an injustice to the complainant, to the accused, and to the community.”

“There has been a lot of turmoil,” said Mara Posada when she took the podium to address the board. “We are here in support of the ogranization and the artists who built it. Support the barrio, however rasquache it may be.”

For a definition of “rasquache,” see the above-referenced article in the Current. However, any given conversation with Gonzalez reveals that a pinche gringo who attempts to define the word is, well, rasquache.

(there's more...)

Media Watchate! The San Antonio Current, the "alternative newspaper," attacks me when I challenged their dictionary understanding of "rasquache"

On March 30, 2006, The San Antonio Current, the city's "alternative" newspaper, published a cover story about the Guadalupe's new President, R. Bret Ruiz.

Alot of my friends took issue with the friendly tone of the story toward the Guadalupe Cultural Center. Isn't an alternative newspaper supposed to ask hard questions, they asked? Apart from the journalistic problems with the story, i.e. quoting from Ruiz's former employee instead of the Anita Martinez Board which hired him, as I did - or checking his resume, as I did).

Most of all, I was dismayed by the writers' texbook understanding of the word rasquache.

I wrote both of the writers and told them the story was a good beginning, but that Ruiz's use of rasquache - in the context that he made it in the story, referring to the Guadalupe community, was derogatory - one word that says everything about his qualifications for leading the Guadalupe Center. (And that's why I began to scrutinize him and the Guadalupe Cultural Center Board who hired him).

I also told him that this detalle was the reason that the San Antonio Current needed bilingual/bicultural journalists in a city like San Antonio.


Below is San Antonio Current writer Michael Cary's email answer to me about the word "rasquache":

Why don't you think up some more ignorant remarks and email them

to me?

I need column fodder for next week, and would be happy to analyze
your racist attitude toward San Antonio Current writers, and toward
people who are not like you.
I grew up on the South Side of San Antonio.
No amount of classes can teach YOU what it is to be from that side
of town.
And I bet you don't go over THERE anymore.
I take exception to your bigotry - as you know absolutely nothing
about me.
Bring it on!!!

(email above from Michael Cary of the San Antonio

Below is the link to the San Antonio Current story that he and Catherine Walworth, wrote, misunderstanding the word "rasquache."


Culture war


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Guadalupe Center in Crisis: The San Antonio Express-News finally publishes a story/What took them so long?

The SAEN has suggested they will be doing a substantial

story on the Guadalupe Cultural Center. This is what happens when
a corporation owns a newspaper - you publish stories about
"good" latinos for the brown people to read your paper and read the ads. And blast/stereotype or don't write about the "bad"/rebellious/controversial/passionate brown ones because
they might upset the conservative advertisers and publisher.

Unfortunately, all the media in town is corporate-owned -
except for KEDA, the only independent radio station in
town - the conjunto station.

Dave Davies, the new executive at Texas Public Radio pretty much stated that the public radio affiliate could only react - to the Guadalupe Center story. In other words, no story.
He's called me before to complain about how not one Latina gets to have a real voice in San Antonio. A city where brown women are in the majority.

This is the San Antonio Express-News story below that ran last Friday, March 23, 2006


Arts | Entertainment


Guadalupe center gets called out

Web Posted: 03/24/2006 12:00 AM CST

Elda Silva
Express-News Staff Writer

Councilwoman Patti Radle is urging the board of directors of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center to "take immediate action" in responding to community concerns about the organization and staff complaints.

The statement was made in a letter presented, but not read, to the board on Radle's behalf by assistant Santiago Garcia at a board meeting at the Guadalupe Theater on Thursday night.

"Not addressing the issues immediately has allowed the issues to fester and has been a discredit to the reputation of the organization," Radle writes.

In December, the Guadalupe's public relations marketing manager Dolores Zapata Murff filed a formal complaint with the board alleging racial discrimination and sexual harassment by President R. Bret Ruiz. In addition, former education director Mary Jessie Garza has filed a complaint with the board regarding her termination in January and is seeking reinstatement.

Community members have expressed concern about the center's education program, citing a drop in the number of courses offered under the Juntos en Arte program and tuition costs they allege have cut community participation.

Several members of the community spoke at the meeting, including freelance writer Barbara Renaud Gonzalez who called for the resignation of the board to a smattering of applause.

"I think that the board, frankly, needs to resign and needs to move on and let us rebuild the Guadalupe," she said.

Maria Ibarra, who has taught theater at the center, began by asking three board members seated at a long table so they faced away from the crowd of about 30 to "take a moment and look at all the faces that are here out of courtesy, out of respect, so you know your community."

"It's a community arts center," Ibarra said. "Where are the arts? Why is this theater empty? Why isn't anything happening? Why doesn't the community just walk in like they once used to? Why do I have parents who can't afford to bring their children to the classes any longer? What can we do?

"I know arts funding is getting cut. We all know that. But if we don't know where you're headed, if we don't get any answers from you, the only thing we can do is assume you don't care," she said.

Board chairman Juan Aguilera directly addressed community members.

"This board does not have anything against anybody out there," he said. "There are two complaints that have been raised, and they're all over the media so it's not anything that's private. I've instructed every one of these board members and I've told staff this is a personnel matter. You cannot speak about those things because we have to honor and respect the privacy of those individuals. And we will do that.

"So our silence does not mean we do not care. Our silence means we respect our employees."


San Antonio Walkout: Judson High School graduate says that Fox Tech first amendment rights are disrespected!

Its a rather poor and unappreciated fact
that in Texas, independent minds and
bodies are the most trifled of people.
Sad thing too,seeing how a bunch of independent
minds and bodies won our freedom
from Mexico.

The walkouts, from what I heard, were largely
ineffective. And they will always be.

For example. I am a 23 year old man. In my
freshman year of high school
at Judson,we had a walkout to
the firing of the principal
of the 9th and 10th grade campus.
somewhere near 1000 students simply got
up out of their chairs and walked out of class.

We gathered in the courtyard. Campus police (read:
Schutzstaffel) were called in and caused problems
which ultimately made this peaceful walkout turn
into a full-on riot. Utter chaos ensued, and to make
a long story short(haha) because of irrational fear,
this peaceful protest got ugly,students got arrested
and there were battered minds, bodies
and spirits.

Fox Tech High School's "lock
down" in response to a supposed
walkout is utterly and completely
tyrannical. Totalitarian, if you

I sure as hell hope ACLU and a bunch of
lawyers get together to discuss this outright
abolition of first-amendment

Maybe the fears of all those hippie parents from
the 60s and 70s is true.
Our school are no longer
education and freeing minds...
they are conforming and
stifling minds,

a la PinkFloyd's The Wall.

With a fist raised in the air in utter solidarity,
I will proudly and loudly say:

Hey, Teacher... Leave them kids alone!

Joel Baumgartner

Guadalupe Center in Crisis: Board Chairman Aguilera Blames the Community

Guadalupe's Board Chairman makes a Speech

Watch the Video

Juan Aguilera, the Guadalupe Cultural Center's Board Chairman, defended the Board, and accused the community of destroying the Guadalupe Center.

by: barbararenaud.blogspot.com

San Antonio Walkout: A college professor and veteran says "Lockdown" is savage

By the way...see why i don't want my kids being
educated in San Antonio schools? That savage,
militaristic, anti-intellectual way of existence has
no appeal to me. NOW you understand.

The phrase "lockdown" came from the military which
drifted in to the prison system and then in to our

a professor at St. Edward's University
in Austin
and military veteran

San Antonio Walkouts: Trinity Professor says the Media isn't reporting

I did an interview with Hernan Rosenberg this morning regarding the small walkouts in SA. One of my thoughts was because of the poor media coverage. A ver si aparece manyana.
Thanks for this news.

-from Robert Huesca, communications professor
Trinity University

San Antonio Walkouts: A teacher writes from "Lockdown" at Fox Tech High School

they tried the walk out here.  i heard the kids rumbling. there was
screaming and it was diffused by administrators. i am not sure if
there was press downstairs. i am not sure because i am practically
locked down-upstairs. i love the students. mine stayed in the room
with their little strong faces. they know that it needs to be
organized. they know that the reality of making a difference is
much larger.

Walkouts in San Antonio: Schools go into Lockdown as Students try to protest Immigration Bill

Yesterday, Brackenridge High School, an inner-city school in this latino-majority city, went into "lockdown," responding to student plans to walkout along with their peers in Los Angeles, California, as the U.S. Senate debates a controversial immigration bill.

"Lockdown," a term more commonly used in the Texas prisons, is a policy that local teachers explain as a shutting down of blinds, doors, and all exits in response to student shootings or an unlikely terrorist threat.

Community leaders here in San Antonio are concerned that students' civil rights are being violated - by treating the students' desire to speak out - as a terrorist threat.

Yesterday, students at Lee High School, it is rumored, walked out. Or attempted to. Teachers and students alike are cautious in talking to community leaders, fearing repercussions to their jobs or punishment of some kind.

But Fox Tech High School, in downtown San Antonio, a short distance from the San Antonio Express-News, the only English-language newspaper in the city, and also nearby La Prensa and Rumbo, the Spanish-language papers, is rumored to be expecting a "walkout" at noon today, Wednesday. And community leaders say they will be watching how the historic school treats its students' civil rights.

The students, many of them children of immigrant parents, are apparently in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of students around the country who are protesting immigration bills before Congress, scheduled for an April 7 vote in the Senate.

The U.S. Senate is considering whether millions of immigrant parents - and their children in these inner-city schools deserve a journey toward citizenship while other hard-line conservatives would make it a felony to cross the border.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Guadalupe Center in Crisis: Why we are fighting to save it

Why we are fighting for the Guadalupe

Watch the video

The Guadalupe Cultural Center was organized 27 years ago by Chicana/o artists in San Antonio, Texas who wanted a place to exhibit their work. Now the Guadalupe is in crisis. The Board of Directors has failed in their responsibility to take care of Lady Lupe. But the Guadalupe belongs to us, and it is time that we defend her.

by barbararenaud.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Two police on duty, media, and the BoardChair makes a speech at the Guadalupe's March Boardmeeting

From the Guadalupe Cultural Art Center's March 23 Boardmeeting at the Guadalupe Theatre, in San Antonio, Texas.

The Guadalupe Board doesn't distribute board agendas or reports to the public, so there's no way for me to give you details, but I will uplink the video from the meeting this weekend on the vlog.

About fifty people in the audience, very orderly. In other words, nobody threw chingazos. Two policemen watching us.

There were seven boardmembers, two new ones - both business types. No artists. As usual, they sat around a table facing each other - not the audience. Falta de respeto, and it was pointed out at the meeting.

From Juan F. Aguilera, the Board Chairman, who actually turned to the audience halfway through the boardmeeting and made a short speech. Here are some excerpts:

"If you hear things out there that the board doesn’t care, wants to destroy, I’ve instructed them [not to talk to the public] and they’re honoring the request... I’ve been concerned that our funders are being notified.

I had a meeting with Councilwoman Patti Radle, very important, nice [meeting].

At the end of the day the people that are gonna be hurt are our employees and our community.

I’m very concerned with our employees...there’s not a conspiracy there’s a lot of information but the information is not supposed to be coming from this board, this group.

[These are]privacy matters and you would not want anyone to be talking. [I assume Aguilera was addressing the discrimination suit that's been brought against the Guadalupe by Dolores "Dee" Zapata Murff, and the firing of former Interim Executive Director, Mary Jessie Garza].

We’re hurting the Guadalupe ladies and gentlemen, this is what's gonna happen we’re just burning and slashing everything around us and we’re not gonna have anything left over.

And the Conjunto Festival is one of the best we’ve ever had we’re telling them [the employees] where are the sponsors we’re jumping on the staff to make sure we get that money.

We need you to help us out.

Mr. Ruiz next meeting we’re all gonna be facing the audience. I don’t know the history I think the meetings of the Guadalupe has always been like this...but not intentionally."

After this, people started to leave. But the Financial Report was just beginning. Again, I could barely hear Loretta Zevallos, the new Comptroller hired by R. Bret Ruiz. She seemed nervous, turning into herself as she spoke. I had to strain to hear her.

"Item no 2 is the cashflow. March 1.

Starting with $2,000 only. Waiting on the cashflow from the city. That’s the position. I expect to receive it next week." She asked for questions from the Board. None came.


I have lots of questions about this, and so should you. The Guadalupe receives city dollars, lots of them, and there's nothing "private" about their financial affairs, they should be an open book. The Guadalupe should have nothing to hide from the public. If the Guadalupe is near financial collapse - it is not our fault. It is the Board's responsibility to always ask hard questions about cash flow, financial projections, profit/loss, etc. etc. etc..

If the Guadalupe is in worse financial shape now than five years ago when Maria Elena Torralva-Alonso became Executive Director - then it is the Board's fault. It is the Guadalupe's Board of Directors who is responsible for the Guadalupe's extreme expenditures regarding the Veladora and the empty Visual Arts Building; it is the Guadalupe Board' who approved the hiring of R. Bret Ruiz, and didn't check his credentials - and who have allowed him to fire, terminate, or lose seven employees.

The Boardmeeting ended soon after. As they went into Executive Session - boardmember Gwendolyn Diaz called for a meeting - the boardmembers didn't look at me or respond to my request to be interviewed. Except for Gwendolyn Diaz, whose interview I will uplink.

To steal Aguilera's quote, let me conclude with this:
It is the Guadalupe Board who has almost destroyed the Guadalupe, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Guadalupe in Crisis: Conjunto Festival "on track" says Mae Escobar

Mae Escobar, contracted to hire logistics for the Guadalupe Conjunto Festival, told me today that she's got 19 bands lined up. There will be 20 bands in all, she said. Ken Slavin is handling the Public Relations and Marketing, and information on the Festival should be available on the Guadalupe's webpage, www.guadalupeculturalarts.org

The Conjunto Festival is scheduled for May 10-13, 2006.

Escobar told me that she's been fielding calls from "all over," and that the Conjunto Festival had made the Hollywood Reporter.

She was unaware of the Guadalupe's problems, as I related them to her.

Photo Credit: "Leroy at Salute," by http://www.joanfrederick.net/

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Lady Lupe,
Why Have You Abandoned Me?

Come speak out and support la cultura as we confront the
Guadalupe Board of Directors at the March Board Meeting,
this Thursday, March 23rd, 5:30 pm. At the Guadalupe Theatre.

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center is in crisis.

The Guadalupe Board of Directors has betrayed us by hiring R. Bret Ruiz, the current President.

We have learned that R. Bret Ruiz lied about his resume.

As president of the Guadalupe, his finances were so bad that he couldn’t even get a corporate American Express card under his own name.

Juan Aguilera, the Guadalupe Board Chairman, was warned about R. Bret Ruiz. Mauricio Navarro, Board Chairman of the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico in Dallas, where R. Bret Ruiz last worked, called Aguilera last summer, and told him that Ruiz “was the worst executive director we ever had.”

The Guadalupe belongs to us, not to the Board of Directors who aren’t listening to the community they are supposed to serve.

We will not wait until the Board of Directors along with R. Bret Ruiz, destroys the Guadalupe Cultural Center.

We will not wait stand by and see our beloved Lupe and all that we have worked for in our golden twenty-fifth anniversary crumble.

Please come to the Boardmeeting this Thursday and speak out! Sign the petition!

Email us at lastruestories@yahoo.com

Monday, March 20, 2006

How the Guadalupe Board Betrayed the Community: A Three Part Investigative Report

Part 3: No 25th Conjunto Festival Director, No Money, and the Artistas Speak Out

No director has yet been hired to organize the golden anniversary of the Tejano/Conjunto Festival, scheduled barely two months away, May 10-13, 2006.

In addition, the wholesale exit of the Arts Education team has left the Guadalupe Center with a devastated picture of student enrollment, with artists scrambling for their paychecks. Typically, says Mary Jessie Garza, the Guadalupe records up to 350 cabezitas per month in their in-house programs that see students. This number was confirmed by the Guadalupe’s past Board Reports that I secured via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the City of San Antonio’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Because the Guadalupe Center will submit their student enrollment report to the City in mid-April, it was impossible to verify the actual number of credible enrollments. The Guadalupe’s January Monthly Operating Report lists 67 students in art classes at the Guadalupe – one-fifth the usual number, says Garza. The mobile program that normally serves 90 students in the Westside community no longer exists.

“It’s a disaster.”

“I don’t know what happened…a few times I got paid a week later, “ stated master guitarist and music teacher David Gonzalez, who has seen his student size diminished by students who can’t afford the tuition spike to as much as $180.00 per student. A ten-year veteran teacher at the Guadalupe, he added that he’d heard a lot of artists were getting paid late. His session started six weeks late, he normally teaches 35-50 students, but now it’s half of that.

Adán Hernández, another master visual artist and teacher, whose paintings have been exhibited around the country, echoed the same problems – and more. “I don’t think much of this academic idiot, Bret Ruiz,” he said, citing problems with getting paid on time and Ruiz’s lack of attention to students and parents. “In January… when the classes were to resume, I was again struck to find that the tuition had been raised from $20 to $40 dollars a month, to $80! This forced the majority of the students to quit their beloved classes. I was enraged…I quit.”

Joel Guzmán, a master accordionist who won a Grammy in 2005, isn’t teaching this year, either,explained Garza, because of the cutbacks. “And he’s a great teacher,” she says, describing the extensive preparation and classical methods that he uses. Guzman and students from his class performed at last year’s Conjunto Festival.During Garza’s tenure, she and her education staff raised over a million dollars from foundations and corporations eager to support art programs for inner-city children. And now she worries that the whole funding cycle may be at risk.

When R. Bret Ruiz arrived in July, Garza explains, she allowed him to use her Guadalupe Center Gold American Express credit card out of professional courtesy. He had told the staff that he “had a lot of debt,” and Garza wanted to help the new president. Nonprofits typically use these credit cards for easier and more accountable purchasing. In retrospect, Garza says that it’s odd that an MBA would have trouble with his finances. On January 11th of this year, Garza, who has cancer, was fired. But her credit card wasn’t. When she was asked to turn in her card last November, Garza complied. She cut the card herself in front of an agitated Loretta Zevallos, Ruiz’s new comptroller. But her American Express bill, totaling $2744.43 to date, charges that she made for mostly art supplies – and that Ruiz used for meals – has not been paid. She has been told by American Express that her account is four months overdue, and is now in collections, seriously risking her credit.

Ruiz’s finances were also worrisome for Navarro during his term as Board President for Anita Martinez. He stated that he twice ran into Ruiz working evenings at the Iron Cactus – an upscale Mexican restaurant in downtown Dallas. I confirmed that Ruiz worked at the Iron Cactus from April 04 – August 04, during the time he was still leading the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico.

Ruiz, according to Navarro, “has no motivation, no drive…the [Anita Martinez] board was…blinded” because of his credentials.

“I want you to know I’m not a whistleblower,” Navarro says he told Aguilera. “But he [Ruiz] was the worst executive director we ever had.”You can take my word, he explained to Aguilera, that he didn’t have a personal vendetta against Ruiz. “I dedicate a lot of my time…to the community. You as Board President are responsible for the downfall of the organization…be careful.”

He was told by Aguilera that Ruiz was in a probationary period. Navarro says that he was very explicit with Aguilera.

What did Bret Ruiz do in the years that he was with Anita Martinez?, I asked him. "Nothing.”

I tried repeatedly to meet with R. Bret Ruiz and Juan Aguilera this week to get their response to what I’ve learned. Neither answered my phone calls.

So who’s to blame? According to Angel Rodriguez Díaz, an MFA Puertoriqueño, whose paintings have been exhibited nationally, whose work is in the collection of the Smithsonian, and who currently has a painting at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA), in the Retratos exhibit - the organization has betrayed the artists who founded it.

Diaz attended the January boardmeeting to show his support for Mary Jessie Garza.He was dismayed by what he saw. “The institution is on the verge of collapsing,” he lamented, explaining that the Board was passive and had no “spark.”

The Guadalupe, he said, is “verging on extinction if nothing is done in a timely manner.”

But the Guadalupe is more than the Board of Directors and the President, R. Bret Ruiz. The Guadalupe is us, nosotros. And I know it’s tiempofor nosotros to save what we have built. And that means that the Board of Directors and the President, R. Bret Ruiz, must be thrown out of the house for their lies, machismo, arrogance, and most of all, for their falta de respeto to the community fromwhere they came. We call this sinverguenza.

And don’t let the door hit you on the way out.


How the Guadalupe Board Betrayed the Community: Part 2 of an Investigative Report

Part 2: The Deception of R. Bret Ruiz, President of the Guadalupe Center

I’ve been scrutinizing R. Bret Ruiz for the last three weeks. In that time, I’ve discovered that he inflated his resume, lying about the date of graduation to presume curatorial experience he doesn’t have.

I’ve also learned that he couldn’t get his own American Express card for Guadalupe Center business because of his bad credit.

And a former Board President of the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico in Dallas, his former boss - warned the Guadalupe Board Chairman, Juan Aguilera, that R. Bret Ruiz was the “worst executive director we’ve ever had.”

Wait. While Ruiz was Executive Director of the Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico, he worked evenings at a Mexican restaurant.

And yes, I have the papers and sources to prove all this.

Mauricio Navarro, former Board President of the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico in Dallas, picked up the phone last summer as soon as he heard that R. Bret Ruiz was running the Guadalupe Cultural Center.

I found Navarro from confidential sources I tracked down in Dallas – I used to live there and served on the Commission for Cultural Affairs in the mid-nineties.

Navarro called the Guadalupe Center last summer, he says, and asked to speak to the Chairman of the Board. After some days went by, he finally reached Juan Aguilera, the Guadalupe Center’s Board Chairman.

Navarro is the president of his own public relations firm, RAIZ PR, and he sits on many community boards throughout DFW. He became Board President of the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Inc. (Anita Martinez for short) in 2001, when R. Bret Ruiz was being considered for the Executive Director position.

And he resigned from the Anita Martinez board in disgust some time later because of what he saw R. Bret Ruiz accomplish.

Absolutely nothing.

“It’s exaggerated.” The first thing he remembers about Ruiz’s resume is the way that the Anita Martinez Board was wowed by the stunning credentials Ruiz brought to the table. Ruiz has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a M.A. in Art History from the same school, and a B.A. in American Studies from Yale.

And while Ruiz does in fact have those degrees, his resume is inflated and deceptive. I’ve verified that Ruiz actually graduated with a M.A. in Art History – his thesis is in architectural history – campus planning - in 1986-87 instead of the 1982 date indicated on his resume. Based on what I understand that’s important for cultural leadership, I suspect that Ruiz attempted to bolster a history of museum curatorial experience that he does not have. And there is a disturbing discrepancy in the dates of employment.

On his resume, he states that he was at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1983-85. And he also records that he was at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. from 1982-84 – overlapping dates of employment that call to question his curatorial record, once again. Bear in mind that he actually didn’t have an M.A. in Art History at this time, either.

Artists/curators know that it is unlikely for a person without advanced credentials to do curatorial work, especially in prestigious institutions.

Calls made to the Chicago Institute of Art revealed that Ruiz was a research assistant in the Museum’s library. Punto.

Dolores Zapata Murff (Dee), the Public Relations Manager when Ruiz came on board, remembers that he told her “don’t send it out,” meaning for her not to send his resume to the media.

On his employment application that I obtained from confidential sources, Ruiz lists five references – none of whom are Anita Martinez boardmembers, museum curators, or even the founder herself, Anita Martinez. And, as I’ve mentioned, his references are also Anglo, a curious homogeneity when applying to the nation’s oldest and most prominent latino cultural center.

In today’s nonprofit climate, it is Ruiz’s combination of business schooling and artistic training – however false - that help him stand out. Yet the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico and the Guadalupe vary widely in their complexity and mission: The ANM’s $200,000 budget is not even one-fourth of the Guadalupe’s annual 1.5 million dollar budget. The Anita Martinez mission is a mainstream one. It exists to supply DFW with folklorico dance, and fee-based dance instruction.

The Guadalupe’s mission is inherently socio-political. Its mission is “preserve, develop, present and promote the arts and culture of the Chicano/Latino/Indigenous peoples.”

I reviewed the two resumes, submitted a year apart by Ruiz to the Guadalupe Center. They reveal a confusing and contradictory employment trail. Ruiz actually graduated with a M.A. in 1986-87, instead of the 1982 he lists in his resumes - raising questions about his full-time employment track record.

On one resume that he presented to the Guadalupe, Ruiz stated that he raised $500,000 in two years while at Anita N. Martinez, eliminating an $80,000 deficit.

Navarro laughed at this description when he saw the resume. Ruiz took credit for the yearly grants that the City of Dallas historically awards Anita Martinez Ballet Folklorico. While Ruiz was Executive Director, he said, “[we] had human resources problems, parents of dancers had problems with him.” And, he says, “he didn’t produce anything in the three years that he was there.”

Since the arrival of Ruiz last August, at least seven staffmembers have left because of contract terminations, firings, or resignations. They include: Irma Mayorga, Ph.D, who was the Art Gallery and Literature Director; Leroy Martinez, the Director of Operations; José Garza, a Development Officer; Mary Jessie Garza, the Interim Executive Director and Arts Education Director; Nicole Enriquez, Education staff; Irma Carolina Rubio, Education staff; and Terry Soliz, Receptionist. Dolores Zapata Murff, Manager of Public Relations and Marketing is currently on administrative leave and has filed a grievance complaint against the Guadalupe Center alleging racial and sexual discrimination.

These departures leave the Guadalupe with only two artistic directors: Belinda Menchaca, Dance; and Marisela Barrera, Theatre Arts. There are no directors to manage the visual arts, cinema, literature, and most critically - the nationally-recognized Conjunto Festival.

But then, the Conjunto Festival is attended by many rasquaches like me, and Ruiz doesn't like those people.

How the Guadalupe Board Betrayed the Community: A Three Part Investigative Report

By Bárbara Renaud González
Wordcount: 2903 total in a three part investigative story

Part 1: Lady Lupe meets R. Bret Ruiz, MBA, the new President of the Guadalupe Cultural Center

If you’ve ever been to San Antonio, you’ve seen the Alamo. But if your skin is brown you’ve also visited or heard of the Guadalupe Cultural Center, a mecca for latinos across the country who want to know where they came from.

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center is comprised of a blue-tiled historic theatre and adjacent buildings on 1300 Guadalupe Street, 78207, in the corazón of San Antonio’s barrio, the city’s Westside, it’s oldest and most established neighborhood. To the tourist coming from the suburbs to the funky hueso as we call it, our city’s cultural offerings must seem colorful, quaint, the poverty of faded blue uniforms.

But hueso means bone, and to the rest of us living with the memories of our grandparents who courted, married, worked menial jobs, dreaming of a better life for their children, the Guadalupe Center is home.

And what a home that is. The greasy smell of ache, the wonder of abuelita’s tamales slipping onto the dime-store plate after school, the minted poetry of las hierbitas growing in a coffee can, and the scratchy guitars of rancheras our parents played late into the night, whispering how they would send us to college.

In 1979, twenty-seven years ago, the Guadalupe Cultural Center came into existence as a flagship of the civil rights movement. Its founders were Chicano artists denied entrance into the city’s museums, who desperately wanted a place to exhibit and tell their story on their terms. Then came the Reagan era, and the illusion of a society zooming beyond the civil rights years. Non-profits like the Guadalupe learned to raise money from corporations eager to sell their goods and services to the expanding latino market.

In the nineties, the Guadalupe’s funding increased, averaging about a million and a half dollars yearly from city allocations, corporations and foundation support. It received about $450,000 for FY 2006, says Felix Padrón, the Director of the Office of Cultural Affairs, situating the Guadalupe Center with the major institutions in town like the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Witte Museum, the Southwest School of the Arts, and Centro Alameda, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian.

The Guadalupe, though, is the only arts and cultural institution situated in the barrio.

It was in this post-Reagan period when the Guadalupe began to get lost, some say, dancing at the edge of an easy and mediocre play to suit corporate donors, stumbling badly on real estate purchases, believing that the house would always be there even if we don’t live in it anymore. Someone should – and will – write a better novel, compose the opera, that I can’t detail in this vida loca story.

And then R. Bret Ruiz arrived. His given name is René Bret Ruiz, but according to former staffmembers, he legally changed his name to the initial R. An MBA with a Yale degree, the Guadalupe Board of Directors hired the guero latino with the cookie-cut blue suit last July after a two-year national search. Prior to the Guadalupe, Ruiz had been Executive Director of the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico in Dallas for the last four years.

Ruiz, the new president with all-Anglo references on his employment application, was the culmination of everything the Guadalupe had become according to many: corporate, mainstream, the non-accented lower-case latino without the dirtiness of a Chicano past. Ruiz lives on the edge of one of San Antonio’s most exclusive neighborhood, Olmos Park, and he loves shopping and eating, according to former staffmembers, in the pricey La Cantera in the far north of San Antonio and our Gucci HEB supermarket, the one with twelve kinds of goat cheese and lemon-scented toilet paper.

But his arrival in San Antonio has been steeped in controversy and drama that Shakespeare would envy. At least seven staffmembers have departed since he took over – including all of the arts education staff, a key component of corporate fundraising and community outreach. A grievance complaint has been filed against him, denouncing him for racism, sexism, and four female staffmembers have spoken to me on-the-record, about his pretensions, arrogance, threats, and prejudice, creating a hostile work environment.

In a story about R. Bret Ruiz published in the San Antonio Current on February 8, 2006, Ruiz answered the staff turmoil and critics by suggesting that the present staff didn’t want to see change at the Guadalupe. But the staffmembers tell me they expected change, they were looking forward to it, change for the better, from where they were. They were looking for a five-year plan, someone to lead, and it didn’t happen. He shut things down. People were totally lost, with no one to turn to for answers, decisions, nothing.

Rumors, chisme caliente, says that the Guadalupe’s city funds are about to be frozen, and that the City Council is on the verge of taking it over. Padrón, while not admitting to anything, explained that his office is not in the business of denying monies to an organization, and that any big decision of that nature would be determined on September 30th, 2006, at the end of this year’s funding cycle.

There is historic precedent, he said, reminding me that the City took over the San Antonio Symphony a few years ago when they went bankrupt. They now have a new president and a contractual obligation to offer free concerts in the community.

Alright, then. What about moral bankruptcy?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Guadalupe Center in Crisis: La True Story began February 18/Archives

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center is in crisis. It's a complicated story, and not one that you will read in the newspapers or on radio. So I'm writing it, with the help of people in the community who care deeply about our beloved 'Lupe. To begin reading the series, check the archives for February 18, 2006: A Special Series in Seven Parts (so far) featuring Interviews/Stories/Memorias/and Questions about the future of the nation's oldest and once-premier cultural center for and about la raza.

Write me at lastruestories@yahoo.com, tell your friends, and help us
Save the Guadalupe!

photo credit: Dulces de Guadalupe, courtesy of Joan Frederick
(the partial painting you see is by Rolando Briseno, photographed at the home of Sandra Cisneros, arranged by Franco Mondini)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A boring blog about a boring letter from the Guadalupe's attorney denying me information

I got another registered certified letter yesterday from Galo & Cantu LLP in San Antonio, Texas.

I would share it with you but I don't want to put you to sleep with the two-step double-talk which I don't understand, except that I think they're trying not to give me any information. (which I already got anyway, thank you Mr. Cantu!)

Let's just say that Juan F. Aguilera, attorney-at-law, and Chairman of the Board of the Guadalupe Center, has turned over my Freedom of Information Act request to Ruben Cantu, rcantu@galocantu.com, Galo & Cantu LLP, who in turn has written to Attorney General Greg Abbott for a clarification on my rights to secure public information!


Monday, March 13, 2006

The Guadalupe Board denies me Board Reports

I asked Juan Aguilera, an attorney, and the Board Chairman for the Guadalupe Center's past Board Reports and other information at the February 23rd board meeting - basic stuff - under the Freedom of Information Act. This is a formal letter that I submitted because R. Bret Ruiz, the Guadalupe's President, and Loretta Zevallos, also denied me this information when I interviewed him.

These reports are public information because the Guadalupe gets federal, state and city funds.

Instead, I received this legal letter on March 8, 06. Last week.

Dear Ms. Renaud Gonzalez:

On behalf of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, I am responding to your Texas Public Information Act request. Please know that the Guadalupe is a private, non-profit entity. Private entities are not subject to to the provisions of the Act. However, to ensure that it complies with the requirements of the Act, the Guadalupe has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to determine whether the requested information is subject to required public disclosure. A copy of that request is enclosed.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Ruben Cantu
Galo & Cantu LLP

*****The Office of Cultural Affairs - which oversees funding of arts and cultural organizations in San Antonio - gave me all the documents I requested under the Freedom of Information Act last week and were very helpful.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Who's to blame? The Guadalupe Board of Directors

This is the most current list I have for the Guadalupe Board of Directors
I will post their emails when I get them.

Chairman of the Board
Juan F. Aguilera
Law Offices of Escamilla & Poneck

100 Travis Park Plaza
711 Navarro SA TX 78205
210 225-0001

Vice Chairman
Bexar County Housing and Human Services
Ismael Chavez Hernandez
Vista Verde Plaza

233 N. Pecos Suite 590
210 335-3666 ext. 3135
210 379-8286 cell

Valero Energy Corp
Sammy Nieto
P.O. Box 500

SA TX 78232-0500
210 370-2209

8000 ih-10 West Suite 600
SA TX 78330
Patricia Celis
210 525-7999 office

Dr. Mary Ponce 210 887-1277 cell

Oralia Salame
Tommy's Restaurant

1205 Nogalitos
SA TX 78204
210 223-9841
210 875-0225 cell

Rudy Ruiz

119 Patterson Ave
SA TX 78209
210 930-3339

Harriet Romo Ph.D.
UTSA North Campus
6900 North Loop 1604 West
SA TX 78249-0603

210 458- 2549
and she is the wife of Ricardo Romo, the UTSA President
According to "Dee" Murph, former Guadalupe Public Relations and Marketing Director, she recently told her "I haven't been to a meeting in three years!"

I want to know, why is she still on the board then?

Dr. Gwendolyn Diaz
3111 Alamo Creek Circle

SA TX 78230
210 431-2007

Dr. Wassal H. Beal
7248 Poss Rd

He resigned a month ago, according to Mary Jessie Garza, former Arts Education Director.
SA TX 78240
210 647-4080
210 325-4971

Gregorio Flores

646 S. Main
SA TX 78283-3999
210 938-8445

Noah Garcia
Laredo National Bank

40 NW Loop 410, Ste. 100
SA TX 78212
210 244-7402
210 912-2829 cell
Resigned a month ago, according to Mary Jessie Garza

Laura Hernandez
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP

123 Cedar Street
SA TX 78210
210 281-7157

R. Bret Ruiz, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center President, is also on the Board
210 271 3152

Photo Credit: Afternoon Ride, by Joan Frederick