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3105 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705 -510.849.2568
La Peña Cultural Center
La Peña and the End of an Era

September marks the 40 year anniversary of the Chilean coup d'état. Shortly after, in 1975, the Chilean exile community--in solidarity with the resistance movement against the military dictatorship--founded La Peña Cultural Center in Berekeley, California.

Over the years, La Peña became a performance art center for social activists and artists of diverse cultures and different generations. It's stage has seen illustrious writers, such as Eduardo Galeano, musicians such as Patricio Manns, Isabel Parra, and the Chilean ensemble Inti-Illimani. Lila Downs performed at La Peña at the outset of her career, and many local greats, including Latin Jazz and Afro-Cuban music virtuosos John Santos and John Calloway regularly perform there.

The changes taking place at La Peña lately are substantial and significant.  Sorrow at the sudden loss of two
prominent Chilean founding members, first Rafael Manriquez, and only months later, Hugo Breni, has shaken the La Peña community to its core.

It seems that things first started to shift at La Peña as heated debate over the replacement vs refurbishing of the "Song of Unity Mural" led to much community activity. An effort to raise funds to save the mural is underway. A group of Chilean musicians, Los Materos, is organizing a fundraiser at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, to be held September 7th.

The Chilean husband and wife team Pablo and Myriam Valenzuela ran Café Valparaíso at La Peña for years. Regrettably they had to relocate. Fortunately, they found a new space and will be celebrating the Chilean Independence Day commemoration on September 18th, with a traditional "ramada," empanadas, and Chilean wine. Join the celebration at Café Valparaí­so from 11AM to 11PM at their new location: 1403 Solano Avenue, Albany, CA.

Chilean singer Mochi Parra is organizing a fundraiser for Alejandro Stuart. Presently living in the South of Chile, Alejandro was the founder of La Peña del Sur in San Francisco's Mission district. As he is suffering from an advanced stage of cancer, Bay Area activists and artists prepare to say farewell to yet another legendary and memorable community figure. I can't recall exactly when Alejandro Stuart decided to transfer La Peña del Sur to Fernando Romero and leave San Francisco to return to Chile. However, for years, his Peña del Sur was the hub of local artists and bohemians while the Mission was still the good old Mission. Alejandro's travels and pursuits are mythical, and before he left the Bay Area he sold his photography collection of famous Nova Trova singers, actors, and artists from Cuba, Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua, etc., to Standford University.

I first heard of Alejandro Stuart in New York City. Novelist Roberto Quesada, a personal friend of mine from Honduras, told me about a Chilean he had befriended; that he was a very tall man, that he always wore a large, heavy poncho. Quesada immortalized Stuart as the character of "Casa Grande" in his novel,
"The Big Banana", about Latinos making it in NYC .

I won't say adios to Alejandro... for he was an atheist that felt he had to start his own Peña in San Francisco, because the one in Berkeley wasn't politically far enough to the left. Goes to show you how objective we are when it comes to our politics. Buen viaje Casa Grande!

Finally, a 40 year commemoration of the Chilean coup d'état will take place at La Peña Cultural Center showcasing artists from the Chilean community spanning two generations. The commemoration will be held on September 13th.

For specifics on all these events, check this newsletter.

With sympathy for our recent losses and with faith for what is to come, 

Paula Tejeda
Chile Lindo

Song of Unity Mural
La Peña Mural
Photo: Paula Tejeda

Song of Unity Mural Renewal 2013
Song of Unity @ La Pena by Rafael Manriquez
Song of Unity @ La Pena by Rafael Manriquez

An ad hoc group of La Peña Cultural Center community members came together last summer to make sure that the mural at this much loved and respected cultural institution remains on its facade. 

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Café Valparaíso

Join Café Valparaíso's Independence Day Celebration at their new location:
September 18th
11AM to 11PM
1403 Solano Avenue, Albany CA.

Last year's September 18th--Chilean Independence Day celebration, at Café Valparaíso's former home, La Peña de Berkeley. 

Cafe Valparaiso 2012
Photo: Paula Tejeda

Alejandro Stuart

Fundraiser for Alejandro Stuart, founder of La Peña del Sur in San Francisco's Mission District

Saturday, August 31, 8PM
ANSWER Coalition
2969 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

40 años
40 años - Chile - The Bay Area Remembers

September 11, 1973 - September 11, 2013

Friday, September 13th, 2013
7 PM
La Peña Cultural Center
3105 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94805

La Peña Cultural Center will transform the space, from the
Café to the Community Room with art exhibits, live music, poetry, and films in commemoration of the 40th year anniversary of the Chilean coup on September 11, 1973. 

Pancho Pescador
Cristian Munoz
Ximena Soza
Gonzalo Hidalco

Media Artists:
Hector Salgado
Aleixo Goncalves

Hector Salgado
Mochi Parra
Lichi Fuentes
Marci Valdivieso
Ricardo Valdivieso
Fernando Torres
Poets & narrators:
Carlos Baron
Roberto Leni
Fernando Torres
Ximena Soza
Lisa Milos

The list of participating artists will continue to evolve as more folks confirm their participation.

Chile Lindo Empanadas

2944 - 16th Street
San Francisco, California 94103
Hugo Breni

Prominent Activist, Chef, and La Peña Founder, Hugo Brenni, Passes Away

By Fernando Andres TorresLatinOPen.-
August 20, 2013.

Hugo Breni
Photo: Monin Eduardo Mendez

Noted Bay Area chef and one of the original founders of La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, Hugo Brenni del Canto passed away in arms of his wife Wanda in the remote Chilean island of Chiloe on August 18, 2013.


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LOS MATEROS are proud to present:

"EL MATERAZO POR EL MURAL" a fund raising event for the completion of the re-creation of the Song of Unity Mural at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley.

Chileans by geography, musicians by vocation and necessity, Los Materos fuse elements from Latin American folklore and trova into an original alternative style of contemporary music. Featuring Maria Loreto Ramirez on vocals, Jairo Rodriguez, Poncho Jaramillo, Axel Herrera, and special guest Evelio Roque.

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Los Materos

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