ABOUT: “When I was around eight years old, in elementary school, the principal came to me with a hat and two pistolas and said, 'This is for you, you are going to go on stage and improvise’. Young Sery wasn't sure what the principal meant by “improvise,” but was told, “just do what you like to do in class.” This story comes as no surprise; moments into an encounter with the charismatic Colon, two things become clear: he is a natural performer, and he has what might be the best laugh in El Barrio. Colon’s artistic endeavors are as diverse as his talents; he is an actor, a dancer, a writer and a businessman. He is the former owner of the popular Agueybaná Bookstore (which operated on the Lower East Side), and is renowned for his dynamic, musical portrayals of the works of traditional Puerto Rican poets. “Many people should know about the Puerto Rican poets out there... most of them were activists, [and] people should know what they did for us.” Colon also organizes small literary salons, as part of a program he calls “Tertulia Afternoon.” “People used to get together, sing a song, play the guitar, have a drink, share a joke-- that was a tertulia. It was very popular in South America, in Chile, in Spain.” As an event producer, Sery encourages the community to live out this tradition in the quiet corners of El Barrio.
COMMUNITY VISION: According to Colon, artists in El Barrio struggle because the general community is unable to make the financial sacrifices to attend more costly events, despite a widespread enthusiasm for the arts. “Artists need respect, [we cannot] work for free,” Colon states. For this reason, he believes that the community needs an organization to help artists find funding and one another. “I don’t think that we have that many organizations that are working with the artists,” Sery explains. “Everyone is doing their own little things on the side, without the funding or the support. People come and produce but we don't have a particular organization, a center, or a place to go for funding for the arts.” Colon also hopes to see more art supply stores in the area to encourage local interest in arts and culture.