¡HOLA TODOS! Our longtime amigo Tony Plana is best known these days as Ugly Betty’s proud papa and as the abusive step papa that gets knocked off (not knocked up) in Desperate Housewives. But, Tony is a better man these days filming an original Hallmark Channel Original Movie, “Meddling Mom” opposite la deliciosa Sonia Braga. Add Saundra Santiago (The Sopranos) and George Contreras (The O.C.) and things are looking good for Latinos on the American tele. Tony started his stellar career on stage in the original LA production of Zoot Suit and, bless him, still keeps his Cuban-born heart in the theatre. He co-founded the East LA Repertory Theatre that takes the classics and gives them a shot of salsa adding Latino flavor. The photo here shows a proud Tony next to his young cousin, opera singer Daniel Montenegro at a recital a while back.
ARTES Y CULTURAS: There are hidden art treasures all over El Pueblo de Los Angeles aka LA and contrary to semi-popular belief, it ain’t all on the Westside. Yeah, no shortage of public art in Beverly Hills, Westwood or in my hood of West Hollywood. But, check out the work of Mexican-born artist Jose Antonio Aguirre on the eastside of town in El Sereno. His A Luminaries Journey celebrates Latinos in the arts in a series of standing sculptures produced in Huichapan Mexican limestone with Byzantine mosaic of fusion glass each sculture weighing between two and three tons. Jose took me on a walk of the monuments because two of them had very special meaning. Standing along the wide street were tributes to songstress Vikki Carr, early screen beauty Lupe Velez, latin jazz great Eddie Cano and two that were very special to me. One for my boyhood best friend, late Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz (photo) and one for my Dad, the late Father of Chicano Music, Lalo Guerrero. Each have been honored through the years in various ways, but this is the first time they stand together. Left me a little speechless. A rare thing. Jose next took me to the East LA Library where two of his two massive mosaic murals grace the entrance. Aguirre is an incredible artist with a great corazon who still finds time to teach a mural program to young Latinos at a middle school in Pasadena sponsored by the Amory Center for the Arts. ¡Bravo Jose Antonio!