Fairhill: A Hispanic Bookstore That Provides Much More

Rafael Damast gave a short presentation at the Julia de Burgos Bookstore.

What started out as a graphic arts workshop in North Kensington in 1974, Taller Puertorriqueño now has many more things happening inside its mural-covered walls.

“Everything just sort of sprouted up naturally,” said Rafael Damast, the visual arts manager for the program from Taller Puertorriqueño’s Lorenzo Homar Gallery, referring to all the programs created by the organization.

Rafael Damast gave a short presentation at the Julia de Burgos Books & Crafts Store.

The Lorenzo Homar Gallery sits on top of the Julia de Burgos Books & Crafts Store located at 2721 N. Fifth St., just north of Lehigh Avenue. Damast said he thinks the two components in the same building create an interesting combination because he himself always separated literature from his idea of art.

Julia de Burgos Books & Crafts Store, named after a renowned Latin American poet, is the only bilingual bookstore in Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey. The books range from bilingual books for children to popular Latin American literature for adults and scholarly reference materials. The store also carries crafts such as Puerto Rican masks and handmade jewelry.

The store also holds a monthly ‘Meet the Author’ event on Saturday afternoons. It is a free event in which young aspiring writers can meet published authors. November’s event will highlight the Fifth Anniversary of Motivos, a bilingual print magazine for teens.

However, books and crafts are not the only things feeding the Latin fire.

Some gallery-style art has leaked down into the store, which has basically become a gallery itself.

Adrian Roman, also known as simply “Viajero” which means ‘traveler’ in English, provided a mixed media display depicting his experiences in Cuba and throughout the Caribbean with an artful assortment of found objects.

“It’s interesting because of the perspective, only as a traveler,” Damast said.

Damast described how Roman collected things from the people and places he visited, and used them to create a display with his art. He used wood, pencil, charcoal, audio recordings, video and even cut out pieces of wooden wall with graffiti. He chose the placement of each piece very carefully to give a particular tone to the audience.

The display will be available until Jan. 28, 2012, throughout which Roman will make random visits to encourage the engagement of the audience.

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