I’m going to make a big sweeping generalization right now. I’m going to “paint with a broad brush” so to speak.
It’s tough being an Artist.
It always has been I suppose. There’s a bunch of crap we have to put up with! But you know which artists have it the worst I think?
Little kid artists. Especially lower income little kids. In the hood there is no support for the arts. The kids have no access to supplies, equipment, training, mentors, books, or even a place to sit down and draw. Luckily for the young artists in El Monte California there is a guy like Enrique Diaz, a wonderful and generous man driven by a great passion for the arts!
Born in Tecomatlan Jalisco Mexico, Enrique’s family immigrated to East Los Angeles when he was a child. In 1977 he graduated from Roosevelt High and spearheaded a baile folklorico (folkloric dance troupe) at El Sereno Junior High. There Enrique performed in and choreographed routines for junior high and high school students.
Served his country!
In 1981 Enrique enlisted in the United States Navy, and served proudly on the USS New Jersey where he collaborated with like-minded servicemen to share their written stories and essays. This group was the beginning of Nuvein Foundation for Literature and the Arts. After an honorable discharge, he returned home to enroll at Cal Poly Pomona where in 1992 he earned his degree in English Literature.
For 23 years he worked as an instructor at Mt San Antonio College, UEI, Pasadena City College, El Dorado, Palladium Technical, and at his own school, The Digital Business and Design College a private college he founded that provided technical degrees in multimedia and computer design.
Enrique was involved in many community organizations, serving as Webmaster for various Chambers of Commerce offices throughout the San Gabriel Valley.
Nuvein began as a dream of founder Enrique Diaz. Ever since his days in the navy Enrique had been gathering and writing stories and sporadically printing them in a magazine called Nuvein, until in 1996 it all changed. Enrique realized the limitless possibilities this new thing called the Web brought to the table. He dedicated Nuvein to voices rarely heard in a world increasingly devoid of diversity. In 2007, Nuvein became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, with the help of the community and business leaders from various San Gabriel Valley cities, and established its home in El Monte CA.
The MISSION of Nuvein
Is a solid commitment to connecting communities to the arts by raising funds and scholarships for students pursuing a career in the arts and to support those already in the arts. Nuvein is also committed to showcasing the arts through community arts presentations, live performances, and educational programs.
To carry out its mission, Nuvein has been building an arts infrastructure beginning in the San Gabriel Valley, where it has established online radio and TV outlets, an e-book online store, an online magazine, as well as a network of partner organizations, private and public.
Enrique was so awesome! He would plan events for the Cartoonistas all over town. If there was a festival he had Cartoonistas there to do live art for the public. Enrique allowed us to use his facility to hold meetings and whenever the Cartoonistas had an event outside of Nuvein Enrique was there in full support. He provided Jim Lujan, myself , and the rest of our gang of indy animators with the screen and projector for all of our animation festivals. In fact for the last one the we don’t need no stinking badges show he Drove from San Diego where he had a Nuvein event all day to Los Angeles just to deliver the screen and projector for our show! That’s a 2.5 hour drive people. He looked tired but never stopped smiling and was glad to see our cartoons.
Enrique understood that a strong arts education enhances the skills children need to succeed. Exposure to art promotes learning and sharpens critical and creative skills.
Sadly this great man and friend passed away suddenly on March 28th. The Art community took a big hit when we lost Enrique. He will forever be remembered as “Our Storyteller”, and will be sorely missed by the countless lives he enriched by means of mentoring, entrepreneurship, artist collectives, scholarships, fund-raising, and leadership in community service.
Art encourages kids to see things differently. It challenges them to explore new concepts as well as ideas and provides a outlet for self expression.
Simply stated, the arts are worth fighting for and Arts Advocates like Enrique are needed to close the gap between art and policy. Guys like Enrique are needed to make public presentations, write blogs and speak at civic meetings, to develop educational programs, and to communicate the importance and benefits of arts programs to civic leaders. It’s a role that requires an understanding of art education, passion for the arts, and the drive to share your passion with others a role Enrique performed exceptionally.
Enrique thank you so much for everything you have done for us.
He is survived by: his husband Jeffrey Bickel, his mother Aurora Diaz, and siblings Nicolas, Herman, Maribel, Judith, and Arlene.