chic: playwright Luis Chaluisan. Photo
by Leif Zurmuhlen.
Return of El Extreme
fact that Luis Chaluisan lives in New York City didn’t deter
the owners of Albany’s Changing Spaces gallery from naming
him their playwright in residence. Chaluisan’s one-man show,
Spic Chic, which features the music of his former band,
El Extreme, played to a packed house at Changing Spaces on
Oct. 26, and co-owners Phillip and Sandra Williams, are eager
to have him back.
According to Phil Williams, Chaluisan is a highly energetic
character with a real passion for what he does. And his ability
to share that energy and create a buzz is just what Changing
Spaces needs. “If there’s no enthusiasm, it really affects
our ability to stay open. Luis has really given us a shot
in the arm,” says Williams.
Chaluisan is no stranger to the Capital Region. The Bronx-raised
Puerto Rican artist used to live here in the early 1990s,
and you might say that his hit one-man play was born
in Albany. His band, La Gran Orquesta El Extreme, debuted
at Pauly’s Hotel in 1990 and the compositions they performed
that night form the basis of Spic Chic.
As playwright in residence, Chaluisan will be appearing at
Changing Spaces about once a month. He’ll be collaborating
with Sandra Williams on projects and setting up multimedia
performances featuring art, spoken word, and whatever else
the local arts community brings to the table.
A Dec. 7 performance at Changing Spaces will mark Chaluisan’s
first return to the area. The show won’t be a carbon copy
of what audience members saw on Oct. 26, however. Spic
Chic, which Phil Williams describes as 75 minutes of poetic
standup, is made up of a series of related vignettes that
can be left out or added as Chaluisan sees fit. More interaction
with the six-piece backing band can be expected this time
Chaluisan is excited about his new relationship with Changing
Spaces and the scene in Albany. “I met a very diverse group
of people up there who are really into what’s going on,” he
says. The playwright describes the Albany art scene as freer
than New York City’s, and unburdened by the atmosphere of
the cutthroat competition that exists downstate. In fact,
Chaluisan likes it so much in Albany, he’s even considering
As a bonus boon to Albany arts enthusiasts, Chaluisan has
helped foster a relationship between Changing Spaces and Manhattan’s
Nuyorican Café, a popular venue for Latino poets and performers.
The Williams say they plan to develop that relationship, and
hopefully will be able to lure some artists from the Nuyorican
up the Hudson to Albany.
a Brighter Future
crowd gathers at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Arbor Hill’s
North Swan Street for the dedication of a new mural painted
by artist Yacob Williams. Funded by the Social Capital Development
Corporation, which partnered with local groups including the
Ten Broeck Triangle Preservation League to make the mural
happen, the project was intended to promote community development,
foster civic pride and raise cultural awareness.