Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art + Design Presents the inaugural Exhibition at the new Cultural Legacy Gallery, Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the Lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in Collaboration with Tico Torres MOAD - Cuban Diaspora Celia L Credit: Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in collaboration with Tico Torres Miami, July 28, 2014 - The Museum of Art + Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College (MDC) presents Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the Lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in Collaboration with Tico Torres. The inaugural exhibition will open to the public at 6 p.m. Friday, September 19, at the new Cultural Legacy Gallery, a permanent space dedicated to the impact of Cuban culture on South Florida and throughout the world, housed at the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College in Downtown Miami. Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in collaboration with Tico Torres features what have become iconic photographs of Cuban figures living outside the island, among them performers, composers, designers, writers and artists. The Cuba Out of Cuba series was shot over the last twenty years in Miami, New York, London, Paris, Florence, Venice and Los Angeles. The exhibition will take a unique and historical approach in surveying the legacies of individuals such as Celia Cruz, Bebo Valdez, Gloria Estefan, Cristina Saralegui, Andy Garcia, Cundo Bermudez, Nilo Cruz, and Paquito d’Rivera, among other Cubans who have influenced the greater culture of their time. Alexis Rodríguez-Duarte was born in Havana, Cuba. In 1968 he and his parents were among Cuban exiles who left the Island aboard the humanitarian air lifts called the Freedom Flights. Once arriving to Miami, his family and many thousands of other Cuban exiles came through the doors of the Freedom Tower that served as a processing and assistance center for the exile community. For many, the tower provided nothing less than their freedom from Castro and the hardships Cuba had come to give them, rightly earning its name of the Freedom Tower. Rodriguez–Duarte’s family settled in Miami’s Little Havana community. At the age of 10, he was given his first camera by his grandfather, which led to his love affair with photography. Today, he is a New York and Miami-based internationally renowned photographer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other major publications, and has exhibited his work at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., Museum of the City of New York, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London and The Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach among others. Rodriguez-Duarte and his husband of 31 years, Tico Torres, have been documenting the Cuban diaspora since 1993. Torres, a photo stylist who is a master of the mise-en-scene, helped create with Rodriguez-Duarte the joyous image of Celia Cruz standing amid the towering palms of Fairchild Tropical Garden in a traditional ruffled Cuban gown. He was also there to set the mood in the London flat of Guillermo Cabrera Infante, one of Cuba’s most famous authors. Torres and his family were also among Cuban exiles who settled in Miami’s Hialeah community. Rodriguez-Duarte and Torres are thrilled to be returning together, full circle to the historic Freedom Tower for this inaugural exhibit, after separately setting foot there as immigrant children so many years before. The inaugural exhibition kicks off the Museum’s fall season scheduled for Friday, September 19, 2014 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in conjunction with SIDE BY SIDE: MDCULTURE STANDS AS ONE, a one night event held at the College’s historic Freedom Tower, featuring performances, exhibitions, film screenings, the public unveiling of 2014 Book Fair Poster, and the long awaited Cuban Exile Experience at the Freedom Tower. Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the Lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in Collaboration with Tico Torres will remain on display at the museum through August 30, 2015. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. MDC’s Freedom Tower was operated by the U.S. Government as a reception center for Cuban refugees from 1962 to 1974. “The building is significant because it represents the important story of the Cuban exodus to America and resettlement during the Cold War,” reports the U.S. Department of the Interior, which has also called the Freedom Tower the “Ellis Island of the South.” Though it operated in that capacity for only 12 years, the building has become an icon representing the faith that democracy brought to troubled lives, the generosity of the American people and a hopeful beginning that assured thousands a new life in a new land. WHAT: Cuba Out of Cuba: Through the Lens of Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte in Collaboration with Tico Torres WHEN: Friday, September 19 –Opening Reception from 6 – 9 p.m. September 19, 2014 – August 30, 2015 Museum Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. WHERE: MDC Museum of Art + Design Cultural Legacy Gallery The Freedom Tower at MDC, First Floor 600 Biscayne Blvd. About MDC Museum of Art + Design MDC Museum of Art + Design (MOAD) is Miami Dade College’s flagship institution dedicated to the presentation and exhibition of visual art and design, housed at the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College in Downtown Miami. The mission of the Museum is to promote the appreciation and understanding of art and its role in society through direct engagement with original works of art from within the College’s extensive permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. Furthermore, the Museum presents year-round lectures, symposiums and art related events to expose, educate and engage the greater public through related creative processes. The MDC Museum of Art + Design provides its patrons and visitors access to unique cultural, historical and educational exhibitions that enrich the greater community while building and preserving an expansive permanent art collection. Miami Dade College has been collecting art since the 1960s. Over the years, the collection has grown contain more than 1,600 works in all mediums and genres, specifically within the movements of minimalism, pop art of the ’60s and ’70s, conceptual art and contemporary Latin American art. The College and Museum actively acquire works by emerging and under-recognized artists, as well as major figures in modern, post-modern and contemporary art. About The Cuban Exile Experience & Cultural Legacy Gallery The Cuban Exile Experience & Cultural Legacy Gallery is a historical division of the MDC Museum of Art + Design. In addition to visual arts, the Museum supports exhibitions and programs that collect, preserve, research and interpret stories and artifacts that help build a better community understanding and appreciation of the Freedom Tower’s history. For more information about the exhibition, events or VIP Opening Reception at MDC Museum of Art + Design, please contact the Museum at 305-237-7722 or Event contacts: Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director Tere Estorino Florin, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director Roxana Romero, 305-237-3366,, media specialist Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

Jose Manuel Echandi Ruiz

2 people loved this story

Jose Manuel's Story

I grew up in Ampliacion Almendares in Havana, my home was located at 13 and 68. My brother and I left Cuba in April of 1961 at the ages of 9 and 7 years of age. I remember clearly the "interview" by the milicianos in La Pecera, where my brother would bump me with his elbow so that I would answer the miliciana's questions with short answers only. Not giving more information than what was necessary. As a 7 year old kid obviously I did not know better in providing family information during the interrogation that might compromise my parents in light of the repressions against persons that were not "integrated" to the revolutionary movement under way in Cuba.

Once we boarded the Pan American flight that was to take us to Miami the stewardess gave us a pin that we put on our shirts that identified us with a Catholic organization, one of the entities coordinating the arrivals of the Cuban children in Miami. A couple received us at the airport and drove us straight to Camp Kendall that day.

The first night in the large dormitory a pilloow fight broke out as soon as they turned off the lights, and a hard crash was heard, one of the kids had busted the closed door with a kick. I just huddled on my bunk and made it through the night. Life at Kendall was boaring, I remember one day a group of us kids got some shovels and a pick and started unburying a large rock in the ground, just to do something... Some days later another kid, my older brother and I decided to escape from Kendall. Back then the camp's surroundings were everglades. We walked out to a paved 2 lane road and ended up in a small strip mall out in the middle of nowhere, where we were picked up by the police who were searching for us, and returned us to the camp.

We also stayed for a couple of weeks(?) in an orphanage in Miami run by nuns, and we started to attend an elementary school in Miami which was called St. Joseph, I believe. There I heard and started to learn the pledge allegiance to the flag, etc. Shortly thereafter we were taken to the airport and sent to a foster home in Canton, Ohio, the Snyder family. We stayed with them for almost five years. My father was a politicla prisoner in Cuba, he was arrested shortly after my brother and I left, on the day of the invasion of Bay of Pigs.

We reunited after five years, in Venezuela, after my father had finished his prison term as a political prisinor of the castros, and my parents were able to leave Cuba through Spain.

That's all I have to say for now. But I would like to connect with any PPs that lived in Ampliacion Almendares or had experiences of Camp Kendall at that time. I would like to hear from them.

Viva Cuba Libre!!

Jose Manuel's News Feed

Leave a public message for Jose Manuel.

Hola hace un ano que no te escribo. Soy Rita casada con un Echandi de los que vinieron de Ciga. Como esta Elena?

Message by Rita Rodriguez- Pardinas | Oct 23rd 2010

Jose Manuel, If I was a betting men, I would tell Jose F Ayo Garcia, que era la "30", la "32" era la que iba por la Quinta Avenida. Yo soy de la 7 entre 44 y 46 y las dos nos servian para nuestra buenas maldades y travesias. Cuidate----JAM

Message by Justo Alejandro Martinez Monzon | Feb 26th 2010

Hello Jose Manuel, Mi Nombre es Jose Ayo, yo tambien vivi en la amplacion; 64 entr 15 y 17, te aquerdas que autobus pasaba por frente de tu casa? Yo estuve en Kedall from Jan. 62 to Sept.62 y tenia 15 anos entonces y esas escapadas que tu mencionastes las hice muchas veces. Saludos a Eloisa

Message by Jose F Ayo Garcia | Feb 26th 2010

Bienvenido a Pedro Pan!!

Message by Maria E Pazos Alvarez | Oct 31st 2009

Hola José Manuel. No, no he regresado a Almendares. Mi corazón está dividido en dos. Una parte quiere regresar a la Patria donde nací, a caminar las calles por donde caminaba todos los días para ir al colegio, a sentarme un rato en el Parque de la Fuente, etc. La otra mitad de mi corazón no me deja regresar, ya que el gobierno y la gente que nos quitó a mi familia y a mí la felicidad, la tranquilidad, y la estabilidad conque vivíamos todavía está allí. Como tu dices, es confortante saber que una sola no ha pasado por esto. Este network del Herald nos está ayudando a compartir nuestras experiencias, y eso es confortante. Let's keep our memories alive! Cariños, Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Sep 19th 2009

Hola, mi nombre es Rita. Me estuvo curioso tu apellido. Es el primer Echandi cubano que veo. Una vez recibi un email curioso de una Echandi que estaba en Rusia..Elena Echandi. Yo soy Echandi de casada. MI esposo es Echandi de Puerto Rico y los abuelos de Ciga, Navarra, Espana. De donde son los Echandi de tu sepa? No he puesto mi historia aun, pero yo fui para Freeport, Illinois en el 1961. Yo tenia 8 anos.

Message by Rita Rodriguez- Pardinas | Sep 14th 2009

José Manuel, I also stayed at Kendall, but what I wanted to tell you is that we were neighbors in Ampliación de Almendares. I lived in Avenida 11 entre 68 y 70. Welcome to the network! Eloísa

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Sep 3rd 2009

Welcome, Jose Manuel to our website. As you read through the stories, you will find many of Camp Kendall. You have just joined the site of a bunch of old kids reliving our childhood. We not only make contact with other PPs but we also joke around a lot. Hope you enjoy it!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Sep 3rd 2009

Leave a message for Jose Manuel

Your message
Your name
Your e-mail