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 museum@mdc.edu. Event contacts: Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611, jmendiet@mdc.edu, MDC communications director Tere Estorino Florin, 305-237-3949, testorin@mdc.edu, MDC media relations director Roxana Romero, 305-237-3366, rromero3@mdc.edu, media specialist Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710, sue.arrowsmith@mdc.edu, media specialist Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482, arios1@mdc.edu

Guillermo V Vidal Ramos

 

Guillermo V's Story

Like many other children who were sent to the United States, I, along with my two brothers, Juan and Roberto, were sent to an orphanage in Colorado named Sacred Heart Home. Although life was difficult there, I remain grateful that my brothers and I had a roof over our heads and food to eat while we awaited the arrival of our parents three years later.

Although my brothers and I had certainly experienced the great trauma of being separated from our parents and sent to a place where we did not know the language or culture, it is really at the point of our reunification with our parents that our true immigration story begins. It was with them that we truly faced the challenges of culture shock, poverty, language barrier and discrimination that accompanies these sagas. Adding complexity to the situation, was the fact that my parents’ marriage had greatly deteriorated over the years, a condition that was exacerbated by the pressure of these huge life changes. They were also disappointingly reunited with three children that were mostly Americanized and had lost their filial bond with them.

The complexity of our relationship, combined with the pressures of our immigration, shrouded the coming decades with great struggles to survive, become educated and ultimately succeed.

All of us—with the exception of my father, Roberto, who passed in 1998—are still living in Colorado and, like many other Cuban children and families, we succeeded. My brothers and I have had successful careers. I became a civil engineer and spent decades in the field of transportation. In my forties, I landed a political appointment to join a governor’s cabinet. Later on, I even managed to become the first Cuban born Mayor of the great City of Denver, Colorado. The USA has been a great country for my family and me.

I wrote my memoirs in a book titled Boxing for Cuba, An Immigrant’s Story. It came out in 2007 and was a finalist for Colorado Book of the Year. I am proud to say that it is being reissued in Spanish at the end of this month. It is also available as an e-book through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or it can be ordered through your local bookstore.

I am always reminded that no matter what I have accomplished or have yet to accomplish, those things are all rooted in the decision my parents made to send the three of us to this country. It is by far the greatest act of love I have ever received from anyone, as my life has been—and continues to be—full of hope and opportunity because of them. More importantly, the sacrifice my parents made far supersedes their failings as human beings, for I understand now that they were given a very difficult hand to play and they did the best they could, given their circumstances. I don’t think I could have played it any better than they did.

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I was sent to Queen of Heaven orphanage (no longer in existence) then located at 4825 Federal - Denver, Colorado. This was an institution for girls. The boys were sent to St. Vincent Home also located in Denver, Colorado. Many of the girl's brothers were at St. Vincent and they were allowed to visit once a week for a couple of hours. It was just in the last few years I found out there were Pedro Paners located in an institution in Colorado Springs. I was reunited first with my mother and younger brother in 1966 and then with my father in 1968. This provided my mother the opportunity to be a single-parent raising two children on her own for a couple of years. During the years of 1966 to 1969 on Washington Street between 10th and 11th there lived four Cuban women all single-mothers with their daughters (except for my mother who had also had a son. All of us girls had been residents of Queen of Heaven. In the same area, also lived a Cuban couple with a daughter who had a niece who also had been one of the girls at Queen of Heaven. All the women helped each other as we all adjusted to managing our lives in said community. These women had to establish themselves as head of households, parent their children again, get jobs, learn how to manage money and learn how to drive. I recall meeting a woman named Martha Vidal. Was this woman your mother? She and my mother, Martha Valero, were friends. There were other Cuban households in the area. I thought your family was one of these families. I will greatly appreciate it if when you receive this message, your respond and help me with my recollections.

Message by Marta Valero | Oct 26th 2013

Guillermo V has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Oct 16th 2013

Welcome Guillermo! Colorado is our favorite place, have been there 9 times, both to ski and go to dude ranches in the summer. Muchos exitos with your book, I also have penned a book about our experiences, The Cubans Our Footprints Across America, where I profile many Pedro Pans and others who have enriched American society. Mis mejores deseos para ti y un abrazo, Fernan Hernandez

Message by Fernando P Hernandez Lorenzo | Oct 15th 2013

¡Bienvenido, Guillermito! We, as Pedro Pans, can't help but feel very appreciative and proud of your accomplishments and contributions to our adopted country. I’m sure you are fully aware that you have joined the long list of successful Pedro Pans that through their resiliency and commitment to excellence have placed the Cuban exile community in high regard and thus become a major and constant source of irritation for the totalitarian communist government of Cuba. By the same token, I'm sorry that you, your brothers and parents had to endure so much on the way to adapting and integrating into American society, but in a way our story is not very much unlike the story of most immigrant groups arriving in America's shores and earning through their hard work and sacrifice their rightful place at the table. On the other hand, the Pedro Pan story is unique as both a tragic historical event and a deeply personal and human experience. We must not forget, however, that all the pain we endured, including the suffering our parents faced during our separation, is no one else's fault than Fidel Castro's and his horde of thieves and assassins. By the way, I enjoyed reading your book. Thanks once again for setting a good example for all to emulate, particularly Hispanic youth. I am sure I speak for most Pedro Pans in wishing you continued success both personally and professionally. So keep up the GOOD WORK! Warm regards, José Antonio Amaro Reyes.

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Oct 10th 2013

Guillermo V has updated their profile.

Status update | Oct 9th 2013

Welcome to this network, Bill! I look forward to your story and photos. I also heard your book is fantastic! Can't wait to read it.

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Oct 8th 2013

Guillermo V has joined the Pedro Pan Network. Please welcome them!

Status update | Oct 8th 2013

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