Thursday, May 27, 2010

Artwork of Antonio Guerrero Brightens up a Former Jail

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five
May 26, 2010

It is hard to think of a more appropriate venue for the art exhibit
of Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five imprisoned in the US, than
the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice
California. The art facility was formerly the Venice jail that held
prisoners from 1929 until the early 1970's. Judy Baca, renowned
artist and founder of SPARC, made the jail its headquarters in 1977
and "liberated" the space for the arts.

From May 22 - June 11 the front of the SPARC facility will display a
huge banner with an iconic image, taken by Cuban photographer Liborio
Nidal and painted by Antonio, hanging on it as a powerful symbol of
resistance announcing the works of Antonio being exhibited inside.

The small cell inside the gallery provided a distinctive touch for
the exhibit entitled "From My Altitude". Over 150 people attended
opening night and were able to appreciate a prisoner's shirt hanging
inside the cell, mimicking one of the painting's of Antonio. Those
attending the opening entered the cell and signed postcards to
President Obama asking for the immediate release of the Cuban Five.

The gallery opened its door at 7:30 pm on Saturday and right away a
numerous audience poured into a reception area and then to the
gallery that filled it to its capacity. Judy Baca gave the welcoming
and explained the struggle that SPARC is currently enduring to save
its historical building from budget cuts coming down from the City of
Los Angeles. At her side was Debra Padilla, SPARC's Executive
Director, and known Hollywood actor Edward Asner.

Many people were motivated to come primarily to enjoy an art exhibit
and to hear Mr. Asner, only to be shocked and outraged to learn for
the first time about the case of the Cuban Five.

The reception was followed by a program at Beyond Baroque, a Literary
Arts Center Theater next door, that was formerly the Venice City Hall
which included the projecting of the evening's program to the outside
patio wall for the over flow crowd.

Suzanne Thompson, from the International Committee for the Freedom of
the Cuban Five, produced and mc'd the program. Thompson first
introduced a documentary-in progress on terrorism against Cuba by
film maker Saul Landau and Jack Willis entitled "Will the Real
Terrorists Please Stand Up".

The documentary was followed by a pre-recorded message by Danny
Glover, who was absent due to the filming of a movie in Nigeria.
Glover read two letters between Adriana Perez and Gerardo Hernandez
and the story of a small bird saved by Gerardo in the high security
prison in Victorville California. This short story offers just a
glimpse into the human quality of Gerardo and his four brothers. (See
link below)

Alicia Jrapko the US Coordinator of the International Committee gave
an update on the case and invited people to get involved. In
reference to the prison shirt painted by Antonio, Jrapko ended her
presentation by saying "Let us continue our fight for justice until
the shirts of Rene, Gerardo, Fernando, Ramon and Antonio stay behind
and the return to their homeland is realized."

The program ended with actor Edward Asner, who has been an important
voice in many struggles for justice inside the United States. Asner
read two poems from Guerrero's book of poems "From My Altitude" and a
letter from the book "Letters of Love and Hope". He also talked about
the importance of continuing the struggle to free the Cuban Five.

The Shoo Flies band provided entertainment at the after party at the
Beyond Baroque backspace patio.

On Sunday May 23rd, at the SPARC and UCLA Cesar Chavez Digital Mural
Lab, Dolores Huerta, President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and
Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, spoke at a brunch in
support of the rights of family visits for the Cuban Five.

After the showing of the documentary "Against the Silence" produced
by De Mano a Mano Productions, Huerta explained about the injustice
of the denial of family visits and told people that she was going to
commit herself to work harder on the case and asked others to join
her and to continue organizing until the US government grants visas
to Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva to visit their imprisoned husbands.

Danny Glover Youtubes on the Cuban 5

The Bird and the Prisoner 6:46

Letter from Adriana to Gerardo 2:09

Letter from Gerardo to Adriana 1:02

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