Thursday, January 05, 2012

Still damaged

A 36-year-old woman was accused of causing $10,000 worth of damage to a painting by the late abstract expressionist artist Clyfford Still, a work valued at more than $30 million, authorities said on Wednesday.
Read the whole story here.

US Rep. Ros-Lehtinen on the SI

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (and who is a Cuban-American), made the following statement on the Smithsonian Institution’s upcoming trips to Cuba under a so-called People-to-People Cultural Exchange Program:

“The Smithsonian's 10-day trips to Cuba will amount to little more than a tropical vacation. Americans participating in these trips will not see the brutal reality of the Castro dictatorship. They will not be visiting run down hospitals where sick Cubans have to bring their own bed sheets and medications, nor will they have the opportunity to sit in a court room where peaceful pro-democracy advocates are sentenced because due process and a real judicial system are non-existent.

The nature of the Smithsonian's upcoming trips to Cuba becomes clear merely by looking at the ad promoting it. The ad fails to mention that Cuba is a state-sponsor of terrorism or that Castro's thugs repeatedly and routinely beat and harass the innocent Ladies in White while they peacefully march down a street. It does not mention that an American citizen is being held hostage by the regime simply for seeking to lift the veil of censorship that the dictatorship imposes on the Cuban people.

Americans will not be able to interact with a typical Cuban family as they conduct their daily desperate search for food, stop by a dormant newspaper's office that no longer operates because there is no freedom of the press, or visit the ever-growing prisons where countless political prisoners languish in their cells for exercising freedom of expression. These are the real cultural experiences in Cuba. Instead, these tourists will experience a false depiction of Cuba through a biased and censored 'tour' of the island.

It is deeply disappointing that the Smithsonian Institute, primarily funded by American taxpayers, is facilitating access to U.S. dollars, which enables the Castro regime to make a hefty profit. The trips not only illustrate a blatant disregard for human rights conditions on the island by an entity that receives U.S. government funding, but provide the deplorable Havana tyranny a sense of legitimacy.
Why is this US Rep. doing this? Not that you'd ever see this on American television, which for some reason focused a lot of time and effort on the uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Syria... but chooses to ignore the ever-growing uprising, led by Cuban women, going on 90 miles south of Florida.

Witness this (Via):
This week, female pro-democracy leaders took to the streets of the central Cuban town of Santa Clara to demand the release of their colleague, Ivonne Malleza, who remains imprisoned without charges since November 30th.

As a result, they too were arrested, albeit for short term.

Here's the disturbing testimony of their arrest:

Idania Yánez Contreras described her time behind the bars as "horrible." According to the dissident, in her cell "the guards, under the orders of State Security, were screaming obscenities at us" and even threatened with raping the women. Yanez denounced that one of the obscene threats she has not been able to forget was that "they began to tell me 'I am going to sleep with Idania because she has the largest ass.'" She added that the guards were "raffling" the women amongst themselves, choosing which one they would rape.

Meanwhile, Damaris Moya also suffered verbal and physical attacks. "I was treated horrible under the orders of Captains Andro, Yuniel Monteagudo and another by the last name Gil," denounced the co-president of the Central Opposition Coalition, adding that the initial violence occurred in front of her young son who is only 13 months old. "He was desperately screaming in the arms of his grandmother while the agents were applying martial arts immobilization locks on me. And that’s how they dragged me to the police vehicle and later to the detention center." In the case of her husband, Yanoisi, he was beaten and "choked and he now has his face swollen... they also punched him on the stomach and in the testicles."

The same official - Yuniel Monteagudo - was also responsible for the brutality against Antunez, even while he was detained in the back seat of a police vehicle. "That official told one of the Rapid Response agents: ‘punish him during the entire trip,'" explained Antunez, "and then they started to punch me the entire way. While he was hitting me he was saying 'piece of shit [N-word], scream 'Fidel Lives.'" The dissident responded with the contrary. "I started to scream 'Down with Fidel,'" amid even more blows, "and that’s how the entire trip was until we reached the police unit of Santa Clara." The blows against Garcia Antunez resulted in numerous swellings on his head, and he is currently suffering from dizziness and lack of vision in his left eye, where he was also hit.

However, the dissident affirmed that although 2012 began with lots of violence against the peaceful Resistance, something positive was that during one of the marches in demand for freedom of those who were detained on that morning, "neighbors of Santa Clara were also fed up with the violence and joined the protest…they would scream 'abusers,' 'hunger and misery' and some of these citizens were even arrested." Antunez, like Idania Yanez and Damaris Moya also affirmed that they would not give in or give up in the face of the terror that the Cuban dictatorship tries to impose on its people. "Despite the beatings," assures Antunez, "I feel satisfied and convinced that now, more than ever, we are witnessing the final days of the tyranny." The dissident classified 2012 as a year of "importance" for the Cuban Resistance.

Damaris Moya also sent out a direct message to dictator Raul Castro. "If the supposed measures which Castro was enforcing are just to massacre us, well then we will be massacred because we are going to continue with our marches demanding food for the people, demanding justice and always out on the street." Idania Yanez echoed this same attitude: "Here we are, and we are going to continue with our actions."
Notice how the N-word was used against one of the Afro-Cubans while he was being beaten... another example of the mostly ignored racist nature of Castro's Workers Paradise.

For what it's worth, I've got a feeling that 2012 is the end of the reign of the longest-lasting dictatorship in the world, and in that end, it will be courageous Cuban women who will drive a stake through the heart of the Castro vampires and their enforcers.

Free Bootcamp for Artists Seminar

On February 11, 2012 from 1-5pm, The Brentwood Arts Exchange and I will be once again hosting my well-known “Bootcamp for Artists” seminar at no cost to the artists.

This seminar is suitable for all visual artists interested in taking their careers to the next level.

Ever wondered how to maximize the attention your work gets from the press, galleries, and museum curators? How to present your work in a professional manner and save money in the process? How to tap into grants, awards and residencies? How to approach a gallery?

Then this is the seminar for you! This program is free, but space is limited to 40 persons, and last year lots of artists were turned away because it filled up so quickly! You can sign online here.

This program will be held in MNCPPC’s Brentwood Arts Exchange on the 1st Floor of the Gateway Arts Center, 3901 Rhode Island Avenue, Brentwood, MD 20722, just over the District line on Rhode Island Avenue.

See ya there!

For your Saturday: Do this!

This Saturday, January 7, at 2 pm in Mezzanine, Sublevel 1 of the National Museum of African Art: María Magdalena Campos-Pons!!!

Cuban-born American artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons discusses her work of the last 20 years, focusing on the installation art, performative photography, and cultural activism that have gained her international recognition. Art historian Steven Nelson (University of California at Los Angeles) joins the artist in a conversation about her family history in Nigeria, Cuba, and Boston and its influence on her poignant artworks. This program is free, spread the word!!!

Image: still from "Not just Another Day", 1999, Version #2, silent video projection, María Magdalena Campos-Pons.
My 2008 studio visit with Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons can be read online here. Read it and prepare to be impressed by this dynamo of an artist.

“When I am not here/Estoy Alla” c. 1994 by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons