Category

Culture

ONE on ONE

by Mayi de la Vega

Here Comes CasaCuba

By | Culture, Education

An inside look at Florida International University’s new Cuban cultural center and think tank.

I recently sent out an announcement about my joining the board of advisors at CasaCuba, a Cuban cultural institution, community center and think tank at my alma mater Florida International University. There’s so much more to its story that I thought I’d share all the good news.

The concept and space are the first of its kind in the U.S., and I’m so proud that our city is going forward to make this dream happen. When CasaCuba’s new home is completed in 2024, it will be a global destination for Cuban heritage through multiple galleries for exhibitions and a state-of-the-art venue for diverse programming from performances to dances. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in interactive, digital experiences with the latest technology like listening to Cubans’ oral histories. Scholars, business leaders and policymakers will have access to its Cuban Research Institute, a think tank that promotes valuable discussions on where we’ve been and where we’re going, how do we preserve our heritage while addressing our current status and needs. But you don’t have to be Cuban or Cuban-American to benefit from this incredible resource for the whole community. Everyone is invited to learn about Cuban culture and to join in the fun like sipping a cafecito on the front porch.

The dream started five years ago. If you haven’t already participated in one of its interesting programs, I urge you to check out the calendar listing in the link below. Previous happenings include the Orígenes dinner series partnership with FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and the Contemporary Cuban Literature Circle collaboration with Books & Books, for which Richard Blanco inaugurated by reading an excerpt from his book “The Prince of Los Cocuyos.”

Upcoming virtual events are conversations with Bacardi USA former president and ceo Eduardo Sardiña for the Chaplin lecture series on November 12; and with Juana Valdes for the Contemporary Cuban art series on November 17. Dr. Rafael Rojas, a professor at the College of Mexico who has written extensively about the intellectual and political history of Latin America, speaks for the Briefings on Cuba lecture series on November 19. Tune in for pianist Enrique Chía’s “An Hour Remembering Our Music from My Living Room,” a virtual concert of classic Cuban dance habaneras, criollas and guajiras, on December 6.

I’d also like to congratulate local architect René González whose firm was awarded the commission to design CasaCuba’s brand-new, multimillion-dollar, 57,000-square-foot building. Having taught architecture at FIU decades ago, he called the honor “the most meaningful commission of my architectural career.” The commission is even more impressive considering the level of talent from his competition including the late Zaha Hadid’s London firm and Arquitectonica International based here. González’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest and The New York Times. Among many attributes, he was selected for previous projects that address cultural and environmental factors.

CasaCuba is fortunate to benefit from the involvement of many local organizations and businesses. It received major grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A portion of Bacardi USA’s recent gift of $5 million to FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management expands CasaCuba’s programming. I’m doing my part, too, in offering a $5,000 challenge grant in honor of Give Miami Day on November 19. Please consider lending your support as well to create a home away from home for all Cubans and the community at large.

https://casacuba.fiu.edu/

 

Latin Love

By | Culture

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates a growing part of America.

With everything going on this year, I’d like to take a moment to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month. As a Cuban immigrant who’s spent most of my life in a city full of other Latin-American immigrants, this relatively new celebration of my people means a lot to me. I say relatively new because despite Hispanics having lived in America for centuries, it wasn’t until 1968 that Hispanic Heritage Week was initiated, and another 20 years until its current, month-long iteration was signed into law. The celebration’s unusual mid-month dates of September 15 to October 15 were chosen to honor the time frame when many Latin American countries earned their independence in the 1800s.

As of last year, more than 60 million Hispanics live in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s nearly 20 percent of the total population, and we’re the fastest-growing demographic too. Like many of them, my family came here with nothing. One of my most vivid memories is accompanying my mother as she cleaned offices when we started out fresh. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work hard and achieve the American dream. I think of all the Hispanics who paved the way, incredible people like the civil rights activist Cesar Chavez who fought for Latino farmworkers’ rights, so we’d one day have Sonia Sotomayor, a daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, serve as the first Hispanic and Latina on the Supreme Court. The Mexican writer, advocate and former Goldman Sachs vp Julissa Arce really captures this journey in her bestselling autobiography, “My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive.” I’m also proud of my hometown’s Hispanics done good from husband-and-wife music makers Gloria and Emilio Estefan to Danielle Corona, who just made fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily’s “7 Latinx designers to watch this season” for her Hunting Season designer accessories collection. This month is about celebrating their achievements along with the history of everyone before them.

To hear about more fascinating figures, the National Park Service created a portal (link below) for “Telling All Americans’ Stories,” including those of Hispanics and Latinos. As part of the celebration, Smithsonian American Art Museum premieres “¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now.” Comprised of 120 works, it’s the first exhibit that pairs contemporary printmakers and historic civil rights-era prints. Another key event is the 2020 Américas Award Ceremony for Hispanic and Latinx creators of children’s and YA literature on October 12. I just couldn’t be more pleased with all these positive happenings.

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/tellingallamericansstories/index.htm

Emilio and Gloria Estefan
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court of the United States
Cesar Chavez 

 

Every Vote Counts

By | Culture, Education

This month celebrates the centennial of U.S. women’s right to vote.

Seventy-two years. That’s how long it took from the first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, was signed into law on August 26, 1920. Throughout the month of August, we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the suffragist movement’s incredible achievement: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The women’s vote centennial is being honored across the U.S. with myriad events that culminate on August 26. I’ve included a couple links below to brush up on your history to fully appreciate how far we’ve come and how much work remains. As the female founder of my real estate firm, I deeply respect these historic figures for the road they paved for me and other women to follow their dreams, first by being able to cast a ballot. In poring over the links’ comprehensive timelines and priceless photos, I discovered so many details beyond the basic lessons we learn in school about iconic suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Of all places, I never thought Wyoming, then a territory, would be the first place in the U.S. to pass a women’s suffrage measure in 1869, and that Colorado would be the first state to adopt and amendment granting women the right to vote in 1893. (Even though the movement began in New York, it wouldn’t be until 1917 that it passed there.) Other interesting details are that suffragists were the first protestors to picket at the White House; 32 men were among the signees to declare the nascent movement back then in Seneca Falls, and several notable Black suffragists including Harriet Tubman and Ida B. Wells-Barnett contributed greatly to the cause. With another election year upon us, I’m grateful for their tireless efforts.

An in-depth resource to find out more about nationwide events is the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative (link below). This week features virtual lectures by top professors on the subject, online tours of exhibits, women-themed film screenings, a virtual Equality Weekend in Seneca Falls, livestreamed concerts from Nashville, a historic reenactment of Stanton circa 1866, and many more great activities. The website also provides educational materials on where we stand today. For example, women make up less than 20 percent of elected officials in Congress, and only one in three eligible women voted in the last presidential election. As you can see, we still have a lot of work to do!

https://www.2020centennial.org/

https://floridasuffrage100.org/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/17/us/suffrage-movement-photos-history.html

Aspen Ascent

By | Art, Culture, Events, Music

The ski town’s cultural scene moves online for summer festivals and fundraisers.

Come summertime, South Floridians look forward to cooling off in the mountains, wherever their traditions may take them. Aspen, which has become a sister city to our region in many respects, is favored for its rare balance of nature and the outdoors with cosmopolitan perks from designer shopping to chef-driven dining to world-class culture. Though the pandemic has altered many of summer’s beloved festivals and fundraisers, cultural institutions are making the best of it with virtual events.

The Anderson Ranch Arts Center always hosts one of the biggest parties of the season at Hotel Jerome. This year is no exception, because the nonprofit in nearby Snowmass invites donors to attend its “Un-Gala” on July 16, from the comfort of their own homes. It will deliver a “bash-in-a-box” to your door filled with all kinds of whimsical surprises to sip and spark creativity throughout the evening that begins at 6 p.m. MST. Each open access pass includes a raffle ticket to win a drawing. Dozens of participating artists like Cindy Sherman, Walead Beshty, Enrique Martinez Celaya and Fred Tomaselli, among others, are donating works. Proceeds go toward operations and scholarship funds to promote diversity. For tickets, call 970.924.5067, or click here: https://www.andersonranch.org/event/un-gala/.

Anderson Ranch moved its 2020 Summer Series with conversations by artists, critics, collectors and curators online as well. Led by curator-in-residence Helen Molesworth, complimentary Zoom sessions kick off with Mark Grotjahn on July 2; the California native is known for his Butterfly and Face series of abstract, geometric paintings and drawings. Other speakers are Nicole Eisenman on July 9, Michael Shnayerson on July 21, Deana Lawson on July 23, Silke Otto-Knapp on July 30, Christiana Quarles on August 6, and Tavares Strachan on August 13.

The Aspen Music Festival and School also leaps from its iconic tent to the virtual realm from July 4 through August 23. Log on for complimentary live recitals, panel discussions and in-depth seminars, as well as a tribute to music director Robert Spano to celebrate his tenth anniversary with the organization on July 5. His star-studded performance features soprano Renée Fleming, pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Robert McDuffie, clarinetist Michael Rusinek and other musicians with long histories here. Expect plenty of guest speakers to share their memories of Spano, too. If you’re feeling charitable, please donate here:      http://www.aspenmusicfestival.com/support/contribution

 

Deana Lawson

Tavares Strachan

Robert Spano