Fifty people turned out for the March 22 event at the Beverly Arts Center on the South Side here to view and discuss Guerrero’s 15 watercolors, illustrating the first 17 months of incarceration he and his four comrades shared in the “hole” at the Miami Federal Detention Center in 1998-99. The arts center is a well-known nonprofit community center with galleries, classes, theater and concerts.
“I was very impressed with the graphic strength of the work and was very glad to show it because of that alone,” said gallery curator Carla Winterbottom, who opened the program. “But it’s also important that this work is honest. For someone who is in prison to find such a clear way of expressing himself is special.”
The exhibit “will get maximum exposure here,” said Winterbottom. The paintings are hung in a well-traveled hallway where they will be seen over the next three weeks by the hundreds of people who come to the arts center for classes and performances. A closing celebration is scheduled for Sunday, April 13.
“The hole and solitary confinement that they were subjected to exist in every prison in this country,” Alyson Kennedy, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, told participants. “Tonight we are celebrating the release of Fernando González, and René González. We need to reach out and build the jury of millions that will free the other three.”
“Fernando was released after serving every minute of his sentence,” said Gisela López, a Chicago resident who was part of the Fidel Castro-led July 26 Movement before the revolution in Cuba. “We celebrate his dignity and his perseverance.”
Lourdes Lugo López, niece of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López, spoke about the fight to free him and the Five. She noted that Oscar Lopez, the longest-held Puerto Rican political prisoner in history, shared a cell with Fernando González in Terre Haute, Ind., federal prison.
Among the participants were artists and members of local political organizations, including the Southeast Environmental Task Force, which has been fighting to get toxic petroleum coke out of their neighborhood in Chicago.
As they moved from painting to painting, reading the artist’s descriptions, those who hadn’t heard of the Cuban Five before mingled with those who have been active in the international fight for their freedom. Many had questions about who they are, why they were framed up, and the political defense campaign.
“The show makes people more curious to find out about the case and it brings home what happened to them and how they stood up to it,” said Al Barraza, a union painter.
“It shows how solitary confinement tries to break you, but it also shows the artist’s humanity,” said William Brown, a Chicago Public Schools worker who learned about the exhibit after renewing his subscription to the Militant.
‘Part of struggle to defend Cuba from US imperialism’
Showings of paintings by Antonio Guerrero
Who are the Cuban Five?
‘Revolution was first step toward women’s equality’
Federation of Cuban Women leaders speak in New York
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