Celebrating the Cuban Masters

I was watching Maria Elvira on TV tonight and she had a Cuban gentleman on as her guest. The man, whose name is Roberto Ramos, is an art collector and he’s exhibiting works of pre-castro art in Daytona Beach.
Now, I know that dealing in Cuban art is a dirty business with a lot of lowlifes and can’t vouch for this man or how he obtains his art however his personal story was very compelling to me.
He explained to Maria Elvira that he had managed to accumulate 14 works of pre-castro Cuban art and intended to bring them to the U.S. to sell as a source of income with which to live upon arriving in his new country. When the small boat he was on was intercepted by the Coast Guard (this was in 1992, before the wet/dry foot policy) he and his fellow freedom seekers were read their rights. Ramos says that this caused him to cry. Think about it, for most of us being read our rights is usually associated with a bad thing, being arrested. And even though he was technically being arrested (at least temporarily) he was brought to tears by the fact that he actually had rights.
More about Ramos’ story here.
Ramos has dedicated himself to promoting the work of pre-castro Cuban masters who have been erased from the Cuba’s cultural history by the regime. One of the anecdotes Ramos shared with Maria Elvira was about Oscar Garcia Rivera, a Cuban painter who refused to change his style, which consisted of capturing daily Cuban life, when castro steered Cuba toward communism. Ramos explains that the regime did not like his depictions of the militiamen and policemen that were ever present in Cuban life (in other words his paintings were too accurate). They ostracized Garcia Rivera, and finally cut the tendons in his hands so he could no longer paint. He ultimately committed suicide.
La Evolución de la Conga by Oscar Garcia Rivera
Ramos’ collection is on display along with other pre-castro art (which was once part of one-time Daytona Beach resident Fulgencio Batista’s collection) at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach through September 1st.
I thought I had read something about Roberto Ramos, and it turns out that I had. He exposed some tom foolery having to do with Cuban art in this Miami New Times article.

6 thoughts on “Celebrating the Cuban Masters”

  1. Henry:
    Thank you that is wonderful painting
    Is the full name of that painting “La progression de la Conga” or something like that

  2. I watched the show. It’s good to know that many of those paintings are being saved from destruction.
    Mr. Ramos told of several stories where curators were ordered to destroy many of the paintings but they took them home instead. He also spoke of paintings that were over 10 ft. high that government “employees” took home and used them as tents in their balconies. Really barbaric!
    These paintings -and many more being sold as I write this- belonged to the Cuban people, and were part of Cuba’s patrimony.

  3. I remember Roberto from Santos Suarez, Habana – Cuba. We went to Jose Maria Heredia and have many common friends. Later after he came to Miami, by total conincidence, he ended up marrying my cousin. I have gone many times and sat in his home and art gallery just to admire his collection. I truly commend him for his tireless work in trying to preserve our cultural history. Way to go Roberto! Cariynos, Marisel

Comments are closed.