Antonio Guerrero art exhibit opens in Seattle
Labor and community solidarity with Cuban Five
by National Committee to Free the Cuban Five-Seattle
Jan. 14, 2012
“From my altitude,” a traveling exhibit of paintings by Antonio Guerrero, one of the five Cuban heroes, opened at M. Rosetta Hunter Gallery at the Seattle Central Community College with a reception Jan. 12. The exhibit was co-sponsored by the student-funded gallery and American Federation of Teachers Local 1789, which represents the community college faculty. To celebrate this opening and reach out to the community, a broad array of union, community and Cuba solidarity leaders spoke at the well-attended reception.
Welcoming the approximately 100 visitors, Community College President Paul Killpatrick described how Guerrero first learned to paint in prison and is now teaching art, English and GED preparation to his fellow prisoners. Killpatrick called this a “teachable moment” for students, comparing Guerrero to Malcolm X who taught himself to read in prison.
Karen Strickland, president of Local 1789, recalled her visits to Cuba and the inspiration of the island nation's health and education systems.
Rodolfo Franco, president of Washington Federation of State Employees, Local 304, said, “They say the truth will set you free. But for the Cuban Five, their truth imprisoned them,” in reference to how the U.S. imprisoned the Five after they revealed the truth about the extent of anti-Cuba terrorist organizing in Miami.
Left to right: Rodolfo Franco, president of WFSE 304, Karen Strickland, Pres. AFT local 1789, and John Martinez, Local 1789 Human and Civil Rights Committee
Betty Luke, of the Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Project, said that she spoke “with one foot in the social justice community and one foot in the art community.” She explained the work of the CERP, which is to commemorate the expulsion of the Chinese from Seattle in 1886. She also talked about her impression of Guerrero's art. She was particularly moved by the painting of his prison uniform shirt.
Cindy Domingo, co-coordinator of the Women and Cuba Collaborative, showed a photo of a 2002 delegation to Cuba in which the delegates met with Guerreros's mother, Mirta Rodriquez.
Jane Cutter of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five gave an update on the case and urged everyone to get involved in supporting the Five. She also presented Free the Five T-shirts to John Martinez of the AFT Local 1789 Human and Civil Rights Committee, who played a major role in bringing the exhibit to Seattle, and to gallery director Ken Matsudaira, who worked hard to prepare the exhibit.
Other speakers included Judy Zeh, chairperson of the Seattle-Cuba Friendshipment Committee, and Lynne Dodson, executive secretary of the Washington State Labor Federation. The program was chaired by John Martinez. The event concluded with music by Los Flacos.