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On October 16, the Alex Haleigh Gallery in Los Angeles held a "Works on Paper" group show featuring renowned Cuban artist Viredo plus noted artists Denise Castro-Bran, Ken Kearney, Bob Mackie, Yvette Mangual, Poli Marichal, Miguel Angel Murillo, Austino Okafor, Ed Ortiz, Mindy Seeger and Adam Ugolnik. Live music was provided by Johnny Polanco y Su Conjunto Amistad. The gallery is also becoming known as the "space" for poetry readings, spoken word, performance art and unique works of art. The "Corpus Delectus" (Human Figure) show runs till December 29. Alex Haleigh Gallery 2928 Marine Ave. Gardena, CA 90249 (310) 324-5414.

"Viredo is ah outstanding representative of Cuban arts, a member of the famed Grupo de los Once of 1950s Havana. Born in humble beginnings--his father was a barber--Viredo, who is now in his mid-seventies, has dedicated most of his life to painting, sometimes under the most challenging political and economic obstacles. He is an extraordinarily indefatigable and dedicated artist, devoted to his art and to Cuban culture.

Viredo's paintings and linocuts often feature musical and religious motifs from Santeria and other Cuban creole religions that flourished in his birthplace in Regla, a small port city across the bay from Havana.

His paintings in this area have already gained him significant attention. Viredo's work has profound value, not only artistically, but also historically. For example, The Cabildo is Coming! captures symbolically the traditional march to the water's edge celebrated every year by Regla's Cabildo Change Tedun until the end of the 1950s, an event of which actual photographs are extremely rare. After a 40-year hiatus, this traditional folkloric event has been revived in the last three years.

A broad range of music, musicians and music groups have informed an important part of Viredo's paintings. His interests range widely with works focused on Cuban individuals and forms, e.g. the danzon, Celia Cruz, Arsenio Rodriguez, the comparsa abakua etc. to classical and popular international artists such as Stravinsky, Gershwin, Duke Ellington and John Lee Hooker.

Viredo's work makes an especially significant contribution to the tradition of Cuban music-focused iconography. In paintings and woodcuts, 19th century Cuban artists provided glimpses into the roots of what were to become emblematic 20th century dances and music styles. Viredo's representation of some of those 20th century forms is appealing and valuable, and sustains an honored tradition in Cuban painting.

His art, the product of years of work both in Cuba and in the U.S., bridges both cultures, especially when it comes to public art. For example, Viredo is the only painter with two major murals on permanent display in port cities in Cuba and the U.S., one in Havana (at the Accion Medica Clinic) and one in Long Beach, California, at the Queen City Bank! Viredo is a treasure of Cuban art."

--Raul Fernandez, Curator, Smithsonian Latin Jazz Exhibit

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Title Annotation:artist; exhibit at Alex Haleigh Gallery in Los Angeles, California
Author:Fernandez, Raul
Publication:Latin Beat Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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