Founder & Editor
According to the Miami Herald, Illuminate Coral Gables has cancelled its 2022 exhibit.
Illuminate, which relied mostly on Coral Gables public funds to acquire art and organize the event, had been asked for months to remove two artists from its list of exhibitors. The request had been on the record at the June 8th City Commission meeting, when Mayor Vince Lago asked the organization’s Co-Founder, Developer Venny Torre, to ensure the organization addressed community concerns about two artists.
The artists in question are Sandra Ramos and Cai Guo-Qiang.
Sandra Ramos, a Cuban artist who has lived in South Florida for several years. However, according to her website, she has a studio in Havana, Cuba.
Cuban law, under the tenets of socialism, does not allow for private property. The government also does not allow for businesses without first being active member of the ruling communist party.
For Ramos to secure a studio in Havana from which to sell her art in a free market fashion while living in “exile” would require cooperation from the government. Ramos, according to her website, held events regularly at her studio prior to the onset of COVID-19.
Over the last week, we have all witnessed the arrests, brutal beatings and murders conducted by the Cuban regime of the people of Cuba who are protesting in the hopes of securing their basic God-given rights and freedom.
The truth is Cuba is not a beautiful tourist destination to visit on a cruise ship, ride on a nice classic car and enjoy an adult beverage while overlooking the sunset from a European owned beachfront resort. Turning the corner and walking a block away from those picturesque scenes are the crumbling buildings in which 11 million Cubans live. Many of them born not knowing what it is like to have any human rights, freedom of speech or to even select what they want to be in life.
Cai Guo-Qiang, as previously reported on Gables Insider, has long been a reported sympathizer of the Chinese regime. He was instrumental in their artistic planning of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games in China.
In an interview in 2018 with Frontpage, he was credited with saying, “Communism was successful in making people feel as though they have been transformed from being slaves to becoming the masters of the earth. Communism promoted a kind of utopian universalism. Communism is a very resourceful kind of -ism. It can make a large majority of uncultured peasants suddenly feel that they have thoughts and philosophy!”
Like in Cuba, the Chinese people have long yearned for human rights and freedom. Unless you agree with the government, you are unable to be successful. Dissidents have disappeared for years without a trace.
Illuminate’s other Co-Founder, Patrick O’Connell, addressed the Commission at the July 13th City Commission meeting, where the organization was seeking $300,000 from the City in order to carry on with the 2022 event, scheduled for January and February of 2022.
As the Herald pointed out, Mayor Lago said, unequivocally, that he would only support funding the project if the two artists were removed from the program.
Lago was not alone. The Commission stood as one and to-a-person spoke against approving the funding if the artists were not removed.
An out of touch O’Connell took the opportunity to attack George Merrick’s past in a last ditch attempt to secure the funding. He explained that the honorarium to Cai Guo-Qiang had already been paid and they were in the process of expanding his part in the program. He also implied that since they had been paid, the City’s funds were not going to pay for their art. However, the argument could be made that if the artist honorarium had not been paid, the money could have been used to cover the costs they intended to use taxpayer dollars for.
In the end the Commission agreed to support the funding, with the condition that Guo-Qiang and Ramos be removed from the program.
Chief Curator Resigns
According to the Miami Herald’s article, the organization’s Chief Curator, Lance Fung, also resigned. The Herald references that “Fung’s statement was more specific, noting that he was disappointed in the cancellation, citing ‘recent comments by some of the City Commissioners that do not align with our values.'”