By Odette Artiles
It’s all about baseball for contemporary Cuban artist Reynerio Tamayo. Sponsored by The Rodriguez Collection, in collaboration with the Caribbean Educational Baseball Foundation, The Kendall Art Center presented for art and baseball fans alike, the exposition “Cuban Slugger” at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. on July 11, 2018. A showcase, mimicking the emigration of its maker, “Cuban Slugger” garnered critical and communal success from its Havana origins, to its most recent showing. At any rate, “Cuban Slugger” united and transformed its audience regardless of interest; Tamayo’s works to the sport enthusiast’s eye amounted to monumental collectible baseball cards reminiscent of the nostalgia associated with a childhood spent dreaming, trading and playing. Whereas, to the art lover, it culminated as a pop-culture expression of Tamayo’s homeland and heritage, a bridge of yellows, reds and blues connecting his native land of Cuba with America.
Just as baseball has been coined the “American Pastime,” so too has it been declared by Cuba, as author Gary A. Anuez described, as the “Sublime” and a “Cuban Cultural Tradition.” Tamayo celebrates the exuberance, vivaciousness and vitality of life through baseball with art as a conduit. With his trademarked humor and hilarity, he chronicles the history of baseball, portraying giants in the sport, the legends that made children (American and Cuban alike) want to pick up a bat and continue what he portrays as a pursuit that transcends generations. So eloquently paraphrased by writer Adrian Burgos, Tamayo’s art “…purposefully transforms the emotional and lived passion for baseball to the visual with imagery that reminds us the past is always in the present in Americas’ Game.”
The artist Reynerio Tamayo was ultimately very satisfied and grateful in his speech, stating that he is happy to serve, in a certain way, as a bridge between cultures through his art. Henry Ballate, curator of the show, tells us that the exhibition not only attracted a great number of art lovers and sports fans, but also served to indenture collaborations and exchanges with important institutions in the world of the arts and collecting. Kendall Art Center depository house for The Rodriguez Collection, whose mission is to promote the collection and its artists beyond their community, with this exhibition achieves a production of national standing of what they have to offer.