It is only once in a very long while that the city of Santa Ana gets honored with such a presence of greatness as that of Cuban artist Viredo Espinosa. Viredo is one of only two living members of Los Once (or "The Eleven"), the group of Cuban abstract expressionists who reached fame in Havana during the mid-1950s for their rejection of typical modernistic works. Viredo and other members of Los Once came under scrutiny of the Batista regime because of their anti-government sentiments; many fled the county in self-exile. For the next few years, unable to secure work, artistic supplies or exhibition possibilities, Viredo took meager labor jobs to support his wife and family.
It wasn't until years after he left Cuba for the States, at the prime age of 41, that Viredo's financial situation allowed him to return to painting full-time. Since then, he has received numerous awards and recognitions from the U.S. House of Representatives and the California State Assembly, KCET's Local Hero Award, and the Cuban Culture Institute's La Palma Espinada.
Viredo's art, highly influenced by his Afro-Cuban upbringing in Regla, often depicts the political and economic upheaval of his childhood. "In my art," he states, "I try to communicate my amazement at the diversity of humankind that I see around me. I always return to the rich canvas of my childhood where so many elements blended together in so many colors and sounds."
Now you have a chance to meet and shake the hand of the legend himself: meet Viredo Espinosa at KK Originals Fine Art in the Santora Arts Building, 207 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (800) 400-2990; www.viredo.com. Sat., 7-10 p.m. Free. Exhibit continues through March 4.