On Thursday, February 27 from 6-10 p.m., a group of local individual and company donors will host an evening of silent and live auctions of more than 30 pieces of original Cuban art at the Haskell Building (111 Riverside Avenue) in Jacksonville, Florida. All proceeds benefit Carmen and Rey’s Cancer Kids, a support group, and non-sanctioned organization, based in Havana, Cuba that has helped change the lives of kids in Cuba for more than 30 years. Visit www.artandloveinaction.com for more details.
The support group was founded by Carmen Vallejo and Rey Febles following their work with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and the Catholic Missionaries of Charity, who established themselves in Cuba in the late 1980s – the start of an extended period of economic crisis in Cuba known as the “Special Period.” Carmen Vallejo is the daughter of René Vallejo, medical doctor and personal interpreter to Fidel Castro from 1959 until his death in 1969. Following a failed attempt at defection to Sweden in 1981, Carmen was sent back to Cuba where she endured persecution for her political and religious beliefs in the decades that followed.
Carmen and Rey have a network of well-known Cuban artists that have donated their artwork to help the cancer support group raise money for more than a decade. Support through art auctions began when the British and Czech Embassies in Havana offered to host art auctions in 2008 and 2009. The US Embassy in Havana then followed suite in 2010 and hosted an annual art auction every year until 2017. Because the US government scaled back personnel at the embassy in Havana in 2017, these art auctions have not been possible the past three years. Local philanthropists from Jacksonville who have worked with Carmen and the support group decided to bring the art auction to Jacksonville in 2020. Carmen was recently granted a visa by the US government to attend this event and will speak prior to the live auction.
World-renowned artists such as Pedro Pablo Oliva, Alicia de la Campa, Alan Manuel Gonzalez, José Ángel Vincench, Rosana Vargas (ROX), Mario García Portela, Esteban Leyva, José Fuster, and many, many others who have been supporting the work of Carmen and Rey for years are participating.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. The silent auction runs from 6:00 – 9:30 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. there will be a screening of a short
(eight-minute) documentary on Carmen Vallejo and her cancer support group, shot in Cuba and produced by TigerLily, a Jacksonville-based film production company. Immediately following will be a live auction of paintings by popular Cuban artists. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cash bar will be available. Upon arrival guests will receive an auction paddle and number. Tickets are free, but space is limited.
Local affiliations include Jacksonville University’s The Cuba Project, Haskell, Arbus Magazine, TigerLily Media, KC Evolve, Intracoastal Construction and Repair, Sight and Sound Productions, along with local donors, such as Steve Halverson, David Strickland, Vanessa K. Harper, and Ambassador John Caulfield, and many local volunteers.