Art for students, a mom and a son.
Brandon Peña, the CEO of Octopus Advertising, could not believe his eyes when he saw artist Katey Penner in the halls of the JW Marriot Marquis in Downtown Miami. The painting seemed to be a portrait of Donald Trump.
He couldn’t believe an artist would paint the president at an event like Hispanicize 2017, where major Hispanic journalism and entertainment enterpreneurs and trendsetters got together for an annual event that celebrates Latino culture. Many attendees and panelists have questioned the president’s words and actions towards the Hispanic community and they feel it threatens their legitimacy in the country.
The painter worked the entire day on her project. She started with the hair. She donated her time and the painting for an auction at Hispanicize, which benefits students from the Miami Northwestern Senior High School and the Metropolitan International School of Miami. Of course, the paintings are auctioned for a fraction of their normal price, but according to Brandon Peña, other sponsor institutions match the price of the painting, making the donation double its value.
When Peña saw the painting for a second time, almost finished, he realized he got it totally wrong.
It was a portrait of Celia Cruz.
How can you mix up Celia with Trump? Maybe the idea that now ‘everything has to do with Trump’ is implanted in our brains. Maybe that feeling will be there for a while.
“When I realized it was Celia Cruz, it made me think of my mother,” Peña said.
Peña and his mother have been watching the Netflix series “Celia,” based on the life of one of the most influential artists of musica Latina.
“When I fly to see my mother, we see the show,” he said. “Is it a Celia night?” he asks his mother.
He will save the portrait for Mother’s Day and he knows exactly what her reaction will be.
“I think she’s gonna cry, ‘cause she knows it’s our thing, and it’s gonna be a representation of every single night we’ve been spending together for a year.” Pena said.
Hispanicize and The Art Experience bring local artists to create their pieces on the spot throughout the Hispanicize event. The paintings are later auctioned to benefit local students. The project, “Murals for Morale” helps fund art programs at Miami Northwestern Senior High School and the Metropolitan International School of Miami.
If the paintings — which are normally worth thousands of dollars — don’t get sold, they will go to the schools to decorate their walls.