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Reynerio Tamayo / Cuban Slugger curated by Henry Ballate

Reynerio Tamayo / Cuban Slugger

Opening reception: July 11th, 2018 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (invitation only)

Arena Stage. 1101 6th St SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

In collaboration with The Rodríguez Collection and the Caribbean Educational & Baseball Foundation (CEBF), Arena Stage is proud to present “Cuban Slugger,” an exhibition of Cuban artist Reynerio Tamayo featuring over 35 pieces of art. Launched in July 2017, coinciding with the All-Star Game in Miami, “Cuban Slugger” was shown at the Kendall Art Center, sponsored by The Rodríguez Collection and curated by Henry Ballate. This exhibition, which began at the Galería Habana in Cuba, now continues its journey and again coincides with the All-Star Game – which occurs this summer in Washington, D.C. at Nationals Park – and will be presented, revised and updated at Arena Stage for art lovers, baseball fans and the public. “Cuban Slugger” is a beautiful tribute to great figures of this sport and a journey through its history and the shared passion between the U.S. and Cuba.


Reynerio Tamayo is a Cuban-born artist who studied at the National Visual Arts School and the Higher Institute of Art in Havana, Cuba and is considered one of the most important Cuban artists of his time. He currently lives and works in Havana, Cuba. According to Gary Anuez, “In Tamayo’s work there can be seen an authentic vivacity, a sort of celebration, expressed through baseball, through the transformation of a classic Cuban/ American pastime into a symbol of transcendence. Tamayo was always a chronicler, as any good Cuban, ‘a jodedor’ (joker), a type of artist who narrates, that makes stories and at the same time legitimizes the story and almost always through laughter. He put things in place, but on that place where the art makes it simple. Humor has always been the bridge to hope, the relief of life, the channel of harmful energy that; as humans, we change and transform into a battle where you always win with a smile, and make the journey of life a more pleasant place. It’s where the value of this visual offer that he presents to us, through the Kendall Art Center, as a parenthesis to the transcendent; to this time and his vision beyond earth or space, but an experience of life.”

Cuban Slugger                                                                                                

By Gary A. Anuez


Reynerio Tamayo was always a chronicler, as any good Cuban, 

“a jodedor” (A joker), a type of artist who narrates, that makes stories and at the same time legitimizes the story and almost always through laughter. He put things in place, but on that place where the art makes it simple. His great and long career always noted the Cuban man, in this case, with all its contradictions, its culture, its joys and woes without taking sides in ideologies or trends only in its almost religious zeal of a constant artistic practice that goes beyond the trends, gestures, positions or tourist needs, and attitudes that move Cuban arts within or outside of the island today.


In his disadvantage he has an advantage, in his pain and his limitations is the springboard to that height which can only be reached in this constant reinvention that the Cuban people practice in their desire to transcend an era, a time, a moment.


Cuba is baseball (among other things of course) and baseball has always been to Cuba the sublime. The practice of making a game, the moment of ecstasy and the sublime, a reminder to the needs of the day-to-day, what is lacking as the antithesis of what is left over, and a lot of talent in the history of this sport. In this time interval, which defines to generations of Cubans, and this artist exposes it as an educational and historical document on those past glories, but not forgotten of our national sport.

There are ingredients in Tamayo’s work, intertextual dialog from the appointment to the reiteration as a symbolic element to define a counterpoint that places us in this geographical space. In a rare animal of an island that survives due to the repercussions of the times, to the history, and geopolitics. Our history is static, immobile (aplatanada), but always hopeful and looking for ways for the resurgence, but collective at least individual that is where is the beginning of all restorative and creative work, the emancipation of all the darkness that precedes and exceeds life, the history itself.

The value of the art of Tamayo is that constant movement and interaction of the values of his culture, that continues to prevail in the political shocks and cyclones, molding his work in one direction. The importance of men in their constant becoming, in their struggles and battles for the spaces and moments that history and society forces them to face in this life.


In this example the sport is in celebration, and through art, the two spaces become authentic overcoming the social impact as the living memory that defines and absorbs several generations of Cubans who were great exponents of this sport, so rooted in the Cuban cultural tradition.


There is no better concern that defines an artist, and Reynerio, has always had the grace of melting languages and traditions into his artistic work, and not only from an aesthetic perspective, but from the cultural anthropological ingredients that have defined his artistic production for more than twenty five years.

Lou Schwechheimer, Reynerio Tamayo, Annie Life, Tommy Goodman, Leonardo Rodríguez.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Director Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.


The Caribbean Educational and Baseball Foundation (CEBF) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) using a shared passion for baseball to build bridges among the U.S., Cuba and other Caribbean countries. and @thecebf on Twitter.

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