Celia Cruz doesn't need an introduction. The singer's energy is synonymous with Miami: loud and sin vergüenza. Cubanitos in the '70s grew up going to "El Open House" — Cuban dance parties held at Miami Jai-Alai where Cruz occasionally performed. Her music can still be heard at weddings, quinces, the club — basically every function. Today, every LatinX kid grows up with the Queen at home. It doesn't matter that she lived in New Jersey — Miami was, and always will be, the late Cuban icon's second home.
In celebration of Women's History Month, the Milander Center for Arts and Entertainment has partnered with the City of Hialeah, the Celia Cruz Legacy Project, and the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience to display select pieces from Cruz's estate. The exhibit features dresses, wigs, and shoes the artist wore, in addition to paintings inspired by her.
"Celia Cruz is one of the world’s most notable ambassadors of Hispanic culture, and we are so excited that Hialeah residents and visitors will have the opportunity to view the amazing exhibit that features items of her personal collection," says Francys Vallecillo, from the office of Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez. "Her genuine warmth and humanitarianism made her a loved performer and an icon for many."
The exhibit opened during Black History Month and continues through Women's History Month. The Miami Urban Contemporary Experience is committed to diversifying Miami's artistic landscape. By using arts as a vehicle to preserve heritage, they provided the additional artwork in the exhibit, showcasing female-centric works created by local artists.
"In partnering with Miami Urban Contemporary Experience, we had the opportunity to host an exhibit that highlighted and paid tribute to both Black History and Women’s History Month, since they were partnered with the Celia Cruz Legacy Project," Vallecillo explains.
The City of Hialeah gave Cruz a proclamation in 1980 and honors her in the city’s Cuban Culture in Exile Heritage Park today. The neighborhood, home to South Florida's largest population of Cubans, is in a major push to increase arts and culture for residents and visitors. Mayor Carlos Hernandez recently sanctioned the Leah Arts District, a designated space for local artists to create, much like the Wynwood Art District.
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"She is a woman who left a very big imprint in Hispanic culture and worldwide," says Jorge Hernandez, director of Milander Center for Arts and Entertainment, who was born and raised in Hialeah.
Cruz's music means a lot to Miami. It means heritage, alegria, home.
Celia Cruz Exhibition for Women's History Month
Through Thursday, March 31, at the Milander Center for Arts and Entertainment in Hialeah. Viewing hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit hialeahfl.gov.