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Ahoy! Ferdie in a sea of faces
Bob Gelberg

Renaissance Man

Very few people can claim a life as varied as that of the legendary "Fight Doctor," Ferdie Pacheco. Displaying more moves than a juggling octopus, the polifacetic Pacheco has experienced success as a cartoonist, pharmacist, medical doctor, and corner man to twelve world champs, including Muhammad Ali. He went on to earn two Emmys as a sports commentator, has authored fourteen books, and found time to knock out nearly a thousand paintings along the way. His affair with the canvas began when he was in grammar school, the 76-year old says. "I was winning awards for my work back then and would draw with anything I could get my hands on." A collection of his paintings is on display at the Artist in Residence Gallery, as are most of his books, including the recent Who Killed General Patton?, a fast-paced whodunit set at the end of WWII.

The exhibit features large portraits of celebrities and historical figures like Einstein, Gandhi, Churchill, Clint Eastwood, Frida Kahlo, and Miles Davis, who get their mugs worked over in a colorful slashing style Pacheco dubs "cubist expressionism." He says the influence of the Mexican muralists and Depression-era painters can be seen in other works such as the painting commissioned by his friend, Latin spice impresario, Pepe Badia, who sponsored the show. The festive confection depicting salsa dancers, Pepe Badia holding a spoon, and Ferdie, his wife Luisita and their daughter, Tina, waving from Pacheco's 1947 Caddy, will soon be blown up to the size of a boxing ring to grace the rooftop at Badia's corporate headquarters. Located near the end of a Miami International Airport runway, Badia's unusual contribution to public art will provide the first taste of our city for millions each year. Unlike other celebrities who've dabbled in art -- Tony Bennet, Joni Mitchell, Anthony Quinn, and Bob Guccione -- the indefatigable Ferdie hits the eye hard and may yet paint his way into history.


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