| Art |

Cuban Painter Agustin Bejarano Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Child While in Miami for ArteAmericas

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When we last reviewed Agustin Bejarano's work in May of 2007 at a show titled "Rites of Silence" at Wynwood's Pan American Art Projects, many of his paintings depicted a solitary figure riding on horseback into a desolate landscape or clinging for his life on a capsized dinghy.

In some of his canvases, Bejarano's little man walked on the edge of a knife or appeared on the verge of falling into an abyss. His paintings seemed a meditation on alienation or self-annihilation. Bejarano may now find  himself  mired in one of the dark landscapes he has become known for.

This past Monday, Bejarano, a successful and well-known Cuban artist who was in town for ArteAmericas, was arrested by Hialeah cops for allegedly molesting a five year-old Hialeah boy. This after ArteAmericas also saw vandalism and artist brawls.

The 46-year-old Bejarano had been visiting the boy's family who are friends of the painter.  Bejarano allegedly snuck into the child's room and had the victim touch his erect penis several times before kissing him on the mouth. He has been denied bond and could face a life sentence if convicted.

"I have not spoken to him yet but am shocked," said Janda Wetherington of Pan American Art Projects, Bejarano's dealer. "I've known him ten years and he has a wife and two kids. He has never given us any indication that he would commit such an act," Wetherington said.

Maria Napoles, executive director of ArteAmericas, said Bejarano's arrest has surprised Miami's art community.

"I don't understand why someone who is so well known would engage in this type of aberration. Our society does not condone crimes against children or the elderly. It's hard fore someone to occult this behavior in their souls. We all have a blend of white and black in our hearts but something must have triggered this gray area inside him. He had to be crazy to do it," Napoles said. "He is a visitor here now he can't go back home where he is an art star. One would never know Bejarano could be capable of such things by looking at his art."

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