Meet our 2017 Ambassador Artists

#AtHomeWithArt – Art Basilando 2017

September 1-4, 2017

“Art Basilando” depicts the colorful souls of twelve Little Havana artist who, through different styles and textures, create a cohesive trajectory of heritage, history and artistic expression. The viewer is bedazzled by color and bold imagery, but should look deeper into the artist’s canvas. Unfold the dichotomy of an artist’s soul: worlds past and present; elation and deep sadness; surreal and real; darkness and light.


Katey Penner

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Katey Penner’s art has been widely received in venues such as the WDNA Jazz Radio Gallery and South Florida jazz clubs. She participates in many local South Florida shows and her signature Jazz series can be found in neighborhood hotels and restaurants. She opened her studio on Calle 8 in Little Havana three years ago, and continues to work there as a full-time artist. Penner was born in Canada and now lives in Coconut Grove.

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Santos Mendez

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Santos Mendez has been the recipient of many awards, such as, the Grand Prize winner for “Best in Show” at the 2004 Brickell Key Master Association Annual Art Festival, second place at the 2006 Carnival Miami presented by the Kiwanis of Little Havana and a recognition at the Gasparilla Art Festival in Tampa, Florida. Mendez has also been featured in the 2005 documentary “Los Pintores Cubanos, Dos siglos de Pintura” by film director Roberto Jorge Cayuso. He began painting at a very early age and was born in Havana, Cuba and moved to the United States in 1962.

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Didi Marchi

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Didi Marchi started art classes and began to paint and sculpt after she moved to Michigan in 1989. She was born in Brazil, where she worked as a Psychologist for 36 years. It was while comparing the Brazilian sunny and bright days with the snowy and dark days of Michigan that Marchi discovered her love for capturing mesmerizing Horizons, in all of their colorful explosions. Creating those colorful paintings was one way for her to “survive.”

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Gonzalo Borges

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Gonzalo Borges’ artworks are part of important public and private collections in the United States and abroad. After spending several years with his workshop in New York City, where he was awarded with a speech by Governor George Pataki recognizing the quality of his works, Borges relocated to Miami. He presented several expositions, especially those exhibited in Barcelo Fine Art, Coral Gables; Inner Tropical Gallery, Coral Gables; Arches Gallery Calle 8, Miami; and Art Fusion Gallery, Design District Miami. Due to his personal efforts toward learning, he spent years in mural painting with a famous Spanish professor, Vicente Klemade, becoming his assistant and direct pupil, participating with him in the production of several wall paintings where they evoked different Bible’s themes that are still currently kept in cathedrals and churches of Old Havana. They can be found in temples such as Caridad del Cobre, Monserrat, La Merced, San Juan Bosco, The Sacred Heart and others.

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Annie M.

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Annie M. is known for her signature paintings, “The 4 Faces of Annie M.” In her work, she uses acrylics, watercolors and oil paints. She loves using spatula strokes to enhance and texturize her work. Annie M. currently has her studio located at Futurama 1637 Galleries. Her inspiration comes from the diverse sights, colors and tastes of this beautiful city that is full of life and encompasses various cultures. She is a Cuban-American artist, who was born and raised in Miami. Her passion is painting and she started at a very young age.

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Diana Contreras

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From painting murals in Miami’s street art scene, to exhibiting her art in various galleries, Diana “Didirok” Contreras’ work has been seen in exhibitions and private collections in the United States and abroad. Contreras's primary medium is oil paint, but she enjoys experimenting with anything she can make a mark with or on. From canvas, to paper, to walls, her work deals with femininity, set in whimsical melancholic portraiture. With a distinct style in oil paint, her work merges her love of caricatures with the painting techniques of the Old Masters to make it her own. Contreras was born in Chiclayo, Peru in 1981 and grew up in Miami, Florida.

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Phil Avello

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Born in Cienfuegos, Phil Avello’s exhibits work regularly at Jadite Galleries in New York City. Locally, he is featured at Gallery 101 in Fort Lauderdale and Viernes Culturales at the Futurama Building in Little Havana. Avello’s true aspiration is to simply create art that is aesthetically accessible to everyone. During his graduate studies, Avello was a member of the Winter Gallery in Soho, New York. He had his first one-man show of both drawings and sculpture in 1974, and went on to participate in several group shows over the next few years. In 1976, he was invited to participate and compete in the Audubon Artists Society Annual Show, placing second with a sculpture piece carved out of African wonder stone entitled “Siamese Twins.”

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Mildrey Guillot

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Mildrey Guillot has devoted a good period of her life to art. To start a new painting means a great dealt to her because the subjects that she chooses must capture a specific mood, like love, happiness, or sadness. Guillot will then employ her unique palette to add an element of mystery or mysticism; even in her still lives she can obtain remarkable results. She was born in Havana, Cuba, and after moving to the USA, she spent several years in Madrid, where she acquired and developed some of her techniques and themes. Her love for Madrid is present in some of her works.

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Eliott Prada

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Elliot Prada runs the amazing and magical “La Isla Gallery and Gift” in Miami. La Isla features unique artwork and crafts inspired by the joyous fusion of Cuban and American culture, something that is evident in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Prada believes that art should be everywhere, and his work lives on canvases, clothing, coffee cups and cards. Born in Cuba, and raised in New York and New Jersey, Prada has been making art since he was old enough to draw on walls with a crayon. He is currently based in Miami, and now divides his time between teaching at MIU The Art Institute, where he has taught for the past 13 years.

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Giselle Fajardo

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Giselle Fajardo is a self-taught, avant-garde artist with a bizarre and modern way of selecting what to do with colors and bringing them to life with her distinctive perception. While coffee pots and exaggerated lips are her “signature” in her art, she has been known to show off her energy doing live-performance painting for Bongo’s Cuban Café in the American Airlines Arena, Red Bar in Brickell, benefit events for Micro Theater Miami and others. Fajardo was born in Las Vegas and in the mid-80s, she was lured to art, fashion, cuisine and entertainment that are synonymous with the “city of lights.” Yet Fajardo always felt there was something missing; she yearned for more in her life. Given her family’s Cuban roots and initial settlement in Miami, it immediately became apparent to Fajardo that what was missing was the beauty and freedom of the ocean and closeness to her roots.

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Mayomelz (Mel Pichardo)

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Mel Pichardo’s art isn't based on what we see daily, but based on what we don't see in reality. Her art depicts endless bright colors and the unimaginable. Passion is what runs through her veins when it comes to art, because it's what her heart wants all the time. Pichardo sees and tries to capture what most of us don’t usually notice. She creates a story that can endlessly make you think and dream. Through her art, she pours out her thoughts and creativity with upbeat passion. Her art is something so special to her -- she hopes it can make you smile and think.

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Omar Corrales Mora

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Born in Havana, Cuba, Omar Corrales Mora’s works have been exhibited in major galleries and museums in Cuba and the world. He has worked in scenography for various entities such as the National Ballet of Cuba, the Cuban Institute of Art and Industry Cinematograficas (ICAIC), the Opera Nacional de Cuba, the Ballet of Martinique, El Ballet de Victor Ullate, El Centro ProDanza, the Festival Jazz Plaza, the National Circus of Cuba, La U.N.E.A.C., La Compania “Mask Laroide,” Boleros de Oro, Art Teatro Fabio and many more. He has taught numerous courses, workshops and conferences in Cuba, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.

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