Loving Latinos
By Jamie Lober / October, 2011

October is Hispanic Heritage Month. It is a prime time to celebrate the contributions that Hispanics have made to the arts -- music, theatrical shows, movies, literature and art.

Patricia Amoro of Delray Beach named Mexican actress Salma Hayek as a woman with talent and style who conveys a strong sense of self. "She is curvaceous, vivacious and ambitious," said Amoro. "She has a lot of spirit and soul and celebrates her own body."

The musical West Side Story also hit home for Amoro. "The characters are from Puerto Rico, where my family is from, and the show reflects how my family was treated when it came to Connecticut, learned English and worked in factories," she said.

Hispanic singers strike a chord with people. TV's American Idol got a boost last season with Jennifer Lopez as a judge and a performer. Her soon-to-be ex-husband Marc Anthony is another singer with a powerful voice and legions of fans.

Other singers are appreciated not only for their songs but their lives and generosity to others. "I love Gloria Estefan because she is a wonderful woman who has gone through a lot, survived and surpassed expectations of other people," said Ivan Cano of Miami Beach. "I love Ricky Martin for his musical talent and his commitment to being proactive and helping out the community."

Jason Bullock of Boynton Beach likes the singer Miguel, son of a Mexican father and African-American mother, whom he saw in concert. "Miguel's vocals are very strong and he is very talented," said Bullock. Television is not the same without some Hispanic comics. "My wife enjoys George Lopez and thinks he is funny," said Bullock. Theatrical shows with Hispanic characters are attractive to other Hispanics, including Esteban Rodriguez of Delray Beach. "I saw Celia, a musical based on the life of Celia Cruz, which won many awards," he said.

As for Hispanic visual artists, many come to mind including painter of pain Frida Kahlo and husband muralist Diego Rivera, Salvador Dali, Velazquez, Francisco de Goya, Fernando Botero and Wifredo Lam. Our region is home to many Hispanic artists, including Puerto Rican painter Elizabeth Erazo Baez in Miami. "Anything in the green and the reds from mangoes is pretty," she said. "I want to tell positive stories about the Hispanic culture."

Rodriguez has a preference in visual artists. "I like Eduardo Abela, who is a Cuban painter and comics artist." He finds Abela's work thought-provoking because of his use of satire to show the hard political and social situation in Cuba under the Machado government (1925-1933). Rodriguez said, "He also did some nice paintings of the countryside."

Hispanics also make contributions to literature. A short list of important writers includes Miguel de Cervantes, Octavio Paz, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa. MexAmerica by Lester D. Langley is a powerful book in which the theme of two countries and one future prevails. It talks about the Mexican population in America and how its culture remains strong and independent from the majority of the U.S. Another outstanding Mexican influence in the U.S. is Mana, a rock band whose career has spanned three decades and continues. Their beautiful vocals and use of guitars, drums and percussion give them an irresistible sound.

Through the arts, Americans are able to celebrate Hispanic heritage year-round. "Pitbull is my favorite because he has defied the odds as a Cuban-American who raps," said Brittany Williams of Boca Raton. "He is an incredible singer and dancer and is appealing because he is on the music charts in Australia, Belgium, France, Canada, Germany and worldwide."

South Florida often plays host to some of the biggest and most-beloved Hispanic performing artists. Pitbull will join Enrique Iglesias, a handsome and talented singer from Madrid, at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on October 22.

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