Viva Florida! Viva Ponce de Leon!
The events are not only in St. Augustine, FL, America's oldest city which celebrates its 450th anniversary in 2015, but also in Miami, Washington, and 20 other U.S. cities, plus six cities in Canada.
Spanish Embassy Cultural Officer Guillermo Corral told guests at the Ambassador's residence Feb. 25, "Many think the Spaniards just came and left, but there is an intensity and depth of Spanish experience and heritage in America." Corral noted that more than 50 million people of Hispanic descent live in the U.S.
Events celebrating and illuminating this rich heritage include:
- Stereotype-smashing "Latino US: Cotidiano" (daily life) book and photography exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on April 3, continuing to Miami, New York, and Los Angeles. At a preview last December, National Portrait Gallery associate curator of photographs Frank Goodyear said the images provide a "refreshingly original take on the Latino experience, and counter many of the short-sighted or misguided assumptions that often circulate about this multi-faceted community."
- "Picasso: Art & Arena" with many Picasso works never seen before in the United States, now through May 11 at St. Augustine Visitor Center.
- Spanish Navy tall ship Juan Sebastián Elcano visits the port of Miami on May 1. One of the world's largest tall ships, the four-masted schooner is named for the captain who completed one of the first sails around the globe in 1526.
- Launch of "Crafts & Talent From Spain", products from avant-garde Spanish design firms coming to North American shops this spring.
Other celebrations focus on Spanish films, architecture, and literature. For a full list, click here for the catalogue.
Ponce de Leon, who landed at either St. Augustine or near Cape Canaveral (which he named), discovered neither the fountain of youth nor gold. Que lastima!
But more important, he discovered "La Florida", land of flowers. It's in youthful, golden, full bloom 500 years later.
For more info: Embassy of Spain in U.S., www.spainculture.us. Embassy of Spain in Canada, www.spainculture.ca, Viva Florida, www.vivaflorida.org. Spain-Florida Foundation, www.spain-florida.org. Catalogue of events.