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6 Artists Earn Honor Of Island's Approval

The masters certification previously had been available only for artists born in Puerto Rico.

By Sara ShecKler | Special to the Sentinel

July 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

Six artists who live in Kissimmee have been awarded a certification that identifies them as masters of Puerto Rican art.

The artists received the certification by El Instituto Cultural de San Juan in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Festival Bay mall in Orlando.

"This certification tells the world that we render the cultural symbols and things pertaining to our heritage with exactitude and authenticity," painter John J. Browne Ayes said. His mediums include watercolors, acrylics, oils, pen-and-ink drawings and graphite pencil.

The others are Melvin Antuna, acrylics and folk woodcrafts; Juan "One" O. Sepulveda Velez, acrylics and oils; Jorge Garcia, lace work; Darlene Rodriguez, lace work; and Alfonso Pagan, clay sculpture.

Marta Cuevas, director of programs at Artes Populares del Instituto Cultural de San Juan, reviewed the work of the artists, who are members of El Centro Cultural Puertorriquena de la Florida Central.

Magali Rojas, president of El Centro Cultural Puertorriquena de la Florida Central, worked with Cuevas for more than a year to make the certifications a reality.

"It was wonderful," Ayes said.

Until this year only artists born in Puerto Rico were eligible to be certified. The policy was changed to include artists of Puerto Rican descent born in the 50 states of the U.S.

Ayes' family hails from Salinas, Puerto Rico. He was born in Manhattan. He moved to Kissimmee six years ago from Colorado.

Ayes, 58, also was certified as an artisan for his wood, clay and bee's wax sculptures and mixed media pieces.

"This dual certification means that a fine-arts, visual-arts painter is also a skillful sculptor in wood, marble or mixed media or creates other work involving a specific craft such as woodcarving, lace work or carving the frames that surround a painting," he said.

The artists' work was photographed, catalogued and registered at El Instituto Cultural de San Juan.

El Instituto Cultural de San Juan was established to preserve the culture, history and heritage of Puerto Ricans who live in Florida.

"To become certified by El Instituto means that one's art is very worthy and is genuine in that it represents and depicts Puerto Rico's history, culture and heritage in a skillful and masterful manner. It indicates a mastery of our visual art and artesania," Ayes said.

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