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Tuesday, January 30, 2018
No. 5

Fostering Friendship Between Cuba and the U.S.A. with a Replica of Anna Hyatt Huntington’s Monument to Jose Martí

Sunday, January 28, in Havana’s Parque Central, representatives from the City of New York, the Bronx Museum and the Office of the Historian of Havana dedicated the reproduction of Anna Hyatt Huntington’s equestrian statue of Jose Martí, the original of which stands at the head of the Avenue of the Americas at Central Park South. The ceremony coincided with Martí’s birthdate in 1853.

The original Huntington monument to the Latin American revolutionary hero was first presented as a gift to the United States in 1956 by the sculptor, a process that was continued following the 1959 revolution that placed Fidel Castro in power. In 1957, the Cuban government presented Commissioner Robert Moses with a check for $100,000 to commission the pedestal. The larger-than-life bronze equestrian statue depicts a reeling, yet resolute Martí in civilian attire, after being fatally wounded while atop his horse during the 1895 battle at Dos Rios, and was installed and dedicated in New York City in 1965.

Following the reset of relations between the Cuban and United States governments in 2014, Holly Block, the long-time Executive Director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts, launched an effort to bring a replica of the Martí monument to Havana. Block, who passed away on October 6, 2017, the same day the replica was installed in Havana, spearheaded the campaign, earning partnership from the de Blasio Administration and NYC Parks (the statue’s custodian), as well as major financial support from the Ford Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and many institutional and individual donors. In all, $1.4 million dollars was raised to support the fabrication, transport and installation of the sculpture in Havana’s own Central Park.

“Since its very beginning, New York has been a city of immigrants, and we are proud to celebrate our friendship with Cuba,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The iconic statue José Martí that stands in Central Park has been a source of inspiration and empowerment for generations of Cuban New Yorkers, and today’s unveiling of its reproduction in Havana not only commemorates the 165th anniversary of Martí’s birth, but also ensures that his storied legacy of pursuing independence will be shared with new generations.”

Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler, Havana’s Official Historian, under whose direction The City continues to restore its architectural patrimony said, “We are honored by the generosity of the City of New York, the Mayor’s Office and NYC Parks in permitting the Bronx Museum to reproduce Mrs. Huntington’s extraordinary sculpture. We have placed it in a prominent location in Central Havana, where it will remain as a symbol of the friendship and cooperation between the people of the U.S. and Cuba, a friendship that dates back to the era of the U.S. Revolution.”

Project Director Leanne Mella stated, “Holly Block was a leader in cultural exchange with Cuba and it was her wish that this gift be presented to the Historian of Havana, signifying the long and enduring friendship between the people of our countries. We are proud to be here to honor the achievements of the Office of the Historian in their decades-long efforts to restore the extraordinary beauty of Habana Vieja.”

The Martí monument was replicated using a non-traditional, state-of-the-art 3D printing technology. From casting to transporting, the project was led by the Bronx Museum and fabricated by KC Fabrications with principals from Direct Dimensions of Owing Mills, Maryland; Digital Atelier of Hamilton, New Jersey; Sculptor David Frech of New York; and Beacon Art Foundry of Beacon, New York., with digital scanning of the sculpture completed in fall 2016 and the replica completed fall 2017.

Anna Hyatt Huntington was a leading sculptor of her day and art patron. Her sculpture of Martí was her last major work, at age 82, and she intended for it to serve as a bond of friendship between the U.S. and Cuban peoples.

Cuban patriot, journalist and poet José Julian Martí fought for the liberation of Cuba from Spanish rule. As a result of his commitment to Cuban independence, much of Martí’s life was spent in exile from his homeland. He lived in New York City for fifteen years, beginning in 1881. During this time, writing in both English and Spanish, he continued to advocate for Cuban independence, carrying on with a commitment he began at the age of 16 when he published his first newspaper, La Patria Libre. Tackling a variety of subjects, Martí was as skilled at social and political commentary as he was at literary criticism. He wrote well-received essays about such poets as Walt Whitman and he shared his impressions of the United States as a correspondent for the Latin American and European press. In one of his most famous essays, "Our America," he called for Latin American countries to be united. Martí suggested that these countries learn from the United States, but establish governments that are based on their own cultures and needs. Marti continues to be revered in Cuba, throughout Latin America and in the sizable Hispano-American community of New York.

Directions to Central Park

Know Before You Go

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Raccoons in Central Park have tested positive for canine distemper virus. Although the virus cannot be transmitted to humans, it may be transmitted to dogs. Keep your pets safe in the park.

Please avoid wildlife and make sure your pets have up-to-date distemper and rabies vaccines. Keep your pet on a leash, especially during dawn and dusk.

Please call 311 or notify an on-site Parks employee if you see a sick or injured animal.

If you are bitten, wash the wound with soap and water immediately. Call your doctor to see if you need tetanus or rabies shots, and call 311 to report the bite.

The Health Department will continue to monitor this condition.

Anticipated Completion: Summer 2018

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