News: JTF Guantanamo Soldier Featured in Art Show
Story by Staff Sgt. Blair Heusdens
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — Service members and civilians gathered at the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Navy Exchange to view an art exhibit with contributions from Army Lt. Col. Miguel Angel Mendez, the detainee programs director, with the Puerto Rico Army National Guard deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo, Oct. 26, 2009.
The exhibit featured the work of two artists, Mendez and a civilian contractor and instructor for the detainee art class, in a special exhibit which ran from Oct. 26—Nov. 1, 2009.
Mendez, a member of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, held an exhibition in 2007 during a previous deployment to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay and decided to hold another exhibition during his current deployment. The exhibition featured various paintings and drawings done while at Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Mendez has been interested in art since he was a child, but started participating in art exhibits during high school. Back home in Puerto Rico, Mendez designs museums and has worked with the Puerto Rico National Guard to build two of its museums. With a bachelor's degree in fine arts and master's in education, as well as education as a museum curator, Mendez brings extensive experience in the arts to his work at JTF Guantanamo as the detainee programs director in charge of library programs and art and language classes for the detainees.
"There is much to admire in Mendez's style," said Army Maj. James Crabtree, deputy director of the JTF public affairs directorate and also an artist. "His work makes strong use of colors, which adds to the vibrancy of his paintings. Mendez is also versatile; painting everything from portraits to street studies to non-objective pieces."
Mendez does not reveal the meanings behind his works, he prefers to let viewers make their own interpretations.
"I never explain my paintings. I like to let people think whatever they want," said Mendez.
The second artist, Adam, works as an art instructor for the detainee art program at JTF Guantanamo. He is an Iraqi-American artist with a master's degree in fine arts.
Each artist has a unique style and talent, which was shown in the various pieces displayed. From color to black and white and paint to pencil, a wide variety of art is among those featured at the exhibit.
"I think we both have different traits of art," said Mendez.
For more information about Joint Task Force Guantanamo, visit the Web site at www.jtfgtmo.southcom.mil.