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Hispanic Heritage Month Hosted by Governor Bush
Governor Jeb Bush and First Lady Columba Bush.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA.-Governor Jeb Bush and First Lady Columba Bush today hosted the third annual Hispanic Heritage Month reception. The reception is the second in a series of events during the month-long celebration honoring the contributions of Florida’s Hispanic community to the state’s cultural heritage. This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme is “Florida: Gateway of the Americas, Celebrating our Diverse Hispanic Heritage.”

“This is a perfect time for Florida’s diverse Hispanic communities to come together and celebrate their unique contributions to our state’s history, as well as the cultural ties that bind all of us to our past,’ said Governor Bush. “Featuring the artwork of Romero Britto during this month of Spanish and Latin American recognition captures the essence of what makes our heritage so rich.”

The Governor and First Lady were joined at today’s event by Hispanic business, community and cultural leaders from across the state. During the reception, Governor Bush and First Lady Bush honored pop artist Romero Britto, whose artwork is on display in the Governor’s Mansion from September 15 to October 15, 2005.

One of Mrs. Bush’s 12 international Arts Ambassadors, Romero Britto was a creative yet impoverished child from Brazil, who often painted images on scraps of cardboard and newspaper. He had the drive and passion to excel and prospered academically, but was continuously pulled toward his creative roots with a determination to learn and succeed. His resolve was strong and his belief in his art was unshakable. Today, he continues to marvel collectors with his bold and daring creations, and his unparalleled use of color and pattern, which is now his trademark. While his primary medium is acrylic on canvas, his work also includes aluminum sculptures, collage, and mixed media pieces. Britto exhibits his work in more than 100 galleries including his own studio on Lincoln Road, Miami Beach and São Paulo in Brazil.

“It is wonderful that the Governor and First Lady of Florida have such an appreciation for the Arts and arts education. Their support is very motivational to me. I am extremely honored the Governor and First Lady are hosting my paintings in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Romero Britto.

In addition to the opening of Britto’s art exhibit, First Lady Columba Bush kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with a visit to Kate Sullivan Elementary School in Tallahassee earlier today, where she participated in a Hispanic Heritage Arts festival with more than 300 students. The event included face painting, Mexican mask and kite making, a rainforest sculpture, and the school band performing Latin American folk music.

“I am proud to recognize the influences of Spanish and Latin American cultures on the art world. It is an inspiration to many of Florida’s Latin American artists,” said Mrs. Bush. “Events such as the Hispanic Heritage Festival at Kate Sullivan are an opportunity for Florida youth to gain exposure to the arts and learn about the wonderful contributions talented artists such as Romero Britto have made to our great state.”

To support the arts and promote awareness of best practices in art education, the First Lady visits at least two arts education programs a month in Florida’s schools. These programs highlight excellence in teaching, program comprehensiveness and quality student achievement.

Hispanic Heritage Month begins each year on September 15, in honor of the independence days of seven Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile. Hispanic Heritage Month ends on the October 15, in recognition of the discovery of America. The first event in Florida’s recorded history was the landing of Ponce De Leon in 1513. Since then, Spanish-speakers have converged in Florida, giving it one of the most unique and diverse Hispanic populations in the world. Today, more than two million Hispanics living in Florida celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Partners and sponsors for the 2005 Hispanic Heritage Month include the Florida Department of Education, Mary Brogan Museum of Arts and Science, City of Tallahassee, Volunteer Florida, Volunteer Florida Foundation, Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Jay I. Kislak Foundation, El Nuevo Dia, The Sallie Mae Fund,

Florida Prepaid College Foundation, Rosario Automotive Group, Walt Disney World, Bongos Cuban Café, Brown & Brown Insurance, Cuban American Bar Association, Florida Education Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Greenberg Traurig, Hogan & Hartson L.L.P., La Prensa Newspaper, United States Sugar Corporation, Albors & Associates, Berlitz Language Center of Orlando, Citigroup, Cubavera, Florida Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Prudential Financial, Inc. and The College Board.

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