When: Saturday, April 13, 2024, 1:00pm

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A man talks to two women as he draws their portraits.
Vega drawing in Central Park, c.1980s. Courtesy of Máximo Rafael Colón.

Join us for a figure drawing workshop, led by Manny Vega with support from his collaborator Maricruz Badia-Cestero in conjunction with Byzantine Bembé: New York by Manny Vega. For this event, Maricruz will lend herself as the model, embodying the essence of a living work of art.

No experience required. 

About the Artists:
Manny Vega (born 1956; Bronx, New York) is a visual artist who works in various mediums including graphic design, illustration, printmaking, set and costume design, public art murals, and mosaics. 

Throughout the years, Mr. Vega's artistic message has been a consistent recognition of the human spirit in our daily lives. Manny's depictions of historical figures, such as Julia de Burgos and Dr. Antonia Pantoja, and his spiritual and cultural references provide a rich and accurate account of the legacy of Latinos and the diaspora at-large in this country. 

Mr. Vega was a student at the High School of Art and Design, graduating in 1974, when he was enrolled in the art workshops of El Museo del Barrio, Taller Boricua, and the Printmaking Workshop, NYC. Later, Manny was an apprentice to the muralist, Hank Prussing, who painted ''The Spirit of East Harlem.” This experience led to more mural commissions for CITYarts, United Bronx Parents, and the Bronx Council on the Arts. In 1997, he was awarded a commission from the MTA to design artwork for the 110th Street train station in East Harlem. 

Mr. Vega has worked as a consultant for Paul Simon, Shelly Rubin, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors. He has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and overseas in Brazil. His mosaic portrait of Dr. Antonia Pantoja has been included in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. His next commission will be a life-size portrait statue of ''Tito Puente'' that will be installed on 5th Avenue in East Harlem. 

Maricruz Badia-Cestero, a close friend of Manny Vega, epitomizes the concept of a Renaissance woman. Her diverse professional journey has seen her serve as a school counselor, community organizer, and life coach. With a steadfast commitment to social justice causes and Puerto Rican independence activism, Maricruz has forged a long-standing trajectory in advocacy. Currently, Maricruz coordinates a program in collaboration with InsideSchools.org, dedicated to aiding migrant families in navigating the intricacies of New York City’s public school system. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Master's in Education from Lehman College of the City University of New York, Maricruz continues to deepen her expertise. She is presently pursuing an advanced graduate certificate in mental health counseling at Alfred University, with aspirations to embark on a career as a therapist. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Maricruz has called the Bronx home for the past 25 years. She takes immense pride in her role as a parent to Omar Hassan, 20, and Amari Nur, 11. Maricruz characterizes herself as a closet artist, envisioning life itself as her canvas and means of artistic expression.

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