Arts & Culture Raul Esparza and Marie Unanue at the El Museo del Barrio gala. Photo: David X. Prutting

Published on May 24th, 2013 | by Mark Chesnut

Raul Esparza and Marie Unanue at the El Museo del Barrio gala. Photo: David X. Prutting

Raúl Esparza & Art World Elite Gather for El Museo del Barrio Party in New York

Big names, beautiful clothes and other stunning visuals were in full display during the annual gala held on May 16 by El Museo del Barrio, the New York City museum focused on Latino, Caribbean and Latin American cultures.

The gala, which took place at Cipriani in New York City, honored actor Raúl Esparza with the Excellence in the Arts Award, Ramiro Ortiz Mayorga with the Trustee Leadership Award, and Ricardo Villela Marino, CEO for Latin America at Banco Itaú Unibanco, with the Corporate Excellence in the Arts Award. Event chairs were Valentino D. Carlotti, Fe Fendi, Valentin Hernández and Marie Unanue, and the gala raised more than one million dollars for the museum.

Over 600 guests were greeted with a specialty cocktail created by MundoFox, sponsor of this year’s gala; this replaced the Cipriani Bellini.  Jerónimo Gaxiola Balsa designed the event’s décor and artist Firelei Báez, who was born in the Dominican Republic, painted the tablecloths that were showcased on many of the dinner tables. El Museo’s chief curator Chus Martínez chose her for the gala’s “art intervention,” saying “Firelei Báez is an artist based in El Barrio. She produced a special project for all of us — a series of painted mantelpieces and ornamental elements. They are intense, colorful, and extravagant at moments. They convey the force of old myths from the Caribbean region. The paint should be understood as a being, full of force and the work produced for the night as a magical apparition to produce and perform a ritual communal event: the act of supporting, with our presence, art and its community.” The artwork (tablecloths) were auctioned off at the end of the evening and raised $20,000, with proceeds benefiting El Museo.

El Museo del Barrio welcomes some 250,000 visitors annually. El Museo’s hosts critically acclaimed exhibitions and collections, plus film, literary, visual and performing arts series, cultural celebrations, and educational programs.

Upcoming exhibits include “Bienal 2013,” El Museo’s 7th biennial exhibition, which features work by 37 emerging Latino and Latin American artists who live and work in New York City metropolitan area. The exhibit runs from June 12, 2013 to January 4, 2014. For more information, go to

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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