RENO – Citing artistic freedom of expression, officials at Reno-Tahoe International Airport said Thursday they plan no changes in a temporary art exhibit despite criticism of a painting of a Latin American revolutionary who fought alongside Fidel Castro during the Cuban revolution.
The painting of Ernesto “Che” Guevara will remain on display through May 9 with the other nearly 100 items in the employee art exhibit, airport spokesman Brian Kulpin said.
Jose Paz, 71, a native Cuban who lives in Northern Nevada, said in a complaint to the airport authority the black and red portrait with the word “Revolucion” is offensive and shouldn’t be displayed at a public airport.
“It is like someone putting a painting of Osama bin Laden up in the airport with the word ‘Jihad,’ ” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Paz said he moved from Cuba to Venezuela in 1956 before Castro and Guevara overthrew the Fulgencio Batista regime in 1959. Paz said he has lived in the United States for 55 years and moved to Nevada two years ago.
“That (painting) in there is wrong,” he said.
Kulpin said the artists have a right to express themselves, just as Paz does.
“We fully understand that someone sees something that they don’t agree with,” he said.