Jupiter’s unique connection with Guatemala showcased in Lake Worth


Exhibit runs until Aug. 5

Admission is free

Paintings, weavings and the history of Guatemala are all rolled into the OneJupiter exhibit at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.

“We are representing the people of Palm Beach County on our walls,” said Trish Halverson, manager of arts and cultural education at the center on Lake Avenue.

The exhibit is a joint effort between the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center and the Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery and School of Art in Tequesta.

Part of the OneJupiter exhibit was recently on display at Jupiter Town Hall.

The dozen colorful, poster-sized panels were created by the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum to inform the local community about the Guatemalan community in Palm Beach County. Graphics and donations came from local businesses.

Jupiter Community High School, the Palm Beach County School Board building on Forest Hill Boulevard and Florida Atlantic University have had the display, said Jamie Stuve, the president and chief executive officer of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum.

“We learn about each other through art. Creativity is intelligence having fun,” said Nancy Politsch, the ArtCenter’s executive director. The ArtCenter donated painting materials to the artists.

About 55,000 former residents of Guatemala now live in Palm Beach County. That includes about 7,000 in Jupiter and about 8,000 in the Lake Worth/Greenacres area, said Tim Gamwell, assistant executive director of the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth.

The center gets about 600 clients a month. More than half of the clients are from Guatemala, said Gamwell.

“Determining exact numbers of Guatemala residents in Palm Beach County is tough. Many Guatemalans do not want to take part in surveys. They are afraid,” said Gamwell.

One panel — all are in English and Spanish — explains that many former residents of Guatemala now living in Jupiter come from Jacaltenango, a small town in the Western Highlands of the central American nation.

The Guatemalan community has brought national attention to Jupiter.

A movie called Brother Towns was made about the evolution of El Sol, opened 10 years ago. Jupiter also has a sister-city relationship with Jacaltenango, Guatemala. National publications such as The New York Times have written about how Jupiter has found a way to deal with the complex issue of immigration while the federal government has not. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has visited El Sol and other locations in Palm Beach County.

“Many (residents of Guatemala) left their families to better themselves and their families. That takes a tremendous sacrifice and courage,” said Stuve.

Other panels explain the history of Mayan culture in Central America and its connections to South Florida.

The historical mounds that historians have found in Palm Beach County, such as the one where the DuBois Pioneer House is built upon in Jupiter, are the same as the mounds containing ancient artifacts that were built in the Yucatan Peninsula during the Mayan civilization, said Stuve.

“The DuBois House is sitting on a connection to Mayan culture,” said Stuve.

Many of the paintings, colorful scenes of daily life in Guatemala, are done by people who get jobs through the El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center in Jupiter.

Art teachers from the Lighthouse ArtCenter donate their time to teach art to children and adults at El Sol. The center also donates art scholarships to art students to take classes at the ArtCenter, said Politsch.

El Sol center connects workers with employers for landscaping, painting, housekeeping and other temporary positions. The center also has a community garden, health screenings and a food pantry. Classes are taught in language, banking, computers, sewing and other skills.

Art work is not the only subject at the exhibit that runs until Aug. 5.

There is a panel on Jupiter resident Onesimo Marcelino-Lopez Ramos, an 18-year-old restaurant worker was murdered in April 2015 in the gravel driveway of his home on Fourth Street.

Jupiter police filed hate-crime charges against three men arrested in the murder. Ramos was targeted because of his Guatemalan heritage, police said. The three men are charged with first-degree murder.

Colorful weavings by Estella Hernandez, who attends El Sol, are also on display at the OneJupiter exhibit. The back-strap weavings, which blend colors such as blue, pink, yellow and red into vibrant scenes, are on the walls.

“Art can be an incredible icebreaker between cultures. People step out of their normal space and see what they have in common,” said Stuve.

Paintings by Guatemalan artists such as Lorenzo Marroquin are also on display. Marroquin took art classes at El Sol. Many painters do their art work in between jobs at El Sol, said Andres David Lopez, El Sol communications director.

“Artists at El Sol show lots of untapped talent. We are encouraging them to display their work,” said Lopez.

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