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Posted on: August 28, 2017

Councilman Shelley’s Artists in the Spotlight: Natalie M. Prieto & Carlos Franco

Artist in the Spotlight Natalie Prieto Carlos Franco

The latest art exhibition to fill the lobby of the Seminole Theatre under Councilman Stephen Shelley’s Artist in the Spotlight program is a unique mix of children’s art and hyper-realistic portraits.  At the August 15th Special Council Presentations, Councilman Shelley introduced the artists behind the installation, Natalie M. Prieto and Carlos Franco.  The exhibition’s gallery night opens August 28th at the Seminole Theatre and will run through September 30th.


“This exhibition is an exciting concept because it shows both young and experienced artists,” said Councilman Shelley.  “And that’s really what the Artist in the Spotlight program is all about—showcasing artists from every segment of our community.”  


Titled “Naïve and Realistic Portraits,” the exhibition is a project from The Children’s Gallery and Arts Center founders Natalie M. Prieto and Carlos France.  The exhibition features artists from ages six to sixty-two in drastically different styles.  Some paintings are extremely realistic, while others show the world through a child’s eyes.


Ms. Prieto introduced the exhibition, speaking first about cultural growth in Homestead and the opportunities available through arts education—noting how important and easy it is to get exposure to the arts.  She then added, “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re coming from.  What matters is the vision that you have and what you’re able to create.” 


Natalie M. Prieto is one of the founders and the CEO of The Children’s Gallery and Arts Center since 2009. She served in the Board of Directors of Art in Public Places for the City of Homestead in 2011 and in the Board of Directors of the Seminole Theater in 2012. Her professional background is in Law, Journalism and Social Services.  She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Jones International University with Master’s Degree of Arts in Business Communication and has 20 years of experience in art related nonprofit organizations.  Natalie is a visual artist by trade and her artworks are part of private collections. Her painting style is mainly Naïve, with influences of classic Latin-American painters like Amelia Peláez, Cundo Bermudez, and Osvaldo Guayasamín.  She has also explored Cubism in her Digital Art. Additionally, she has solid experience in the performing arts field as an experimental theater writer and director, including Puppetry Arts productions. She has more than 20 years’ experience working with families and children with special needs and disabilities, acting as community educator.


Carlos Franco is co-founder of The Children’s Gallery and Arts Center and the Art and Projects Director since 2009. Carlos has curated more than 72 exhibitions, and provided many lectures about classic and contemporary painters. His formal training as a plastic artist includes studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Mercy College in New York City. He has participated in many collective and individual exhibits in several galleries of U.S, Ecuador, Spain, Brazil and France. His latest artworks are realistic portraits of people he found in the streets of Homestead and Miami. Many of Franco’s artworks are part of private collections around the world. He has more than 25 years’ experience as independent arts instructor conducting all-inclusive visual arts workshops. Many of his students were admitted to prestigious Art Magnet Schools like Southwood, South Miami, New World School of the Arts, Coral Reef High School, South Dade Senior High School and DASH.


If you are interested in participating or know of a local artist in the area from Broward, Miami-Dade or Monroe Counties, please contact Councilman Shelley’s office at 305-224-4447 or mwells@cityofhomestead.com.  Artists who live in or near the City of Homestead will be given preference.

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