Freedom became the intoxicating muse for a generation of artists.
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO.
Gilberto Ruiz doesn't want to talk about the voyage that brought him to U.S. shores 25 years ago, but gently coax him and the images emerge with the force of his brusque strokes on canvas.
The overcrowded shrimper Mrs. Smugglers, the storming high seas, the smaller vessels surrounding them taking on water, people disappearing into the waves. The complete darkness of night, and then, a dock and freedom, unimaginable freedom.
''Mariel was the best thing and the most terrible thing that ever happened to me,'' says the 54-year-old painter whose first job in exile was as a fried-chicken cook at McCrory's in downtown Miami...