By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
When bidding closed on Rolando Diaz’s painting, “Old Havana Jazz,” ACU came $3,000 closer to breaking ground on the Robert D. and Shirley Hunter Welcome Center.
The painting was auctioned on eBay between Nov. 6 and 16.
Diaz, class of ‘79, decided to donate the proceeds from his painting to the Welcome Center because of his relationship with the center’s namesakes, Dr. Bob Hunter, senior vice president emeritus and Texas State Representative, and his wife, Shirley.
“I just think the world of Bob and Shirley,” Diaz said.
Diaz said he has gotten to know Bob Hunter throughout the years, and the donation was a way “to say thank you just for the years of watching and just who he is.”
While at ACU, Diaz and the Hunters’ son, Kent, were roommates.
“We just grew up like family,” Diaz said.
The Hunters share his warm sentiments and appreciate his donation.
“Having been a long-standing friend to me and my family, and because he is such an outstanding artist, it greatly pleases Shirley and me and our family that Rolando would provide an original painting to the university to benefit the proposed new Welcome Center,” Hunter said. “We are deeply grateful.”
The painting Diaz donated to ACU holds special meaning because Diaz said it reflects his heritage.
Born in Cuba and raised in Miami, Diaz found himself reminded of his heritage while listening to a saxophonist play.
“It reminded me some of the old Cuban music,” he said. “It took me back in my mind to the memories and sounds of old Havana.”
He painted the “Old Havana Jazz” while he listened, using the musician as “a bit of a reference” for his work.
Bongo drums, designs representing Havana’s ironwork and vibrant colors come together in the oil painting to create Diaz’s impression of old Cuba.
The painting is an original and is 30 inches by 40 inches.
“Old Havana Jazz” was valued at $5,000, Diaz said, and the final bid ended at $3,000.
“Man, I’d wish it’d gone for a lot more,” said Diaz, whose most expensive painting sold for $25,000 to Paul Harris of The Hoblitzel Foundation as a fundraiser for the Pegasus Project renovation in Dallas.
Phil Boone, director of the Centennial Campaign, said in an e-mail that he did not have permission to release the purchaser’s name yet.
After Diaz’s donation, Boone said, $6,763,000 remains to be raised for the Welcome Center before construction will begin.