Since El Nuevo Herald published that one of the sculptures of the popular Calle 8, in the area known as Little Havana mysteriously vanished, everyone is talking about the same topic on the streets of this Latino neighborhood.
But nobody is as surprised as the Cuban-American painter Pedro Damian, who sketched the model that inspired the late sculptor Tony Lopez to make the 71 roosters that were located on the street in 2002.
“They have been stealing the roosters since long time ago,” alleges Damian. He adds that since the beginning of 2003 they started damaging and taking away the roosters at Flagler Street.
“The first Cuban-American rooster belonged to Empowerment Zone. It was located at Flagler and the 2nd Avenue of Southwest, near to the “Firefighter Rooster” in the same area.”
Bit by bit, the roosters of Flagler Street were vanishing next to the Miami River, damaged and without eyes. Apparently gang members thought that behind those inexpensive crystal balls, bought by Damian at a ‘Dollar Store’, were surveillance cameras hidden by the police.
“The first stolen rooster belonged to the Chantres Cleaners, at Beacom Boulevard and 8th Street, followed by ‘Doctor Rooster’, a sculpture custommade for Leon Medical Center. They also tried to steal the rooster of Bacardi USA, located at the garden of Casa Juancho restaurant, a crime that was avoided thanks to a highway patrol that caught three young men carrying the rooster in their arms after midnight.”
The next robberies took place at the stores ‘Ño Que Barato’ and ‘Pegolamp’, in Hialeah, and the ‘IHop’ restaurant at 40th Street and 71st Avenue of Southwest.
“In some cases the Miami police had the location of the sculptures but they never followed an investigation about this,” comments Damian, shocked by the sudden interest of the media after nine years of the first disappearance.
The artist remarks that the matrix of the rooster stolen at the Pub restaurant was made in fiberglass by Lazaro Valdez using the Damian’s original design. After the matrix made by Tony Lopez only nine sculptures were made (belonging to Empowerment Zone); the rest are versions by the sculptors Ramon Lagos and Lazaro Valdez.
“It’s a shame that the neighborhood predators keep destroying and stealing these little works of art that I designed under the name of Roosterwalk,” concludes Damian. He knows that his roosters have been, since created, an important tourist attraction of the city, whose visitors never leave the area of the ‘Cultural Fridays’ event without taking a photo of one of his roosters.