“Guac: My Son, My Hero” Art Showcase Comes to Orlando


Manuel Oliver (Marc J. Franklin)

Emilyanne Richart, Reporter

Manuel Oliver, an activist who demands change through his heart-wrenching art, and his wife, Patricia Oliver, along with their advocacy group, Change the Ref, is hosting an art showcase on January 19th. “Guac: My Son, My Hero” will be held at the House of Blues at Disney Springs with a cost of $37 a ticket. The event starts at 7:30 and has been featured around the country.

The event, according to the House of Blues Event Calendar, is a “social justice theatre piece telling the story of Manuel and Patricia Oliver in the year following their son’s murder in the Parkland Shooting” through the use of stand-up comedy, testimony theatre, installation art, video, and live painting. This creates an “intimate, hilarious, devastating and loving picture of a 17- year old boy named Joaquín, who immigrated with his family from Venezuela to the United States, for a safer life,” continues the House of Blues Event Calendar.

Oliver has participated in numerous art showcases where he used his art for activism following the Parkland tragedy, where his son was one of the 17 people who lost their lives. After the Parkland shooting in 2018, a Miami gallery offered to host a memorial for those lost, an event organized by Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat. This event, “Parkland 17,” follows Wade’s history of being vocal about the need for change in the wake of the gun violence epidemic, one that took Wade’s cousin’s life. Joaquin Oliver was a huge Wade fan and was buried in a Dwayne Wade Miami Heat replica jersey.

Oliver participated in the exhibition, “Parkland 17”, but, being a painter and visual artist, instead painted the mural named “We Demand a Change.” The mural featured a portrait of his son, Joaquin Oliver, in the center, with the words “We Demand a Change” written in all capital letters on both sides of the portrait.

This paved a new road for Oliver, who has since painted numerous murals nationwide of both his son, Joaquín, nicknamed Guac, and as reminders to the communities. Oliver has also participated in anti-gun violence rallies, and spoken in interviews to share his story. Manuel Oliver and his wife, Patricia Oliver have dedicated their lives to campaigning for gun law reform through their advocacy group, Change the Ref.

Before every show, a group of students exhibit art as activism as the opening act, and for this showcase, our very own Raquel Perry, a Senior Creative writer at OCSA, and Caroline Centeno, a Junior Creative Writer at OCSA, will be performing their poetry.

Perry says that she ‘likes to use [her] art for activism by understanding how [her] art could actively address cultural, social, and political injustice through representation and spreading awareness.” She continues, saying that she believes that “you just have to understand how your art and passion can connect to society and what you would like to say with it”.