Humberto Dionisio papers, 1919-1990

A Finding Aid to the Humberto Dionisio Papers, 1919-1990, in the Archives of American Art, by Stephanie L. Ashley

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Humberto Dionisio was born in Cuba in 1950. During the 1970s he became a noted poster artist and completed his studies in Graphic Design at the Consejo Nacional de Cultura in Cuba in 1975. He arrived in Miami, Florida, via the Mariel boat lift in 1980, and achieved success in Miami as a painter from the mid to late 1980s. He died in March 1987 at the age of thirty-six.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The collection measures 2.6 linear feet, dates from 1919 to 1990, and includes letters, photographs, financial records, printed material, and family memorabilia. The papers of Dionisio primarily document his relationships with other family members and friends through photographs and letters received from his mother, Zaida Ortega Dominguez, and others. The collection also contains papers, photographs and original sketches (by Dominguez) collected by Dominguez herself which were in Dionisio's care. Papers relating specifically to Dionisio's work as an artist are represented to a lesser degree in this collection and consist primarily of printed material and photographs of Dionisio at work and at an exhibition of his work. There is also one original watercolor by Dionisio from 1985.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged into two series. Each series is arranged into subseries according to record type.

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:

  • Dominquez, Zaida Ortega
  • Rodriguez, Zoraida
  • Saavedra, Nelia Dominguez
  • Artists--Cuba
  • Cuba--Social life and customs
  • Cuban American art
  • Cuban American artists
  • Cuban Americans--Florida--Miami
  • Expatriate artists--Florida--Miami
  • Hispanic American artists
  • Photographs


The Humberto Dionisio papers were donated by Jim Kitchens, a friend of Dionisio, in 1996.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed by Rosa M. Fern�ndez in 1997.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment and is limited to the Washington, D.C. research facility.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Humberto Dionisio papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Humberto Dionisio papers, 1919-1990. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Humberto Dionisio Papers, 1926-1990, undated
1.7 Linear feet; Boxes 1-3

The bulk of this series consists of letters and photographs. Letters are primarily from Dionisio's mother, Zaida Ortega Dominguez, and are generally in Spanish.

The series is arranged into eight subseries.

1.1: Biographical Material, 1974-1987, undated

The biographical material found in this subseries consists primarily of the contents of two wallets, including photographs of Dionisio and family members and identification cards. The subseries also contains diplomas and awards, a resum�, and financial and medical records.

Box Folder
1 1 Brown Wallet, undated
1 2 Contents of Brown Wallet, 1983-1987, undated
1 3 Contents of Red Wallet, undated
1 4 Diplomas and Awards, 1974-1979
See also OV 7.
1 5 Resum�, circa 1980
1 6 Birth Certificate, Exit Papers, 1982
1 7 St. Kevins Catholic School, Dade County Public School, 1980-1982
1 8 Health Benefits Information, 1986
1 9 Income Tax Papers, 1982
1 10 Invoice from Bloomingdale's, 1985-1986
1 11 Unemployment Benefits, 1982
1 12 Miscellany, 1980s

1.2: Letters, 1980-1987, undated

In addition to letters from Dionisio's mother, this subseries also contains letters from his grandmother, Nelia Dominguez Saavedra, and his cousin, dancer Zoraida Rodriguez, which were written between Dionisio's departure from Cuba in 1980 and his death in 1987. The letters frequently mention social and political events in Cuba and the envelopes are often decorated with colorful pictures of Cuban writers and political heroes, as well as fauna and flora of the island. Several letters include clippings from Cuban newspapers regarding art exhibitions and films. Letters from Zoraida Rodriguez include clippings and programs of the "Ballet de Camaguey" in which she was one of the principal dancers. Also found here are letters from Zaida Ortega Dominguez addressed to other family members living in Miami. Three letters from Dominguez to Dionisio, dated 1987, were received unopened.

Box Folder
1 13-27 Letters, 1980-1987
1 28 Letters from Lovers, undated
1 29 Letters from Friends and Other Family, undated
1 30 Letters from Dionisio to Grandmother, undated
1 31 Greeting Cards to Dionisio, 1981-1986, undated

1.3: Business Papers, 1980-1986

This subseries contains routine business and legal records.

Box Folder
1 32 Gene Barry Volkswagen, 1980
1 33 Crawford and Company (Attorneys), 1981
1 34 Car Accident Papers, 1981
1 35 State of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 1981
1 36 Utah Home Fire Insurance Company, 1981
1 37 Miscellany, 1980-1986

1.4: Notes, circa 1990, undated

This subseries contains guest and price lists for several exhibitions of Dionisio's work, including a 1990 retrospective exhibition at the InterAmerican Art Gallery. Handwritten notes, and lists of names and addresses can also be found here.

Box Folder
1 38 Guest Lists for Axes and Retrospective, undated
1 39 Handwritten Notes, 1985, undated
1 40 List of Names and Addresses, undated
1 41 Price Lists and Lists of Works in Humberto Dionisio Retrospective, circa 1990

1.5: Writings, 1978-1980, undated

This series contains several poems in addition to an essay by Giulio V. Blanc about Dionisio.

Box Folder
1 42 Writings by Giulio V. Blanc About Humberto Dionisio and the Expresi�nes Hispanas Exhibition, undated
1 43 Poems by Dionisio, for Dioniso, and for Damian by Carlos Manuel Ortego, 1978-1980

1.6: Printed Material, 1975-1990, undated

Found here are clippings about Dionisio and other artists, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and handwritten and printed versions of a eulogy written for Dionisio by Carlos Alfonzo.

Box Folder
1 44 Clippings, 1976, 1982, 1990
1 45 Clippings About Other Artists, 1987-1988
1 46 Exhibition Announcements and Invitations, 1986
1 47 Exhibition Announcements for Dionisio Exhibitions, 1987, 1990
1 48 Exhibition Catalog, 1975
1 49 Exhibition Announcements for Group Shows with Dionisio, 1986-1987
1 50 Carlos Alfonzo's Eulogy for Dionisio, 1987
1 51 Periodical El Mariel, undated
1 52 Miscellaneous Printed Material, undated

1.7: Photographs, 1950-1984, undated

In addition to loose photographs of Dionisio with family and friends, this subseries contains two photograph albums of snapshots of Dionisio with family and friends, in addition to photographs of Dionisio at work, and at an exhibition of his work.

Box Folder
2 1 Loose Pages from Albums, 1980-1981, undated
2 2-3 Two Photograph Albums, 1980-1981, undated
Box Folder
3 1 Photographs of Dionisio and Friends, 1981, 1984, undated
3 2 Photographs of Dionisio's Work, 1977, undated
3 3 Photographs of Dionisio's Calle Ocho, undated
3 4 Miscellaneous Photographs, undated
3 5 Photographs of Dionisio and Immediate Family, circa 1950-1955
3 6 Photographs of Dionisio Alone and with Friends and Family, undated
3 7 Photographs of Dionisio, undated
3 8 Photographs of Dionisio as a Child, circa 1950-1954

1.8: Michael Ford File, 1926, 1951, 1985-1990, undated

This subseries consists of a small amount of material kept by Michael Ford, a friend of Dionisio, including correspondence, photocopies of artwork, an original watercolor by Dioniso, and printed material.

Box Folder
3 9 Correspondence, 1987, 1990
3 10 Color Photocopies of Artwork, undated
3 11-13 Printed Material, 1926, 1951
OV 7 Original Print by Unknown Artist, undated
OV 7 Original Watercolor by Dionisio, 1985

Series 2: Zaida Ortega Dominguez Papers, 1919-circa 1980s, undated
0.9 Linear feet; Boxes 4-6

Papers of Dioniso's mother primarily consist of photographs of family and friends in addition to family memorabilia, artwork by Dominguez, letters, and printed material. Certain items relate to Dionisio's brother, Ricardo Padron Ortega, and his father, Humberto Ysidro Padron Fern�ndez.

2.1: Biographical Material, 1919-1980, undated

Found here are family records such as birth and marriage certificates and baby memorabilia.

Box Folder
4 1 Ricardo Padron Ortega Funeral Document and Doctor's Certificate, 1979
4 2 First Communion Certificate of Ricardo Padron Ortega, 1961
4 3 Ricardo Padron Ortega's Baby Book, undated
4 4 Lock of Hair with Handwritten Note, undated
4 5 Zaida Ortega Dominguez Birth Certificate, 1919 (stamped 1980)
4 6 Zaida Ortega Dominguez Marriage Certificate, 1949 (stamped 1979)
4 7 Humberto Ysidro Padron Fern�ndez Birth Certificate, 1922 (signed 1968)

2.2: Letters and Printed Material, 1979-circa 1981, undated

Found here are poems, greeting and sympathy cards, notes, and a clipping.

Box Folder
4 8 Poem from Ricardo Padron Ortega to Dominguez, undated
4 9 Sympathy Card from Friends to Dominguez upon the Death of Ricardo Padron Ortega, 1979
4 10 Greeting Cards to Dominguez, circa 1981
4 11 Handwritten Notes from Ricardo Padron Ortega to Dominguez, undated
4 12 Clipping Concerning Bridal Shower of Friend, undated

2.3: Photographs, circa 1920-1980s, undated

This subseries forms the bulk of the series and contains photographs of family and friends including Dionisio as an infant and throughout his life.

Box Folder
4 13 Portraits of Family and Friends, circa 1930s-1980s
4 14-15 Photographs of Family and Friends, Group Shots, circa 1930-1980s
4 16 Photographs of Family and Friends, circa 1930s-1980s
4 17 Photographs of Children, Family and Friends, circa 1930-1980s
4 18 Dominguez's Grade School Graduation Photographs, circa 1926-1936
4 19 Photographs of Dominguez, circa 1920-1980s
4 20 Polaroids of Family and Friends, undated
Box Folder
5 1 Photographs of Dominguez and Humberto Ysidro Padron Fern�ndez (Husband), circa 1940-1950s
5 2 Photographs of Dionisio's Brothers as Children, circa 1952-1955
5 3 Photographs of Dominguez with Second Husband, undated
5 4 Miscellaneous Photographs, undated
Box Folder
6 1 Framed Photograph of Unidentified Man, undated
6 2 Photographs of Baptism, Wedding, Bridal Shower and Dinner Banquet, 1945, 1953, undated
6 3 Photographs of Dominguez and Unidentified Woman, undated

2.4: Artwork, circa 1930s, 1972, undated

This subseries consists of a group of original sketches and drawings by Dominguez, primarily of Hollywood personalities.

Box Folder
6 4-5 Original Drawings, circa 1930s, 1972, undated