An exhibit of artwork by local and regional racetrack workers opened this week in Axinn Library, as part of a partnership between the University and a non-profit advocacy and support group for the workers.
The exhibit, in its second year, features 16 paintings and photographs by or about backstretch, or barn-area, workers of the Belmont Park, Aqueduct and Saratoga racetracks. The event was organized by Hofstra University’s Special Collections Department and the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.), a non-profit organization that meets the health and social welfare needs of several thousand racetrack workers.
The exhibit, which depicts images of racetrack life, adds to a growing collection of Hispanic and Latino works that the Special Collections Department has maintained since 2003. “The pieces are evocative of the everyday life behind something that we take for granted as entertainment,” said University Archivist and Assistant Dean of Special Collections Geri Solomon. “These are people who work incredibly hard, that no one knows. Their stories are important, too.”
In honor of Hofstra and B.E.S.T.’s partnership and community efforts, the office of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano presented citations to both groups. The event was attended by New York State Senators Kemp Hannon and Jack Martins, Assemblyman Edward Ra, and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages.
Saxophonist and flutist Jay Rodriguez, a two-time Grammy Award nominee for best Latin and jazz artist, and pianist Pablo Vergara performed at the exhibit, which runs until Nov. 15 on the 10th floor of Axinn Library.