Oscar winner Rita Moreno, 91, was at a loss for words on Wednesday (February 8) in Puerto Rico when artist Ektor Rivera unveiled a mural of the actress that he had been working on for nearly five months.
“Unforgettable day,” Rivera wrote on social media. “After almost five months painting this piece dedicated to Rita Moreno, today we finally unveiled it, and I will never forget her reaction.”
The painting, which is titled “Rita,” is now part of the permanent collection of Bellas Artes de Santurce, a performing arts center in Puerto Rico. In attendance to see the unveiling of the painting was Oscar-nominated songwriter and Broadway superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda and his father, Luis A. Miranda, Jr.
“Rita” features a young Moreno sitting with her legs crossed on a chair under a brick archway. On her right side are some of the awards she’s won, including the Academy Award for her supporting role in the 1961 musical West Side Story. She is wearing a long and swirling purple dress that includes images of her in different roles in her career. The top of the dress features a beach landscape.
When Moreno saw the painting for the first time, she was immediately overcome by emotion. She then joked that she wanted to spend the night at the performing arts center to study every inch of Rivera’s mural. Moreno also sang for a few seconds to capture the moment with even more grace and beauty. “Patria de mis amores/jardín de flores/solo pienso en ti,” she sang.
Moreno then reminisced about what it was like to be that young girl in the painting. “That girl had no idea what was going to happen in a lifetime,” she said. “The hard things; the sad things; the insults; none of that, but also none of the success.”