The other day I went through a package of papers that I took with me from Cuba when I first moved to the USA in 2001. In this package I had all these carefully organized files where I kept track of everything that I did from 1989 to 1999, related to my art career. In all these years I never opened this package until last Saturday and I am so glad that I did it. One of the things that called my attention was a catalogue from a group show that I participated in 1998, in Havana, called: Siete Miradas (7 Visions). I can remember every detail about that show. In the photo below you can see the cover of the catalogue with a picture of Roberto fabelo (one of the artists from the show).
But what made me so happy about the catalogue was the group portrait with the seven of us who participated in the show (see photo below) from left to right you see: Alicia Leal, Juan Moreira (they are married), Zaida del Rio, Vicente Bonachea, Pedro Alvarez, myself and Roberto Fabelo. We are all friends and I miss them sooo much. In this photo we look kind of tense but the truth is that during the photo session we couldn't stop laughing and making jokes. That day was really hot and the location was Roberto Fabelo's gallery (where the show took place) in Old Havana, my favorite part of the city.
Now let me tell you a few things about my friends so you know how they are and I will dedicate a little more space in the end to Pedro Alvarez (he is wearing glasses) who passed away in 2004 at the age of 37.
Alicia and Moreira (the couple on the left) are one of the most wonderful couples that I know. We were neighbors so we saw each other pretty often. I loved visiting them a lot (they are great cooks!) and their house is so beautiful, it is a colonial property that they remodeled with lots of work. Before he married Alicia, Moreira had a daughter who is my age and she is a great Artist. Then he and Alicia started a family and had a daughter who is so beautiful, she is a ballerina.
Zaida del Rio (with the checkered skirt) is a great artist and she is an amazing character too! One of the funniest women that I ever met. She comes from the country side and she also lived not far from my place in Havana. Having her around was the best thing ever because she made the best jokes plus she had the highest energy that you can imagine.
Vicente Bonachea (sitting on the floor) is such a sweet guy, so is his wife. They have a child who has developmental problems and they adore him. I remember them talking about their son all the time. Now that I have Diego I can understand their devotion.
Roberto Fabelo (on the right side of the photo) is a prolific artist in Cuba. I love his drawings and he is such a great human being. He is married to beautiful Suyu who is Cuban-Chinese and they have two children. By the way, did you know that in Cuba there is an important Chinese community?
Below there is this portrait of me taken by Ricardo Ellias in my studio. Ellias is another friend who was given the task to take individual photos of the seven of us for the catalogue. I still have the piece that I am looking at in the photo, it is framed in our dinning room. I look at this picture and I see a very different Elsita. I could not imagine then all the things that I was going to experience in the next ten years. Ten years can make a huge difference in someone's life!
And here you see the piece that I made for the show. It pretty much represents everything that I was going through in 1998. I can write a whole book about that year. It was a mixed time, full of good things and bad things. I had my first solo show with a gallery in New York City, that was very important to me as an Artist (even when the USA government wouldn't give me a visa to attend the opening). And in the other hand I was not happy with my personal life since I was in a marriage that wasn't working out. 1998 was a year of growth for me, I learned so many things. The main thing that I learned is that if you're not happy with your life ONLY YOU have the power to change it. I am very grateful for that part of my life because it was a great school.
And now I will tell you more about Pedro Alvarez Castello (he is wearing glasses in the group portrait). He was one of the most original artists from what is known as "Special Peroid" in Cuba. Pedro was a painter with a unique vision and sense of humor. Look at the picture below and you will see what I mean. This is one of his paintings titled: End of the USA Embargo.
Much of his work utilized a juxtaposition of pop culture references, such as clippings from The Simpsons comic books, against traditional Cuban images, such as 19th century peasants and troubadours. I took this line from Wikipedia.
When I read the news about Pedro's death I was in shock, I couldn't not believe it. He was in the best time of his career plus he had just had a baby with a wonderful Cuban artist. Pedro was such a smart person, so down to earth and easy-going.
On February 12, 2004, Ãlvarez died after jumping out of the fifth-floor window of a hotel in Tempe, Arizona just five days after the beginning of a major solo exhibition of his work, "Landscape in the Fireplace," at the Arizona State University Art Museum. Police found no evidence of drug or alcohol use. He didn't leave a suicide note, and his death was a shock to people who had spoken with him just hours before. (Wikipedia)
His death is still under investigation, those who knew him cannot believe that he committed suicide. It is sad to think that he is not with us anymore but we are fortunate to have his work which is now shown in museums around the world. Pedro's art is an important element within the cuban culture and I am sure that his daughter will be very proud of her father when she grows up.
Well my friend, this was a little open door to my past that I was so glad to share with you. Now I wonder what my life will be like in the next ten years. By that time Diego will be 13, Natalie will be 15 and Miro will be 26. Bill will be 58 and I will be 47. I am sure that we will have lots of things to celebrate in the future but the most important thing is that we are all together as a family right now, loving each other and supporting each other.
Now I need to go ahead and start this Monday with the best state of mind possible. This week is important, there will be a lot going on about Diego and his future.
I wish you a great week full of positive things!