‘The World Is In Need of This’
Profiles of Havana Artists
Yomer Montejo, 33
Artist in Jose Marti community art studio
“I really like the manifestation of the visual arts. I think an artist should modify their art depending on the time they are in. This is the best way to make change. I’m always trying to create the moments we are living in.”
Yomer is an artist at the Jose Marti community art studio near Parque Central. The studio is a space that is shared by a group of friends who each have their own distinctive art pieces and styles. Yomer studied health technology before solely focusing on art and this inspired his x-ray art pieces. He also has pieces that depict themes of immigration, Afro Cuban history, and Cuban relations with the United States in the 1990s.
Yunier Guerrero, 34
“My paintings include different elements of Cuba. However, I have a theme in my work that includes windows, which represent hope and all things positive. I always paint these windows and beautiful atmospheres while hoping that one day I will be known around the world as the painter of windows. ”
One can find Yunier painting on a giant canvas in his hole in the wall space that is located in Habana Vieja. The phrase “It looks like wood but it is not wood it is canvas” hangs outside of his building and is written on his business cards as well. Yunier is very welcoming and will invite you in to watch him paint with a large smile on his face. He can occasionally be found working alongside his young son, who takes inspiration from his dad while painting the famous malecón (seawall that extends along the coast of Havana). Yunier has been able to sell many of his paintings through PayPal and hopes to do more business with people from the United States in the future.
Silvio Diaz Fiallo, 60
Art dealer at Ánimas
“In our gallery, we feel compelled to help everybody who writes or paints, even if they are self taught… If we see a solid work with a lot of imagination, we accept it.”
From looking at the outside of the Ánimas 5 art gallery, you would not expect to find the colorful and rich art that lies within. Silvio likes the fact that it is set up this way; therefore, he is reluctant to refurbish the building. Silvio personally knows all twenty Cuban painters whose work lies within the gallery. He has contacts with galleries abroad in places such as Spain, Germany, and New York. Silvio believes in giving every artist a chance and promoting all pieces in order to not “marginalize any of them.”
Victor Hernandez Mora, 53
Painter, muralist, illustrator, sculptor
“I think with my life as an artists, I do what I want, I am happy, [and] I have a lot of opportunities when painting. When making murals I am known for my childish theme. I am trying to get that childish spirit inside. This is what my art is about. To not kill the kid that is inside of me.”
According to art dealer Silvio, Victor stands out in Havana as a 6’5 man who walks through the streets with a cigar hanging out of his mouth and a few of his paintings in tow. Victor is a contributing muralist to Proyecto Muraleando, a collaborative space where artists paint over abandoned walls as an act of community service. Victor is a popular guy at Muraleando, where he is close friends with other artists, construction workers, and elementary school teachers who volunteer their time there.
Hiram Amores (El Multaoide), 23
“In Cuba, it is difficult to upload our music online and to spread it. We don’t have any producer to help us [and] we are on our own. But that doesn’t stop us. We will keep on struggling and fighting for the music”
Hiram has been producing music since he was thirteen years old. He gathers in his bedroom with his other friends from Alta Habana, where they record songs in their makeshift recording studio. Hiram and Yanikel emphasize how they feel a bit disconnected from other artists since their neighborhood is located outside of central Havana. They have trouble uploading their music to social media due to a lack of easy access to wifi. They call their team “Halloween Records” which they describe to be one big family. Their musical inspiration is Chris Brown, and they hope to book bigger gigs in order to share their talent and spread Cuban rap.