Little Havana is about the people (Florida Special)

By on 2015/02/16
With artist Luis Molina

With artist Luis Molina

If you visit Miami you must stop at Little Havana. As its name states, this is the neighbourhood populated by Cubans who migrated to the US either decades ago or just recently. As you walk down the famous Calle 8, you can breathe the relaxing and friendly manners of the locals, while listening to the tunes of Gloria Estefan or Celia Cruz coming out from bars and cigar shops.

Statements by the Cuban poet of the Revolution Jose Marti illustrate side walls as they do the colourful street murals or the brilliant portrait illustrations at the Theatre by Aristide. I have always been anti-smoke, but I have to admit that hand making cigars is an art. Pop around one of the Cigar factories and let them show you the process.

Some tourists stay around the Domino gamers for a while as this is the common attraction mentioned in all travel guides. However I would recommend a much more interesting and rewarding activity while you are there: talk to the locals. Few words in conversation and they will tell you about their amazing life journeys. Luis Molina has his own Art Gallery in Calle Ocho. As I pop in he receives me warmly, introducing himself and asking where I am from. He then reveals that his granddad was Spanish and we get into deep conversation. This 72 year old Cuban painter, who left Cuba in 1980 along with other 125,000 nationals who did on that same year, can literally tell much about his journey. After 20 years living in New York, and established in Miami for a long while now, he has lived and seen many critical moments in the history of their natal Cuban and the US. On his thoughts and views of both worlds and ways of living I won’t comment. You have to go and see him to find out. I probably spent over an hour chatting to him but it felt like 10 minutes. I can definitely comment however on his artworks. With the colour outburst that dominates Cuban art, Molina captures characters from both Catholic and indiginous Cuban tribes in beautiful portrait works with tints of fantasy. His trademark “stretching of the eyes” feature in his recent collection creates a magical aura that doesn’t leave you indifferent.

“I believe the eyes can often speak better than words”, Molina explains, “they can be honest, they can express inner feelings in an instant”. For someone like me, who does portrait illustration, I can’t agree more.

We exchanged business cards. “So you are in Facebook?”, Molina asks me in a youthful spirit. “I will look for you!” And as I say goodbye he humbly thanked me, when it should be me thanking him for sharing his story.


About The Creative Post

You must be logged in to post a comment Login