Mala Lengua  
 
AfroCubaWeb
  Home - Portal | Music - Música | Authors - Autores | Arts - Artes 
  Site Map - Mapa del Sitio | News - Noticias | Search ACW - Buscar en ACW 
 
  Mala Lengua
 
Salvador Gonzalez Escalona. Callejon de Hamel, 2011

Salvador González Escalona
www.salvadorgonzalezescalona.com

Salvador González is an AfroCuban painter and sculptor well known for his murals around the world.  His murals are collective events involving the community they are painted in and represent a transference of AfroCuban culture to a new home (see interview by Pedro Perez Sarduy, 1997).

"Salvador Gonzáles Escalona, born October 21, 1948 in Camagüey, Cuba, is a Cuban painter, muralist and sculptor. His artist name is Salvador. His work is known as an "afro-cuban" style. He describes his work as a mix of surrealism, cubism and abstract art. Salvador has no formal art education, but as early as in 1968 he had his first art exhibition "Arte Popular Cubano" in "Museo de Artes Decorativas", Havana. In the 1980s he had a series of art exhibitions at Cuba. In 1986 he had an exhibition at Seychelles and in 1987 an exhibition in Rome, Italy."
-- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Gonz%C3%A1les_Escalona

Through the Eyes of Salvador: Afro-Cuban Public Art
January 4, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - January 26, 2018 @ 6:00 pm    Tapps Art Center, Cola, SC

www.tappsartscenter.com/event/through-the-eyes-of-salvador-afro-cuban-public-art

Mas alla del decenio de los pueblos afrodescendientes, 2017, coordinado por Rosa Campoalege y Karina Bidaseca (libro, PDF, descarga gratis). Vease p 223: El Callejón de Hamel: Arte, cimarronaje y memoria. Afro-diaspórica en Centro Habana, por Geoffroy de Laforcade

Exhibit of Salvador paintings inspired by the mysticism of AfroCuban culture, at the Met in NY, 6/21-24, 2000

NY Gallery, 6/00

Articles/Artículostop

facex.jpg (7781 bytes)Callejón de Hamel: Calle de todos  5/27/2017 Cubadebate: "La rumba vive en ella. La siente. Basta el leve toque de un tambor para romper su inercia. Tairumi no conoce de escuelas de arte ni de técnicas, “porque este ritmo es libertad y soltura”."

"El Negrón": el rico cóctel que solo podrás disfrutar en el Callejón de Hamel  5/25/2017 CiberCuba: "Con un poco de albahaca, miel, hielo, agua, ron y algún que otro ingrediente secreto de su creadora Maritza Galano, podrás disfrutar de este rico cóctel llamado “El Negrón” en el famoso Callejón de Hamel de La Habana. Refrescante y perfecto para el eterno verano que se vive en la Isla, esta bebida se ha convertido en el refrigerio estrella de los visitantes."

Para todos los hijos de Oshún desde el Callejón de Hamel  3/28/2017 CiberCuba: "Si hay un sitio en La Habana que hace gala y recoge un pedacito de la cultura cubana, ese es el Callejón de Hamel. Este pequeño espacio ubicado en pleno corazón de la barriada de Cayo Hueso, exactamente entre las calles Hospital y Aramburu, se ha convertido en el verdadero epicentro de la cultura afroamericana desde que abriera sus puertas a finales de 1989 y principio de los 90."

Conozca "El Callejón de Hamel" en La Habana, un sitio que es pura magia  1/24/2017 CiberCuba: "Arte, religión, música, pintura, teatro... son tantas las manifestaciones que se dan la mano en ese pequeño lugar de la Habana, llamado El Callejón de Hamel."

Cuban artist Salvador visits Norfolk State  2/6/2015 WTKR: "World-renowned Cuban artist Salvador Gonzales Escalona visited Norfolk State University this week to bring knowledge and wisdom, learn about Afro-American culture and bring the connection to Afro-Cuban culture to the forefront. A native of Cuba, Salvador’s works are often labeled as “Afro- Cuban” and often contain a diverse range of “cubism, surrealism and abstract art.”"

Interview with Artist Salvador Gonzalez Escalona on Location in Cuba - Indianapolis Museum of Art  12/21/2014 Art Babble 

Afro-Cuban Culture at Havana’s Hamel Alley  10/27/2014 Havana Times: "“The project emerged in 1990, on April 21, 1990, to be exact, when Salvador decided to paint his first mural in a public space in front of his house. In 1989, he had already painted a mural in Old Havana’s Casa de Africa,” Elias Asef, assistant to visual artist Salvador Gonzalez and the project’s manager and leader, tells us."

Tribute to Havana’s Callejon de Hamel  6/5/2014 Havana Times: "During the recently-concluded Cubadisco awards, dedicated to drum playing, the Honary Award was granted the Callejon and Salvador Gonzalez, founder of the project. According to Cary Diez, folk music expert and lover, it was an opportunity to pay tribute to “all percussionists, rumba players, dancers and people who play instruments there.”

Callejón de Hamel: De La Habana… una arteria  4/22/2012 Cubadebate: "En el Callejón se rinde tributo a la cultura afrocubana, algunas obras están hechas de restos de viejas bicicletas o de bañeras abandonadas, relucientes ahora luego de tomar color. Además, existe un Nganga, lugar sagrado para la celebración de los ritos de la religión de Palo Monte."

Cuba al son de los orishas  7/3/2011 La Nacion: "Yemayá atraviesa el callejón de los milagros sólo para escuchar la rumba y mezclarse con los mortales. Es domingo, pasado el mediodía, y no entran más almas en este rincón de Cayo Hueso, entre los barrios Vedado y Centro Habana. Pero esta divinidad madre de los orishas tiene cita cada semana. Llega del Malecón, según aquellos que pueden verla, para conectarse con los cuerpos en trance."

FILM IN REVIEW; 'A Cuban Legend -- 'The Story of Salvador González'  10/11/2002 NYT: "''A Cuban Legend: The Story of Salvador González,'' opening today in Manhattan, is an engaging, uncritical portrait of an artist who transformed a run-down Havana neighborhood. Lively, colorful and music-filled, Bette Wanderman's documentary is, at the same time, a travelogue and an introduction to Afro-Cuban music and religion."

Salvador Gonzalez Visa Delay Stops Trip to US  10/3/2002 AfroCubaWeb: by Ned Sublette. See our page on Salvador González, the famed muralist of Callejon de Hamel.

    

Salvador González Escalona
Painter, Muralist, Sculptor, Asesor de Arte Popular, Metals Technologist

1960 Began in the arts, specializing in painting and applied art.
1980 Showed at the "Arte Popular Cubano" exhibit at the Artes Decorativas Museum, Havana, Cuba
1981 Showed at the "Artesania y Revolucion" exhibit, together with the grupo Caribe in the Galeria de Arte de la Casa Estudiantil de la FEU, Havana University
1983 Showed at the "Expresiones Artisticas" exhibit at the Cuban Association of Artists and Artesans
1984 Applied Arts show at the Varadero Tourism Convention
1985 "Latin American Art Anniversary," at the Fondo Cubano de Bienes Culturales
1986 Personal show, "Homage to Don Fernando Ortiz" in the Casa de Africa that he founded.
Show at the City of Havana Museum
Show in the Seychelle Islands

"Yoruba Poem" show at Cuban Culture Day, Hotel Habana Libre
Show at the Havana International Fair, Casa de Obrapia, City Museum

Show at the Union de Periodistas de Cuba, with the group "Raices Profundas"

1987 Show at the San Miguel del Padron Gallery, with the group "Raices Profundas"
Group show in Rome, Italy, with the Cuban Association of Artists and Artesans
"Hommage to the King of the Yorubas, the Ooni of Ife" on the occasion of his visit to Cuba, City Museum
Show at the Castillo de la Fuerza, with "Raices Profundas"
1988 Show at the Casa de Africa, Havana: "Hommage to Don Fernando Ortiz, The Song of Ekue"


Murals 

1989 "Palo Monte": Mural dedicated to religious culture, Casa de Africa, City Museum
1990 First outdoor AfroCuban mural: Callejon de Hamel, Havana
1991 "El hijo del sol": a 350 m2 mural on the Caracas Hilton, Venezuela
Mural on Rancho Boyeros Ave, with the group Danes Arte por Vida, Havana
1992 Mural at the Escuela Superior on Isla Floro, Noruega
Mural in hommage to Nieve Fresneda, Casa Comunal del Municipio Plaza, Havana
1993 "Ancestros": mural in Xochimilco, Mexico
"Metamorfosis": teatro Mella, Havana
"Ceremonia Egun": Architecural College, Cuba
1994 "Sol de America": at the Queretaro Anthropological Museum, Mexico
Mural at the Instituto Indigenista Otomi, Mexico
Mural at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico
"Madre Agua": Copenhagen, Denmark

[more to come!]

Videography

Videoclip Iya Oromi with Grupo Sintesis, Cuba.   Director: Manolo Padron. Prize at the Tan Tan Festival, Italy
Mensajero de los Dioses First documentary on Cuban Santeria, won Caracol prize in the 3rd Festival of New LatinAmerican Cinema, Havana.  Directed by Rigoberto Lopez
Regla de Ocha o Santeria Coproduced by Spain and Cuba.  Directed by Ramon Chile
El Brujo de Hamel Documentary by VideoCuba
Ofrenda a Aggayu Sola Documentary of the Cuban TV station CHTV. Directed by Salvador Gonzales and Miguel Valdes
Videoclip with Adalberto y su Son, a Cuban salsa group, and Isaac Delgado
Salvador, un Hombre de Hamel Documentary directed by Carlos Leon. Won Caracol prize in Havana.

Interview with the painter Salvador González Escalona
(Born in Camaguey, 1948)
by Pedro Perez Sarduy, La Habana, December 1997

Salvador GonzalezAn AfroCuban Mural around the World

Cuban popular music is a music of the people and one of its fundamental themes has been the celebration of the geographic environment, rural and urban, as a way of stressing the concept of cubanía...

[The author starts with a description of Cuban music and its relation to the barrios, seat of the renaissance of popular culture, "whose African roots are strong." He describes how groups like NG la Banda sing about the barrios of Havana, where popular traditions are being revived and extended]

It is right in this barrio of Cayo Hueso where you can find Callejón Hamel, very near the University of Havana, which is over 200 years old. Located in a very small space, relatively long, in a sort of cul de sac, Salvador González Escalona has a gallery from where he directs an ambitious project he, as poet of images, started: huge mural paintings on the front and side walls of the buildings. He himself admits it is difficult to imagine what the Callejón de Hamel is for someone who has not visited it.

I had gone to this alley at the end of December, 1997, and my curiosity led me to talk with Salvador a good couple of hours, sitting with some rum on the small patio of his surreal dwelling.

"In reality, the Callejón de Hamel is a heavy load of poetic images and sculpture that you have to live through, as you have lived it in the rumba, in all of the goings on that take place around it. This is, for many, a thing of magic, because it is the result of a conversation with the orishas over a period of many years. It's where you can see landing that white dove of Obbatalá that flies and flies and flies until it finds its place here."

Salvador's magic, as he nears 50 years with his half gray beard, begins to show me the atmosphere of this alley:

"Its walls express in one form or another the feeling of African art, that is the presence of African culture in our country. You will find here pieces of sculpture, overhanging roofs with many colors, poetry, images. A house that could be a temple, or that is a temple for this community. It is Black poetry that is in each house, which is at the same time a temple."

Yes, that's the definition, the Callejón de Hamel is a public temple, open for everyone in the barrio of Cayo Hueso.

After a brief interruption from one of his collaborators who wanted to know the price of one of the canvases in the gallery for a foreign visitor, Salvador gave me some of the history of the place:

"The barrio Cayo Hueso is a barrio of the people, with a great cultural force which has given rise to some magnificent artists. It is so called because in the past many people from Key West, Florida, lived here, mostly tobacco workers who wound up settling here. People in the area started referring to 'the people from Cayo Hueso,' cubanizing the Key West. From that came the 'barrio Cayo Hueso.'"

The barrio, located in the municipio of Centro Havana, close to Vedado and Old Havana, is in the heart of Havana. Three blocks to the north, the sea awaits us.

Salvador continues his evocation: "We find here many of our best musical traditions. In this alley many years ago, in the 40's, a cuban musical movement was born, known as "filin," songs of feeling, with our friend Angelito Díaz and his now deceased father, Tirso Díaz. There were figures such as Elena Burque, the late Moraima Secada, aunt of Jon Secada, Omara Portuondo [featured in Buena Vista Social Club], César Portillo de la Luz, and many others."

A cultural environment project such as Salvador's obviously had to have support in the community's own roots. Up to what point do the inhabitants identify with popular art and culture? Salvador returns to the history.

"Here, the traditional comparsas (carnival street bands) of our barrio are very important. So too all the rumbas formerly played in Trillo Park. This is also a place steeped in popular religion. You can walk down the street and hear a 'toque'. Abakuá plants (for initiations) are found all over. The barrio has its own 'potencia' of the secret Abakuá religion, very important here."

I asked Salvador to give us some specifics on religious practice here.

"I am talking about the religion known as Santería, which comes from the Yorubas; Palo Monte, which comes from the Congo; Abakuá, which has to do with Calabar [the Cross River Delta in Nigeria]; and maybe some manifestations of spiritism, a cultural expression of working class people, the ordinary folks in our country."

All of these Cuban religious manifestations have their ethnic origins, obviously, and came about with the importation of African slaves starting with the beginning of the XVIth century. Their descendant succeeded in preserving them even with the considerable racial mixing that occurred.

"This barrio has a strong contingent of Black people. Of course, we don't have all of the Black people in the city here. Our country is a mixture of African, Spanish, and Asian presences. The barrio looks great, with many colors that shine even more now that there has been some remodeling. In one way or another, this work that we began here in Centro Habana has resulted in the same kind of color and magic that the barrio has to begin with."

In large part, we owe the transformation that Callejón de Hamel has undergone to Salvador's initiative. According to the artist, the alley was nothing compared to what it now is.

"As I told you, in the decades of the 40's and the 50's this musical movement rose up in the house of Tirso Díaz where a group of young people got together who are now stars of Cuban music. But that movement did not grow further there and the Callejón de Hamel stayed in the dust, forgotten in time. It was in 1990 when I set myself the task of beginning to paint these walls. As I painted, I saw how the alley was growing. I saw how interesting things came up, how it was becoming converted bit by bit into a monumental work. And monumental works deserve respect. So I began to revere this respect and people then began to interiorize this."

Evidently, the first reaction of the community was an immediate astonishment. Salvador explained to me why.

"For two reasons. Fist, in my country, there is no place like this, even less with AfroCuban murals." Perhaps the most surprised was the artist himself.

"Not even I knew I was transforming myself into one of the pioneers of the theme -- although great masters such as Wifredo Lam had painted murals, they were painted inside houses. But as to outside murals, maybe fate reserved this little piece for me. And that's how we get this mural on a public street. People's reaction was magical. Many knew the work it took me to find the materials and told me 'Maestro, I have in the house a little bit of red oil paint,' or yellow, or a little printing dye. And so it was that I began to paint with whatever I came across. At that time I still hadn't traveled outside of Cuba. It's for this that I love this work so much, it has achieved such an international recognition, it is known in a lot of places. It is from this work that I travel abroad. I'm not giving thanks because this got me abroad, I give thanks because I have been able to take out our culture, which is AfroCuban culture."

Salvador's work can be found in the Caracas Hilton in Venezuela, in a school in New York, in New Jersey, in Tucson, Arizona, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in Los Angeles, in Norway, in Denmark. His most recent work was four murals in Puerto Rico. One in the school Republic of Peru, in Santurce, and others in Loíza.

"Loíza is a very important Black community in the northwest of the island, where they play rumba. It's like I'm bringing over the rumba of the Callejón de Hamel as a gift to the rumba of Loíza. I painted another mural in San Sebastián street, in a place they call Rumba because there at night you can hear the drums and cajones [wooden boxes used as drums]. The last one I made was in a community called La Perla, a very humble community near Old San Juan. In La Perla, they know a lot about African culture. I experienced these places and for that I wanted to give them a mural with all the love and care of a Cuban artist. It's really great to see how you can re-create your culture in other places and how, from the mural work, you can establish these links around the world."

The relationships the artist Salvador González makes with class and race are not a given, all to the contrary. The great majority of the places he put his murals, as in these communities in the US and Puerto Rico, have a high percentage of working class people and people of African origin who have taken the hits from marginalization, in double measure. In the case of the Cuban capital, Salvador maintains a tight relationship with his environment and its inhabitants. What then is its importance?

"There are artisans and plastic artists who don't know these themes and dare to intrude on them. But they only do that in order to sell. Of course, for foreigners who don't know our culture, who have only heard of Voudu and confuse it with Santeria, when they come to Cuba, they look for the exotic side of this theme. They encounter certain people who sell them images of the orishas (Yoruba dieties) and talk to them of Elegguá, Changó, or Yemayá, without any grounding, that is without any preliminary study before executing the work. I don't want to say that's the case with everyone. The are excellent artists whose work is well grounded. And I add myself to them. I think you have to start with a work whose values are well grounded for our culture to be preserved and our traditions maintained. In this way our image, which has traveled through time, gives faithful proof of our true identity as a people. This is the great importance that Callejón Hamel holds for us, it preserves those values which for many are archaic, primitive, but which nevertheless have their origin in one of the oldest cultures on earth -- the Yoruba culture which in Cuba is lived at the threshold of the third millenium, with a living ritual, with living consecrated drums, with living elements of a strong cultural identity which prevails in our food, in our education, in our manner of speech, in our way of talking, in the way we express ourselves. Here the values of a cultural identity are intrinsic. Taking care of this, preserving this, we attain what our don Fernando Ortíz said: 'every people who denies themselves is thereby in danger of a suicide trance.' The thing is not to deny ourselves, but to fight on."

And Salvador feels himself to be in Cuba, in his own words, "a humble fighter, one soldier more in the AfroCuban or Cuban culture," which for him is pretty much the same.

[this is about 1/2 of the article, which continues with an account of some of the travails of AfroCuban culture and more interesting remarks from Salvador.]

(c) 1998 by Pedro Pérez Sarduy

For rights to publish this article, contact Pedro Pérez Sarduy via acw_AT_afrocubaweb.com [replace _AT_ with @]

Links/Enklaces

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Gonz%C3%A1les_Escalona

Aché: From Afro-Cuba to the World
The Art of Salvador González Escalona
www.salvadorgonzalezescalona.com

havana-club.com/en-ww/havana-cultura/salvador-gonz%C3%A1lez-escalona

www.lahabana.com/content/salvador-gonzalez/

www.invaluable.com/artist/gonzalez-escalona-salvador-4nk9ebpbna/sold-at-auction-prices/

Salvador in NY for several months in '99, working on mural in Harlem and on a film

www.accesstrips.com/2016/10/the-afro-cuban-art-of-salvador-gonzalez/

www.lahabana.com/content/salvador-gonzalez/

 

Contacting Salvador Gonzalez

In the US:

Artist's Agent: Dr. Geoffroy de Laforcade
g.delaforcade_AT_gmail.com [_AT_ = @]
757 510 3120

In Cuba:

San Lazaro # 955
E/ Aramburu y Hospital
Centro Habana, Cuba
Phone: 78.16.61

Contacting AfroCubaWeb

Electronic mail
acw_AT_afrocubaweb.com [replace _AT_ with @]

[AfroCubaWeb] [Site Map] [Music] [Arts] [Authors] [News] [Search this site]

Copyright © 1997 AfroCubaWeb, S.A.