Painted Triptych of Jason the Hero with one Sandal
4' x 6 '
preparatory charcoal drawing
Sometimes a painting is not just a painting!
In 2007 a one-month sketching trip to Naples inspired me to paint the 3-panel (triptych) narrative screen, using as location for its story of homecoming and exile one of my favorite neighborhoods in Naples : the quartiere of La Sanità.
(The street scene shows the 18th-century Palazzo degli Spagnoli designed by Neapolitan architect Ferdinando San Felice in the Baroque period).
The main figures of this painted screen include Jason (as in Jason and the Argonauts ... and his seminal voyage in search of for the Golden Fleece; his uncle Pelias who had exiled Jason's family from their city, and finally the beautiful sorceress Medea, who begets --and murders -- Jason's 2 children even as she gives him the power to slay the dragon guarding the Fleece in Colchis.
In the left panel, young Jason reclines on a Neapolitan stairway wearing only one sandal, as he displays the golden ram, both resting on a royal blue drapery. In the panels towards the right the story of Jason's delivery ot the Golden Fleece to his native city of Iolchos unravels -- as explained in the VIDEO CLIPS below, in both Spanish and English.
4' x 6 '
oil on wooden panels
Mural on canvas: Early Miami and the River
Mural of the Miami River (DETAIL)
4 ' x 12 '
oil on canvas
Commissioned by Meland, Russin, Hellinger & Budwick, P.A.
The Miami skyline depicted in this original oil painting commissioned by the law firm of Meland, Russin, Hellinger & Budwick in 2006 is a composite of “on-site” sketches drawn from different locations along the Miami River and of my own readings and reflections on this subject. From left to right, my vision begins at the Seybold Canal and travels downriver. The Scottish Rite Masonic Temple is featured prominently, with its bold pyramid structure on the top. On the far right of the mural, the Miami River passes under Brickell Bridge by the Miami Circle, as it merges with the waters of Biscayne Bay.
The figures in the foreground are those of
Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León and
two Tequesta Indian youths, as they might
have looked when the conquistador first
came to these shores with his galleons
and horses in July 1513, in search of the
mythic Fountain of Youth.
De León kneels in reverence, holding a
scroll with painted emblems of the fountain
and of Our Lady of Loreto, after whom an
early Spanish mission---and thus, the city
was then named -- the mission fort stood
where the Hyatt Hotel is located today.
Other symbolic details in the mural include a Florida manatee, an old Jewish synagogue, a lobster fishery, and a group of figures conducting a baptism ceremony in the River. The Tequesta youth presenting a conch shell to the European explorer (in the detail image above) stands both as a living symbol of this land’s welcome to all newcomers and my interpretation of the
old and new “Mayaimi” as a place of shelter and life.
Painted Mural on canvas of a snow-cone vendor on the Havana Seawall
Originally commissioned for a "Cuban nostalgia) themed restaurant in Miami, Florida, this grand little panorama of La Habana's signature promenade purportedly expresses i the majestic combination of urban and natural, humility and elegance, and prosaic and mythical that is Havana. The figure of the vendor of granizados with perhaps his own name Osiris painted inside the painting on the side of his refreshment cart for me was surely a figure from my childhood visits to the Seawall. But I remember feeling surprised when the stark yet soft and dreamy composition emerged on this 8 feet by 24 feet canvas.
Detail of the Vendor of "granizados" at Havana Seawall looking at the Caribbean Sea
8 ' x 24 '
acrylic on canvas MURAL
2 Painted screens of streets in Old Legendary Camagüey, Cuba.
Painted screens (paravanes or biombos, in Spanish) can be more than static paintings or 2-dimensional panels.
Although these two screens may be enjoyed solely on a decorative level, I painted the one on the left inspired in Our Lady of Mercy. In my hometown of Camagüey,
Cuba, there is a three-hundred year old church dedicated to Las Mercedes, as she is known there.
La Virgen de las Mercedes, or Obatalá in Cuba's Yoruba religion --- her spirit of liberation was traditionally called upon by prisoners or slaves in times of need throughout Cuban history.
The photo on the right shows an opened screen painted on both sides. Because of their make-up and assemblage such screens are movable and may be opened or semi-closed at different angles, the works become free-standing sculptures that take various "forms," depending on the viewer's vantage point.
There is a small image of La Merced inside the church in this painted screen ---she is, in fact, breaking a piece of chain that she holds in her hands.
Painted screens as in fact "diptychs" that literally stand in space much like a sculpture. They can be turned to display more prominently one side than another, or likewise they may be placed strategically in a room as a separator or connector between 2 spaces.
Legendary Camagüey as Labyrinth
In my first and only return visit to my family's hometown in the island of Cuba in 1999, I was impressed by the elegance of the façades of the colonial, baroque, and even Art Deco style which, along with the almost-Pompeian interiors with garden or colonnaded atriums and cubiculum-like bedrooms and sitting areas earned the city the World Heritage status in the early 2000s. The painted diptych screen below portrays the essence of the town's design when it was the Spanish "Santa Maria del Puerto Principe de Camagüey, a design in the form of a maze whose purpose was meant to ward off attacks by Francis Drake and other 16th century pirates as well as to express the well-kept inner secrets of its proud inhabitants. Click on the VIDEO clip below to learn more about how and why I created these doors in 2002, from a pair of great old doors that my sister Maria brought me from Brazil.