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Chris Mitchell, Pilar Guzman, Lanessa Elrod, Stefano Tonchi.

Emilio Perez’s Havana Mural

A Simple Verse (Un Verso Sencillo) is a mural created for Havana’s Malecón by Emilio Perez. The mural is a traveling piece, first to be shown in Cuba (now through June 22) and is inspired by the book of poems Versos Sencillos (1891) by Cuban national hero and poet, José Martí. The mural illustrates the history of Havana, the city’s past, present, and future and was painted on a seawall boulevard that borders the city.

Perez’s parents are both Cuban exiles, living in New York, where the artist Perez was born. The stories of his parents and family, the poems of Martí, and his traveling to the country have all shaped his Cuban-American identity. “Martí’s verse Si ves un monte de espuma… is a direct reference to the sea which has always been a source for inspiration for me,” said Perez. The mural is tinted with blue and green to mirror the colors of the ocean and the faded pastel colors mimics Cuba’s architecture. The piece was painted on 32 wooden panels and may be one of the largest outdoor art murals ever placed within a public space in the city, measuring 65 feet long. Some of the panels are exposed to see the natural wood erode, meant to represent the crumbling Havana landscape. The mural is on view alongside the Havana Bienniale this summer.

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