As the U.S. makes headlines with efforts toward restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, a collaboration between artists from these two countries has been quietly blossoming. It will finally take root in a historic mural painted in the weeks leading up to Ventura's ArtWalk July 18-19.
The joint effort is between MB Hanrahan of Ventura and Pedro Miguel González Pulido of Cuba, who is traveling to Ventura for the project. It will reflect the styles of both community painters, and contains cultural elements shared by both Ventura and Cuba — dancing, music, cars, the ocean and nature. The artists have been exchanging thoughts and images by email. The result will be a colorful series of archways which will be painted on a wall at 50 W. Main St. in Downtown Ventura. The arches will frame five scenes. The 10-foot spaces in between the archways are reserved for plants in the eventual development of the area for a parking lot and pedestrian walkway.
"In front of the first archway is a vintage 1950s-era car such as one would see in Cuba," Hanrahan explained. "Pedro favors a figurative style of painting, with figures emerging from an abstract expressionist ground. Such an abstract flow streams out of the car window, like music from a radio. This abstract stream continues as the background from which all subsequent images emerge from."
The imagery thus flows continuously back and forth, no matter how the mural is approached. Following the car frame are images of dancers, a passion flower and butterfly, a horse on a cart and a hand holding a conch.
"The cart is revealed to be a Trojan Horse brought into a city as a present," Hanrahan said. "The saddle is thrown back, the ladder unrolls, and visitors climb out. This image symbolizes the expectations, the hopes and the unknowns of this collaboration."
A shadow of a large tree will be painted on the south end of the wall.
The Havana to Ventura mural is being privately funded by Josh Addison and the Addison Main Street Trust, the owner of the building. Addison is also the founder of the Bell Arts Factory in Ventura.
Our community prospers when we make positive changes together," Addison said. "That's what this project is all about."
The mural will be painted July 1-17 by the artists with the help of students in the Vita Summer Teen Program and community volunteers. No experience is necessary. If you would like to be part of the project, please call (805) 218-6766.
The mural will be painted with an anti-grafitti coating, and maintained by artist and owner.
MB Hanrahan of Ventura has a history of creating large-scale murals throughout Southern California, most in collaboration with organizations, youth, or other artists. She is an arts educator at El Camino High School, Ventura College, and the Vita Art Center, and holds a master of fine arts degree from Humboldt State University. Hanrahan has experience with a wide variety of media, including photography, graphic arts, and set design. Always dedicated to creating a dialogue about social issues, she is often an advocate for community ideas through her works of public art.
Pedro Miguel González Pulido of Cuba is an internationally known artist whose works have been shown in Cuba, Italy, Bulgaria, Australia and the United States. He is a graduate of the University of Havana with degrees in graphic design, ceramics, sculpture and ecology. He holds a bachelor's degree from the National School of Fine Art, San Alejandro, Cuba, in drawing and sculpture, and tours worldwide as a professor of fine art. Pulido is the coordinator of “Proyecto Sociocultural Comunitario CintioVitier” which is a network of people who voluntarily work on projects for the social well-being of communities, including schools, workplaces, families, organizations, and more.