Worlds of Dreams: Perspectives from Three Cuban Exiles

Reception: January 4, 6-8 PM

On View December 21-January 15

“Those who leave Cuba are afraid they will be forgotten.”

So begins the 2008 documentary created by Key West resident Juan O’Farrill, which details the life and exile of Israel Kantor, a Cuban musician who reached the US through Mexico by defecting from his famous Cuban band, Los Van Van, in 1984.

Kantor passed away in 2006, but his story is captured beautifully in this one hour and fifteen minute documentary which will be aired by TSKW twice in January (Sat, Jan 14 at 1 pm, and Sun, Jan 15 at 1 pm – free of charge).

The screenings are a part of a larger project undertaken by two local men, Leonel Valle and Juan O’Farrill, who will present the next exhibition, World of Dreams: Perspectives from Three Cuban Exiles, from December 21-January 15 in the Armory Main Hall. The exhibition consists of Valle’s poetry hung side-by-side with O’Farrill’s paintings, each man telling his own story through a different artistic medium; each voice as unique as the experience itself.

The Artists:

Writer Leonel Valle came to the USA in 1960 on a regular commercial flight in and has never returned. He asked for political asylum and received it in Miami. He has never been back to Cuba and does not have any relatives or friends over there anymore. He will never go back to Cuba until there is a radical change in the Cuban government.  The Cuba of his dreams no longer exists. It is an impossibility and his poems reflect this fact. It is a poetry of longing, sadness, memories and dreams.

To read a Solares Hill review of Valle’s most recent book of poetry, Click here

Juan O’Farrill came to the United States in 1994. After crossing the Florida Straits in his own handmade raft, the US coast Guard caught him before he could touch US soil and he was taken to the US Naval Base in Guantanamo. After a year, he was allowed to enter this country. He was a political prisoner at 15 years of age back in Cuba before he ever considered leaving there. However, he has a large family in Cuba and has visited there on many occasions. He loves to walk through the streets of Old Havana. His paintings reflect the values and aspects of the Cuba of today, which is where he derives most of his inspiration.

To view a gallery on O’Farrill’s paintings online, click here

Musician Israel Kantor reached the United States through Mexico by defecting from his Cuban famous band, Los Van Van, in 1984. He swam the Rio Grande and entered the country illegally, asking for political asylum in Miami. He lived and performed in Miami until his death in 2006. It was his desire to return to Cuba to sing there, but the Cuban government denied his visit. His music reflects this frustration and desire, since he knew that his much loved Cuba awaited him and his music.

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