El Vecino (The Neighbor)Cuba Series - Painting #18
36" x 48" - Acrylic on canvas
On the dusty street where my cousin Mercedes lives there seems to exist a network of neighborly assistance and mutual support that flows fluidly from one house to the next.
In the few days I spent visiting, there was a steady stream of friends and neighbors constantly popping into the house. It was as if the whole street was just one giant communal home that they all shared. Sometimes people would come in and ask for food they had stored in the fridge. Other times they'd enter and pickup conversations that were seemingly days old. Often times a neighbor would come in and not even speak... they'd just sit down and watch TV or listen in on another conversation. There seemed to be no secrets. There were no shows of gratitude for favors done nor any sense that it was expected.
The gentleman in this portrait was one of the many neighbors that made themselves frequent visitors to my cousins house. Although he rarely spoke, he had a doe eyed innocence that was too special to go unnoticed. He was as familiar to the house as the rusted old chair he sat in, yet his presence seemed to provide a quiet stability.
Although my family here is poor I was comforted to see that they are rich in terms of community and the shared sense of responsibility everyone takes in looking after one another.