yasmin hernandez welcome





Arsenio

 

2003
Acrylic on Watercolor Paper
11" x 13"

I created this image for Urban Latino magazine's "Urban Legends" page. Arsenio Rodriguez is definitely a legendary figure. He was a Cuban composer of African descent who listened to the wise teachings of his grandfather to incorporate rich West African traditions into Cuban music. He introduced congas and other Afro-Caribbean percussive instruments into popular music at a time (1st half of 20th century) when this was considered taboo. Arsenio lost his sight at a young age as a result of an accident, however this did not hinder his gift for composing music. His songs are still being rerecorded to this day by Latin music greats such as Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barreto, and Ibrahim Ferrer. This earned him the loving name of "El Ciego Maravilloso" (The Blind Marvel). In addition to the aforementioned musicians, Arsenio also greatly influenced Salsa pianist, Larry H arlow, so much so that he was even nicknamed "El Judío Maravilloso" (The Jewish Marvel).

I painted Arsenio's portrait within the composition of the Cuban flag. Within the triangle of the flag I've included some of the lyrics to my favorite Arsenio song, Bruca Manigua which is a testament of the African's history and experience in the Caribbean. "Sin la libertá no puedo vivir". (Without freedom, I cannot live).