“ART —  when really understood —  is the province of every human being.”

“Art is simply a question of doing things, anything, well.”

-Robert Henri

© Elsa Mora. Ink on paper.

I want to tell you about a neighbor that I had in Cuba, way back when I was about 12 years old. He never got married or had children, he was modest and quiet. I never saw him say a word, but I saw him walk every morning to work wearing his uniform, which consisted of a long-sleeve green shirt, beige pants, and boots.  Demesio worked as a gardener for a sports-related building not too far from our neighborhood. In the morning, on my route to school, I used to walk by Demesio’s garden wondering how on Earth a single man could take care of such a large garden and keep it as vibrant and beautiful as he did.  Demesio was  totally immersed in his work . That’s what he did, day after day, his whole life.

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© Elsa Mora. Ink on paper.

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Thinking back, Demesio’s garden is one of the best memories that I have from my past in Cuba.  It was abundant, rich, full of harmony and beauty, with small palm trees lined up like miniature soldiers, flowers in a multitude of colors, different species of succulents…a feast to the eyes.  He couldn’t have imagined the impact  his work had on his young neighbor.

I once overheard a conversation between my Mom and Demesio’s sister where she said that Demesio’s niece had won a trip to Europe (to the La Unión Soviética).

The niece wanted Demesio to go with her because he always worked so hard and deserved a vacation, but Demesio refused. I’m sure that  what Demesio didn’t want was to be away from his garden. That garden was his life, his identity, what he did everyday, what he loved most. I knew this even though I never heard it directly from Demesio. This gentle, quiet man was in my opinion a true artist. My Mom told me that he died a few years ago at an old age. He will always be  alive in my memory.

Demesio and his garden were at the very beginning of my journey as an artist.  He taught me the power of doing what you love, not for the sake of impressing anybody,  but for  self-expression and personal realization. I wanted to share this story with you as an invitation to reflect on what true art is . Behind great art there is just a person who loves doing what he/she does. It is that simple.

I hope that you have a restful weekend. See you on Monday!

Elsita

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