Painting with Artist Renier Usatorres Valdes
The day I met Jorge Peña in Habana Vieja, he promised to introduce me to one of the city’s up and coming young painters, Renier Usatorres Valdes. So, when Jorge and I met again in Habana Vieja a few days later, he escorted me on a 15 minute walk to one of the surrounding neighborhoods to meet Renier.
On the walk over Jorge and I were caught in a sudden downpour, but it didn’t matter because I was thrilled at the possibilities of meeting an artist; in large part because I haven’t been artistically endowed and admire those who are.
When I walked into the space, I was delighted to see this heartwarming painting featuring two adorable girls. Although the canvas was enormous, the girls were larger than life.
Jorge admitted, “It’s rare to see young Black girls in a painting.”
I knew it was which accounted for my surprise and overwhelming sense of pride. At first sight, the painting made me feel good; the girls showed a youthful innocence children so easily exude. Their love for one another was moving. Life seemed limitless and effortless. It came as no surprise when Renier told me the girls were best friends.
Renier has an incredible eye, youthful charm and unflappable belief in his Afro-Cuban roots. Regarding his painting, he simply said, “I want to show Black beauty in my painting. I just want to show what to me seems beautiful.”
I left the building with Jorge and Renier after talking and laughing for nearly two hours. We headed back to Habana Vieja for lunch. Walking the streets, the rain had finally ended and the sun peaked through the clouds.
I told Jorge, “Promise fulfilled.”