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Gamez deFrancisco moved to Louisville eight months ago with a limited
understanding of English, but a great desire to make art.
“I spent one month trying to translate my resume,” the 22-year-old native of Cuba said.
Community boosters trying to sell Louisville as “Possibility City” should put deFrancisco on their posters.
than a year after arriving in Kentucky, he is the 2010 “Dreammakers”
artist in residence at the Muhammad Ali Center, where visitors can come
see him work in an open studio at the center on North Sixth Street.
Gamez deFrancisco bested 49 other applicants for the residency, which
will give him the resources to follow his dream, and the clout that
comes with the Ali name.
try to move fast,” he said in an interview at the Ali Center, where his
studio overlooks the center's outdoor amphitheater and fountains.
deFrancisco had been patient in the five years since his father,
Louisville accountant and translator Carlos Emilio Gamez, began the
complicated immigration paperwork before his son was the requisite 21
“Time, for me, is really important,” Gamez deFrancisco said. “I try to sleep just five hours” (a night).
joked that he is taking his cue from Leonardo daVinci and trying to
sleep less and do more. As soon as he had arrived, Gamez deFrancisco
got down to the business of establishing himself in the art scene.
invested only in art supplies. I made a big production of pictures. … I
was studying English, then I was understanding better,” said Gamez
deFrancisco, who works weekdays in shipping and receiving at a local
distribution company. “I knew about the LVAA (Louisville Visual Art
Association) and I sent an e-mail saying I wanted to have an exhibition
there. A member sent information on all opportunities in the city.”
His busy lifestyle caught up with him in October on a trip back to Cuba to get married. On his
day, he fell asleep and was two hours late for the ceremony. But, he
noted, the mishap suited the humorous theme he had brought with him, a
bit of American kitsch in the form of a cake topper that shows a bride
hauling her groom by the collar to the altar. As a lark, the new couple
also had wedding photos taken of Gamez deFrancisco being towed about by
his new wife, Yudith. (In a bittersweet note, Gamez deFrancisco
returned to Kentucky without Yudith, a 20-year-old dancer and
psychology student; they won't be reunited until she can obtain
for missing his wife and his native country, he shrugged. “I work too
much,” he said. “I take classes and I paint. I don't have too much
(other) time to miss it. … Almost every day I do work overtime to have
more money. Then I have a half-hour to take a bath and go to school. I
study English two hours a day.”
plan is for him to work weekends on “Louis and the Revolution,” a
satirical series about France's King Louis XVI (the monarch after whom
Louisville is named, and who was infamously guillotined by his
revolutionary subjects). It will be a creative “visual opera,” said
John Faulkner, community relations manager for the Ali Center, who
added that Gamez deFrancisco's style perfectly suits such a notion.
deFrancisco said he was inspired to become an artist after seeing a
contemporary dance performance when he was 12 years old. After
following that direction, including costume and set design, he began to
study visual art. After four years, he went on to study under such
prominent Cuban artists as Cosme Proenza, who paints fantastical gods
and goddesses, and Harry Ruiz Moreno, whose surrealistic images evoke
the uncertainties of life in Cuba.
deFrancisco, who also is a member of the Pyro Gallery on West Main
Street and who is featured in a new exhibition opening Thursday, said
he also has been inspired by Russian artist and theater designer Leon
Bakst and portrait painter Valentin Serov, as well as Henri Toulouse
Lautrec, Velasquez, Goya and Dali.
revolve around the stereotypes of human behavior that aroused in me an
almost-morbid curiosity,” Gamez deFrancisco, a student of German
Expressionism, wrote in his artist's statement.
figures, which seem to escape the laws of reason, of physics and
biology, are only our alter-ego, usually friendly monsters, but
monsters in the end. … I've tried to demystify the reality around me.”
By Diane Heilenman •
firstname.lastname@example.org • January 4, 2010
For more info: http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20101040305
Release Date: Apr 29, 2013
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