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Mario Mesa
Mario Mesa

Born c.1940
Biography Born in Cuba, self-taught painter Mario Mesa arrived in the United States on the Mariel Boatlift of 1980. Like many of the marielitos, he had been a political prisoner in Cuba, and lived a very hard life. "I was abandoned at birth. I was poor and couldn't go to school. I never played the games children play. I was always working." He started painting in the United States after being hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. "When I got sick I lived in the streets. I had always been very neat and clean, but everything changed. When I got better I had to help myself. I started painting to give something back. Thanks to painting I got better."

Mario Mesa was profiled in an article by Andy Antippas in the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Raw Vision magazine (excerpt from Raw Vision website):

‘Kill me, or I will kill myself if I have to go back to relive my childhood’, is the memorable way Mario Mesa begins his Künstlerroman . Mesa was born in Güira de Melena in the Province of Havana, Cuba, in 1928. With palpable bitterness, he explains that he never knew his father, that they had no furniture, no bed, and that the walls of their home were constructed of palm trunks whose fronds made the roof. He recollects toiling with his mother, his two half-sisters and his grandmother, tearing tobacco leaves from their stems and filling huge sugar bags, each of them earning 14 cents a day. ‘When I was five or six years old, I went into the village streets to pursue my own life. I didn’t know I was crazy in those days. I knew nothing about art. Finding something to eat was all I thought about.’

When Mesa was nine he packed groceries at the village bodega, but he made more money on Sundays collecting pennies strewn ceremoniously in the church plaza by the godparents of those just baptised. ‘I tried to go to church three times, and three times the priest threw me out because I had no shoes.

The Catholic Church’, he concluded, ‘has always been an evil empire.’ (The smouldering irritation of this memory is profound and is the subject of several paintings). ‘I do believe in God and the Nature he has created.’ Mesa leans forward and encircles his arms before him: ‘There is more good to be had embracing a tree than all the priests’ gossip – God is everywhere except the Church.’

At 19, Mesa went to work at the beachside casino resorts near Havana City – El Gato Verde, Antiqua Chiquita, and the Faro Club; the legendary sybaritic excesses of the high life he observed put him in good stead when he later handled his own mujeres (read ‘prostitutes’) in Miami’s Little Havana. In 1959, Castro came to power and Mesa went to work as an electrician for one of the new socialist government’s bureaus, the Technical Float of Maritime Works. He married Victoria Florin Herrera, a Jehovah’s Witness, and they had a son and a daughter.
Text used courtesy of Raw Vision magazine.

El Gallo
Mario Mesa (Miami, Florida, born in Cuba)
Oil on canvas (22x30), 1998
$575 (framed)

Perro y Pajaros
Mario Mesa (Miami, Florida, born in Cuba)
Oil on Board (19x25), 1998
$575 (framed)

Mario Mesa (Miami, Florida, born in Cuba)
Oil, acrylic on board (25x19), 1997
$850 (framed)

Perro Moreno
Mario Mesa (Miami, Florida, born in Cuba)
Oil on Board (26x26), 1998
$550 (framed)
1400 North American St., #104 • Philadelphia, PA 19122
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Al l photographs and text Copyright Indigo Arts Gallery, LLC., 1998-2014. Use without permission prohibited.

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