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Hecho A Mano: Creativity in Exile

A short film documents the work of Cuban artists; a sculptor, two ceramicists, and a musician who have been quietly working in Miami for years

By Shana Beth Mason

Sculptor Tony López

STORY TOOLS

Very often, the most interesting, vivid characters in our midst are the ones we seldom hear about. Directors Gaspar González and Brett O’Bourke have illuminated four of those personalities within the Miami cultural world in their recent film “Hecho A Mano: Creativity in Exile.” Chronicling the histories and careers of four artists who had left Cuba for Miami, the film is a unique look into the worlds of pianist Francisco “Paquito” Hechvarría, sculptor Tony López, and ceramicists Ronald and Nelson Currás (who are identical twins).

González and O’Bourke came together from extensive journalism backgrounds in Miami; González producing films for WLRN/PBS (including “Muhammad Ali: Made In Miami,” and “Nixon’s the One: How Tricky Dick Stole the Sixties and Changed America Forever”), and O’Bourke acting as a writer and editor with The Miami Herald and Flavorpill Miami, a website. This story, according to the filmmakers, was 10- to-15 years in the making as they both became familiar with fellow artists in the Magic City.

“Paquito has been known for years and years back,” O’Bourke comments. “We had never met [Tony López], and we were just on the street one day and we didn’t know it was his studio until we walked in,” says González, “but he’s a well-known person within the Cuban exile community.” The Currás twins have become widely known throughout the southeast, Latin America and the Caribbean for their colorful, large-tile mosaics from the early 1990’s onward. In this film, each artist offers an intimate look at their respective lives before and after their migration to the United States. Their changing perspectives on work, struggle, assimilation and creativity is the heart of the film.

“One of the things I’m most proud of, in particular,” González says, “is the way Tony López talks about work, the work of making art. You do it every day, you go at it. After you’re done entertaining yourself, that’s where the work begins, where the art really happens.” O’Bourke adds, “Art takes work and that it is a lifelong endeavor that is never finished…and if you’re a real artist, you keep doing it regardless of what’s going on around you.”

Without judgment, presumption, or a common cliché of the ‘Cuban exile’ tale of oppression to freedom, “Hecho A Mano: Creativity in Exile” is a poignant, fresh picture of four dedicated creative minds who have melded their dynamic surroundings with their astounding, inherent talents.

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