In September of 2017, I took a trip to Cuba and there fell in love with my companion and the country and wanted to capture and preserve that love in an image. And so, my heart was beaming with joy when I began working on this piece. Little did I know at the time that this would be the last I’d ever work on with my dear friend and art assistant Juan Salazar. I can’t help but wonder if somehow its subject matter and its geography foreshadowed were the tragic car accident that would come and take Juan’s life. The painting was 80% complete when he passed and I found myself completely incapable of finishing this work on my own. Pedro, his childhood friend and the only other person in the car accident stepped in and helped me, and together we found its completion to be possible, and perhaps, what Juan would have hoped for. I can’t quite put into words all that lives in this painting – the memories, the people, a whole history of smiles, laughter, joy and tears – but I in that respect it represents all that life is, the bright and the subdued, the beaming and the blackened in some form of cohesive coexistence in which we can find, and create, form and shape.