Mike Rivero Shows Us How The American Dream Looks

I am having a little problem starting this post because it is about a piece of art. It is straining my writing ability to take the emotional content that I felt looking at a painting and put it into words. A high school friend of Lee’s invited us to the gallery opening of Mike Rivero, a Cuban impressionistic painter. In case you did not know this, Lee is Cuban. Both of us come from immigrant families. My grandparents emigrated from Hungary.  More importantly, Lee’s parents are Cuban political exiles. I have heard all of the stories of how my in-laws came to this country, how my father-in-law escaped execution and how they moved to California and created a new life from nothing.  As an American born, I have always thought that my in-laws are more American than me because they had to risk everything to have the country that I take for granted.

Balsero Pensivo

When I saw Mike’s piece entitled Balsero Pensivo (Pensive Rafter) something caught in my throat. Though I thought that I fully understood the piece, I asked Mike about it. The artwork shows a rafter about to leave his country. Mike said that the thick black line on the horizon represents bad weather or something more, the solid and tangible unknown. To the left of the rafter is an insubstantial series of lines that are the raft which are nothing if compared to the solidity of the horizon.

A balsero eyesIt was the eyes of the man in the work that got both Lee and I because we have seen these eyes in real life. One eyes swirls with escapist fears while the other is a pinpoint of shock and sadness. This is the reason that I could not put into words the spectrum of emotion that I see in the eyes of Mike’s work and in the faces of all of the political refugees that I have had the privilege of meeting over the years.

I would love to spin this article into a statement on immigration or the politics of our country but I can’t. The feel of this painting still lingers with me. Politics give way to hope. Fear turns to opportunity. This is the American dream.

To see more of Mike Rivero’s work, click here go to his Facebook page.

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