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When Pedro Miguel Gonzalez Pulido approaches his house in the one-time middle-class Vedado neighborhood of Havana, he says he sees visions of hell.
Once through his door, he sees paradise. The home's immense wooden door, hand-carved by Pulido, features Dante's message of hell on the outside and heaven on the inside. The outer images are a reference to what Pulido says is his family's constant conflict with trade embargoes, poverty and hunger. But it has been more than a decade since he created the door, and the year-old artist - who is visiting the United States for the first time in a cultural exchange program sponsored by California sculptors - says he can see the archetypes it represents fading.
Though he still blames the U. But he's still a bit reluctant to embrace the part of a teacher. The role of the artist abroad is commentator, not teacher, Pulido says, waving a weathered hand at his propagandist posters hanging at the Nations Cafe on South Ashland Avenue. His art will remain on exhibit at the cafe through Thursday. To see these posters is to learn how government-sponsored artists like Pulido made a visual transition from Cuba's billboard-happy state of the s to a world where "logos" spoke of a revolution's programs, movements and celebrations.
One stark, black-and-white poster, with its striped, upside-down heart that forms a lower-case "i" in the middle, contains little visual information but conveys a history. Pulido says it represents the government's commitment to culture. The poster depicts the first graduates of revolutionary Havana's art schools.
The "i," which also looks like a young man, celebrates the graduates' new jobs as art instructors, Pulido says. Pulido, however, has not strayed from social concerns. Now a professor at Havana's San Alejandro School of Visual Arts, he's examining what he says is the recent yet notorious phenomenon of prostitution in Cuba. Castillo was fascinated with Pulido's description of a large, semi-erotic sculpture that both celebrates the perseverance of jineteras, the Spanish word for jockey that also means prostitute, and condemns the economic policies that brought them into existence.