I have lived in Southern California my entire life. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, I am first generation American. And although I have yet to travel to Cuba, I have always carried my "Cubanismo" close to my heart.

As I grew up , I often heard stories told by my grandmother (or one of my many, many relatives) of what life was like in their homeland. They were all very greatful to have been able to come here. But their stories were always just a bit bittersweet. You could hear the longing in their voices to return to a better, happier place that was their Cuba (before Castro).

Most of the stories took place in a small village (Yateras) in the mountains near Guantanamo. This was where my great-grandfather (Pablo Gil) had his ranch. Every holiday was celebrated there, and all the children in the family spent their entire summer there every year.

I've heard stories about picking fresh mangoes from the many trees - so many that they would have barrels and barrels of them, each filled to the top. And stories about riding my great grandfathers horses down the mountain to the beautiful white sand beaches, and how they would each have to carry back a container of water from the waterpump on their way back (this was before anyone had indoor plumbing).

My painting is influenced by this Cuban Spirit. The bold colors , the beauty of the landscape and the gorgeous colors of the sea. And, although I have yet to go, I can still see the pictures painted in my head by the wonderful stories of my family.

Most of that generation has now passed on (many lived to be in their 100's!). But I do these paintings for them. A different life, a dream that still lives on. And I know that, somehow, they can see my art. And they are smiling.