Callejón de Hamel Open-Air Gallery

Photo Feature by Elio Delgado

Callejon de Hamel community art project

HAVANA TIMES, May 11 — The creator of the Callejon de Hamel alleyway community art project, Salvador Gonzalez Escalona, is a painter, sculptor and muralist.  His objective was to offer creative art to people while at the same time revitalizing an alleyway that had been forgotten by both time and the city.

There he created an open-air art gallery in which the neighborhood itself became an integral part of that creation.  The artwork in the passageway is always within reach of children, the elderly, workers and professionals.

This backstreet gets its name from one of its first residents, Fernando Belleau Hamel, a US citizen of Franco-German background.

Hamel came to occupy a place in the history of Cuba when other neighborhood residents named this alley after him due to the emigrant’s generosity toward those who worked for him.

Callejon de Hamel community art project.
Callejon de Hamel community art project.

The passageway was later transformed into the first mural dedicated to Afro-Cuban culture that is situated in a public thoroughfare.  It was declared open on April 21, 1990 in the Cayo Hueso district of the Centro Havana neighborhood.

Starting from the first day of its founding, and systematically since 1993, shows and performances have been carried out there by important groups and outstanding figures: Merceditas Valdes, Celeste Mendoza, Yoruba Andabo, Clave y Guaguancó and many more.

The project has already born fruit in the terrain of cooperation with the Cayo Hueso district, since through its operation social benefits have been obtained by the neighborhood.

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