Salinas Miami Herald article - April 2014

BARUJ SALINAS: The Artist in his Home

Homes have a lot to say about the personality of the persons who inhabit them. In this small universe, and the objects that fill it, is reflected the way we are and the way we see life. This is what we call style, that originality that distinguishes the architect, the home decorator, the housewife, the businessman, the rock singer. Or a painter, in this case, Baruj Salinas. With the intention of getting to know the “inner life” of this remarkable artist, we knocked on his door.

An atmosphere of order and beauty reveals the home of the creator of the famous “Language of the Clouds” series who lives with his wife Marilyn Fonts Salinas. Everything, every piece of furniture and ornamental detail on this abode, located in the traditional town of Coral Gables, are keepsakes of sentimental value on the numerous travels abroad.

“We have lived in our current home for over 20 years, and between my wife and I, we did most of the remodeling” says the painter. “We saw its potential, and as Marilyn has excellent ideas about interior decoration, we moved forward with the purchase, and feel very comfortable in the house. It is not very big, but it is cozy and adequate for our needs”.

Beautiful Spanish and Mexican furniture fill the main hall of the house, where the couple posed for this large ceramic plate – from the collection of the artist, done in 1995; on another angle we appreciate on a gorgeous Spanish dresser, a row of German blue pottery vases lining the top, which adds a touch of elegance to the more familiar space of the home.

A walk into other rooms of the house leads us to discover a small and intimate museum, including paintings done by the Baruj, from the series “The Language of the Clouds”,“The Broken Man”, and other paintings and graphic work by great artist friends, such as Joan Miró, Antoní Tàpies, Francisco Toledo, Rufino Tamayo, Wilfredo Lam, Gina Pellón, Emilio Sanchez, Zaida del Rio, Jose Luis Fariñas, Julio Le Parc and others, which have been hanging at the home for more than two decades.

Baruj Salinas’ name refers to his Sephardic-Jewish origin from Aragon, Spain; was born in Calle Sol, in La Habana Vieja in 1935. The artist feels that even though he is Cuban by birth, he is definitely a universal man. He has lived in Ohio, San Antonio, Texas, Mexico, Barcelona, and Miami for many years at a time. He has spent a great part of his life traveling and that mixture of places and experiences are reflected not only in the internal language of his paintings and prints, but also in his living space. His world travels have continued for more than 20 years alongside his wife, Marilyn, the hand behind the personal decorating touches of the house, where there are many objects brought from Zaragoza and Germany where she lived for years.

An exquisite collection of ceramic plates bordering the walls in the dining room and kitchen, also tell us about their travels in other lands. “Every item has a story”, we are told by the couple about the many earthenware plates that come from all over: Spain, England, Germany, Morocco, Mexico, the South of France –specifically Provence – a region of France where they frequently visit.On the entry hall, another collection of African masks, from Benin and elsewhere evoke a taste for traditions made by craftsmen, and representing mythological figures and symbols of this African ethnicity.

Many details and touches make a home, and there is no house that has not kept in a nostalgic memory drawer with bits of our lives, seen through the photos one treasures. These we have the opportunity to see; they are fascinating and historical: Salinas and Carlos Franqui; with the painter Joan Miró in the studio of the Catalan artist in Palma de Mallorca; Salinas with the great Mexican master Rufino Tamayo, among many others.

How does the painter spends his days? “ At home I read a lot and I spend a couple of hours a day with the computer, which I detest” , he admits, “but inevitably it is very necessary for my work, to be able to communicate with my galleries”. In regards to their neighborhood, Salinas adds “Coral Gables is a very nice area in every way: we live on a quiet street, surrounded by many trees that give the appearance of a large garden, and which fills us with peace and serenity”.

At times, this peaceful home is not a haven of peace: “ at this moment everything is in its place, but when the children come this is a disaster area” says Marilyn laughing, remembering the times when the house is full of clutter and noise with the presence of the grandchildren.

But where does Baruj Salinas paints? Finally, on this intimate journey, we arrive at the inseparable part of the habitat of the painter: his studio. “This is the place where I evade from the world” reveals Baruj, for whom painting “is a form of meditation”. We are in that special place, not far from the house.

A very different feeling we get from this amazing space. It is what I would call a workshop par excellence. It has to be seen in order to be able to appreciate this poem of lawlessness, this chaotic mess: the total insubordination of brushes, paint tubes and pots, all in pursuit of creative freedom. The image it evokes is of a small art factory, a unique and magical room that leads to the spirit, permeated by the painter, of colorful and evocative abstractions.

Pilar Ayuso
El Nuevo Herald
April 27, 2014

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