Cuban artist Kadir Lopez Nieves is on a mission to restore the neon signs that once lit up the Havana skyline, and he wants your help. Havana Lights is a Kickstarter campaign from Adolfo V. Nodal to support Kadir’s work to relight his city one sign at a time.
Kadir has established a working neon shop in his studio and has already restored 10 signs as part of his Alumbrando el Barrio project. With a team comprising “the best young neon benders on the island,” he is ready to move ahead. But the challenges are great: limited access to materials, sketchy electrical service, and years of tropical weather have all taken their toll.
This project resonates for me on multiple levels. If you know my photographs, you know that I am on a mission too — to document the vintage sign landscape in metro Boston. But you may not know that I have been to Cuba twice and met Kadir on my second trip to Havana in 2010.
At the time he was creating mixed-media pieces incorporating enamel signs from American companies like Texaco which were torn down (and sometimes used for target practice) after the 1959 revolution. His stunning work has ended up in museums, galleries, and the private collections of people like actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Now he has taken his art from the studio into the streets, sharing the beauty of these restored signs with his fellow Habaneros. “I look forward to doing my part in relighting the neighborhoods of my beloved Havana,” he said. “I am committed to work on preserving and relighting every single sign that still stands in the city…for as long as it takes.”
Please join me in making a contribution to the Havana Lights Kickstarter campaign to help restore the signs of the city. Remember, this is an all-or-nothing deal. The campaign must achieve its $25,000 goal by May 21, or the project proponents don’t receive anything. (And, if you’re concerned at all about supporting a Cuban project in these uncertain times, the Kickstarter description says that the campaign fully complies with Cuban and U.S. law including U.S. Treasury and Commerce regulations.)
Let’s help relight Havana.