Mike Marrero grew up in Key West surrounded by La Regla de Ocha (perhaps better known as Santeria) and tales of “The Saints” — but these were not the Christian saints you are most likely familiar with. They are the Yoruba Gods and Goddesses brought from West Africa. These are the saints that exact the knowledge that seven ears of corn placed in a brown paper bag and then burned in the sand could bring you good luck. And these are the saints that Mike has sought to depict in his newest photo series, aptly titled “The Saints,” which opens at the Gallery on Greene on Saturday, Feb. 9.
In his youth, Mike learned about Chango (the owner of fire, lightning, thunder and war and patron saint of music and dance) and Santa Barbara (syncretized with Chango) and O’Batala (Sky Father and creator of all The Saints). The saints of Mike’s childhood are an inseparable part of his heritage and the cultural fabric of this island. His goal with this exhibit was to recreate The Saints, not as they are, but as he imagined them as a child — how he saw them through the prism of his memories and his family’s beliefs.
As an artist, Mike trains his camera on his native island and draws inspiration from his childhood memories, capturing the pathos of ordinary life as it was in his youth with a sophistication that belies his generation. As Mike matures as a photographer, playwright, filmmaker and father, his fast-evaporating roots mean more to him than ever
To celebrate the opening, the Gallery on Greene will host an artist’s reception on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 6-8 p.m. Gallery on Greene is at 606 Greene St. and is owned by art dealer and curatorial expert Nance Frank. The exhibit will remain on display indefinitely. ¦