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In 1954 Gilberto Palacios was born in Cuba, and grew up in Havana. His single mother worked hard to raise Gilberto and his eight siblings. As a young boy, the music and festivals of Havana captured Palacios’s imagination. He would draw the festivals on anything he could find. “In Cuba, they sold no art supplies, so I just drew on paper bags with a pencil.” The limited acceptance and oppressive dictatorship forced Palacios to say goodbye to his family and leave Cuba for the United States in 1980. He would spend the next twenty years of his life struggling to fit into a new culture that was foreign and daunting, faced with language barriers, lack of jobs, discrimination, depression, and homesickness. At some point he decided to take a bus to Boston to start anew. Upon arrival, he was referred to Saint Francis House, sleeping at the Long Island Annex shelter. Palacios also used the Art room at Saint Francis to explore with paper and paint his childhood passion for the festivals and music of Cuba. Loving memories of his mother also play a dominant role in his work. He refers to his work as art in the Afro-Cuban style. Palacios tends to be a vagabond and several years ago headed for Florida and a warmer climate. After a couple of years there he decided to go to San Francisco.

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