Flores-Galbis, Enrique 1952–

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Flores-Galbis, Enrique 1952–

Personal

Born 1952, in Havana, Cuba; immigrated to United States, 1961; naturalized citizen; son of an architect and an educator; married Laurel Ives (a graphic artist); children: two daughters. Education: Central Connecticut State University, B.S. (art education); studied at New York University; Parsons School of Design, M.F.A., 1992; also studied at Art Students' League, National Academy of Design, and Pratt Institute.

Addresses

Home—Forest Hills, NY. Agent—Stimola Literary Studio, 306 Chase Ct., Edgewater, NJ 07020. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Portrait and landscape painter, art teacher, and author. Member of faculty of Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, for twenty years, and Parsons School of Design for sixteen years; also teaches at Morris Museum and Montclair Museum; teaches private landscape-painting workshops in United States and Europe. Exhibitions: Work exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art and National Arts Club.

Awards, Honors

Cintas Foundation fellowship, 1980-81, 1985-86; Helena Rubenstein fellowship; Phillip Lehrman Award.

Writings

Raining Sardines (young-adult novel), Roaring Brook Press (New Milford, CT), 2007.

Sugar in the Rain (young-adult novel), Roaring Brook Press (New Milford, CT), 2008.

Sidelights

Painter and educator Enrique Flores-Galbis is the author of Raining Sardines, a critically acclaimed novel for young adults. A native of Cuba, Flores-Galbis and his two older brothers immigrated to the United States during "Operation Pedro Pan," a mass exodus of 14,000 children that left Cuba in 1961. "At the time I didn't know how disillusioned my family was becoming with [Communist dictator Fidel] Castro, even though he and my father had been friends at the University of Havana," Flores-Galbis told Marian H. Mundy in the Newark Star-Ledger. After Flores-Galbis arrived in Florida, he was placed in a refugee camp for several months. "I didn't know what would become of me," he recalled to Mundy. "All I had from Cuba was memories. I hugged them tight for comfort." With the help of relatives, his parents eventually made their way to the United States, and the family settled in southern New England. Flores-Galbis's second novel, Sugar in the Rain, centers around this cross-cultural journey.

Flores-Galbis attended Central Connecticut State University, earning a bachelor's degree in art education, and then studied painting at New York University with photo-realist Adelle Weber. He also studied at the Art Students' League with portraitist Daniel Greene and at the National Academy of Design with Raymond Everett Kinstler. In 1992, Flores-Galbis received a master of fine arts degree from Parsons School of Design. He lectures at the Visual Art Center of New Jersey and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He also teaches private landscape painting workshops in the United States and Europe.

Raining Sardines, Flores-Galbis's debut work of fiction, was inspired by his return trip to his Cuban homeland in 1996. "I felt I was home geographically," the artist and author related to Mundy. "The place, not historical facts, made me feel tied to it. The earth, the sand, the sea all remembered me, and I belonged to them."

In Raining Sardines Flores-Galbis introduces nine-year-old Enriquito, a logical thinker with a gift for engineering solutions to problems, and eleven-year-old Ernestina, an emotional and imaginative artist. The two friends live in a small fishing village in pre-revolutionary Cuba, in the shadow of a jungle-covered mountain that overlooks the bay where pirates once looted Spanish galleons filled with gold. According to local legend, the mountain is inhabited by the spirit of Hatuey, the leader of the Taino. Native to the region, the Taino thwarted the invading Spaniards by following Hatuey's command and tossing their gold into a lake in a hidden valley. When Don Rigol, a wealthy and powerful Spanish-born landowner, lays claim to a nearby mountain and begins clearing the jungle to make room for his coffee plantation, he endangers the herd of wild Paso Fino ponies living in the mountain wilderness. Enriquito and Ernestina oppose Rigol's efforts, and they eventually learn that the Don is actually searching for the missing treasure. According to School Library Journal reviewer Kathy Piehl, Flores-Galbis's "story intersperses episodes of magical realism with … adventure sequences" such as Enriquito's dramatic escape from jail and Ernestina's encounter with a Cayman. Although a contributor in Kirkus Reviews stated that the story's "happy ending is never in doubt," the critic noted that "the Cuban cultural elements add flavor and spice" to Flores-Galbis's novel. Writing in Booklist, Hazel Rochman predicted that the author's effort to address "urgent conservation issues will strike a chord with kids everywhere."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of Raining Sardines, p. 40.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2007, Hope Morrison, review of Raining Sardines, p. 413.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2007, review of Raining Sardines.

New York Times, May 28, 1989, Vivien Raynor, "Duality of Existence in Latin Works."

School Library Journal, April, 2007, Kathy Piehl, review of Raining Sardines, p. 134.

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), May 15, 1997, Marian H. Mundy, "Cuban-American Artist Goes Home Again to Refresh Memory," p. 1, and "At One with the Land, Not the People," p. 6.

ONLINE

Enrique Flores-Galbis Home Page,http://www.efgportraits.com (December 1, 2007).