Meeting a Great Cuban Artist: Gonzalo Borges

Toomai’s upcoming album, Cuerdas Cubanas, is all Cuban music—so we wanted the cover to feature Cuban art. After months of searching, we found an image that we felt was a true companion to our music. Here is the story of how our bassist, Andrew, met the artist Gonzalo Borges.

I took a trip to Miami and spent a morning walking down Calle Ocho, Little Havana. I noticed a post card with a print of a rooster outside of a framing shop. I liked the style and began to look for more prints to learn the name of the artist—Gonzalo Borges.

Andrew, Gonzalo Borges, and Josefina Montilla listening to Cuerdas Cubanas


Two women in the store waved for me to come inside—they were sisters named Daymis and Dayamis. They instantly put me on the phone with Josefina Montilla, Gonzalo’s wife. That same afternoon, I was invited to Josefina and Gonzalo’s home. For hours we talked about art, music, education, and life in Cuba and Miami. I learned that Gonzalo was often inspired by music, and I was drawn to many of this artworks.

There were two pieces in particular that I loved. One was a painting called “Sugar Symphony.” Gonzalo told me: “Cuando oyes al viento que sopla a través de la caña, suena como violines”—When you hear the wind blow through the sugar cane, it sounds like violins.

“Sugar Symphony” by Gonzalo Borges

My other favorite was an ink drawing called “Fantasy.” For me, this had a timeless feeling, and the lines flowing through the figure’s body reminded me of the soaring string sounds heard in Cuerdas Cubanas (Spanish for “Cuban Strings”).

“Fantasy” by Gonzalo Borges




It was a difficult decision, but we ultimately chose “Fantasy” for our album cover!

Within the next couple of weeks, the graphic design for Toomai’s album will be finished, but we are so excited about the art that we feel compelled to share the image before the June release of Cuerdas Cubanas. We are so thankful to have started a friendship with Gonzalo and Josefina, who are an inspiring artistic team! To see more artwork by Gonzalo Borges, visit his facebook page.

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