Cuban artist's mural helps lobby for consulate

- St. Petersburg is continuing its push to be the first U.S. city with a Cuban consulate.

City leaders are showcasing the art work of a famous Cuban artist in an effort to warm up to the nation’s government.

Michel Mirabal is known internationally; his work being featured by U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry.

Mirabal usually uses flags as a centerpiece for his work. He is working on a mural in St. Pete’s warehouse art district, which will be completed Friday, and features a coming together of the American and Cuban flags.

“This community has a good relationship between my countries – Cuba,” Mirabal said.

City leaders in St. Petersburg have been working for more than a year on their campaign to be Cuba’s choice for a consulate. Mayor Rick Kriseman has visited the country twice. Joni James, CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership says art exports from Cuba would be one benefit a consulate would bring.

“They [Cuba] are aware of everything that’s happening,” James said. “Having someone like this in town - showing him some hospitality, showing him that we are open to exhibiting his work - it just helps to build that relationship and it lets them know we are sincere in this effort.”

Mirabal’s mural will be unveiled Friday at Art Xchange’s Soft Water Studios.

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