José Quintero, religious artist

José Quintero (c. 1960 – 2013) was an extremely demanding collaborator with regards to my research in Havana. He was a child of Ochún and an Oba-Oriaté, among the many titles one might give him.

José Quintero's spirit altar

Picture 1 of 7

Quintero’s home was in the Lumumba district of Havana. However, as a religious artist and leader he was everywhere in Havana. Regularly hired to construct altars, he needed to source items from all over—including asking me to bring items to Cuba. To be honest, all of the travelling in circles around the city drove me a bit nuts. But, he wanted things to be just so, and his work was proof that an altar had to be created, and maintained, to certain specifications.

His spirit altar to ‘Ta José shown at the start of the slideshow above is particularly interesting in its representation of one of his guiding spirits. You’ll notice that the spirit is shown to be wearing relatively contemporary clothes, a guayabera shirt, and holding a cigar. Nearby in the altar, a Native American spirit complemented Quintero’s retinue of spirit advisors.

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