1. Fashion Designer Wayne James Directing Film on Golden-Age Cuba
Georgetown University law graduate and former United States Virgin Islands senator Wayne James seems to do it all—from fashion to furniture to food to federal prison. And now the über-talented, ever-resilient author of the critically acclaimed Manly Manners can add yet another “F-word” to his credentials: filmmaker. Going…Going…Gone: The Grandeur of Golden-Age Cuba is a 90-minte docufilm featuring more than 450 photographs of Cuba during its heyday between 1890 and 1925. The film will premiere in Miami in December. But in many ways, Going…Going…Gone has been coming along for almost a century. In 1918, at age 29, James’ maternal great-uncle Alexander Messer, born on St. Croix in 1888, migrated to Cuba to work as a sugarcane laborer and musician. And while living in Santiago de Cuba, the island-nation’s second-largest city after Havana, Messer would occasionally enclose with his letters to his parents and siblings tobacco cards issued by Henry Clay and Bock Co., Ltd., manufacturers of fine cigars. The cards featured beautiful images of Cuba: churches and cathedrals, municipal building, private mansions, parks, bridges, monuments, casinos, theaters, bays and beaches, plantations, factories, etc. “This was before the proliferation of the instamatic camera,” James said. “For Uncle Alex, sending picture-cards of Cuba was the best way he knew how to share his adopted homeland with his beloved family.” Messer’s cards, totaling about 100, remained in the Prince-Messer family’s ancestral home in the town of Frederiksted, St. Croix, until 1973 when Alexander’s younger brother, Alphonso Messer, died, the seminal collection passing to James.
2. Wayne James’ “Going…Going…Gone: The Grandeur of Golden-Age Cuba” Set for World Premiere in Union City, New Jersey and Miami, Florida
Wayne James, the St. Croix-born fashion designer, critically acclaimed author of Manly Manners, and former senator, will unveil Going…Going…Gone: The Grandeur of Golden-Age Cuba at the William V. Musto Cultural Center (Musto) in Union City, New Jersey, on Sunday, March 27, 2022. Directed by James and produced by Kiwaun Cumberbatch, the film, already being touted a prototype of the emerging “quiltography” genre, is a masterful “piecing together” of photos, music, and archival film footage for the purpose of revealing a new truth or telling an untold story—the way a quiltmaker uses scraps of old fabric to create a new work of textile art.
“To experience Going…Going…Gone is to attend a photo exhibition at the National Art Gallery, with a live concert in the Rotunda by Washington, DC’s Pan-American Symphony Orchestra (PASO), while receiving a guided tour by an archivist from the Newseum,” James said. “The film is at once a feast for the eyes, the ears, and the mind.”
3. Wayne James Acquires Rare Watercolor by “The Great Gatsby” Cover Artist
Wayne James Acquires Rare Watercolor by Francisco Coradel-Cugat (1893-1981), Painter of the Iconic Cover of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Art collector and filmmaker Wayne James recently acquired a rare watercolor of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas’ Hotel 1829 by celebrated Spanish artist, Francisco Coradel-Cugat, perhaps best known for his famous painting that became the cover-image of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel, The Great Gatsby (1925). Born in Barcelona, Cugat was 12 years old when his father moved the family of six to the Caribbean, residing primarily in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Young Cugat attended an art academy in Havana, where he learned to draw and paint.