The artwork of the Cuban American painter Emilio Sánchez (1921-1999) is best known for its sharply defined patterns of light and shadow on the surfaces of houses, storefronts, and skyscrapers. Untitled, Bronx Storefront, “La Rumba Supermarket” is a painting of a New York grocery store with Cuban references. On many street corners in the city of New York, bodegas with colorful awnings and window ads sell convenience items to regular customers from local neighborhoods. Originally, most bodegas were operated by Spanish-speaking immigrants from Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean. The grocery in Sánchez’ painting is larger than most bodegas—large enough to host a party in the late afternoon. Seen dimly in the doorway of the grocery is a crowd of people standing close together, possibly dancing. The name of the store, La Rumba, refers to a syncopated style of music and dance that originated in Cuba in the 19th century. The most popular rumba dance, the guaguancó, is a flirtation: the woman’s role is to wave her skirt in time with the music to entice her man, but when he moves in closer she blocks him with her hands or dances away.
Cole TB. Untitled, Bronx Storefront, “La Rumba Supermarket” Emilio Sánchez. JAMA. 2015;314(3):210-211. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.11867