Gloria and Emilio Estefan have loomed large over the Miami – and international – music scene for a long time. Now, a new mural pays homage to the couple who also have a musical about their life playing in Coral Gables called “On Your Feet” in February.
Sponsored by the Kcull Life Foundation, the larger-than-life mural aims to improve historic neighborhoods and a costume shop on Calle Ocho donated the wall.
The artwork is by Miami artist Disem.
“Walter, the owner of KCULL Shop on Calle Ocho, called me. He had the initiative of wanting to beautify the area through art,” says Disem. “He mentioned wanting to do a Gloria Estefan mural and asked if I would be interested in painting it, to which I replied I had also been planning to pay tribute to them and that I wished to paint her along with Emilio, to which he eagerly agreed.”
Disem has painted other public figures and knows how he wants to present them. The Estefan image is of the couple at the beginning of their career, with sweet-faced, big-haired Gloria and Emilio in bandleader/husband cool beard and sunglasses. Graffiti circle halos surround their heads in baby blue and fuchsia.
So how did he choose this image of the Estefans?
“As an artist, it’s important for me that the images I paint inspire and motivate,” Disem says. “I figured painting them during this period would be more relatable and inspiring to the younger generations of Latinos rather than painting them at the pinnacle of their careers. Sometimes when celebrities reach these heights, we forget that they too started from scratch and worked their way up. For Emilio and Gloria, as young Latinos in the ’80s, it must have been way more difficult for them to break through and pave the way for us. I’m personally very appreciative of them. Besides, you can’t get any more Miami vibes than Gloria and Emilio in their Miami Sound Machine days.”
The Estefans journey is well known here as they came from Cuba. Emilio used to play the accordion for tips. He met young singer Gloria and fell in love with her beautiful eyes. Then together they built a musical empire.
Disem heard the Miami Sound Machine as a 4-year-old. He says their music and history inspired him as an artist and that their story and example is a beautiful thing.
“Through consistent effort, work, dedication, and determination you can reach your goals and surpass them. You just have to put in the work. Also, those Miami vibes, it was very significant to me that they were reflected in the painting. I love this city and I feel we have a lot of hometown heroes – including Gloria and Emilio – that we have to acknowledge and hold high. They’re pillars to what we have today, not only artistically but as incredibly selfless members of our community.”
Disem says he was born into art. His uncle owned a school of art in Panama where his mother attended and met his father. Both of them are also artists. He says art runs in his blood and that he has been drawing for as long as he can remember. Once he discovered graffiti, it consumed him during his teenage years, but his background made him aware of the fine art aspect of it.
Known for his murals with spray paint, or oil on canvas, he is influenced and inspired by Miami, from its colors to its people. He’s currently working on a series of portraits titled “Miami artist series” which is about artists he feels need a spotlight on them for the work they have put in, and for how they’ve influenced this city. He might also have his first NFT project soon.
“I’m working on with a major Miami sports personality that I’m really excited about and should be dropping it within the next couple of months. I’m also working towards my first solo show along with some pretty interesting group shows. More murals in the works and I want to explore other mediums and fields, from sculpting to fashion.”
Find out more about the artist by visiting his Instagram account @Disem305
Gloria and Emilio Estefan mural in Miami by Disem