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  • The room where 73-year-old artist Angel Luis of Cuba turns trash into flowers crumbles around him nearly every day. The words "Peligro Derumbe" scrawled on his studio walls in Santiago de Cuba have nothing to do with artistic expression. They are a warning: "Danger of collapse."

    From a building on the brink of condemnation, Angel works hard to unearth the leftover goodness in things. He tries to focus on the good in life, too. That hole in his roof? At least, it lets in natural light and offers free air conditioning. It's an attitude found in almost every dilapidated neighborhood. Things are falling apart now, but people have lived through worse.

    Every day, Angel scours the streets for abandoned bottles, tarp remnants and scraps of people's lives. He carves them into daisies or fashions crazy hats or strips the plastic into colorful streamers that dance in the breeze creeping through the broken windows.

    Neighbors often drop by to give him cast-offs for his art projects and watch him work. Two women live next door with a rooster, some cats and a guinea pig or two. They like to hear the artist sing as he creates.
  • Angel lives with his wife across the hall from the makeshift studio in other "peligro de derrumbe" rooms. Most of the time, they sit in the hallway packed with plants and plastic. There is another big hole at that end of the hall. When the sunlight sneaks in, his plastic glows.

    Upon request, Angel will sing his favorite song - the one he once sang as the opening act at the Tropicana club here in Santiago de Cuba.

    Now, his broken-down studio is his stage.
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