9. Beauty’s Brigade

1985, 14’ x 12’

Photo © Marilyn Perez Uncal


In Beauty’s Brigade, Sandinista soldiers “are seated around a campfire at night, easing their struggles with a cooked meal, conversation, and some music. Alongside, a soldier looks warily off to the right.” At the time, the United States backed the Contra or counter-insurgency in Nicaragua with money, training and troops. “For me,” Marilyn remembers, “it too closely resembled the U.S. backing of the elitist Batista regime in Cuba, where I’m from. My cousin fought with Che Guevara and told me about guerilla warfare in a mountainous encampment like the one in the mural. I love how the people in a small, poor Latin American country pulled their resources together and were successful against a formidable outside threat.” 

Neighborhood kids often came by as Marilyn worked and together they would “draw stuff.” Her favorite was Jimmy—“he was a lot of fun”—and for him she wrote: 

Jimmy gives the wooden broom a big sweep. 

He demonstrates his willingness to help clear the space. 

We share the bright idea, to expect something exceptional in the future. 

Red paint drips down the sides of a gallon can. 

Shiny unchecked excess coats the impoverished, the apparent neglect, 

and reveals a hot spot for liquid imagination which streams over hardened reality. 

We enjoy this creative hub tended by our lively anticipation. 

The temperatures peak like ‘Amazon on the Hudson.’ 

Maybe at night like the weary soldiers who find a little delight under the night sky 

and who congratulate themselves on what they did today.



Marilyn lives in Manhattan and can be found in LinkedIn among healing artists who create in a safe space (Healthy Lifethyme Reiki). Inventing and tinkering with paint and painting are obsessions she can’t give up any time soon. As an actress and singer, she is developing the solo performance How I learned the high wire and lived to tell.

Jane Weissman