by James Whitely -
SGN Staff Writer
Juan Alonso and Roger Stuckly have been together for 11 years, and the two decided to tie the knot on January 4. Alonso, a native of Cuba, and Stuckly, originally from Texas, met at a Capitol Hill bar, The Cuff.
We met on December 7th and we had our first date on January 4th, because he went home for Christmas,' Alonso told SGN.
About three months later, Alonso moved to Miami for a year and the two maintained a long-distance relationship during that time, making several visits back and forth. Knowing they liked each other, the two played it by ear. On one of Alonso's later trips back to Seattle, they looked at apartments for sale and decided to move in together.
'WE MAKE EACH OTHER LAUGH'
Alonso, a well-known local artist, said his husband keeps him 'grounded.'
'Some people might consider it [the relationship] pretty boring, but for us it's kind of quirky. I think the best thing that happens on a daily basis is that we make each other laugh a lot,' Alonso told SGN. 'I think people would be surprised how much we are laughing and making jokes to each other.
'We're one of those rare couples - I can count the times that we've argued on less than one hand,' Alonso told SGN. 'There's very little drama.'
Alonso said that the two of them have very similar core values, and he thinks they balance out each other. He's more outgoing, while Stuckly grounds him - otherwise, Alonso thinks he'd be trying to do way too much, overextending himself. Stuckly, he said, helps him to take a breather and keep perspective.
'We both are firm in our convictions and the longer we've been together, the more similar we've become,' Alonso said.
'He doesn't make art, but I think he's sort of come to appreciate it more. My Christmas present this year was a painting from an artist that we both really like.'
INSPIRED BY BIRTHPLACE
Alonso is a self-taught artist who's been living in Seattle for 30 years and making art for over 25, primarily painting, drawing, and photography. One of the biggest inspirations he's had throughout his career is his birthplace, Havana, Cuba. You'll see his work all around town - he's on display at SeaTac airport, Century Link Field, and various light-rail stations. He won a Mayor's Arts Award in 2010.
'I think everybody gets inspired by where they come from, but [Havana] has always been a big part of my inspiration,' Alonso told SGN.
Some of his body of work is quite 'literal' in its Cuban influence, from things like Carnival, Cuban music, or the wrought-iron gates from his father's shop. Over the years, however, Alonso has found his style becoming increasingly more abstract.
'Last year, after 45 years, I went back to Havana. I hadn't been there since I left when I was nine - coming back there has put more color back into my work,' he said.
Some of the crumbling buildings of Havana, and the weathered and fading color of those buildings, he found 'beautiful.' He produced a series of 50 photographs of them upon his return to Seattle.
Alonso said that Stuckly didn't go with him to Havana because the two weren't sure how it would go.
'This was the first time I had gone back. I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know how different it would be. It ended up being a really beautiful, wonderful trip,' Alonso told SGN. 'My sister, my nieces and nephews, they all want him to go next time.'
HELPING MAKE HISTORY
The two married at the courthouse in downtown Seattle on January 4, the 11th anniversary of their first date.
'We went with another couple that are good friends of ours, a Lesbian couple, they've been together for 28 years. It was the four of us and one other friend who took some pictures. It was very nice,' Alonso said.
'It was surprisingly different than what I thought,' he continued. 'I didn't think it was going to be emotional, and it was. We honestly thought of it as 'let's just make it legal after 11 years,' but actually when we were there and standing by the judge, it kind of dawned on us that not only were we making this legal commitment to each other, but we were also making history.'
Alonso has a studio in Pioneer Square and participates in the Pioneer Square Art Walk every month. Learn more about his art at www.juanalonso.info.
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