21c exhibit celebrates depth of island's art, Cuba
- Submitted by: manso
- Arts and Culture
- 03 / 14 / 2011
Sarah Lyon prepares the exhibit of Cuban art at 21c Museum Hotel last month. Nearly 100 works are on view through July. (By Kylene Lloyd, The Courier-Journal) Paintings of Cuban leaders are parts of the exhibit. The show represents the works of more than 40 artists. (Kylene Lloyd) When the eighth Havana Biennial art exhibit opened in November 2003, throngs of curators, gallerists and collectors descended on Cuba. Among them were Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown of Louisville, who accompanied other collectors on a trip organized by the Speed Art Museum.
Wilson called the trip an eye-opening experience for someone whose first memory of that country was the Cuban missile crisis.
“I saw it as a mysterious Caribbean place that we weren't allowed to go to,” Wilson said. “And the fact that Hemingway spent time there was intriguing to me.”
But the lasting memory for Wilson and Brown, the founders of 21c Museum Hotel, was the Cuban art they saw. They bought nearly 25 pieces on that trip and have continued collecting work from the island at art fairs in Miami and London. They've purchased works by artists living in Cuba, those who've immigrated to Europe and the United States, and first-generation Cuban-Americans.
Now nearly 100 works, most from the 21c collection and several on loan from other collections, are on display in the museum's galleries, with others expected to be installed soon just outside the building.
The exhibit, Cuba Now, represents the work of more than 40 artists.
Cuban immigrant Carlos Gamez de Francisco, who made Louisville his home a few years ago, has a side room with a collection of his paintings and an animation video. Last year, Gamez de Francisco was a resident artist at the Muhammad Ali Center.
(His work is also on exhibit at the Graciela Perrone Art Gallery, 2214 Frankfort Ave., through Tuesday, and he has a piece in this year's Water Tower Regional Exhibition at the Louisville Visual Art Association.)
There is also a video lounge showcasing 18 films from Video Cubano, as well as a juried exhibition of video art shown in New York last fall, selected from more than 70 submissions after an open call to Cuban artists via YouTube.
In all, the show is ambitious and can be overwhelming, as so many of the pieces are intriguing and demand a viewer's time to explore.