Coalition Brings Art from Cuba’s Oriente Region to New College of Florida
Oriente is a name for the once-isolated region of eastern Cuba, and art from that region is flavored by the indigenous Taino, who first lived there; by the Spanish, who settled there after Columbus landed; and by the French, who took refuge there during revolts in Haiti.
A coalition of Florida artists, academics and journalists has brought contemporary works by Oriente artists to Sarasota, in “Cuban Imagination: The Art of Oriente and Beyond.”
The exhibit is open throughout October at New College of Florida’s Isermann Gallery, with a closing reception featuring artists, a dance performance and lecture on Oct. 30.
The show will feature works from the cities of Baracoa, Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Camaguey, and is presented by the New College of Florida Department of Art and Humanities, in partnership with the Friendship Association of St. Augustine.
The exhibition grew out of a shared interest in the art and artists of Cuba, said Kim Anderson, associate professor of art at New College.
“Through the combined efforts and volunteer work of local artists, journalists, professors, dancers, and most importantly, the non-profit organization the Friendship Association, this exhibition has developed over the last several months from a dream into a rich selection of artwork representing various creative voices of Cuba,” Anderson said. “It is a testament not only to the talent of the artists themselves, but to the commitment and dedication of a few devoted and tireless individuals who wish to share their enthusiasm for Cuban art with others.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paige St. John visited Baracoa with Sarasota artist Jean Blackburn to meet some of the artists as they prepared for the exhibition. St. John has created a mobile application that provides images and notes on many of the pieces. It can be seen on the internet and downloaded at http://my.yapp.us/IMAGINATION.
The exhibit will feature a wide range of artistic styles and genres from naïf to representational, from the famous Cuban landscapes to the abstract. Artists to be featured in the exhibition include Lawrence Zúñiga Batista, Raul Santiago Miranda Blanco, Miguel Angel Lobaina Borges, Mildo Matos Carcasés, Oscar Rodriguez Lasseria, Luís Eliades Rodríguez Martínez and Santiago Lambert Miranda.
A closing reception for the artists will take place on Thursday, Oct. 30 from 6 to 8 PM in the Isermann Gallery. It will feature a special solo performance by Fuzion Dance Artistic Director Leymis Bolaños Wilmott at 6:30 p.m. in the gallery. This specially choreographed piece was developed in dialogue with the art featured in the exhibition.
There will be a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. by art historian Jorge Francisco Núñez Motes, professor of Cuban culture at the University of Guantánamo and founder of the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC) in Guantánamo.
Also expected to be present are artists Oscar Lasseria and Pepe Nieto, and art historian Rosendo Romero Suarez.
The exhibition and reception are in the Isermann Gallery, in the College’s Caples Fine Arts Complex at 5313 Bayshore Road, Sarasota, behind Sainer Pavilion and just south of the Ringling Museum. The exhibition is open to the public and can be viewed from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
About the artists:
Lawrence Zúñiga Batista (Baracoa, born 1940):
Zúñiga is a self-taught painter and draftsman, one of the most authentic representatives of primitive or naive art. His works recreate universal themes, especially those of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Antillean culture in general, and in particular, myths and legends of the Gods or Orishas of the Yoruba Pantheon.
Zúñiga has exhibited in almost all of the provincial capitals as well as in other cities of Cuba. His works have been included in exhibits in the former USSR, Spain, Mexico, and France as well as in several Caribbean islands such as Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Martinique, and others.
Raul Santiago Miranda Blanco (Dos Caminos, Santiago de Cuba, 1960):
Of empirical formation, Miranda works as a ceramicist in the Caguayo Foundation. He also works in wood, graphics and handcrafts. Miranda is recipient of several prizes and mentions in Cuban exhibits and has participated in national and international exhibits. He was commissioned to create several monuments, ceramic murals, and sculptures in Cuba.
Miguel Angel Lobaina Borges (Guantanamo, 1953):
Lobaina studied at the Art Academy in Santiago de Cuba with a specialization in sculpture, ceramics, and drawing, and went on to study art history at the Universidad de Oriente. His focus on graphic art brought him 16 individual shows in Cuba and abroad as well as numerous collective exhibits. He has won over 50 awards and mentions for his work at national salons in Cuba. Lobaina is a professor of engraving at the Art Academy and at the Universidad de Oriente.
Mildo Matos Carcasés (Baracoa, 1962):
A leading artist from Baracoa, he has dedicated his talent to Taíno and Afro-Cuban myths and legends on canvas. Mildo has traveled to Portugal, Spain, and Venezuela, where his works were exhibited. He did the original illustrations for the book Curandero by Victor Oscar Perez and his painting was chosen for the cover of Baracoa de Cuba: The Painters’ Magic (2009).
Oscar Rodriguez Lasseria (Florida, Camagüey, 1950):
A graduate of various art academies in Camaguey and Havana, Lasseria is one of Cuba’s leading contemporary painter/ceramicists. He is co-founder of the National Ceramics Biennial that has become a tradition in the colonial city of Camaguey, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. He founded the Movement for a New Artistic Ceramics. He has many installations and public art in and around Camaguey. Lasseria will participate in master classes with the students in ceramics, engraving and painting.
Luís Eliades Rodríguez Martínez (Baracoa, 1941):
Eliades is considered by many to be the grandfather of the Baracoan school of art. He has participated in innumerable group and one-man shows, both nationally and internationally; among them were Latin Views, 2008, a biennial exhibition sponsored by the University of Connecticut; exhibitor of honor at the Salón de Exposiciones AGISA, Switzerland; The Binding of Two Cultures, St. Augustine, Florida; Group exhibit at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His paintings can be found in the UNICEF Institute in New York and in private collections in Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United States and Europe.
Santiago Lambert Miranda (Baracoa, 1956):
A self-taught naïf artist, Santiago has won prizes in several local exhibitions and the prestigious Galería de Arte “Eliseo Osorio”. He participated in the collective exhibit “Cacao y Chocolate”, at the Julio Larramendi Gallery of the Hotel Conde de Villa Nueva in Havana and at the Collage Habana Art Gallery. Santiago was privileged to have a solo exhibit in the Cultural Center of Santiago de Cuba in 2012. His paintings are found in private collections in Germany, France, Italy, United States, and others.
Jorge Francisco Núñez Motes, professor of Cuban culture at the University of Guantánamo, received his degree in art history from the University of Havana in 1977. He is the founder and president of the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC) in Guantánamo (1987). He has served as a cultural researcher, radio and TV scriptwriter, and director of musical theatre. He has juried art exhibits and literature competitions; and has also participated in national and international competitions. He has written extensively on topics ranging from the Francophone influence in Cuban culture to current cinema in Cuba.
Cuban Imagination: The Art of Oriente and Beyond
New College of Florida’s Isermann Gallery
Free and Open to the Public, October 6 – 31
Gallery Hours noon to 5 PM, Mon-Fri
5313 Bay Shore Road
Reception October 30, 6 to 8 PM, with gallery talk at 5:30 PM and dance performance to follow
New College of Florida is a national leader in the arts and sciences and is the State of Florida’s designated honors college for the liberal arts. Consistently ranked among the top public liberal arts colleges in America by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and The Princeton Review, New College attracts highly motivated, academically talented students from 38 states and 20 foreign countries. A higher proportion of New College students receive Fulbright awards than graduates from virtually all other colleges and universities.