Text: Julie Schwietert Collazo
Photos: Francisco Collazo
New York has long been one of the best places to see Cuban art in the US, but this month has been especially busy for Cuban art lovers, with three high-profile exhibits that have gained lots of mainstream media coverage.
I won’t offer much opinion here about the state of contemporary Cuban art (I did that in this 2010 post, and my opinion hasn’t changed significantly since then). Here, it’s just my intention to provide a round-up of the three exhibits and offer a few quick thoughts about each.
Exhibit: “Waiting for the Idols to Fall”
Venue: The 8th Floor
Quick Thoughts: Of the three exhibits mentioned here, this was the one that I was most interested in seeing. It was also the one I found most disappointing. The proposito of the curators was to explore, in their words, “how Cuban artists represent ‘lo cubano’ without resorting to some variation on the same old icons.” And yet, almost all of the works in the show include the very icons that both characterize Cuban art and, in my opinion, contribute to its stagnation.
Still, if you’re not familiar with The 8th Floor, it’s a great place to contemplate Cuban art. The works exhibited here are drawn from the collections of the Rubins (yes, of the Rubin Museum), and are often interesting. The gallery has never been crowded when we’ve visited.
“Waiting for the Idols to Fall” was scheduled to close this week, but has been extended to May 15. Be sure to check The 8th Floor’s website on the day you want to visit; the gallery often closes (or closes early) for special events.
Exhibit: “No Limits”
Artist: Alexandre Arrechea
Venue: Park Avenue Malls
Quick Thoughts: A couple of well-respected curators and museum directors were effusive in their praise of the works in this series (as quoted in the Wall Street Journal), but in my own opinion, I don’t feel like Arrechea, one of the original members of the art collective Los Carpinteros, is really pushing his own limits artistically.
Exhibit: “Goodbye, My Love”
Artist: Esterio Segura
Venue: Anita’s Way (the passage between W. 42nd and W. 43rd Streets, between 6th Avenue and Broadway)
Quick Thoughts: The symbolism of Esterio Segura’s installation is pretty simple and pretty obvious, but it’s also moving, especially for those of us who experience physical separation from our loved ones. What’s also interesting is that this exhibit involves a local restaurant, Aureole, which has created a special dessert and a special cocktail to reflect the themes of the exhibit.