Wednesday, November 6 – Grabados Ecologica – the Zea Mays Printmaking exhibition and presentation
We met Roberto in the morning who took us in our first peso taxi to old Havana to visit the museum of fine arts. The peso taxis are the old American cars that run a set route. The driver picks up people who flag him down along the way, filling the car with 4 in the back, two in the front. Loud music, things hanging from the mirror, people squeezed in side by side, missing door panels and non-functioning handles – What a ride! We got dropped off at the Parque Central and wound our way through the streets to the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum was fantastic and Roberto was a great docent. We spent time with the art of the 1950s-60s and then the contemporary galleries. So much of the history of Cuba is told through the art of this time. All of the contradictions and struggles. Roberto was so knowledgeable and even though we could have surmised a lot from looking at the art, he was able to put it into a context for us that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.
After the museum we hurried back to the casa, picked up the computer and other workshop supplies and went back to San Alejandro for my talk and the reception for the exhibition Grabados Ecologica – 50 prints from Zea Mays Printmaking. All of the artists in the show had agreed to donate their prints to the permanent collection at San Alejandro. We had brought them in our suitcase and Yunayka Martin had hung the show the day before. The gallery looked great. Yunayka did a great job. She had to whittle down the show a bit to fit it all in the space, but showed at least one work by each artist. Contributing artists included: Anne Beresford, Meredith Broberg, Elena Betke-Brunswick, Judith Bowerman, Neil Brigham, Liz Chalfin, Nancy Diessner, Anita S. Hunt, Sheryl Jaffe, Cathe Janke, Maya Malachowski Bajak, Larinda Meade, Frank Ozereko, Lynn Peterfreund, Erika Radich, Joyce Silverstone, Nanette Vonnegut and Esther White.
The talk took place in a second gallery and was filled with students and teachers from San Alejandro and a couple of people from ISA (the arts college). After setting up the projector (no plug – see the picture!) I presented a digital slide lecture about Zea Mays Printmaking, translated by Roberto. It was well received and afterwards several students talked to me about the work coming out of Zea Mays Printmaking. One of the students asked me why so much of our work was about nature. When I told her about the environment where I live and our concerns about environmental issues she replied, “we have other concerns here.” After the talk we all moved into the art gallery where Sandra Fuentes, the director of the school gave us a wonderful welcome and thanked us for the donation of prints. They were truly moved by the generosity of our artists and told me that our prints would be a meaningful part of their collection. We met many artists and were invited for a visit to ISA, the premier art college in Cuba.