Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two Photographers in Onda April Show

Reggae and Reggaeton
Photographs by Edis Jurcys and Hugo Ludeña

March 26-April 28, 2009
Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11-6, Sunday 12-4
Opening and artists' reception: March 26, 6-9 PM

The next show at Onda, part of the PhotoLucida* event, showcases work by two award-winning photographers, Edis Jurcys and Hugo Ludeña. Reggae in the title refers to Jurycs' silver gelatin prints of images from Jamaica; Reggaeton refers to Ludeña's color photos documenting urban Latino culture.

Edis Jurcys was born in Lithuania in 1973. At 16, he took his first photograph and then studied at the Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. With a cameraman's diploma, he did an eight-year stint with the CTV Russian channel. In 1989, he came to the US where he works as a commercial photographer and shoots video documentaries.

"Gijos" ("Thread"), his book of black and white photographs published in 2004, gathers images from his world travels, but it's not a travel book. Every image portrays intimate moments in the lives of the subjects using a subtle and deeply humanistic approach and tone. Two of the images have recently been selected by a a jury to be part of the tenth anniversary of the publication M.I.L.K. (Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship), which has included at least four Pulitzer Prize winners, and produced four books as well as an international touring exhibition. The new project, entitled Fresh M.I.L.K, Friends, Families, Lovers, and Laughter (, will include 150 images and is due to be published in the fall.

In March, 2008, Blue Sky Gallery exhibited photographs from "Gijos". Jurcys' other awards and accomplishments include Kulture Prize award at the International Photography festival in Belgium, 2001, Grand Prix award at the International Photography festival in Lithuania, 2006. A Reed college viewbook with his photographs won Gold Medal at CASE competition (2006), a PSU book won HOW 19th Annual Self-Promotion Design Merit Award (2006), and selected images have been purchased by Portland Art Museum for its private photography collection.

Hugo Ludeña arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1993 and was immediately welcomed by the community. Discovering that Latinos living in the Northwest were very isolated from the rest of the society. he began capturing Latino life as it happened - festivals, concerts, community events, traditional weddings and every day life.

Thousands of photographs later, the collection which is the basis of the current exhibit, began to take form. In 2004, he selected eighty images as a documentary work entitled "Latino Life in the Northwest: A Cultural Journey". This series chronicles the contributions of Latinos to the development of the Pacific Northwest, pushing away Latino stereotypes in media and visual arts. Authentic Latino families are shown both in their work environments and in their celebrations, dressed in their best garments. Ludeña states, "We came to this country with our own values, history and traditions. My work ensures that these cultural [forms] are not lost or dissipated but are offered as a point of engagement for all."

Ludeña is the publisher of Latino Cultural Magazine, Seattle, Washington, which he started in 2006. He has participated in many exhibits in the Seattle area, including a solo exhibit at the Gallery 4 Culture (2007), a group exhibit, "Latino Art in the Northwest at the Seattle Trade and Convention Center (2008), "Autobiography", a show a the SAM Gallery, Seattle Art Museum (2008), 7th Annual PONCHO Invitational Fine Art Auction (2008), solo exhibit at the Greg Kucera Gallery (2008). He has also been exhibited and represented by Greg Kucera Gallery at Art Miami, Los Angeles Art Show and Art Chicago.

His awards and distinctions include a City Artist Projects grant in the category of visual arts, awarded by the City of Seattle (2006), the Juror’s Choice Award. Tacoma Community College (2007), PONCHO Artistic Merit Award (2008), Mayor’s Arts Award (2008), Seattle, Washington. His work has been acquired by the King County Public Art Collection, Group Health Cooperative, Greg Kucera and Larry Yocom. and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.

*Photolucida 2009 will bring hundreds of photographers, curators, publishers and gallerists to Portland April 23-26.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10th Anniversary Touching Cuba exhibit

On March 12, 1999, the Touching Cuba art exhibit opened at Onda Gallery. It was the first time in decades that artists living and working in Cuba were shown in Portland, and the crowds at the opening and through the run of the show were exhilarated by the quality and originality of the work. Although artists such as Manuel Mendive, Alfredo Sosabravo and Alicia Leal are not well known in the United States because of the economic and cultural embargo, they are acclaimed around the world and collected by aficionados of contemporary art.

Sandra Levinson, the director of the Cuban Art Space in New York, selected the nearly 100 pieces for the show and came to Portland to help install the paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures as well as the craft pieces including textiles, jewelry, papier mache and much more.

Sadly, the 2000 election and the eight years of the Bush administration meant that the opportunities for cultural exchange with Cuba not only didn't increase but decidedly decreased. Some art galleries, including the Cuban Art Space, have continued to fight for the right to bring art and artists from Cuban, and some organizations have continued to pressure the US government to lift the embargo.

We can only hope and pray that the Obama administration finally puts an end to the anachronistic and vindictive policies of the last forty plus years ( and that we can truly look forward to touching Cuba again.