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 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/08/cuba-obama-administration) and that we can truly look forward to touching Cuba again.

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