Cuban Art Made in Miami that will Endure
by Adriana Herrera
The title of Wendy Guerra’s novel Todos se van (Everyone Leaves), which refers to the incessant migration of Cubans from the island, can be contrasted by the phrase “Everyone Goes to Cuba” (to buy art). This phenomenon was evident during the last Havana Biennial, held in the context of the reopening of relations with the United States.
Many paradoxes surround the perception and value of Cuban art. Among these paradoxes is the opposition -unacquainted with the quality of art that does not depend on the geographic- between the art of the island and the art of the Diaspora. This opposition is evidenced in the nature of various collections of Cuban art. There are also the foreign myths that seem to extend the notion of the noble savage, to the noble revolutionary, to the noble artist, so that the best Cuban art is necessarily produced in the island, cloaked under an aura of a social exoticism and the unknown.
|Nonetheless, after the 90s, many renowned artists linked to Cuba started dividing their time between various world capitals, avoiding Miami, which, as curator Anelys Álvarez-Muñoz admits, has been stigmatized. In fact, the internationalization of Cuban art and its rising market value has been achieved, with some exceptions, from cities like New York, where artists respect their agreements with galleries. By contrast, in Miami, both collectors and artists want to respectively acquire or sell “art in their own living room,” like gallerist Ramon Cernuda states. However, the stereotype of Miami –the closest city to Havana - as “the cemetery for Cuban artists,” is changing. Álvarez-Muñoz says: “The Havana-Miami binomial, has been permeated by political discourse, affecting the perception of Cuban art. This perspective is gradually changing, and can thus bring the revalorization of artists that have been kept on the margins, not because they lack quality, but due to a sort of geographic determinism.”Today, the crossings from one bank to the other are increased amid the new political climate, so that borders are diluted. In this context, Art Circuits, following its vocation for artistic coverage in Miami, surveyed various experts in the art world about the potential of the city to offer Cuban art that will endure. We invited them to come up with a very short list of living artists, independent of their actual market value. The list does not include the modernist masters or the historical concrete artist that are already in the spotlight.|
Francisco Arévalo. Gallerist and Art Consultant. “There are moments that mark the periods of art, periods when cities become artistically interesting. Cuba is experiencing strong art tourism in the search for new names , while Miami is not the ideal place to be in at the moment. Of course, there are established names like Julio Larraz (b.1944), Jorge L. Varona (b.1955), Gustavo Acosta (b.1958), Miguel Padura (b.1957) and, and the younger intellectual artists like Gean Moreno (b.1957) and Ernesto Oroza (b.1968) who have complex relationships with the market. Unfortunately in Miami, the tradition of a collective support of the local artist within its galleries does not exist.”
Ramón Cernuda. Cernuda Arte. Sustaining that his gallery sells more Cuban art than auction houses, he argues that the commercial failure of many good Cuban artists is not related to their location. He names Dayron González (b.1982), based in Miami, the youngest artist and the one who sells the most, in his gallery. Also named are the valued Larraz and Tomás Sánchez (b.1948), and artists who deserve higher values like Baruj Salinas, (b.1938), José Bedia (b.1959), Tomás Esson (b.1963), and Arturo Rodríguez (b.1956).
Israel Molerio. Latin Art Core Gallery. Bedia, Ramón Alejandro (b.1943), Humberto Castro (b.1957), Padura, Pedro Vizcaino (b.1966), and César Santos (b. 1982). He includes José Ángel Vincench (b.1973) and Pedro de Oraá (b. 1931), National Plastic Arts Award Cuba 2015, because they now divide their time between the island and Miami.
Irina Pérez-Leyva. Curator for Pan American Art Projects. Apart from Larraz, Bedia, Humberto Castro, and Martínez-Cañas, she mentions Acosta, Carlos Estévez (b.1969), Rubén Torres Llorca (b.1957), Gory (b.1953), and Florencio Gelabert (b. 1961).
Fredric Snitzer. Gallerist and Professor. He names Rafael Domenech (b. 1989), youngest winner of the CINTAS, María Martínez-Cañas (b.1960), Enrique Martínez Celaya (b.1964), now based in L.A., Hernan Bas (b.1978), Mauricio González (b.1978), and Alexandre Arrechea (b.1960), now based in Miami part time, all represented by this gallery. Snitzer considers that “there are many, many others…César Trasobares (b. 1949), Esson, Oroza, Leyden Rodríguez-Casanova (b. 1973), and on and on and on.”
Anelys Alvárez-Muñoz. Curator. The Related Group. “It wouldn’t be fair to put one generation above the other.” From the 80s, she mentions Torres Llorca, Bedia, and Novoa, stating that the so-called “Miami Generation” should also be revisited. From the 90s, Estévez; from those formed in Miami after relocating, Bas, and Teresita Fernández (b.1968); and from the recently established here, Domenech, Javier Castro, Sandra Ramos (b.1969), and Arrechea. The first three and the last two are part of the Related Group collection, along with Esson, Douglas Arguelles (b.1977), Kenia Arguiñao (b.1983), and Martínez Celaya.
Francine Birbragher. Curator. “7 or 70 artists?” She asked. There are several that are wonderful, far beyond the extra-artistic interests of the market: Besides Bedia, Torres-Llorca, Novoa, Martínez-Cañas, Gelabert, and Vincench, she mentions Ana Albertina Delgado (b. 1963).
Willy Castellanos. Curator, Aluna Art Foundation. To the names of Torres-Llorca, Bedia, Estévez, Oroza, Gelabert, Martínez-Cañas, Sandra Ramos, and Hamlet Lavastida (b. 1983), he adds Gory (b.1953), Maritza Molina, Pablo Cano (b.1961), Fabián Peña (b.1976), Jorge Wellesley (b.1979) and the collectives Guerra de la Paz, and Omni Zona Franca. He points out that the bad thing about so limited a list, is that it can deduct value from many other artists that are good as well.
Tami Katz-Freiman. Curator. “There are MANY wonderful Cuban artists in Miami” she afirms mentioning artist such as Novoa, Wellesley, Argüellez Cruz and Peña, adding the name of Elysa Batista (b.1989) – “to name just a few – and not to mention those who are very well known…”.
Roc Laseca. Curator. He thinks that it is interesting to “discuss from which places (and not only geographical ones) the local fabric of artistic production in Miami is constructed.” He also mentions Arrechea, Oroza, Martínez Celaya, Rodríguez-Casanova, and Mauricio González.
Dennys Matos. Curator and Art Critic. Néstor Arenas (b.1964), whose latest transition was from Miami to Havana. Also included Torres Llorca, Gory, Cuenca, Vincench, Sandra Ramos, Vizcaino, Lavastida, and Abel Barroso, as well as Ramon Williams (b.1969).
Gean Moreno. Curator and Artist. He also mentions Oroza and Glexis Novoa (b.1964), among others: Arturo Cuenca (b. 1955), Consuelo Castañeda (b. 1958), Jorge Pantoja (b. 1963), Javier Castro (b. 1984), and Lavastida.
Alfredo Triff. Art Critic. He proposes a list of “forgotten” masters, mentioned by others, like Ramón Williams and Pedro Vizcaíno (b.1968), as well as Liliam Cuenca (b.1944), Ahmed Gómez (b.1972), Rafael López Ramos (b.1962), and the photography of Liliam Domínguez (b.1976).
Arturo and Liza Mosquera. Collectors. The commemorative exhibition of the 25th anniversary of his collection Miami Based Artists: Better Alive than Dead Part II, which inverts the title of a piece by Torres-Llorca, includes previously mentioned artists such as Pantoja, Delgado, and Williams, among others such as Angela Valella (b.1948), Leandro Soto (b.1956), Beatriz Monteavaro (b.1971), and Luis Gispert (b.1972), now based in New York.