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This article by F.R. Rivera was prepared for the October 30, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Art Review: ArtistaCUBA
The Triumph Brewing Company is not the most hospitable
environment in which to display and view art — but art work as
bracing and assertive as "ArtistaCUBA" more than holds its
own against dark walls and dim lights. The show’s curator and entrepreneur
Jorge Luis Armenteros is seeking a more compatible environment, but
until something better comes along, he says, he is grateful to have
so much space in downtown Princeton. For the future, "about 5,000
square feet" will do, he adds. Armenteros obviously thinks big.
A master tobacconist and aficionado, born in Miami, Armenteros smoked
his first cigar at the age of four. A graduate of American University,
where he majored in international business, he came to New Jersey
in 1995. His market research indicated that Princeton, New Hope, and
Marietta, Georgia, would be good locations for three high-end cigar
shops. He implemented the idea; one of his Little Taste of Cuba cigar
shops is on Witherspoon Street.
Armenteros made his first trip to Cuba in 1996, and the same year
began collecting Cuban art. He sold his first painting in 1998. He
is not unlike another collector who also thought big — Albert
C. Barnes — who went to Paris in the 1920s and brought back dozens
of Renoirs, Cezannes, Soutines, and more to his Philadelphia area
home. Armenteros’ last trip to Cuba netted 224 works by 16 artists
and his own personal collection numbers 40.
About 60 works brought from Cuba are on view at the Triumph Brewing
Company. Characterized in the show’s publicity as "folk art,"
they are not, however, naive art; many pieces were produced by trained
professionals, some of whom attended the 100-year-old Academy of Contemporary
Art in Havana.
It is unlikely that we are looking at contemporary equivalents of
Renoir or Cezanne at the Triumph Brewing Company, but the budding
collector will find great values in dozens of little masterworks.
There is hip, cutting-edge art here. Some of it recalls the great,
underground comics of the late 1980s that gave us our first look at
artists like Art Spiegelman of "MAUS" fame.
ArtistaCUBA is a sassy irreverent art; and the artists are like the
masked revelers in a continuous "Carnivale," swapping identities
by working in different genres as the spirit moves them. Taken together,
the work has the compelling vitality of a fabulous street party.
The paintings are so packed with gutsy imagery that they compete like
bare-knuckle contenders for our attention. Painted creatures of every
stripe, like those in real carnivale, ambush us at every turn. Hungry
kittens, for example, stalk a computer mouse; a sailor-boy astride
a giant banana floats a kite under a galaxy of stars; and a sock puppet
torments a winged, blue-armored rhino.
Disembodied toothy grins and almond eyes chase us down
precipitous chutes past tattoo parlors and gadget shops into a world
of quilted squares.
The astute observer will be looking, but there are neither Marxist
guerrillas nor anti-Cuban subversives lurking in the shadows, unless
they are, perhaps graced by false noses or hidden behind rubber masks.
Nor is one likely to find any coded messages, since every painting
is screened and certified by the Cuban government, receiving its own
stamp of approval before it leaves the island.
The most impressive of the many outstanding artists represented in
this show are those who explore the unpredictable — Alberto Diequez,
Li, and Elio Villate. They mismatch characters with props, and props
with scenes, painting them as smoothly and predictably as a Disney
cell and then — boom! — comes Zigger, the blooper, the pratfall.
In Diequez’ work, for example, smooth sailing shapes of color get
whacked by broken lines that resemble machine stitchery run amok.
Villate depicts a high-wire act with a mooning buttocks.
According to Armenteros, Li is a toothless, humorously eccentric woman
in her 50s who is always accompanied by her parrot — even when
she is painting. Her irresistible works include a series of "Suenos
Cubanos" (Cuban Dreams), wonderful Chagall-like fantasies in which
the art medium seems to be pure confectioner’s sugar. The centerpiece
is a dreamlike cottage, glowing like a wedding cake in rose and violet
hues. A sudden outcropping of broccoli trees surrounds it.
These paintings so seduced Armenteros that he bought scores of them
outright to bring "home" to New Jersey. He wants nothing more
than to share them and to place them. "Art needs a home,"
he says. "When I sell a good cigar," he adds, "I give
an hour of pleasure; good painting affords a lifetime of pleasure."
— F.R. Rivera
609-924-7855. An exhibition of contemporary Cuban art. Show is on
view through December 30.
New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "From the Old World to the New World,"
recent additions to the collection featuring works by nine Hungarian
Americans who emigrated to the U.S. between 1920 and 1957. Artists
are Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Bertha and Elena De Hellenbranth, Sandor Sugor,
Emil Kelemen, Willy Pogany, Tibor Gergely, Zoltan Poharnok, and Vincent
Korda. Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4
p.m. $5 donation. To April.
732-745-4177. "Uncommon Clay: New Jersey’s Architectural Terra
Cotta Industry," an exhibition of artifacts and written and oral
histories of the once booming architectural ceramics industry. Open
Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
908-735-8415. "Fifty Years: The History of the Hunterdon Museum
of Art." Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. To November 17.
215-340-9800. "Earth, River, and Light: Masterworks of Pennsylvania
Impressionism," an exhibition of notable and rarely exhibited
Pennylvania Impressionist works drawn from the private holdings of
regional collectors. The touring show originates at the Michener and
is accompanied by a new, comprehensive study of Pennslyvania Impressionism
by Brian Peterson; to December 29. $6; $3 child.
Also "The Berenstain Bears Celebrate: The Art of Stan and Jan
Berenstain," the storybook authors’ first museum retrospective,
organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum and curated by David Leopold.
The show coincides with the publication of "Down a Sunny Dirt
Road: An Autobiography" by Random House; to January 12. $10 adult;
Also, "Retreating to Ideal Environments," works from the New
Hope colony by Daniel Garber, Fern Coppedge, Robert Spencer, and others;
to February 2. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday
and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m.
Route 1, North Brunswick, 732-249-2077. "Barnscapes: The Changing
Face of Agriculture in New Jersey," photographs of New Jersey
barns and farmlands, with 42 images by New Jersey landscape photographer
Louise Rosskam. On view to January 17. $4 adults, $2 children.
609-292-6464. "Searching: New Jersey Photographers and September
11," works by Stanley Brick, Donna Clovis, Donald Lokuta, and
Phil McAuliffe; to November 24. "River of Leisure: Recreation
Along the Delaware," to November 3. "Cruising Down the Delaware:
Natural History You Can See," an introduction to New Jersey’s
natural features by the historic waterway, to November 10. Museum
hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Sunday noon
to 5 p.m.
State Museum’s Ethnographic Collection," to September 15. "A
Decade of Collecting, Part 1," to January 5. On extended view:
"Art by African-Americans: A Selection from the Collection;"
"New Jersey’s Native Americans: The Archaeological Record;"
"Delaware Indians of New Jersey;" "The Sisler Collection
of North American Mammals;" "Of Rock and Fire;" "Neptune’s
Architects;" "The Modernists;" "New Jersey Ceramics,
Silver, Glass and Iron;" "Historical Archaeology of Colonial
New Jersey;" "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
Street, Trenton, 609-394-9535. Woodblock prints by Idaherma Williams,
an artist who prints all her editions without a press as a reflection
of her respect for the beauty of the woodcut. Sales benefit the New
Jersey State Museum. To November 3.
West State Street, Trenton, 609-292-6464. "A Decade of Collecting:
Works from the Museum’s Archaeological, Ethnographic, and Natural
History Collections." Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.,
to January 5, 2003.
New works by Bill Giacalone. Open Wednesday through Sunday and evenings
by appointment. To December 1.
609-298-6970. Group show by new gallery artists Eugene Maziarz, Joe
Kassa, and Ed DeWitt. Open Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m..
Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To December 15.
Exhibition of works by members and their guests. Exhibitors include
Selena Persico, Peter Roos, Robert Borsuk, Ken Kaplowitz, William
van der Veer, Nancy Ori, and Frank Magalhaes. Techniques range from
platinum prints to manipulated Polaroids. Gallery hours are Saturday
and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To November 17.
In the Broad Street Antiques Center, a gallery featuring the oil,
pastel, and watercolor paintings of Olga Holroyd. Open Wednesday to
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Road, 609-921-3272. In the Upstairs Gallery, "Color Rhythms,"
a shared exhibition of watercolors, ink, calligraphy, and mixed-media
works by Seow-Chu See and Gloria Wiernik. Meet the artists Sundays,
October 27, and November 3, at 1 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through
Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. To November 5.
Exhibit of aerial photography by Jessica R. Stearns. With a 20-year
career in the Air Force, and 16 years as a Continental Airlines pilot,
her photographs explore the play of light on clouds and the textures
of nature. To November 9.
Branch Station, 908-725-2110. "Crossing the Continent: Contemporary
Native American Works on Paper" with works by Rick Bartow, Corwin
Clairmont, Joe Feddersen, Hachivi Edgar Heep of Birds, James Lavadour,
and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. Gallery hours are Wednesday through
Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. To November 2.
Lawrenceville, 609-296-0334. Garden State Watercolor Society sixth
annual Associate Member Juried Exhibition, judged by Betty Stroppel
and Ed Baumlin. To November 22.
in Focus: Watercolors from the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection,"
an exhibition of 16 rarely-seen works on paper by the precursor of
modern painting. On long-term loan to the museum since 1976, the works
are rarely shown due to their sensitivity to light. To January 12.
Also "Beyond the Visible: A Conservator’s Perspective;" to
January 5. "Lewis Baltz: Nevada and Other Photographs," an
exhibition of recently acquired photographs and series by Lewis Baltz;
to January 19. "Earth’s Beauty Revealed: The 19th-Century European
Landscape;" to January 12. "Photographs from the Peter C.
Bunnell Collection," to October 27. Open Tuesday through Saturday,
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
609-258-3184. "Unseen Hands: Women Printers, Binders, and Book
Designers," a Milberg Gallery exhibition curated by Rebecca Warren
Davidson. Curator tours at 3 p.m. on November 2, January 5, and March
School, Robertson Hall, 609-258-1651. "After September 11,"
an exhibition that explores how the work of area artists has been
influenced by the events of September 11, with Robert Beck, Eleanor
Burnette, Thom Cooney Crawford, Alan Goldstein, Margaret Kennard Johnson,
Amy Kosh, Ken McIndoe, Barbara Osterman, Margaret Rosen, Ludvic Saleh,
Sheba Sharrow, and Madelaine Shellaby. Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. To December 1.
609-771-2198. "Evidencing: Drawing with Light and Pixels,"
a photography exhibition curated by Anita Allyn featuring works by
artists Mathieu Borysevicz, Deborah Bright, Colette Copeland, Mary
Frey, Shauna Frischkorn, Judy Gelles, L. Halsey Brown, and Will Pappenheimer.
Open Monday through Friday, noon to 3 p.m.; Thursday 7 to 9 p.m.;
and Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m. To November 6.
609-620-6026. In the Hutchins Gallery, Faculty Exhibition with Brian
Daniell, Allen Fitzpatrick, Jamie Greenfield, Leonid Siveriver, William
Vandever, and Ed Robbins; to November 2. Also "Building a Teaching
Collection: New Acquisitions in Photography;" to November 18.
Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon; and 1 to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday
and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.
609-586-4800, ext. 3589. "The Faculty," paintings by Mel Leipzig
of his MCCC colleagues. To November 7.
Leipzig has participated in numerous one-man and groups shows from
the East Coast to Moscow. His works are in permanent collections that
include the White House and the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. And his painting
of photographer Lou Draper was recently selected for the collecction
of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
New Brunswick, 732-932-2222. "Flying Colors Take Wing," a
show by A.R.T. featuring 100 paintings by physically-challenged artists.
The exhibition coincides with the launch of the book "Flying Colors"
by A.R.T. founder and director Tim Lefens (Beacon Press) which celebrates
the artists, and the revolutionary techniques that enable people with
the most severe physical challenges to express themselves creatively.
Gallery open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To October 31.
Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Mountain Tops," an exhibition
of miniature landscape sculptures of natural stones and sand by William
Brower, poet, sculptor, and seminary faculty member emeritus. Open
Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 8 p.m. To
Brunswick, 732-932-7237. Exhibitions include: "Sonia Delaunay:
La Moderne," celebrating the accomplishments of the key figure
(1885 to 1979) in the development of 20th-century abstraction; to
Also "Yurii Dyshlenko: Abstraction, Modernity, and Mass Media;"
to January 12. "The National Association of Women Artists Collection
at Rutgers," to December 8. "Identity and Resistance: Abstract
Painting from the Dodge Collection," to November 17. "Ben
Shahn: The Rilke Portfolio," to December 31. "Keeping Up Appearances:
Fashion in 19th Century France," to November 7. Museum hours are
Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday,
noon to 5 p.m. Spotlight tours every Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m. Admission
$3 adults; under 18 free; and free on the first Sunday of every month.
609-397-0275. "Prints, Paintings and Progression," group exhibit
by 12 students of Susan Roseman and James Feehan. Exibitors include
Bette Baer, Laura Blasenheim, Merle Citron, John Marcus, and Lola
Wykoff. Gallery hours are Monday to Thursday, 1 to 9 p.m.; Friday
1 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To November 22.
"Not Just Chickens," a shared show of complementary impressions
of everyday life by Gail Bracegirdle and Ruth Laks. Gallery hours
are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To November 3.
609-397-5679. "Excursion," part of Beck’s American Road series,
painted on site in Maine, Washington, D.C., and Bucks County. Also
the Mississippi River series painted in September aboard a working
townboat pushing barges from St. Louis to New Orleans. Open Saturdays
and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m., and weekdays by appointment. To November
Fall exhibition features New Jersey artists, Alexander Farnham and
Charles McVicker. Farnham, a noted landscape painter, is known for
his interest in patterns of light and shadow. Open Wednesday to Sunday,
noon to 5 p.m. To November 17.
"Melville Stark and the Pennsylvania Impressionists." Part
of proceeds benefit the Michener Museum of Art’s New Hope satellite
art center. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday,
noon to 6 p.m. To November 3.
Print Interpretations," an exhibition of archival inkjet prints
by Ruane Miller, Dallas Piotrowski, Fay Sciarra, Madelaine Shellaby,
and William Vandever. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to
5 p.m. To November 1.
Tom Kelly, Jack Knight, and Isabella Natale, an introspective and
humorous show by three area artists. Also "Crowns: Portraits of
Black Women in Church Hats" by Michael Cunningham. Museum hours
are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
To November 10.
609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition. In the Museum, new work by glass
artist Dale Chihuly, to April 6, 2003. In the Domestic Arts Building,
work by winners of 2002 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary
Sculpture Award, to January 10, 2003. Regular park admission $4 to
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; Sunday
is Members Day. Adult admission $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7 Friday
and Saturday; and $10 Sunday. Memberships start at $55.
"Vessels," an exhibit of sculpture and photographs by Rory
Mahon. Open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To November 7.
609-252-6275. "Up the River, Now" an exhibition of works by
contemporary painters in the Delaware Valley area. Artists include
Elizabeth Augenblick, Joseph Barrett, Robert Beck, Malcolm Bray, Tom
Chesar, Anne Cooper Dobbins, Suzanne Douglass, Evelyn Faherty, and
James Feehan. Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends and
holidays, 1 to 5 p.m. To December 1.
Art in Town
609-924-6700. Jules Schaeffer Retrospective with more than 30 found
object-welded sculptures, assemblages, monoprints, and works on paper.
Gallery is open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To November 14.
is Just Better with Trento!" Trenton artist Thomas Reaves’ show
includes paintings, illustrations, and designs, created with the idea
of starting a souvenir shop for the capital city’s move toward becoming
a tourist destination. Open during school hours; to November 8.
Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "From Tow Path to Bike Path: Princeton
and the Delaware and Raritan Canal," an exhibition on the history
and creation of the canal, the life of death of its workers, and recent
environmental and preservation issues. Open Tuesday to Sunday, noon
to 4 p.m. Show runs to March, 2003.
Dining room show of original paintings by Livy Glaubitz. Fond of capturing
scenes and architecture in watercolor paintings and pen and ink drawings,
she was first place winner in the 2001 Garden State Watercolor juried
exhibition. Part of proceeds benefit the Medical Center. Show may
be viewed daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. To November 13.
"Crowning Glories," a display of African-American church hats
from the collection of Trenton milliner Mayolyn Saunders, mounted
in conjunction with the McCarter Theater’s new musical, "Crowns."
Also, paintings by Phylisha Gilchrease, a Newark-born artist and mother
of four who has been drawing and painting since childhood. Shows to
Jorge Armenteros, owner of Little Taste of Cuba, introduces "Artista
Cuba," an exhibition of contemporary Cuban folk art presented
on the walls of Triumph. Show is on view through December.
Armenteros has been studying and collecting Cuban art since 1996.
He gravitates toward art that illustrates "the spirit of the Cuban
people, their creativity, inspiration, sensuality, and zest for life."
His collection includes works from the fine art world as well as rustic
art made of found materials. "At its best, Cuban folk art is vivid,
symbolic, sensual, and inspiring. In it, you will find a purity of
appreciation for light, color, and life’s simple pleasures," he
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