Three exhibitions focusing on the arts and culture of Latin America will open at Piedmont Arts on Friday.
Part of the museum’s celebration of Latin American art and culture, Celebración de las Artes, these exhibitions range in scope from the life-size paintings of an Argentinan-born artist living in Florida; to photographs of life in Cuba captured by an American artist; to the expressive paintings of a native Cuban artist, whose first U.S. exhibition will take place at Piedmont Arts.
“Highlighting the arts and cultures of Latin America is so important to many who live in our community,” said Director of Exhibitions Heidi Pinkston. “And it is equally important to us at Piedmont Arts. From the arts of historically significant civilizations to work being created by contemporary artists, the vibrant cultures of Latin America have a notable impact on American and world culture.”
Aura: Juan Francisco Adaro
Featuring colorful, life-size portraits on extended canvases, Aura speaks not only to life in Adaro’s hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina, but also to life in his new home in South Florida.
Adaro was born in 1978 in Buenos Aires, where is passion for art began at the age he was old enough to pick up a pencil. As a teenager, he began painting in the streets of San Telmo and La Boca, with a mobile gallery on the back of his motorcycle so he could quickly escape when the police came around.
His passion and drive were quickly recognized when he was asked to study art at the National University of Art in Buenos Aires, Prilidiano Puyrredon and UINA. The creative influences and art internships with famed Argentine artists Susana Fedrano, Osvaldo Atila, Marcelo Carpita, Gerardo Cincilolo and Enrique Morales led Adaro to become a muralist for political groups and activists in Buenos Aires during the financial collapse of 2001. His dramatic murals, focusing on social suffering, and his unique approach to portraiture, which captures the humanity of his subjects, drew the attention of curators at the BAC, CC Borges and the CCC-Buenos Aires where he was asked to produce works for several one-man shows and group exhibitions.
In 2012, Adaro and his wife moved to her hometown of Niceville, Fl. It’s here that Adaro created his most signature style to date: extended canvases. His wife, a sommelier, had stacks of wooden wine boxes that were too nice to throw away, but were taking up space in their home. Adaro decided to incorporate the boxes into his canvases, creating portraits with an added element of depth and interest. He has also recently began adding other found elements to his work further creating depth and a feeling of being apart of the painting itself. It’s these works that have brought recognition in galleries around the country, festival awards, 2014 South Walton Painter of the year, Artsquest Poster winner and South Walton 2015 Artist of the Year.
“I’ve been so lucky to know this area,” said Adaro. “The people here in the USA have embraced me and I am so thankful.”
Ten Days in Havana
David Spear’s work documents his time spent in Havana, Cuba through color iPhone photographs that capture intimate scenes from life in a shuddered country. Spears’ photographs are not of scenes tourists experience. Many are portraits of the working class in their homes, at work or on the street, and provide a photographic account of the resourcefulness of the Cuban people.
In 2013, Spear published the collection of photographs featured in Ten Days in Havana in a book by the same name. It is his third book of photographs and his first book in color. His previous books include: The Neugents: Close to Home and Visible Spirits, both of which were adapted into exhibitions and displayed at Piedmont Arts.
About his third show at Piedmont Arts, Spear said, “I’m just tickled to death. My latest book really transitions away from all photos to include more text. It was an experiment on my part to see how well I could write about what was going on with my subjects.”
Spear is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and his work is in the collections of major museums.
Felix Suarez Merlin
For the first time in the United States, Piedmont Arts exhibits five paintings by well-known Cuban artist, Felix Suarez Merlin. Due to the United States embargo against Cuba, it is extremely difficult for Cuban artists to show work in the U.S. These five works are on loan from the private collection of David Spear. In addition to Cuba, Felix’s work has also been exhibited in Brazil, Germany and Slovenia.
Through his friend and benefactor David Spear, Merlin sent the message: “I am totally elated to have my work shown in the U.S.”
Works by Angie N. Walker
Multimedia works by local artist Angie N. Walker will be on display in the Lynwood Artists Gallery.
Walker believes that an appreciation for nature is key to a heightened sense of self. She says, "Limitations in life should not be viewed as an impending cliff, but rather, as a branch of a tree extending into another direction; leaning into the appreciation and understanding of natural things…this is where wisdom and self-reflection begin."
Piedmont Arts will host a Members-Only Reception in honor of these exhibits on Friday, October 16 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the museum. Piedmont Arts members, prospective members, artists and guests are invited to attend. Complimentary drinks and light refreshments will be served. This reception is sponsored by Nancy and Milt Davis, Janet and Tommy Hudgins, Joan and Monty Montgomery, Lynwood Artists and Piedmont Arts. Please RSVP attendance by calling 276.632.3221 or online at PiedmontArts.org.
Celebracion de las Artes is sponsored by Harvest Foundation, Eastman, Alcoa, Virginia Commission for the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts.