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Peter's and Gallery Picks of the Show
Cuba! Through 36 Eyes
April 22 - May 18, 2014
Peter Marr and Gallery partners have made a selection of their favorites
from the Featured and Guest Photographers in the exhibit.
click here to return to the details of the exhibit
All images copyright by the individual photographers
Peter's Picks of the Exhibit
by Julio Muņoz
Spontaneity is an essential component of the photographer’s art, and here, the artist has brilliantly captured a haunting image, that offers so much more than a pictorial representation of the generation gap in rural Cuba. Just by itself, the vignette of a middle aged man, sitting on the sidewalk, deep in thought, is an uplifting and riveting portrait. The exquisite lighting reveals superb detail and contrast, from the elegant straw hat to the remarkable features and definition in the man’s face and arm, where every fold and furrow are strikingly outlined. The powerful upward thrust of his arm, all the way to the strong, expressive fingers that expertly hold and caress the ever present habano, belie the fact that the observer is always drawn to his contemplative gaze, a look that has a hint of sadness, but that is seemingly oblivious to the world around him. I love the way that the gentle curves in the hat mirror the lines in the gentleman’s jacket, all of which contribute to make this image so memorable. In the background, artistically captured in soft focus, people are going about their daily lives that are highlighted by two young boys cycling past, enjoying every moment of their freedom in the warm afternoon sun. It is significant that the youth in the lead is very much aware of the man sitting by the side of the roadway, the badly broken surface of which relates sadly to the crumbling infrastructure much evident in this rural area. Without looking up, we sense that the man is very much aware of the boys cycling past, just as he probably did when he was young, perhaps a time when the road surface was smooth and unbroken, and at a time where his aspirations for his life in the future were very positive. He certainly contemplates and hopes that these boys will be highly successful in life, and not end up like he has, passing each day in solitude, enjoying a cigar, as life ebbs away. Cubans all have a passionate love for their country, but for the elderly, and this proud man in particular, there is no opportunity to change things for the better. The dreams and aspirations of the young boys maybe unrealistic, but at least they have the time ahead of them, where change could conceivably come and realistic hopes may be realized. This is a truly poignant and inspiring image of a slice of life in modern day Cuba, where changes are incrementally small and slow in coming. One can only hope for much better reforms and things to come to benefit everyone on this treasured island.
by Terri Sipone
This is a dynamic and expressive image of intrigue and romance, that has been artistically seen and captured, a decisive moment set in strikingly colorful surroundings. Ironically, if the print contained only one person, with the man or the woman, the end result would have been an impressive print, but with the two people posed so provocatively, the exhibited image is imposing and captivating. The background is a powerful juxtaposition of horizontal and vertical lines, and these dynamic graphic lines are wonderfully augmented by saturated red, white and blue hues. This vivid color scheme is carried over into the apparel of the man and the woman, particularly in the latter, where her clothes and shoes take on a more pastel nature, with an astonishing variety of colors and values. In keeping with the stronger graphic design, the vertical bars on the window indicate both a security concern, and also give the impression that one is experiencing perhaps a prison environment, especially if the conversation between the man and the woman were of a sexual nature. One should not construe that there is any act of indulging in a promiscuous sexual relationship that is transpiring here, just a pleasant conversation between friends and neighbors. The man’s admiration for the woman is self-evident, although there is a high level of both concern and anticipation. The woman, on the other hand is an attentive listener, but she also has that air of confidence such that if negotiations are taking place, they are definitely on her terms. This is a stellar and discerning image, one that has high impact in its amazing realism and sensitivity, and one that every observer can both admire and draw their own conclusions as to what they imagine they are witnessing.
Mother and Child
by Michelle Turner
This is a resplendent, story-telling-image, in which time has briefly been put on hold, so that one can fully appreciate and admire a culture and way of life that has little changed over countless years. Yes, the bright red umbrella, the woman’s clothes and the plastic carryall are obviously of modern vintage, but the setting and mode of transportation, certainly transcends time in a delightful fashion. The background, with shuttered windows gracing a poorly painted wall, both of which show evidence of serious deterioration, appear to be part of a courtyard. The latter opens up to reveal part of a large edifice, with stone steps that lead up to a religious sculpture that is only partially seen in the picture frame. It is possible that the structure is situated outside a church entrance, and that the driver of the horse-drawn conveyance is inside and out of our view. What one does see, is a horse, decoratively arraigned, hitched firmly to an old wooden cart, patiently awaiting the return of his master. In this rather crude but historic mode of transportation, there is a mother and young child occupying a rather undistinguished wooden seat at the back of the conveyance, and like the horse, they are anxiously awaiting the driver’s return. The cart is probably typical of the mode of transportation that is commonly used in this area, and the left bald tire that is attached to the rear axle is evidence both of old age and the non-affordability of a replacement tire. It is probable that several different horses have in time provided the pulling power for this antique, but very effective and inexpensive “taxi-cab.” The charming red umbrella that shelters the occupants from the direct sun, together with the blue and yellow tote, add splashes of color that enliven the entire scene. The artist has creatively and lovingly captured a way of life that is both simple and highly efficient, resulting in an image that has a quietness and entrancing quality that is just priceless.
by Alejandro Mendenez
In my mind, this is the most striking and dynamic image in this impressive and vibrant exhibition of Cuban life, seen through the eyes of 18 photographers. This picture has a spirit and a soul and makes a strong visual statement of a man working in a hazardous environment, probably for a menial pay reward. Although his job is probably associated with the railroad, it’s as though he was dropped down from a different world, like an imposing alien thrust into a seemingly peaceful setting, that is enhanced by a background sky that has delightful cloud formations. This worker is wearing an impressive pre- 1950’s mask, and he would not be out of place in London during a 1940’s blitz, as a rescuer searching for survivors in the building rubble after an air raid. It is certainly possible that the complex mask is the only type available, and like the cars in the streets, has been handed down from past generations. Every part of the worker’s face and clothing are covered with particulate residue, and one hopes that at the end of a hard day’s work, he is able to get a shower and change of clothing. This is a head and shoulder’s portrait of captivating drama and superb quality. The non-directional lighting reveals amazing contrast and range of values, accentuating every detail impressively. The worker’s blue uniform provides a wonderfully colorful support to augment the extraordinary palette of gray hues of the mask and headwear, resulting in an astonishing 3-D effect, where the mask itself seems to be thrusting out of the frame, as though it was emphasizing the very hazardous nature of the job. Although the colored glasses have their own dust particles, this does not detract from the fact that one is very aware of strong and powerful eyes looking directly into the camera lens. These are the eyes of a proud man, one who does not want to be doing this hard and hazardous job, although he is grateful to have a job in this perplexing and paradoxical nation. A truly wonderful and memorable image, creatively seen and photographed.
Gallery Picks of the Exhibit
by Shawn Kosmala
Funnel, one of a series of dramatic photographs, Shawn creates a great image of an item which is weathered and punished with age. Shawn effectively interprets the strong graphic elements of the composition and the wonderful patina of the rusted funnel to demonstrate that it is not necessary to be in a beautiful place to make a great photograph. His use of dark frames and a black mat enhance the pallet provided by this industrial icon. After viewing Shawn’s work I wanted to go out and find old, weathered and abandoned factories to photograph similar objects. Shawn not only records what he sees, but puts a personal interpretation into his photographs making them stand-alone, personal statements. His other work in this series, shows a similar high level of skill in making mundane subjects into great artistic statements.
Artifacts Leslie Mentel’s series of photographs documents a recent trip to China. “Artifacts” is the most abstract of the series and displays his strong compositional sense. He states that the monastery walls were of varying ages and states of repair; many people would simply walk by these walls and not see their beauty. He manipulates the variations of light and color to present an essentially simple, yet dramatic display of how a small detail in a very large place can provide the inspiration for such a wonderful photograph. It is easy to take photographs of subjects in a representational manner, but putting your own self and visual creativity into an architectural detail is the mark of an excellent photographer. The mark of any great piece of art is that it leaves in the viewer a desire to see more of the artist’s abstract work, and this is certainly accomplished by this photograph.
by Leslie S. Mentel