The Rodriguez Collection at Foosaner Art Museum

by Vincent Nastasi

The Rodriguez Collection is mainly comprised of artists who are rooted in the history of arts in Cuba. Crosscurrent, a show curated by Carla Funk, is the showcase of artist that were part of a new art movement in Cuba in times of oppression within the Rodriguez Collection. The 1980’s is the time of that birth. This was the first generation to grow up in a “New Cuba”; ideals, government, culture, civics, and communication changed.

  The collections of these works are important. The Foosaner Art Museum has created a show through one collection to tell a story, which shows the importance of the collection as a whole and not individually. It documents the history and a time of a country where you are not supposed to view and think, and that is exactly what these artists did. They started groups, collectives, had shows, and movements. This is the dedication and the need to create by human nature. These artists knowingly or not, have created an alternate mind set and culture through oppression.

  Artists who participated in key exhibitions such as “Volumen Uno”, gave way to artist groups such as “Grupo Pure” and “Arte Calle”. These shows and collectives were a push against oppression, maintaining and creating culture on their island in times of turmoil, a crosscurrent against a country influenced by what we call communism, in today’s society.

   The artist selected to be part of Crosscurrents are individually special, but foremost, they are collectively special. As Carla said in her curatorial statement, “These selections illustrate efforts by the first generation of Cuban artists to grow up after the Revolution of 1959 that dared to break from the state-sanctioned ideology promoted by the government”. They are the names and brains of the island they left in the late 80’s/early 90’s that continue to embrace their culture and tell an alternate story, despite the rapid change in their place of origin, through their art and life in exile.

  The exhibition emphasizes the work of these artists today, where they show how in spite of time and distance, they keep their traditions and points of view alive now as an outsider to Cuba, are able to adapt to their new cultural and political realities. 

  This group of artists belonging to the Rodriguez Collection with international recognition not only transformed art in Cuba, but they also continue to do it in their new home, Florida, where they have been living and continue to produce work.

  Participating artist are: Néstor Arenas, Pedro Ávila, Henry Ballate, José Bedia, Adriano Buergo, Consuelo Castañeda, Willy Castellanos, Arturo Cuenca, Ana Albertina Delgado, Angel Delgado, Tomás Esson, Carlos Estévez, Ivone Ferrer, Rogelio López Marín (Gory), Carlos Luna, Aldo Menéndez, Ciro Quintana, Rubén Torres Llorca and Pedro Vizcaíno.

  This is the first time the Foosaner has a complete bilingual exhibition. Some institutions currently employing extensive bilingual interpretation—and strategies for cultural sensitivity—have seen their audiences respond very favorably. The Foosaner Art Museum, features changing exhibitions of nationally and internationally recognized art. The museum also draws from its permanent collection of over 5,000 objects to present exhibitions relevant to the community and revealing of art historical movements.

Crosscurrents: Contemporary Selections from the Rodríguez Collection of Cuban Artists will remain on display through March 14, 2020.

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