Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Opening Reception: "Cuba: From Inside and Out"

Works from U.S. and Cuban Photographers Unveiled

Last Thursday, Nov. 4, the opening reception was held for "Cuba: From Inside and Out" at the Krause Center for Innovation (KCI) Gallery at Foothill College. It was great to see everyone come out and support this show; we had a wonderful turn-out.

We received lots of questions about what Cuba was like; and people at the opening seemed intrigued by the few small photographic glimpses and answers that we were able to provide. Any country of 11 million people is impossible to sum up in a few words, especially given that we had seen parts of only three cities during our 2-week trip. Another question was: how many pictures did you take? Assuming that each of the 18 U.S. photographers took an average of 2,000 images during our trip, the exhibit represented a tiny percentage of the 36,000 total images that we took during our stay in Cuba.

Many wonderful stories ended up on the virtual cutting room floor, but there was still a great variety of shots and subject matter at this show. Thanks again to Ron and John for their curating talent and to everyone else for making this show happen.

We were very fortunate to be able to show the works of the Cuban photographers on a big screen at the center of the exhibit this evening; and those in attendance commented how they enjoyed seeing this diverse body of work.

And, after all the work leading up to this show, it was only fitting to be able to enjoy some lighter moments -- visiting with people, enjoying non-alcoholic mojitos, plantain chips and black bean dip, and other treats.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Installing the Exhibit - Oct. 29, 2010

The Hanging

The Krause Center for Innovation (KCI) Gallery was filled with a small group intent on getting a job done today. Important issues were being discussed:

"What did it look like in your pre-viz?"
"Do you think it looks better here, or is that too low?"
"Can you hand me those scissors?"
"Do you remember how to tie a slip knot?"

"Were you going to pre-cut pieces of fishing line? Once those pieces get tangled up with each other, they can be impossible to get them apart..."
"You put the backing in upside down. Can you fix that?"
"We only have one stepladder. Do you think we could get another one?"
"Hmm. This picture is sticking out from the wall farther than this one. Can we fix that?"
"How big will the tables be for the food at the reception?"

All these questions were answered, and more, at "the hanging" today. Being present for part of installation day was a good reminder of how many details there are to attend to, even with the simplest exhibits. While pre-planning and basic tools such as scissors, levels, measuring tapes, spools of fishing line, and cardboard placeholders, can go a long way, there's nothing like a great team of ready-for-anything professionals.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cuba: From Inside and Out - Updates Oct. 18, 2010

Finalizing and Framing Images; Getting the Word Out

It takes many people to make a show happen. Friday, October 14, the group met in Los Altos to unveil final image selections for the upcoming exhibit, and to discuss related topics. Thank you to John and Ron and others who helped curate, make decisions on formats, and plan for this exhibit. Framing and matting could now get underway for images selected for the final exhibition. And image information was finalized for wall labels, price sheets and other information.

The exhibit name has been finalized: "Cuba: From Inside and Out, An Exhibition by American and Cuban Photographers." Work continued on getting out show post cards, a press release, and the opening reception on Nov. 4th.

Next Step: Finish framing, and bring framed photographs to the Krause Center for Innovation for hanging later this week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cuba Exhibit Updates - October 5, 2010

Nailing Down Exhibit Specifics

A location has been determined (see below); discussions are happening with participants from both the U.S. and Cuba; and decisions regarding formatting, invitations, final selection, curating, and many other important tasks are underway.

This exhibit will take place from from Nov. 1 - Dec. 6, 2010.

The opening reception for this Cuba-focused exhibit (final show name being decided as I write this) will be held, Thurs., Nov. 4, 2010, from 5 - 7 p.m., at the Krause Center for Innovation (KCI), at Foothill College, in Los Altos Hills, CA.

Gathering photos for an exhibit

What Makes An Exhibition-Quality Image?

It is difficult to boil down 1,000s of photos from a trip into a few selections for an exhibit. As the Cuba trip came to a close, efforts to pare and sort digital and film images ramped up. Draft images were posted on a site for review comments and discussion.

Questions were asked, such as: What images would be new and fresh, and yet also convey the essence of Cuba? We all loved the old cars, but should we avoid showing too many pictures of old cars in this exhibit? At some point, as the hard work of choosing a sub-set of final images sets in; you alternatively like and don't like your work, or question yourself: Hasn't it all been done before? Are any of my images really any good? But, final decisions are made. And being part of a talented group where members can provide support, accountability, and a fresh perspective is very valuable.

Havana - September 13, 2010

Return Flight(s) Home

Today, all but a few of our group left Cuba, and flew back to Cancun, Mexico.

Making our way through the Havana airport, there was little time to reflect on all that we'd seen during our visit to Cuba; however, there was one last chance to see a few items we might have missed in small airport shops -- such as the chocolates lined up in the case at the Aurora counter (shown).

Seeing a mojito on a nearby table, I couldn't help but wonder if the freshly muddled mint in that drink had been grown on a farm that we toured, or one like it.

Then it was time to depart for Mexico/United States. And, soon we were settled in on a Cubana Air flight. There were no in-flight magazines, like we might see on U.S. flights. So, instead, we were reading the Cuban newspaper "Granma International" that had been passed out, in which Fidel Castro discussed his concerns over possible nuclear warfare and other topics. And, we enjoyed watching clouds. Wait, that one does look like a bear, don't you think?

Havana - September 12, 2010

Meetings and Presentations at Fototeca, in Havana

Fototeca de Cuba is a hub for professional photographers in Havana. Today we met with several well-known and talented Cuban photographers, and were able to see their original prints, as well as presentations given by these photographers, including:

Raül Cañibano (Ercilla)
- Documentary photographer; showed black and white prints
- "Tierra Guajira" series - explores life in countryside; other series include "Habana" and "El Rincon" (the corner)
- He will probably move to digital, but hasn't yet.
- His work recently appeared in N.Y. Times ("In the Heart and Soul of Cuba" by Adriana Teresa - June 4, 2010)

Eduardo J. Garcia (Garcia*)
- Digital artist
- Photojournalist style
- He's interested in the inner life of Cubans, realities of life
- *Eduardo works with his twin brother (Orlando Garcia)

Arien Chang Castan (aka Chang)
- Documentary photographer
- Black and white prints
- Has photographed older people (over 100 yrs. old)

Leysis Casada (Vera)
- Started in documentary photography
- Pictures of her daughter; and nuns
- Digital collage shots - women's faces melded with textured walls, other images

Jose Victor Gavilondo 
- Son of Jorge Gavilondo, scientist and photographer
- Jorge also was there (showed us his work earlier)
- Jose showed some extreme close-ups, water frozen in mid-air, other studies
- Jose's photo "There is no blackout..." (shown at right)

Ludmila Velasco and Nelson Ramírez de Arellano
- A husband and wife team
- "Absolut Revolution" series (2002 - 2004)
- Also known for hotels in Havana series
- Nelson is shown with Ron Herman and Jesus (our guide and translator), at right.

Mario Diaz
- Showed black and white prints on table
- Gave a presentation on earlier black and white works, plus some color
- Was friends with Korda (who took famous picture of Che); Diaz took a picture of Korda holding his Che photo.
- Shown with Ron Herman (both wearing hats) at right, below.

Perfecto Romero
- We also were able to visit with Perfecto Romero, who brought some of his black and white prints with him.
- Romero was assigned to cover Che Guevara, and took several famous pictures of Che and others around the time of the revolution.
- Romero is pictured at right, with members of our group.