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An international gallery exhibit showcasing the culture and lifestyles of modern-day Cuba has just opened up at the Queens Library in Jamaica. The exhibit features 60 paintings and prints by 14 contemporary artists living in Cuba, some of whom are self-taught, while others are professors and graduates of the region's art academies."Cuba Oriente: Contemporary Paintings from Eastern Cuba" offers free admission to library visitors until March 19, allowing Queens residents to get a glimpse of what life is like in Cuba today."A lot of the pieces illustrate everyday life in Cuba," said exhibition manager Juliana Driever, "showing social situations in Cuban culture such as carnivale and other festivals. There are references to folk mythology in some of the pieces. There are also depictions of working life, showing people at work in the sugar canes or fishing."Both urban and rural landscapes are featured in the paintings and prints: There are tropical landscapes, dense forest landscapes and depictions of sugar cane fields. For obvious geographical reasons, water and the ocean play a large role in several pieces, Driever said. The show also features cityscapes, some of which are densely cluttered, with the buildings and streets pushed to the forefront of the composition. Artists such as Joherms Quiala Brooks obviously draw on the Surrealist movement and Salvador Dali as inspiration, Driever pointed out.The show is appropriate to the community as "there's a very large Spanish population in Queens," Driever said. The exhibit can be entertaining for those who are familiar with Cuban culture, and evocative and educational for those who are not, since some of the pieces also refer to the complex and controversial relationship between the United States and Cuba."There's an embargo between the U.S. and Cuba, so we don't do business with them essentially," Driever said. "Brooks has a piece called 'My Uncle Who Arrived from The North,' which shows an image of a dollar sign wrapped around a telephone pole, with the uncle touching, and it's meant to show how the American dollar is influencing the economy or the life in Cuba and the negative effects of this. Cubans do try to come to the U.S. for a better life. Could that mean he came back from Florida and that's why he has the U.S. dollar that he's pointing to?"The show was put together and sent around the country by the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C., an organization that seeks to educate people about global issues, and by the Eastern Cuban Cultural Exchange, which fosters collaboration between American artists and Eastern Cuban artists.The library will offer free tours to the public on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m. Tours for school groups can also be arranged, Driever said. The Queens Library is located at 89-11 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica. For more information, visit the their Web site at www.queenslibrary.org or phone 718-990-0700.Reach contributing writer Danielle Winterton by e-mail at qguide@gmail.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 ext. 141.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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