Busy month at Marco arts includes paintings with a message, witty play with a moral
'Here and There'
This art may not fit your living room. But it may fit your consciousness — not like a warm glove, but like the fingernail dug into your palm to remind you of the fragility of freedom.
The Marco Island Center for the Arts has brought in six Cuban-born artists for "Here and There," an exhibition that juxtaposes a Cuban understanding of life under dictatorship with their new life in a nation scant miles away. The show is curated by Alejandro Simon, a former gallery professional and college professor who has made it his mission to represent Cuban artists in the U.S.
These artists, he said, had to win their right to even study art by showing an early aptitude.
"When they create works they really want to say something," he said. "They really want to make a bold statement. They don't want to create pretty art for a wall.
"Since they live on a very tiny and oppressed island they use art as a way to free themselves from this oppression that they live in. They use art in that context."
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His point is quickly apparent in the art from Raciel Gomez Golpe, a series of forbidding walls and doors, boarded over, patched, defaced with graffiti, in near photo-realism.
Just to his left are works that look to real life for their models, but distort them in caricatures, such as the bird of fork tines nestled between two bananas in "Sweet Blocking" from Cale (Carlos Leandro Suarez Crespo). The fruit is ready for a sweet taste, but the tines have no handles with which to reach it.
Juan Manuel Garcia (Juanma) paints pastoral environments — shorelines, islands and forests — with a stone presence of Cuban poet-hero José Marti in them, in conjunction with landmarks or in contrast to military warships. Jose Luis Bermudez's works are downright chilling in their depiction of censorship as an ever-tightening wrap, sometimes faintly tinted with the color of blood.
The exhibition came here after the center's "By Virtue of Place" exhibition in November 2018, when Simon's art caught the eye of Executive Director Hyla Crane. Simon told her of the group of artists he was assembling, and offered to send her examples.
"I was thrilled to work with them," she said. "This group is so esoteric. They are so educated. They are so smart as well as being talented."
Crane has interviewed Simon for a segment on the center's YouTube channel, and Simon will return for a gallery reception Nov. 10.
What: Cuban-born artists exhibition in the Lauritzen Gallery; works by Olga Tkachyk in La Petite Galerie in October, by Deb Crine in November;
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m Mondays-Fridays now through Nov. 20; there is a gallery reception 5:30-7 p.m. Nov. 10, with reservations required by calling the center;
Where: Marco Island Center for the Arts, 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island 34145
Information: marcoislandart.org or 239-394-4221
Social distancing: Masks mandatory indoors and reservations for all receptions are required
Something else: Short subject award winners from the 3-Minute Film Festival and the International Fine Arts Film Festival will be introduced by Lynn Holley, former Marco Island Center for the Arts executive director, now based in Hollywood. She is a founding director of both festivals; the shorts will be streamed live to the center's Facebook and YouTube pages at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 28. Donations are accepted.
And something lighthearted: Diane Shagott of "Hats to Di For" offers a workshop on how to create cockades, those ornate pleated circles of ribbon, anchored by a central item, in time for the holidays. The virtual workshop is 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Oct. 29; $70 for members, $85 others. See the Marco Island Center for the Arts website for details and registration.
In a Broadway nod to what we pray ultimately happens inside the Beltway, a corrupt businessman's attempts to bribe a congressman explode in his face.
It's thanks to the girlfriend he dismisses as ditzy — so ditzy, in fact, that he hires a journalist to teach her grammar and manners for Washington, D.C., refinement. That's mistake No. 2, or No. 3 if we include his palm-greasing scheme. The Garson Kanin classic, "Born Yesterday," takes it all in with a blend of wisecracks and wisdom, and true love that wins in the end. The Marco Players' production of the Broadway perennial opens its season Wednesday, Oct. 28.
While most people may be familiar with the 1950 movie, starring Judy Holliday, Van Johnson and Broderick Crawford, this production is based on the 1946 play, and it will doubtlessly have the playwright's best interests at heart in the production: There's a playwright in it.
Joe Simonelli, who plays the heavy, Harry Brock, has more than 20 plays to his credit, and his works are favorites with the Players, who have produced "Heaven Help Me," "Where There's a Will" and "Old Ringers." In fact, when Simonelli moved to Southwest Florida, he even joined the theater's board of directors.
But he'll be following some famous stars in that role, which returns to Broadway nearly every 10 years because of its popularity. Jim Belushi and Ed Asner both have played Brock. And for one revival, a famous playwright, Tom Stoppard ("The Real Inspector Hound," "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead"), directed it.
Those who are concerned about coming to the theater can check the Players' website for the link to its seating chart, which will stagger seats from row to row in groups of two — "There are some singles available, too," offered marketing assistant Linda Ickes — and all surfaces, from armrests to bathrooms, are wiped down before the theater opens.
Patrons will be required to wear face covering, and Marco Players will have disposables available for those who may have forgotten their own.
Any exits for intermission or post-show will be in rows, led by ushers, Ickes said. The actors and crew also don masks any time they are backstage, and have been working with modified staging in rehearsal. The entire production has been constantly aware of staying within protocols because of coronavirus potential, she added.
"We want to stay open but we want to maintain a quality of life for our patrons, our actors and the entire community around us," she said.
What: Comedy-romance classic "Born Yesterday," by Garson Kanin, presented by The Marco Players
When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 28 to Nov. 8
Where: Marco Town Center Mall, 1089 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, FL 34145
To buy: www.TheMarcoPlayers.com or 239-642-7270
Social distancing: Masks are required in all indoor spaces, and seats are designated to maintain social distances
Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.