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The Gallery of Contemporary Art is pleased to present an exhibit presented by the Meridian International Center of Washington, D.C. in partnership with the Eastern Cuba Cultural Exchange, featuring work by artist from the Oriente (eastern) region of Cuba beginning on June 16. Entitled Cuba Oriente: Contemporary Painting from Eastern Cuba, the exhibition includes 60 exceptionally rich and vibrant works from what is often described as the heartland of Cuban culture. The area, located over 650 miles from Havana, is not well known by Americans in general due to the complex relationship between Cuba and the United States. Cuba Oriente brings to light the stunning art of this colorful region.

The Eastern Cuba Cultural Exchange was founded by Clyde Hensley, whose travels and lifelong interest in art brought him to Eastern Cuba in 1995. Here he met many artists, working under difficult conditions with few materials, and became passionate about helping them to emerge from their regional isolation. He has since made numerous trips to the area, working with artists, cultural centers, museums and art schools in Santiago and the surrounding provinces. He has helped to aquire and bring supplies and materials to them through the Global Tapestry Foundation and amassed a large and unique collection of art from the region. Also as a result of his work, artist exchanges have developed, supported by the Eastern Cuba Cultural Exchange. Several exhibitions have been brought to the United States, most recently to Oakland, California, where both the Oakland Museum of California and the Craft and Cultural Gallery displayed works from the collection. He has recently completed a documentary on the artists. The work from his collection is touring for the first time.

The fourteen participating artists span generations. Several of the artists are self-taught. Others include a former museum director, professors and graduates of the region’s art academies. The works on display in Cuba Oriente vary in subject and style. Classical and modern styles intertwine and rich hues abound. Included are breathtaking landscapes, genre scenes, abstract works, surrealistic themes and richly imagined comments on life in Cuba. Oil, acrylic and woodcut are the primary mediums.

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