December 2017

WORDS Kathleen Boyle

“The function of the gallery is to teach visitors about different cultures and to promote diversity through the arts with our exhibits,” stated Jorge Yances, director of Ceiba Gallery. Nestled in Woodbine’s Plaza Mariachi, Ceiba Gallery is part of the Hispanic Family Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to elevating the city’s Latino community.

“We feature artists from all over the world but particularly those who are from or have strong ties to countries in Latin America,” explained Yances. Yet even with this relatively specific scope that directs his curatorial practices, Yances still faces a recurring hurdle that both challenges and motivates the exhibitions at Ceiba Gallery: adequately conveying the breadth of artistic diversity that is occurring within the Latin American art community itself.

Sheyla Paz Hicks, Teatro Nacional-La Havana

“Unfortunately, many people too often generalize Latin cultures simply because of the common Spanish language,” recognized Yances. “But what they don’t understand is that the art is very different between countries even in the same regions of the world. We like to showcase these artistic differences in our exhibits and through free public programs in the gallery.”

The latest exhibit at Ceiba Gallery is titled Here and Now and features the work of two artists of Cuban descent: Joaquin Pomes, who continues to reside in Cuba, and Sheyla Paz Hicks, who relocated to Nashville from Cuba seventeen years ago. In maintaining the interest of artistic diversity, Here and Now is an exhibition that demonstrates how artists can maintain very distinct aesthetics despite sharing similar heritage.

Joaquin Pomes, Cerradura de la Vida, Ink on paper, 21″ x 15″

Yances considers himself quite fortunate to show Joaquin Pomes in Nashville. Having been introduced to his work through an art dealer based out of Washington, DC, Yances noted that political complications hinder the access to and transportation of artwork from Cuba to the United States. However, such efforts are worth the process, for the opportunity to view Pomes’s artwork is truly a rare treat for the Nashville community.

Pomes’s pen-and-ink drawings are advanced linear abstractions that meld elements of geometric pattern, planar figuration, and symbols into compositions that dance between indigenous and surrealist imagery. A self-taught artist with an advanced degree in Industrial Economics, Pomes began drawing as a hobby when he was a child. It wasn’t until a family friend shared Pomes’s drawings with painter Antonio Diaz that he was encouraged to exhibit his work in the public sphere.

Joaquin Pomes, Mi Torre de Babel, Ink on paper, 15”x 11”

The collection of Pomes’s drawings on view for Here and Now offers us examples of both his works in color and in black and white, the latter of which is his preferred palette due to “white representing light and the coming together of two colors, and black [as] the sum of colors.” Measuring in dimensions that do not exceed a standard leaf of newsprint, Pomes executes an impressive congregation of deliberate marks so minute in detail that their sum, though stagnant, is active in its address of deep artistic precision and thus concentration. Pomes’s work articulates planning, as though he makes no mistakes in forms that first seem to be happenstance meanderings tangled in intricacy, testaments to the mysteries of a calculating mind.

Offering a strong contrast to Pomes’s drawings is an assortment of digital photographs on canvas by Cuban-born, Nashville-based artist Sheyla Paz Hicks. Delivering to her viewers glimpses of “a day in the life of a Cuban,” Paz Hicks takes photographs of everyday urban scenes witnessed during her various visits to Cuba over the last decade. Highlighting subjects such as classic cars, merchants, and cityscapes, Hicks’s work is inspired travel photography informed by a local’s eye, with a further-enhanced neon color palette to exude the heat and vibrancy of Cuban culture.

Sheyla Paz Hicks, Sin Titulo

“I hope that my work enlightens people to learn more about our culture,” Hicks has said about her artistic motivations. “I want people to visit Cuba and see it with their own eyes, and hopefully this exhibit will inspire them to do so.”

Here and Now is open at Ceiba Art Gallery in Plaza Mariachi through January 7. For more information, visit www.ceibagallery.com.

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