February Arts Roundup: Cuban landscape paintings, Florida sunrises, and more

From the little houses to the sunsets, there’s no questioning why the Caribbean is synonymous with bright, bold, uplifting colors. This is the kind of palette that will hit you when you visit Cuban American artist Lilian Garcia-Roig’s solo exhibition “Hyphenated Nature” at [email protected]HCC Ybor City Campus.
 
As part of the first generation that immigrated from Cuba, Garcia-Roig uses landscape painting -- mostly on-site or plein air -- as a way to make a connection to natural places in her new homeland. 
 
"Hecho con Cuba: Homage to Vinales,” a large, ten-square-panel painting, is one of the first paintings you’ll see as you enter the gallery. Drawing from her Bauhausian-centered Arts Education, specifically Josef Alber’s Homage to the Square series, the artist created her own homage, but one that combines her fascination with the relative nature of color with elements from her cultural roots.
 
“Instead of thinking purely color theory, I chose the colors for this piece based on the houses of the people that live in there. A lot of Caribbean houses are bright colors, and for a few reasons. One is that they love those colors, but a lot of people color them as bright as possible since they know that house colors fade over time and it can be hard to get paint,” Garcia-Roig says.
 
On top of those squares of color, the artist uses Cuban soil to paint the landscapes around where those houses are situated. In this way she literally superimposes the Cuban soil on top of a the Modernist grid, merging formal and personal artistic histories.
 
“I see myself using the landscape (in both perceptually and conceptually-based ways) as metaphor for displacement, or the desire to connect to a place. This is how I’m trying to insert myself into Cuban painting canon since I was never allowed to be a part of that culture and history on many levels,” the 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and Department Chair for Studio Art at FSU says.
 
On Feb. 17, the gallery will be hosting an opening reception from 5-8 p.m. for the exhibition, where Garcia-Roig will be speaking about her work and process. Since the artist lives in Tallahassee, where there aren’t as many Latinos, she especially wants to encourage the Cuban community to come out so she can build connections and have conversations about their experiences.
 
“This work doesn’t scream that I am Cuban but it is, at its core, about trying to negotiate the complex proposition of sense of place and belonging that so influence the construction of personal identity,” Garcia-Roig says. “In this show, I hope to visually hyphenate both my perceptual and conceptual approaches to experiencing and connecting to landscape through my Cuban-American lens.”
 
Learn more here: Hyphenated Nature and upcoming gallery events

More Tampa Bay Area arts events in February
 
FMoPA in Tampa -- Florida, and particularly the Tampa Bay Area, is known for its  incredible sunsets and sunrises; you never know if it’ll be a mild showing or a spectacular array of intense pinks, oranges, and yellows. If you love looking at the sky as much as I do, you’ll want to stop by Suzanne Williamson’s solo exhibition at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts called The Language of Light, which is running Feb. 4-April 3. These abstract-ish photographs hint at color field painting but are actually pictures Tampa Bay’s shoreline before and after sunrise. Find out more about the exhibition here.
 
Leepa-Rattner Museum in Tarpon Springs -- Get a twofer at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, as they now have two new exhibitions open through April 30: their 20th Anniversary exhibition Masterworks from the Collection and Greater Than 17: The Art and Influence of Stanley William Hayter and Atelier 17. For their anni celebration, the Leepa-Rattner has set aside over 70 works by artists like Picasso, Miró, and Chihuly as a highlight of the best their collection has to offer. Greater Than 17 will be digging into the innovative printmaking from Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17. If you’re looking to find out even more about this artist, make sure to mark Feb. 24 on your calendar, as the Leepa-Rattner will be hosting a gallery talk with Ann Shafer, a scholar of Hayter and his works. To find out more, visit Leepa-Rattner.
 
Creative Pinellas in Largo -- Engage your tactile, audible, and visual senses: At Creative Pinellas’s gallery, they’re looking to encourage more sensorial experiences in their newest interactive exhibition LOOK TOUCH MOVE. As a collaboration between two artists, Sharon McCaman will be presenting large-scale sculptural works in a tactile and visual experience called “Reiteration.” “Reprise” is a new choreographed work by Creative Pinellas artist laureate Helen French, where she incorporates McCaman’s sculptures into her performance. The opening reception for LOOK TOUCH MOVE will be held on Feb. 1, 6-8 p.m., with a premiere of “Reprise” on March 10. To find out more about the exhibition, go to Creative Pinellas.
 
SPAACES in Sarasota -- To honor and celebrate Black History Month, SPAACES Foundation in Sarasota is hosting a panel discussion with photo documentarian Allan Mestel (who will be showing works in his solo exhibition “No Justice, No Peace”), Ringling College of Art and Design student Jesse Clark (who will also have works at SPAACES in the exhibition “My Beautiful”), Sarasota Herald-Tribune journalist Samantha Ghola, and Visible Men Academy CEOP Louis Parker. The panel discussion will be on Feb. 12 at 10 a.m. To find out more, email gallery owner Marianne Chapel or visit SPAACES on Facebook

MainStage Theatre in Tampa -- Sometimes, it takes action for words to take effect, especially with a topic as controversial as climate change. In this case, that action is performance with the new multidisciplinary dance piece Interglacial by NYC-based choreographer Laura Peterson at Hillsborough Community College's MainStage Theatre. With performances being held on Feb. 11 & 12, attendees will delve into the frosty depths of the Arctic and explore the human impacts on Mother Earth. Performances are free for HCC students, faculty, and staff, and $15 for everyone else. To find out more, visit MainStage Theatre
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website. Visit her recent line of inlay “wearable paintings.”