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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Havana Revisited at Arts Festival Gallery


The Coconut Grove Arts Gallery has a special exhibition this month called Havana Revisited by photographer Cathryn Griffith. Cathryn was down from her home in Boston to meet and greet folks at Saturday's FAM night opening of her work.

The exhibit is amazing in so many ways. The art itself portrays Cuban buildings and street scenes that were recreated from old post cards. After Cathryn's husband passed away, she took up photography, one thing led to another and she ended up buying old Cuban post cards. She started with a set she purchased in Paris and then over the years, she purchased whatever she could find online, mostly on sites like Ebay. The next thing you know, she started visiting Cuba and over 16 trips, she managed to find the original locations of the scenes on the post cards she collected.



The art exhibit shows in a single frame, both images -- the original post card and the photo of the same scene today. In most cases, the same building or monument looks exactly the same. While most of Cuba is falling apart, these images showed old buildings in good shape. During the Q&A portion of the evening, one man in the gallery brought up the fact that Cathryn is glorifying these beautiful buildings while ignoring the buildings that are falling down, which seems to be in most of the country. But as Cathryn reminded him, her photographs are replicas of the images in post cards and post cards mostly consist of government buildings, museums, monuments and things of that nature. Not many post cards depict houses or apartment buildings or stores. 


To make up for the omission, Cathryn made a 25 minute video explaining the situation.

In all, Cathryn has 600 sets of images over her 16 trips to Cuba. She told of how the Cuban people all enjoyed helping her find the locations when they could, especially the many taxi drivers she used to get around the island.

The exhibit will be at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival Gallery until the end of the month. They are open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm, at the Mayfair Atrium (by the bull sculpture). 

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