We were invited to come to an art exhibition by the owner of an art gallery, our friend Naydu Commenoz. Her Commenoz Gallery has been in Key Biscayne longer than we have been living here in South Florida. She specializes in Contemporary Art.
Please allow a disclaimer: My knowledge of contemporary art is almost zero. Another disclaimer: Me at an art exhibition is like throwing a fish into the boat, I almost do not know what to do other than flop around…
The exhibition (called “Travel Tales”) was to promote two artists: painter Joaquin Gonzales and sculptor Phillip Stapleton. The exhibition took place on Thursday, February 9. If I had to guess, I would say there were something over 60 people there on a gloomy and rainy evening. Here is a photo of the artists and Naydu:
From left to right are Phillip Stapleton, Naydu Commenoz and Joaquin Gonzalez.
Below is a photo taken when there were a bunch of people looking around:
Hey, single fellas! More women show up to art exhibitions then men do, hey, ya know just sayin’…
The exhibition was a great success… Naydu herself told me that she sold some pieces that very evening. Moving product, now that is success!
The Art Critic for “El Nuevo Herald” (the Spanish edition of The Miami Herald) even came by. Mr. Carlos Luis (the critic) wrote a glowing review of the paintings of Joaquin Gonzales. Mr. Luis has followed this artist for some time and liked what we saw that evening. Mr. Luis wrote about all this stuff HE saw in Gonzalez’s work that I missed, but he IS an art critic…
Gonzalez paints abstract paintings about things he sees in the eastern Peruvian jungles and essentially all of them were his takes on the natural beauty he has encountered there in the Peruvian Upper Amazon. The below photo shows two of his pictures (“Musica Amazonica” (right) and to the left “Pesca” – latter means “fishing”):
Soon after securing my first glass of wine, I went to examine the art on display. At that moment, I knew nothing about either artist. Eventually I arrived at a painting called “Rio Ucayali”, a major tributary of the Amazon (in fact, the name of the Amazon River “starts” where the Ucayali and the Marañon join near Iquitos, Peru). Seeing that name “Rio Ucayali” sent a jolt through me, as I had been on that very river in 1981 during my first trip to Peru (same trip where I met the girl who went on to become my wife). I immediately thought: “man, do I need to meet this guy!” So, I asked Naydu to point him out to me. And then I went over to converse with Mr. Gonzalez. We talked in Spanish, and I told him about my experience on that river. He then replied that ALL of his paintings there were about nature in that part of Peru. And that he spends lots of time there. He and I then shared a smile when I told him about how pretty I had found the native Shipibo women were back in 1981… We went on to talk about Peru and various things he looks for to inspire him in his work (one of which is legal in Peru, but let’s leave it that, OK?).
The below picture shows three more of his paintings: “Mujeres” (“Women”, so yeah I believe him when he said he thought the locals were pretty…), “Calor” (“Heat”) and “Rio Ucayali”.
That picture “Rio Ucayali” may not look much like a river, but it is of course my favorite, having brought that trip back to life for me from over 30 years ago…
If you look at his paintings, there are certain motifs that recur. These are natural phenomena (birds grouping together in the evening) and instruments (fish traps for example) that the natives there use.
Also introduced there at her gallery were some sculptures of Phillip Stapleton (hey, Steve, Vicki and Caroline, I did not get a chance to ask him if he was one of “those Stapletons”, LOL…).
Stapleton (who was not discussed in Carlos Luis’s review) makes creations out of old appliances and other familiar objects, here is his “Cricket”:
He also had a fun “Dragonfly” on display, but I do not have that picture.
Any of you coming to the Miami area and who are interested in art should consider a short trip to Key Biscayne to see these artworks. The show runs until March 15.
328 Crandon Blvd., # 218
Key Biscayne, FL 33149