The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum presents Voices of the Island: The Cuban Art Collection of Reynier Llanes, opening Thursday, Jan. 15.
When artist Reynier Llanes moved to Charleston, SC, in 2009, he brought his artistic inspiration with him: his home in Pinar del Rio, a mountainous, biologically and artistically rich region at the westernmost end of Cuba. Passionate about sharing his cultural heritage with his new country, he has done so not only through his own artwork, evoking themes and images from his upbringing, but also by collecting and selling the works of other artists from Pinar del Rio.
Voices of the Island features 55 works by 18 artists (including Llanes), all of whom are from Cuba and most of whom are still living there. The works are all part of Llanes’ personal collection. Though the artists’ styles and subject matter vary greatly, most share several common themes – a strong link to the Cuban culture and landscape, an emphasis on family or unity, and reflection on contemporary Cuban society. There are landscapes, abstract pieces, portraits, still lifes and more.
“I am committed to the discipline of collecting art that reflects my values and tastes,” says Llanes, “with a special interest on the contemporary art and artists of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, my home town.”
Llanes works in oils, charcoal, watercolor and, most notably, coffee. He discovered the drink’s use as a painting medium by accident when he was still living in Cuba. “One day I was drawing and drinking some coffee, and I spilled the coffee on the drawing. I didn’t think I could work much more with the damage, but when it dried I was like, ‘Wow! I can paint with coffee like it’s watercolor,'” he says. An exhibition of Llanes’ coffee paintings was featured at the Art Museum in 2011.
In addition to works by Reynier Llanes, exhibited artists will include Pedro Pablo Oliva, Ulises Bretaña, Javier Ampudia, Livan Hernandez, Lores Arquimides, Yaciel Martinez, Danys Ozuna, Juan Suarez, Martha Camacho, Juan C. Morales and others.
An opening reception for Voices of the Island and Swim: An Artist’s Journey, an exhibition of paintings by Charles Williams running concurrently, will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15. The reception, open to the public, will feature gallery talks by Llanes and Williams beginning at 6:00.The reception is Free for Museum members and $10 for non members. Both exhibits run through April 23.
Admission to the Art Museum is free at all times but donations are welcome. The Museum is located at 3100 S. Ocean Blvd. For more information, 843-238-2510 or www.MyrtleBeachArtMuseum.org.