STEALING BASE: Cuba at Bat is a visual exploration of baseball through the varied perspectives of Cuban-born artists, and will be on view at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art through December 7, 2014.
Arlés del Rio, Untitled from the series Esperando que caigan las cosas del cielo or Deporte nacional (Hoping That Things Fall from the Sky or National Sport), 2012. Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection.
The exhibition, part of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Exhibition Series, features works by 16 established and emerging artists: Jesoviel Abstengo-Chaviano, Alejandro Aguilera, Carlos Cárdenas, Yunier Hernández Figueroa, Duniesky Martín, Frank Ernesto Martínez González, Bernardo Navarro Tomas, Juan Padrón, Douglas Pérez Castro, Arlés del Rio, Perfecto Romero, Reynerio Tamayo, José Angel Toirac, Harold Vázquez Ley, Villalvilla, and Quisqueya Henríquez. Mr. Rubin is a 1956 alumnus of Oglethorpe University.
The exhibition is curated by Rachel Perera Weingeist, director and curator of The 8th Floor in New York, and Elizabeth Peterson, director of the OU Museum of Art, with an exhibition essay by Orlando Hernández, a Havana-based curator. The original exhibition concept was the result of a long collaboration between Weingeist and Hernández that culminated in the summer of 2013 at The 8th Floor Gallery in New York.
“Baseball is today, without distinction of classes, age and sex,
the preferred diversion of all [Cubans].”
– El Sport (Havana), Sept. 2, 1886
The arrival of baseball in Cuba coincided with the emergence of the independence movement in 1868. The sport quickly became a collective emblem of national identity. A love for baseball connects Cubans across race, religion, politics and geography. Pop-flys, stolen bases, and home runs provide meaningful and accessible imagery for Cuban artists. Responding not only to the sport as national pastime, their work has further sought to convey larger complexities within Cuban society. Stealing Base presents the work of a diverse range of contemporary artists, living in Cuba and in the U.S., who have found potency in the imagery of the sport.
“Without question, baseball is a great generator of meanings,” writes Orlando Hernández in his exhibition essay. “The game can and should be used as a grand metaphor to express or to understand not only art but the very reality in which we live.”
“Baseball has played an important role in the impugning, critical, and revolutionary spirit that Cuban artists have demonstrated when faced with acts of dogmatism, official intolerance, and censorship,” Hernández concludes. “Thanks to these brave artists, we realize that the game is not over yet.”
A series of events celebrating baseball and Cuban culture will accompany the exhibition:
- September 17, 7:00 p.m., “Art, Activism & Social Justice,” by Elizabeth Peterson, Director, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. Ms. Peterson who is also an adjunct professor for a CORE Art & Culture class at OU, will explore the use of art in propaganda and protest in both Cuba and elsewhere.
- October 1, 7:00 p.m., “Ideas & Inspirations,” by Atlanta-based artist Alejandro Aguilera. Mr. Aguilera is an Atlanta-based artist creating a special installation in Stealing Base. He will talk about his personal connections to the island and how his memories play out in his art.
- October 15, 7:00 p.m., “Baseball: A Bridge for Reconciliation” by Hoji Silva Miret, a freelance consultant in leisure travel and tourism. Mr. Miret immigrated to the U.S. recently and is living in New York City. He will be talking about travel and tourism and U.S./Cuba relations.
- October 22, 7:00 p.m., “From Peter Pan to Atlanta,” by Jorge Fernandez, Vice President, Global Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber. Mr. Fernandez came to the U.S. via Miami at the age of 10 through Operation Peter Pan. He was a command pilot for the United States Air Force for 22 years, a Vice President for Delta Air Lines, and is now a Vice President for MAC. He will discuss his personal story.
- October 29, 7:00 p.m., “Snowplows in Havana: Irony in Cuban Art,” by Dr. Gail Gelburd, Professor of Art History, Eastern Connecticut State University. Dr. Gelburd curated Aijaco: Stirrings of the Cuban Soul. Her research projects focus on socio-political discourse, environmental issues, global perspectives and non-Eurocentricities.
- November 5, 7:00 p.m., “Rundown between Spain and the USA: Cuban Independence and National Identity,” by Dr. Nicholas Maher, Associate Professor of History, Oglethorpe University. Dr. Maher will lecture about the late 19th century Cuban Independence Movement and the background to Cuban national identity in navigating a path between Spanish and U.S. cultures.
OUMA is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 12 noon – 5 p.m. General admission is $5 or free with a Petrel Pass and for OUMA members and children 12 and under.