Waiting for lunch on the fourth day in Havana, the restaurant owner’s son is an artist, does he have time to show us his studio and work? Unexpected bonus! (Although later I did look at the itinerary and there was a mention of this possibility. I’d printed out the itinerary, but then the word was that things in Cuba could be pretty fluid, so once we were there I didn’t look at it. Just go with the flow, it’ll all be good.) Anyway, even if I had been reading the itinerary I wouldn’t have had any idea of what to expect. Which was probably just as well.
Frank Martinez takes historical pictures then changes them with some unexpected juxtaposition. There were lawn chairs at the moon landing, an atomic blast out of a rice cooker, a baseball player hitting a home run over the Berlin Wall, Truman in front of the Marti memorial, and many others. Most were large-scale, wall filling size. He said he uses Photoshop to create his images, then projects them and draws them in charcoal then fixes them.
He mentioned being represented by a gallery in New York, I didn’t even want to ask about prices. People asked about getting his work to the States, he said there were private shipping companies that would go through Panama and get things there in about five days. That may be a little different now.
He did speak English, but where to even start with the questions – how did he become an artist, what is the training like in Cuba, is being an artist a viable profession, how is it viewed there, what about his media and subject matter, and and and alas we didn’t have the time. It was really cool that we got to visit his studio and see his work though.