Art by Montebravo. Photo credit: Cuban Art Space
It's legal to import art from Cuba, but that didn't happen by accident. More than a decade ago, the Center for Cuban Studies in New York organized a lawsuit against the Treasury Department.
Lawyer Michael Krinsky, the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee and joined in and were successful, making it legal to bring in art from Cuba despite the longtime U.S. ban on trade.
A little non-profit center called the Cuban Art Space opened to show nothing but Cuban art. It had no money, so its director, Sandra Levinson, went to Los Angeles in July 1999 and held a fundraiser and art sale. Some big names in Hollywood pitched in. Among them: Harry Belafonte, Francis Coppola, Benicio del Toro, Danny Glover, Jack Lemmon, Sidney Lumet, Cheech Marin, Jack Nicholson, Gregory Peck, Sydney Pollack and others.
The event brought in $50,000 and Levinson used that money to open a gallery on West 23rd Street almost 10 years ago - on Sept. 8, 1999. Since then, Cuban Art Space has presented 75 exhibits of Cuban art.
The center has also moved into smaller quarters on 29th Street in New York and plans an exhibit there next month. It will display work by José de Jesús García Montebravo. He's 55 and is a self-taught painter from Cienfuegos.
He goes by the name Montebravo and is known for paintings showing images related to Santería.
Along the Malecon's Art & photography page