Historic Trip to Document Cuba through “Plein Air” Paintings Planned for Largest Group of Artists Ever Allowed in Cuba

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PleinAir magazine next month will host a group of 100 painters in a visit to document Cuba as it appears today, before the inevitable changes that will come with the opening of the nation to American trade and tourism.

This is not only historic because of the size of the group, but because it includes some of America’s finest artists, who will paint Cuba as it is today.

For the first time in history, as a result of the pending release of trade and travel embargoes, a group of 100 American artists are being allowed into Cuba to document Havana and the surrounding areas as they are today, prior to the gentrification and development that will result from increased tourism once the island is opened to Americans.

“Never in the history of Cuba has a large group of artists landed there to paint,” says PleinAir magazine publisher B. Eric Rhoads. “This is not only historic because of the size of the group, but because it includes some of America’s finest artists, who will paint Cuba as it is today. These paintings will hang in homes and museums as a reminder of how Cuba was before the developers and commercialism came in.”

The artists will visit Cuba February 6-13, 2016. Though individual artists and small groups of artists have traveled to Cuba, at no time in history has a group of artists this size been allowed in with the specific purpose of painting Cuba as historical documentation. The artists will spend the week traveling and painting the colorful, patina-covered buildings, the charming and classical architecture, the colorful classic automobiles that remain in use, the lush countryside, and Hemingway's colorful fishing villages. Much of it is perfectly preserved, so this trip will be like stepping back in time.

Rhoads continues, “As this beautiful country allows more visitors, rapid change is certain to follow and the unspoiled character could be replaced by T-shirt and frozen-yogurt shops like most other high-traffic tourist locations. As the embargo is lifted and tourism from America increases, Cuba will become a target destination and corporations will descend on Cuba to commercialize it. This is the last chance to document Cuba in paintings as it has been, untouched for decades.”

Art galleries around the country are organizing shows surrounding these historic paintings, which will be done on the streets of Cuba this coming February. The artists taking this journey will not only be capturing the beauty of today’s Cuba, but will use their paintings and this experience to educate others about Cuba’s rich history before the rush for modernization begins.

By capturing the nation’s daily life and stunning countryside, and the amazing Cuban people, these paintings, and the experiences of these forward-thinking artists, will tell the story of today’s Cuba for generations to come.

Artists who paint outdoors on location are known as plein air painters (plein air is a French term for art created outdoors, first used when describing Monet and the Impressionists). These artists are known for documenting landscapes around the world — landscapes that may later be subject to development — so future generations can visit museums and view what these areas once looked like.

This historic event was organized by PleinAir magazine, a bi-monthly publication that covers the popular movement of artists around the world who paint outdoors and on location. The magazine will document the event with photographs and create an exhibit surrounding this historic event at its upcoming April Plein Air Convention, a gathering of about 1,000 artists who gather to paint and learn.

(Photographs will be made available for press requesting coverage.)

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B. Eric Rhoads
@PleinAirMag
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