Cuba on Canvas

The island's new wave of artists is abuzz about an exhibit that will be seen throughout the United States -- though probably not in Miami

"The visual arts in Miami are so fragile and delicate and so hungry that we need to have the whole community behind them," Snitzer explains. "You're not in a position where you can afford to alienate 50 percent of the community. I've had those choices to show art directly from Cuba, but I didn't feel it was worth pissing people off. If people want to see Cuban art, they can go to Phoenix or New York, or Christ, they can go to Cuba. You're really not going to change anything by bringing it here, so I say don't do it."

Zeitlin says she understands the myriad emotions this show might arouse in Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits. "We're not pursuing it all that assiduously," she says of a potential Miami venue. "We don't want to push anybody about it, because it's a bigger risk for them than anybody else."

But in fact, local museum officials contend that the political implications of the show have little or no bearing on why no Miami venue has been found for the Arizona show. "Of course you could do a Cuban show in Miami," asserts Dahlia Morgan, director of the art museum at Florida International University, who reports that she has received no information about the ASU exhibit. "I don't imagine there'd be any problem at all from our perspective at the university, not at all." Like Delehanty, Morgan says her exhibition schedule is already booked far in advance with locally pertinent exhibitions, including a retrospective of the work of celebrated Miami-based Cuban artist Jose Bedia.

Bonnie Clearwater, who is gearing up for the season at North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art, says a Cuban survey is not the type of exhibition that would interest her. "We don't usually do a one-country show," she says. "I never even think of nationality when I'm curating an exhibition."

Bass Museum of Art director Diane Camber also has little enthusiasm for the idea of taking the ASU show, but on other grounds. The Bass, located in Miami Beach, is currently undergoing substantial construction and will restrict its exhibition schedule for the next couple of years. Most openings have already been booked. She does envision showing the work of artists from Cuba in the future. "I don't think we're going to do it any time soon," Camber says. "But I was in Havana in the Fifties and I'd love to go back. I've decided that when we're ready, we'll do our own Cuban show."

Judy Cantor contributed to this article.

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