"He doesn't fit in anywhere," says painter Carlos Suarez de Jesus about his Cuban-American colleague Sergio Garcia. "He's constantly struggling with a sense of otherness." Suarez de Jesus could very well be referring to himself, his equally creative wife Vivian Marthell, and the posse of artists who show at their space, lab6, planted firmly in the heart of Little Havana. Receiving little if any support from the local art establishment, lab6 has been doing its own thing and doing it well for the past two years.
Not ones to sell out, the lab6ers have nevertheless moved up in the world and consolidated their position, while maintaining a fiercely independent spirit. ("We try to be innovative -- and genuine," Suarez de Jesus notes.) They've partnered with Susan Caraballo of artist-nurturing organization Artemis and shifted their studio and gallery upstairs to a high-ceilinged, gleaming white 3000-square-foot space. The downstairs area once occupied by lab6 now houses Artemis's PS 742, relocated from the fringes of Calle Ocho and revamped as a black-box theater coupled with an exhibit area. This weekend a show of large paintings by Sergio Garcia dubbed "TransTorment" inaugurates the two venues. Also on Saturday, Surreal Saturday reignites. A monthly series described as a "multigenre foray into the unexpected," the event encompasses music, theater, dance, spoken word, and more.
While Suarez de Jesus characterizes his friend Garcia as "an existential time bomb ready to go off," perhaps the same could be said for the art scene brewing under the auspices of lab6 and Artemis. "We're in it for the long haul, and this is our community," Suarez de Jesus says. "It's not only about being popular in the art world. It's about what we're going to be in five or ten years in terms of a community, in terms of artistic growth."