Arena 1 gallery at Santa Monica Art Studios

“We’ve been wanting to do this for at least ten years,” says Sandra Levinson about the first Cuban Art Space exhibition to be presented in Los Angeles. “It’s a place where I felt there was a real interest, not only in art in general but in Cuba, and I was always surprised there wasn’t more going on.”

From Saturday, October 17 through November 21, the L.A. area will see a substantial uptick in Cuban art and culture, as Cuban Art Space West debuts at Arena 1, the gallery space of the Santa Monica Art Studios.

With an estimated 50 to 60 works in mixed media, the show will fill Arena 1’s 2,400-square-foot exhibition space. Although the final checklist is not yet confirmed, visitors can expect to see work by such artists as Abel Barroso, Kcho, Roberto Diago, Manuel Mendive, Sandra Ceballos, and Mabel Poblet, as well as some who are less well known to North American audiences.

Among them is Dagoberto Driggs Dumois, whose work was spotted in a gallery in Holguín. “The region around Holguín was a major sugar-producing area,” Levinson explains, “and his work is made from pieces of abandoned sugar mills and ties from the railroads that took the sugar to market.”

A work by Dagoberto Diggs Dumois
Courtesy Cuban Art Space

Other artists in the show include Guillermo Estrada Viera, whose fragments of female angels are constructed from aluminum school-lunch trays and ration books, and Adrian Rumbaut, a Cienfuegos artist well known on the island.

Guillermo Estrada-Viera with one of his angel sculptures
Courtesy Cuban Art Space

To make Cuban Art Space West a reality, Levinson teamed up with Miles Mogulescu, a Los Angeles entertainment lawyer with an interest in Cuban art. Together, they decided that a pop-up at an established art space was the best starting point. The show’s opening date, October 17, coincides with Santa Monica Art Studios’ annual open house, an event that draws thousands of visitors over the weekend.

Programming for Cuban Art Space West will include documentary and feature films. “I want to take advantage of the people who are living out there,” says Levinson, adding that she’s planning to present films like The Man of Two Havanas with its filmmaker, Vivien Weisman, and Unfinished Spaces with co-director Alysa Nahmias.

“We’ll have a book party for Lorne Resnick’s new photography book, due out October 15th,” she says. “I think we’re going to have a reception with Chucho Valdés and his musicians who happen to be playing there October 20.”

Cuban Art Space West will remain open in Arena 1 of the Santa Monica Art Studios October 17 through November 21. The 11th anniversary Open Studios event takes place Saturday, October 17, 6–9 p.m., and Sunday, October 18, 1–5 p.m.

Arena 1 is an exhibition space founded by Santa Monica Art Studios directors Yossi Govrin and Sherry Frumkin. Based in an historic hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, Arena 1 invites internationally known as well as newly established curators to develop innovative and compelling exhibitions.

Cuban Art Space West