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Chévere! Latin American Inspired Artworks And Poems

Chévere is a group art and poetry show at Sirona Fine Art during Miami Art Basel week, December 3rd, 2016. Chévere's artists and poets hail mostly from the United States with a mixture of Cuba, Mexico, Latin America, Spain, and Australia. Check out all the works featured in the show at the gallery's Artsy page. Introduction by Daniel Maidman.

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In the early 1990's I spent a few weeks in a Nicaraguan beach town helping a group of American volunteers build an elementary school. I fell in love with the town, with the people, and with the culture: it's hard not to love a place where kids dance on the schoolyard at recess and climb the local mango trees to grab their lunch. Of course I didn't know just how much I loved the place until my return flight landed at LAX. The shock of bland American efficiency and the bored and pinched faces I saw in the waiting areas were a grim contrast to the open friendliness and easy social vibe that I had left in Latin America. Nicaragua and its people were chévere: cool, positive and colorful. Although there is some debate about just where the word chévere came from—along with spirit it affirms—the consensus seems to be that it has its roots in Afro-Caribbean culture. One theory is that it came from one Nigeria, perhaps from the Igbo word sebede ("dandy"), or possibly the Efik word chébere ("bully"). The word was likely spread across Latin America by Cuban culture—Cuba is considered the first beating heart of Afro-Caribbean culture—through Mambo songs played on the radio. After Cuba became cut off from the world in the early 1960s, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic kept the fire of Afro-Caribbean culture burning, and chévere—both the word and the attitude—kept on spreading. For example, the very danceable hit "El Pavo Real" (The Peacock), recorded in 1970 by the Venezuelan crooner José Luis Rodríguez, has several bright choruses of "chévere - chévere - chévere - chévere" punctuating the last bars of the song. The idea behind the group exhibition Chévere, organized by Cuban-born editor/curator Didi Menendez, was to showcase works which are inspired by, or reflect the Romance Languages of Latin America. "My original intent for the show was to bring a culture—a culture which carries the Latin American spirit—to the art world. It's a spirit which many of our museums and cultural institutions seem to lack or bypass." Chévere makes a terrific title-word as it has very flexible meanings and it's a generous word that people from any cultural background can respond to. It's an ambiguous, poetic, multi-faceted word that ignites personal associations and meanings when offered to creative people. When asked what "chévere" means to them, and what it generated in their work, the artists in this exhibition had a variety of heartfelt, intuitive and emotional responses.

Yunior Hurtado Torres, CUBA

Esperando La LuzOil on Canvas60 × 60 in
Yunior Hurtado Torress / Via

Esperando La Luz

Oil on Canvas

60 × 60 in

Miranda Graham, UNITED STATES

St. Julia and the BullOil on Canvas60 1/2 × 60 1/2 in
Miranda Graham / Via

St. Julia and the Bull

Oil on Canvas

60 1/2 × 60 1/2 in

Irvin Rodriguez, UNITED STATES

Woman in BlackOil on linen40 × 30 in
Irvin Rodriguez / Via

Woman in Black

Oil on linen

40 × 30 in

Victoria Selbach, UNITED STATES

I am ChévereOil on Panel (one of 54 paintings)54 × 54 in
Victoria Selbach / Via

I am Chévere

Oil on Panel (one of 54 paintings)

54 × 54 in

Erin Anderson, UNITED STATES

Felix Looking Backward, Looking ForwardOil on Copper36 × 30 in
Erin Anderson / Via

Felix Looking Backward, Looking Forward

Oil on Copper

36 × 30 in

Debra Livingston, AUSTRALIA

Woman on FireDigital Chromatic Ink on Photographic paper46 4/5 × 30 1/10 in
Debra Livingston / Via

Woman on Fire

Digital Chromatic Ink on Photographic paper

46 4/5 × 30 1/10 in


Havana’s Finest, 2016Portrait painted in oil on wood panel, Constructed wooden box frame, fabric, leather, 23k gold leaf lettering, brass hardware, authentic humidor, cigars purchased in Havana, Cuba.60 × 41 × 4 in
Jules Arthur / Via

Havana’s Finest, 2016

Portrait painted in oil on wood panel, Constructed wooden box frame, fabric, leather, 23k gold leaf lettering, brass hardware, authentic humidor, cigars purchased in Havana, Cuba.

60 × 41 × 4 in

Santiago Corral, MEXICO

Nothing LeftOil on Canvas47 1/2 × 59 in
Santiago Corral / Via

Nothing Left

Oil on Canvas

47 1/2 × 59 in

Eloy Morales, SPAIN

I Have a Sad BeautyOil on Canvas57 × 44 in
Eloy Morales / Via

I Have a Sad Beauty

Oil on Canvas

57 × 44 in

Joseph Lorusso, UNITED STATES

GlanceOil on Panel8 × 10 in
Joseph Lorusso / Via


Oil on Panel

8 × 10 in

Sugarcane Season by Kelsey Robarts

Poem by Kelsey Robarts. Painting by Elsa Muñoz.

Boy in Green

Oil on Panel

24 × 24 in

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