When Sonia Punin established Art Cuenca in late 2011, her goal was simple. “I wanted to bring artists and art lovers together in Cuenca,” she says.
Although Cuenca enjoys a reputation as Ecuador’s arts capital, Punin saw a problem.
“Even though we have several artists with international reputations, and many others who struggle to get their work in front of the public, the fact was that it was hard for people to get to know the artists and their work,” she says. In particular, Punin wanted to introduce Cuenca’s growing number of expats to the local art community.
Art Cuenca began by offering art tours to the workshops and galleries of local artists including Eduardo Segovia, Manuel Tarqui, Pablo Cordero, Miriam Carpio, Tania Francisca, Miriam Drake, José and Ivan Encalada and Hernan Illescas.
Punin says she was amazed at the tours’ popularity. “We sold out almost all of our earlier tours and I realized that we were filling a real need in the community. People on the tours were seeing artists in their working environments and the artists were able to sell some of their work,” she says.
After focusing on art tours for the first year-and-a-half, Punin is now broadening Art Cuenca’s scope. In February, she opened a gallery where she can host events and showcase the work of artists who might not otherwise receive public exposure.
Currently, the gallery features an exhibit by artists and ceramicists Marie Verdijk, Juan Guillermo Vega, Pablo Cordero, Fausto Bravo, Ivan Encalada, Jorge Erazo and Ivan Webster.
In addition to getting the gallery up and running, Punin is also busy preparing for Art Cuenca’s second annual Art Cuenca Gala. In 2012, the gala was Cuenca’s “art of the event of the year,” according to many in the large crowd that turned out at Villa San Carlos.
This year’s gala is Thursday April 4, at 5 p.m., again at the Villa San Carlos on Av. Solano and Remigio Tamariz. It will feature 25 artists and designers (their work will be for sale). The price of entry includes wine and cocktails, and hors d'oeuvres prepared by artisanal chef Branden Lenz. There will be a drawing for prizes and music by members of the Cuenca Conservatory.
“The point of the gala is to let the public meet the artists and see their work. Just as importnat, it is to offer people a chance to get together and to have a good time,” says Punin.
Tickets for the gala are $22.50, available at Carolina Book Store and at the Art Cuenca gallery on Simon Bolivar & Miguel Heredia.
For more information about Art Cuenca, see www.ArtCuenca.com, or write Punin at email@example.com.
Photo captions: Sonia Punin at her gallery on Simon Bolivar and the crowd at last year's Art Gala.