By Sylvan Hardy
One of the first things that expats Sally Lincoln and Al Jennings noticed when they moved to Cuenca was the high quality of work produced by the city’s artists. Since both have had long careers in the arts in the U.S., they also noticed that there was a serious shortage of gallery space for young and emerging artists to exhibit their work.
“There are many wonderful artists here who have trouble getting their work in front of the public,” said Lincoln, noting that Cuenca is home to a large community of home-grown and foreign artists, not to mention art programs at four of the city’s universities. “Al and I saw a need and decided to fill it,” she said.
The result is Galeria Ombligo at 7-38 Coronel Talbot in the historic district. The gallery hosts its first show beginning Thursday, February 12, with the opening scheduled from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. The exhibit will continue for two weeks.
“We are an event-based gallery,” says Jennings. “We don’t plan to represent artists on an on-going basis or be full-time. We’re planning to offer four events a year, each one with an opening, with works displayed for two weeks afterward. Each event will present new artists and new themes,” he says.
Lincoln, an artist who divides her time between Pueblo, Colorado and Cuenca, helped establish a community artist’s gallery in Pueblo and thinks the same concept can be applied to Cuenca. “New artists need to be able to show their work and to meet the public and, in Cuenca, they often have trouble breaking into the established public galleries,” she says.
Lincoln adds that the problem is not confined to Cuencano artists but affects expat artists too. “Foreign artists, including English-speaking ones, face the same problem,” she says. “One of our goals is to bring the North American and Latin American arts communities together,” she adds.
Jennings, who has been a New York art dealer and teacher, says another of his and Lincoln’s objective is to create a communication network that will help promote new artists. “We not only want to provide an exhibition area for artists, whatever their origin or medium, but get the word out about their work,” he says. “We will do this by word of mouth, developing personal relationships and working with businesses to expand awareness. We will also use local news media and social media, such as Facebook, to do this,” he says.
The artists exhibited in Galeria Ombligo’s first show, beginning Thursday, are Christian Morocho (wire sculpture), Augusto Ayala (handmade jewelry), Miriam Drake (landscape oil painting), Francisco Rojas (digital art), Carlos Bustos (hand-engraved metal frames), Barbara VanAbel (weavings), Amadeo Vasquez (tradition metal housetop crosses), and Ricky Nuñez (oil and mural painting).
The opening is free and open to the public.