Six years ago, the Rice family’s art collection was still incipient, yet interesting. This was an eclectic collection, reflecting intuition and a growing vocation, consisting of works of different aesthetic caliber and filiations (…). One happy day they decided their next destination would be Cuba. (…)
By their second trip to Cuba, the Rices had procured all available information to help them draft a wish list of candidates for their collection. This opened up the opportunity for them to explore the work of young artists like Alex Hernández, Adrián Fernández, Frank Mujica and Niels Reyes, in addition to meeting with and acquiring works from more renowned artists like Glenda León, Esterio Segura, José A. Vincench, Ernesto Leal, to name only some. In addition, the Rices sought out living masters with an established career like Roberto Fabelo, Lázaro Saavedra, Eduardo Ponjuán, Ángel Ramírez, and, in their most providential discovery, in his studio in Pinar del Río, Pedro Pablo Oliva.
The Rices would become inevitably hooked on Cuban art. After passing on their enthusiasm to the rest of their family, many trips would follow, and the work of many other artists would enter the collection, discovered not only in Cuba but also in galleries and auction sales in Europe and the U.S. And soon, enthusiasm became passion. (…) They would also discover that Cuban art had a bright past, and acquire the work of Carlos Enríquez, René Portocarrero, Cundo Bermúdez, Roberto Diago and others from the first and second avant-gardes. (…)
Only six years after their first visit to the island, the Rice family´s Cuban Art Collection (with capital letters!) comprises 250 works by 70 artists –including many of great relevance in Cuban visual culture, such as canvases by Wifredo Lam and Mario Carreño, and works by living masters like Manuel Mendive and Pedro Pablo Oliva. (…)
(…) The Rice family sees their collection as the result of an open, living process (…) That is the idea behind the non-for-profit foundation The Cuban Arts Group, whose purpose is “enriching and strengthening cross-cultural connections through the arts of Cuba… [by educating] Americans about Cuban arts and culture through thoughtfully curated exhibitions and a diverse educational arts programs including discussions, lectures, involving Cuban artists, art educators, curators, historians, and writers.” (…)
About the collection, (…) Susie Rice comments:
We want to achieve a more significant presence for the works and artists represented in our collection, and we are looking for greater coherence in the thematic and conceptual currents that are already discernable in the collection. We believe these types of works will enhance the collection’s ability to represent a comprehensive standard for the richness of Cuban art.
We are dedicated to sharing our collection with the public through exhibitions and loans. Sometime in the future, we aspire to create a permanent exhibition platform, such as a museum or cultural center. It would be our dream to share, in a public setting, our passion about Cuba, its complexity, rich culture and history, as documented through the eyes of sensational Cuban artists.
[*] Title taken from of a work by Sandra Ramos: Bajo el hechizo de la palma (Under the Charm of the Palm Tree), Etching, 20 x 26 in., 1993.