Travel from the North Coast to Cuba at Luminari Gallery

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“Cuban Paradise” by Chris Bryant at Luminari Arts.

See plein air and pen work during the Astoria art walk

ASTORIA — Winnifred Byrne Luminari Arts presents the work of Astoria-based international artist Chris Bryant in a show titled “From North Coast to Cuba: Plein Air and Pen,” with an opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. during the Astoria Art Walk on Saturday, Aug. 8. Luminari Arts is located at 1133 Commercial St. During the opening, Bryant will paint at the gallery in her impressionistic style.

Raised in Europe and Japan, Bryant has a boundless sense of curiosity and adventure. So, when presented with an opportunity to join a group of artists on a tour of Cuba this past winter, she jumped at the chance.

What inspired the Alderbrook artist to put traveling to Cuba on her bucket list?

“I’ve been fortunate to spend time in the most famous artistic locations in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and the U.S.A. Each locale has its own unique attraction to me as an artist,” Bryant says. “Cuba, however, has all of my favorite artistic ingredients: vintage cars in everyday use, horse-and-buggy transportation, magnificent colonial architecture, lively street and nightclub musicians, colorfully clad people, cobblestone streets lined with pastel-colored buildings. The list is endless!”

While preparing for international trips, Bryant does plenty of research to scout the best locations for creating art. Still, there are surprises.

“I knew Cuba would be beautiful, but I was unprepared for the depth of the beauty. There were gorgeous scenes to paint and draw everywhere,” the artist says. “There were more classic cars in everyday use than I had imagined, and many of the historical buildings were in superb condition.

“It was wonderful to be able to capture scenes of men outdoors playing dominoes, or children playing kickball, without the commercial signs that I’m used to seeing in this country,” she adds.

Bryant says she was enchanted with the friendliness of the Cuban people. Rather than resenting Americans, her local hosts were helpful and hospitable.

“During the first week in Cuba, the tour guide gave me her jump seat at the front of our luxury bus so I could get awesome photographs through the front window,” she says. “Afterwards, I ventured out on my own and rented a room from a sweet elderly couple in old Havana. They spoke no English, and I know little Spanish, but with the help of my drawing skills, we communicated just fine.”

How did Bryant capture the essence of Cuba in her art? She says her quick pen and ink contour drawings captured the spirit of the people and musicians; she wielded a palette knife loaded with thick globs of paint to render vintage cars, pretty wooden boats and romantic cityscapes.

Now back in Astoria, Bryant says her days in Cuba impacted her art-making process: You’ll see her around town painting and drawing a little faster to artfully record moving subjects and ever-changing riverscapes.

Source: Coast Weekend Arts & Entertainment
August 3, 2015

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