Five Minutes, Five Questions
Artist Carlos Luna
Iwould describe Carlos [Luna’s] art as mesmerizing and bold,” says Melissa Conry of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum. “Every piece captures your eye and drags your vision around, slowly bringing more and more detail to light. It’s amazing how much you miss just looking at one of the tapestries at a glance, but once you start to focus, you see more and more within the tapestry, and it can seriously take your breath away.”
Luna is the featured artist through Sept. 18 at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, where the 30 pieces on show include mixed media on wood, oil on canvas and large-scale Jacquard tapestries. Luna was born on Jan. 2, 1969, in the occidental part of Cuba in Pinar Del Rio, the son of Carlos Luna and Norma Sanchez and the eldest of four siblings. He says his early years were full of “vibrant, loving, and defining memories” and he painted from childhood on, attending San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts in Havana.
“We actually have been interested in his work for quite some time now,” Conry says of Luna. “Lee Ortega, our previous executive director, actually knew Carlos from living in Miami a few years back, and that is how we made the connection with him. We always hope that our guests leave RAM with a memory that they can cherish in some way — and with this exhibit, we truly believe that everyone will have an emotional reaction that will have them leaving with joy.”
Ortega, by the way, left the museum June 16. The board has not announced who will replace her. Meanwhile, Luna answered these questions for What’s Up!
Q. What was your childhood in Cuba like? And what is life like now for your kids in the U.S.?
A. There are two fundamental sources that have nurtured and fed my life and work, the first is a pleasure and joy for my perception of beauty and the aesthetics that come from my grandmother Juliana, and the second is an intense passion to live in the now and be present to life which comes from my grandmother Ramona.
My kids grew up in the U.S. in Miami; I believe they are having a good life. When I presented my application for [a] visa, it was looking for a better future for them.
Q. What is the first piece of art you remember making an impression on you?
A. One of the experiences that would influence my first steps into the art world is seeing my grandmother Juliana’s religious altar, which had important religious images of saints venerated in Cuba, three images of Christ made by reputable artists Andrea Mantegna, Matthias Grunewald and Diego de Velazquez. I did not know they were works of art; I discovered that later on when I was a student.
Q. Describe your art in 140 characters.
A. My work and I are the place where many references find themselves in perfect harmony.
Q. How were you able to leave Cuba? And where did you go?
A. I got an invitation from a college in Monterrey, Mexico, to make an exhibition of my work and give a series of lectures.
Q. What message do you think your art carries to viewers?
A. With my artwork I talk about my life and experiences; the viewer is free to receive it and coexist with it.
“Every piece captures your eye and drags your vision around, slowly bringing more and more detail to light,” Melissa Conry of the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum says of Carlos Luna’s work.
Some 30 pieces of Carlos Luna’s work are on show at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum.
Carlos Luna grew up in Cuba and now works in Miami.