Five Min­utes, Five Ques­tions

Artist Carlos Luna

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - WHAT'S UP - — BECCA MARTIN-BROWN BMARTIN@NWADG.COM

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.

COURTESY IM­AGE

“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.

COURTESY PHOTO

Some 30 pieces of Carlos Luna’s work are on show at the Fort Smith Re­gional Art Mu­seum.

COURTESY PHOTO

Carlos Luna grew up in Cuba and now works in Mi­ami.

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