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Arts center sends love to Cuba for inaugural event

February 25, 2005

Photo of Israel "Cachao" LopezUpdate Feb. 28, 2005: Both events are now sold out. Those unable to obtain tickets are welcome at the "AfroCuba" exhibit and its opening event on March 5.

Love and a celebration of Cuban artistic culture will be in the air March 4-5 for the inaugural event of SFSU's International Center for the Arts. "To Cuba, With Love" highlights a rich array of Cuban cultural tradition with concerts, film screenings and an art exhibit.

"To Cuba, With Love" kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday, March 4, in the Forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, with a performance by the West Coast AfroCuban All-Stars. The band, put together specifically for this event by saxophonist and SFSU music Lecturer Andrew Speight, features the best AfroCuban players on the West Coast. The All-Stars will pay their debt to Israel "Cachao" Lopez in musical currency, with a program venerating the 86-year-old artist's musical achievements. Cachao, one of the world’s leading jazz bassists and the creator of mambo, will receive the first-ever George and Judy Marcus Prize for his lifetime achievement in the arts. Special guest Andy Garcia, the actor known for his roles in such films as "The Godfather, Part III" and "Ocean's Eleven," will pay tribute to Cachao. Chuy Varela, a DJ on KCSM-FM, presents a pre-concert talk at 7:45 pm. The event is sold out.

A concert by Cachao featuring the Cineson All-Stars -- and Andy Garcia on bongos -- will begin at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at Bimbo's 365 Club, following a 7:30 p.m. screening of "Paraiso," a documentary about Cuban hip-hop group Madera Limpia, which is influenced by Cachao. The event is sold out.

After much success in pre-revolutionary Cuba, a good stretch in New York's newly exploding salsa scene shortly thereafter, and years of playing Las Vegas, Cachao moved to Miami in 1978. Like many other living legends of Cuban music, Cachao lived in relative obscurity for a couple of decades, performing at weddings and parties, until a call came from Garcia, a long-time fan of Cachao. He was interested in getting together with the musician for a documentary and to produce his music. The result was Garcia's directorial debut, the highly acclaimed 1993 documentary, "Cachao …Como Su Ritmo No Hay Dos." Cachao has been highly sought after as a performer and recording artist ever since.

The center's art exhibit, "AfroCuba: Works on Paper, 1968-2003," presents the first opportunity for U.S. audiences to see almost four decades of artistic production shaped by the influential forces of AfroCuban religion, contemporary social issues, questions of cultural heritage, and personal and diplomatic relations with Africa. Representing the work of 26 artists residing in Havana and Santiago de Cuba, the exhibit includes 60 prints and drawings masterfully executed in a variety of techniques, among them lithography, collagraph, woodcut, screen print, and ink and crayon drawing. Curated by art history Professor Judith Bettelheim, the exhibition includes a catalog with essays by Bettelheim, an invited essay by Cuban artist and curator Alexis Esquivel, and excerpts from David Mateo's "Looking at Cuban Printmaking."

The exhibit is on display Feb. 26 to March 30 in the SFSU Fine Arts Gallery. Regular gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays. A special program to open the exhibit featuring Cuban music, films and refreshments will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at the SFSU Fine Arts Gallery. Admission is free.

The International Center for the Arts, created with a $3 million gift from SFSU alumni George and Judy Marcus, celebrates some of the world’s most innovative art and artists, with a focus on documentary films and visual art.

For further details, visit the College of Creative Arts Web site.

-- Matt Itelson and Ariane Bicho


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Last modified February 28, 2005 by University Communications