Gallery owner seeks Cuba-Key West art swap

Key West gallery owner Nance Frank has launched a Web-based fundraising effort to pay for an artistic exchange between the Southernmost City and its geographic and cultural neighbor of Cuba, just 90 miles away but a world apart due to federal sanctions.

Her goal is to raise $60,000 by Aug. 1 using The money would pay for production expenses for the "One Race, Cuba and Key West" exhibition.

Frank, owner of the Gallery on Greene, said community support would be great — insuring paintings for shipment and display in Cuba alone would cost $10,000 — but her commitment to the project is such that she's prepared to make up the difference.

"The Cubans that came to Key West were essentially utopians and they strongly believed in gender, racial and religious equality. I've wanted to do this show for decades," she said.

Her plan is to begin a series of residencies in February in Key West by Cuban artists including Manuel Mendive, Robert Fabelo, Rocio Garica and others.

Their works will be featured around town at venues such as the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum, Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, the Studios of Key West and the former Gato Cigar Factory.

In Cuba, Frank has arranged a three-month exhibit with the Museo Nacional Bellas Artes in Havana featuring a collection of 30 Mario Sanchez paintings and set to launch on Jan. 17. Frank studied under Sanchez and is considered an expert in his work.

Sanchez, a first generation Cuban-American born in Key West in 1908, documented day-to-day life in the Southernmost City with renderings of the cigar and fishing industries in his works called intaglios, essentially carved and then painted wood.

His art was displayed in New York City for the first time last year in conjunction with the American Folk Art Museum, Museum of the City of New York and the South Street Seaport Museum.

Since launching her fundraiser July 2, Frank has received pledges of $320.

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