Brooklyn art entrepreneur travels to Cuba
by Rebecca Ngu
Sep 05, 2014 | 4066 views | 0 0 comments | 150 150 recommendations | email to a friend | print
L.B. Brown, a Brooklyn art entrepreneur, traveled to Havana, Cuba, recently with 80 African-American curators, scholars, and art innovators to learn and celebrate art and culture of the country for 10 days.

The purpose of the event was to highlight the rich cultural and historical connections between African-Americans and the Afro-Cuban culture.

“This trip was about art and culture,” said Brown, who owns Clinton Hill Simply Art & Framing Gallery. “And sharing the Afro-Cuban culture to Americans.”

Brown was invited due to her past advancing African-American and Caribbean-American contemporary art in the 1990s. At that time, African and Caribbean-American artists were ignored by publishers and denied opportunities to sell and publicize their work.

“It was a commercial gallery specifically geared toward promoting, because they didn’t have a voice at the time,” said Brown of her gallery.

She gained recognition for commercially promoting artists ignored by mainstream through her gallery. Brown involved herself with the “business of art.”

While Brown’s business has evolved over the years in order to stay relevant to its changing neighborhood, her commitment to showcasing and preserving diverse art forms remains steadfast.

The centerpiece of the Cuba visit was the historic inauguration of the works of art by nine African-American contemporary artists at the Museo de Arte Universal, Cuba’s National Museum in Havana.

“This museum is equivalent to the Met,” Brown said, describing its “gorgeous” and “gothic” aesthetic made out of marble and stained glass.

“Most people who were in any form of art, design, or curating showed up in that opening,” Brown said. “[It was] something that the city knew about.”

While traveling from the United States to Cuba is restricted, Brown noted that tourism is booming in Cuba.

“There are a lot of tourists there. That’s something that I want to point out,” she said. “You have the Italians, Spanish; they are catering to a tourist market.”

During her time in Cuba, Brown was struck by the country’s relationship with history and time. “Cuba is probably the only place that’s frozen in time. It’s a type of mixed, dynamic place,” she said. “You feel like you’re in some place in the 40s or 50s or even 20s, but you’re living in 2014.”

The past seems living in Cuba partly because of the importance placed on historical and cultural preservation, from architecture to art to even the bullets that lodged into the Museum of Revolution—formerly known as the Presidential Palace—during attempted revolutions.

“Cuba is very much informed on cultural restoration. It’s just beautiful,” Brown said. “I spent a whole day in the [Museum of Revolution] alone.”

Cultural and artistic preservation is particularly important to Brown, as she is currently focusing on custom framing for preservation.

“People are bringing more art into their home from around the world,” she said. “And they’re bringing home inheritances, heirlooms. You need to prevent pollutants or anything that would alter the painting.”

The motivation to protect a culture’s history and art connects the work Cuba is doing to Brown’s own entrepreneurial efforts. “How do you pass on a cultural history?” she asked. “If you’re not protecting it, you lose it.”

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