Vibes & Vices: Oficina de Proyectos Culturales

It’s a bit of a touchy subject these days, so when asked about my nationality in my travels I’ve been

known to issue answers including “French-Canadian” and “Senegalese” as well as every island in the Caribbean from Trinidad to Tobago. Not like it matters, I’m from Earth.

Of course, my spiffy buff-and-blue passport was purchased from the government of the United States so I suppose I’m an American, and one of the freedoms we enjoy as citizens is the freedom to pay the fine for an unapproved trip to Cuba by cash, check, or credit card.

Like anything deemed as off-li- mits to me, Cuba has always intri- gued me, and thanks to Pilar over at OPC (Oficina de Proyectos Culturales, translate it yourself), I was invited to attend a special exhi- bition known as “The End of the Great Tale” spotlighting perceptions of the forbidden nation from inside through the artistic expressions of those who lived the journey.

The Vibes: The evening’s presentation wasn’t my first time at this compellingly curated art gallery, located in the city’s Centro district a few blocks inland from the Malecon.

OPC features a regularly rotating collection of pieces from artists around the world, and invites the area’s aesthetical addicts to explore new perspectives and ponder the nature of inspiration free of charge thanks to the generous contributions of donors and sponsors.

The gallery also has a shady outdoor garden area with a Wi-Fi connection that is open to the public during the latter half of the week, so it also makes a conve- nient alternate office for, say, a weekly lifestyle columnist.

The Vices: Besides the seductive allure of free popcorn for the presentation, it was my curiosity about the human beings that fade into a monolith whenever Cuba is the topic that piqued my interest on this visit.

The exhibition was thought-provoking as well as visually exciting…my personal favorite piece was a gem-encrusted pizza that illustrated the reality of wealth inequality, juxtaposing wealth and opulence with basic needs such as food and shelter and possibly suggesting the riches be eaten. I may have arrived at that last interpretation independently.

The main event of the evening was a 45-minute film detailing each piece in the collection, giving a new level of depth and meaning to these impassioned speeches in the universal language.

It was an opportunity to consider the relative privilege in the circum- stances of my birth and an impos- sible to ignore reminder of the power art holds in illuminating an idea.

It was noted art critic and philosopher Arthur C. Danto that crystallized the sentiment “where there is no narrator, there is no history”… through the exhibition, these artists were able to transcend their origins and enrich the human experience, if only one monkey at a time.

The Verdict: If it is truly creative expression that makes us human, OPC fills an indispensable role in the community, giving Vallarta veterans and visitors alike access to the talents of local and international artists. The gallery is a relaxing escape from the bustle of Centro on a sunny afternoon or maybe a first stop on a breezy evening…maybe I’ll catch you there.

AJ Freeman on Email
AJ Freeman
AJ Freeman is an adventurous spirit, serial friendmaker, and general enthusiast. He lives his everyday life hoping to demonstrate the nearly infinite potential for discovery and wonder on this small wet rock orbiting a dim yellow star in the backwoods of the Milky Way.