Monday, May 15, 2006

Nestor Hernández (1960-2006)

I am shocked to learn today that my good friend Nestor Hernández passed away after a short bout with cancer.

portrait of Nestor HernandezHernández was a DC-based photographer of Afro-Cuban descent (Afro-Cuban father and African-American mother).

Raised in DC, he didn't speak Spanish, but that didn't stop him from understanding it from his heart, and from visiting his father's enslaved homeland and re-discovering his Cuban roots via his photography, which he exhibited in many art venues, both in the DC area, nationally, and in Cuba, throughout the years.

Nestor was introduced to photography in High School through the Urban Journalism Workshop of the D.C. Public Schools, and then he was on the staff of the Capital Children’s Museum as photographer-in-residence for many years.

Hernandez then became the chief photographer for the D.C. Public School system, even as he continued to visit Cuba, and then to start photography projects dealing with children in Ghana, and most recently Mali.

We exhibited Hernandez photographs as part of our gallery's grounbreaking De Aqui y de Alla (From Here and From There) survey of contemporary Cuban art from Cuba and from the Cuban diasphora and in several group shows after that.

His photographs have been included in many shows Washington, D.C. and various American cities, as well as in Havana, Cuba and Accra, Ghana, and his photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Casa de Africa museum and Galería de Arte René Portocarrero in Cuba, Asafo Gallery in Ghana, the Cuban Art Space in New York and the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum in Washington, D.C.

He was a member and past president of FotoCraft Camera Club, and was the 2001 recipient of the "Photographer of the Year" award, given by the Exposure Group, African American Photographers Association. In 2002 he received the "Outstanding Emerging Artist" award, and in 2003 an Artist Fellowship Grant, both from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

With Port of Harlem, he developed the "Our Children, Our World" photography exhibit featuring the works of children from Ghana, Cuba, Washington, D.C., and Gary, Indiana. After a successful run in Washington, D.C., the exhibit opens in Gary later this summer, as an official event celebrating Gary's 100th anniversary.

And this Wednesday Tuesday, Nestor's photographs will be included in the Arlington Art Center's Love, Loss and Longing: The Impact of U.S. Travel Policy on Cuban-American Families, which opens May 16 and runs through June 3, 2006. The exhibit features photos by Nestor Hernández, Jr. and Juan-Sí González and text by Drs. Jeanne Lemkau and David Strug. The opening reception is May 16, 6:30- 9pm. This exhibit will then tour nationally through the end of 2007.

As with most artists, Hernández died with little money. Burial contributions are being accepted by his father:

Nestor L. Hernández
4007 53rd Street
Bladensburg, MD 20710

We will all miss you hermano!

Weekend Report

Two things to report on: Bethesda Fine Arts Festival and Kirkland's solo opening at GRACE.

It ended with a huge downpour, but for the most part the weather stayed good and around (my guess) 30-40,000 people attended the 3rd annual Bethesda Fine Arts Festival on the streets of Bethesda last weekend. I did quite well, selling about a dozen drawings and maybe 20 prints or so. The mixed media artist from Georgia who was across from me sold over $15,000 on Sunday in a twenty minute span, and the photographer next to me was in a constant sell-mode on both days (and this was his first show). On my other side, Norfolk artist Sheila Giolitti also did gangbusters, including one major sale to Carol Trawick. See the prizewinners here in a few days as soon as the website is updated.

JT Kirkland's solo show at GRACE went well, with a couple of sales including JT's largest sale so far and a new high for the Kirklands. Congrats to JT!