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Marionettes as Sculpture: The Art of Pablo Cano

July 16, 2004 - August 27, 2004


(above: Pablo Cano, Lady Liberty Puppet (For Heaven's Sake) (detail), 2003, mixed media kinetic assemblage, 3 feet x 1 1/2 feet, collection of the artist.)


The Pensacola Museum of Art is pleased to announce its Summer exhibition Marionettes as Sculpture: The Art of Pablo Cano. This show will be on exhibition from July 16 until August 28, 2004. A closing reception will be held on Friday, August 27, 2004. The closing reception will include a marionette performance with the artist using marionettes from the exhibit. (right: Pablo Cano, Ukulele Lady (Pablo Cano's Musical Marionettes), 1997, mixed media kinetic assemblage, 8 feet x 3 feet, collection of the artist.)

Miami based artist Pablo Cano was born in Havana, Cuba in 1961. He arrived in Miami, FL with his family in 1962. Cano grew up speaking Spanish and living his heritage learning about the poems of Jose Marti and the tragic Revolution that caused so much pain within his family. To Cano, in his child's mind, Havana seemed like a black and white image that he saw in the television shows he watched as a child. Shows such as "Lost in Space", "I Love Lucy" and "I Dream of Genie" became Cano's pop icons.

As a child, Cano became fascinated by the theatre and by marionettes. Pablo remembers he and his neighborhood friends putting on theatricals based on shows like "Star Trek." "All exile Cubans in Miami wished they could twitch their nose or fold their arms and blink themselves back to a free and liberated Cuba. I liked "Gilligan's Island" because of the imaginative props and crazy contraptions that the professor would invent with found materials. There was one episode where all the castaways put on a theatrical play on a bamboo stage." comments Cano in his artist statement.

Cano's first mediums included painting, drawings and ceramics, but soon after college he followed the likes of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Alexandra Exter and Robert Chambers and their use of found objects to create his three dimensional marionettes; it was not until after college though that he merged his marionettes with his love of theatre.

Writes Cano, "At the age of 18 I knew that I wanted to become an artist. I started to study Cuban art history and identify with Cuban artists like Enrique Riveron, Amelia Pelaez, Wifredo Lam, Victor Manuel, Lourdes Gomez - Franca and many other Cuban artists living in exile in Paris and Miami. The late art historian Giulio Blanc and the Cuban art collection owned by his family was extremely important for me to learn from during those formative years as a young artist. I also studied the works of American Pop artists Robert Rauschenberg and Edward Kienholtz."

Today, Cano still uses materials such as appliance and automobile parts, light fixtures and even umbrella frames to create his marionettes that will be on display at the Pensacola Museum of Art. The marionettes range in sizes from large free-standing sculptures to works that reside on pedestals. One reviewer comments "Part storyteller, part folk artist, part assemblagist sculptor extraordinaire, Pablo Cano has the makings of a legendary narrative speaker through objects drenched in historical references and combined with common every day discarded materials, spirit and engaging patina."(right: Pablo Cano, Archangel Michael (Once Upon an Island), 1999, mixed media kinetic assemblage, 7 feet x 3 feet, collection of the artist.)

The Pensacola Museum of Art will also feature one of Pablo Cano's marionette performances titled "Pablo Cano's Musical Marionettes" to be performed on Friday, August 27 as part of its 50th Anniversary Celebration. The performance lasts about thirty minutes. Cano often showcases his marionettes in productions commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami (MoCA.) These productions have become a tradition and are often played to standing room only audiences. A reviewer of Pablo's "Musical Marionettes" writes "The most charming performers were Pablo Cano's Musical Marionettes. Reminiscent of Betty Boop in all her glory, his found object puppets serenaded the audience with torch songs from bygone days."

This exhibition is organized by the Pensacola Museum of Art in collaboration with Pablo Cano. Mr. Cano has dedicated this show to the memory of his cousin Charlie Bravo who passed away in May of this year.


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