UPSTATE Gallery on Main

Selections from the Clyde Hensley

Collection of East Cuban Art

January 10 – February 23, 2019
Reception:  Thursday, January 17, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.


UPSTATE Gallery on Main, sponsored by the University of South Carolina Upstate, is honored to present “Selections from the Clyde Hensley Collection of East Cuban Art.” The exhibition opens on January 10 and runs through February 23, 2019. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, January 17, from 5-8 p.m. during Spartanburg ArtWalk.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Clyde Hensley collected over 500 pieces of art from the semi-isolated, easternmost region of Cuba called Oriente, formerly referred to as Oriente Province. Upon Hensley’s first trip to Oriente as part of a cultural exchange and humanitarian aid project, he found the local artists constrained yet energized by shortages of art supplies and thus creating inspired improvisations. “When I met them,” Hensley recalls, “they were painting on sugar and flour bags. They needed supplies. So I began taking them everything I could: canvas, paint, brushes, you name it. These are artists who paint because they have to. It’s in their hearts.”

Soon after discovering these artists of eastern Cuba, Hensley and his wife Brigid began making regular visits to the area, delivering art materials from village to village. To do this, Hensley established the Eastern Cuba Cultural Exchange Association, enabling him to take in supplies and, at the same time, acquire a unique collection of artworks directly from the artists. In 2006, Art and Antiques Magazine nominated Hensley and his wife for inclusion into the Top 100 Collectors of Art in America.

Included in the exhibition are three artists that exemplify the diversity, vibrance, and range of the collection: Jorge Rodriguez Cedeño, Jorge Luis Hernández Pouyú, and José Julián Aguilera Vicente.

Jorge Rodriguez Cedeño was born in Bayamo, Cuba in 1973 and obtained prominence through his specialty of classical Cuban landscape painting. His paintings evoke the spirit of the Cuban countryside, portraying the “campesinos,” the peasant farmers and their way of life, and beautifully capture the unique atmosphere of this tropical region.

Jorge Luis Hernández Pouyú, born in 1967, first studied art at the José Joaquín Tejada Academy of Fine Arts. In 1985 he moved to Havana, where he joined the Eduardo Abela Experimental Painting Workshop and worked at the Rene Portocarrero Silkscreen Workshop. Hernández Pouyú currently lives and works in his hometown of Santiago de Cuba.

José Julián Aguilera Vicente (1933-2013) received his artistic education at the José Joaquín Tejada Academy, where he subsequently worked as a director and instructor for generations of painters, sculptors and engravers. Aguilera Vincente was one of the founders of the Artistic Collective in Oriente and a member of the Gallery Group, a collective that revolutionized arts in Santiago during the 1950s. He was included in 11 solo exhibitions internationally and participated in more than 100 group exhibitions in Cuba.

UPSTATE Gallery on Main extends a heartfelt thank you to Rob Rowen, founder of Nuance Galleries, for the generous loan of these artworks. Additional information on the Clyde Hensley Collection of East Cuban Art can be accessed at Nuance Galleries’ website:


The UPSTATE Gallery on Main is the newest addition of the Upstate Carolina University’s three gallery spaces. Located at 172 E. Main Street in Spartanburg, it is a dedicated art space that presents rotating exhibitions of regional and national artists. The gallery also houses and periodically displays the university’s permanent art collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Jerry Uelsmann, Jack Tworkov, and Beatrice Riese. The gallery is primarily staffed by students as part of an ongoing internship program where they learn how to display, research, and promote the work on exhibit in the gallery. It is open to the public five days a week (Tuesday-Saturday) from 12 noon until 5 p.m. More about the UGoM can be found on its Facebook page, UPSTATE Gallery on Main, or by calling Jane Nodine, Gallery Director at (864)-503-5848.


Jane Nodine, Gallery Director
Mark Flowers, Gallery Coordinator
University of South Carolina Upstate
Visual Arts Center 125
800 University Way
Spartanburg, SC 29303
P: 864-503-5848
F: 864-503-5835