New East Arts Gallery: Fresh Black Paint: Memories of Cuba

Written by Nicole Jeffords, on August 7, 2013, on her blog "Art Profiler: Oil & Psychological Portraiture by Nicole Jeffords."


My friend, Dr. Emil Shusterman, and I decided to check out a show called “Fresh Black Paint: Memories of Cuba” that opened this past Saturday night  (August 3) at New East Arts Gallery, 1601 East Fifth Street ( Neither of us had ever been there before and we had a blast.  First of all the gallery sits right by the train track running along East Fifth and since the bar was set up outside on the sidewalk, the party spilled onto the street.

NEA Photo 1

There were chairs pulled up and some seriously talented drummers playing. Every time one of those 2-car metro trains passed by (there must have been at least four in the hour and a half we were there, whoo-wee) everyone cheered and waved.

NEA Photo 2 or 3

Ron Horne (poet, singer, musician)

NEA is a small gallery with a big heart dedicated to the work of predominantly Austin-based African American artists. It is part of DiverseArts, a non-profit multi-disciplinary cultural organization, run by Harold McMillan, who is the brain behind the project.

NEA photo 3_Harol McMillian and Luis Abreux

Harold McMillian and Luis Abreux

Luis Abreux, the gentleman in the pale blue shirt on the right, is a Cuban refugee painter who lives in Austin, and who “brings us a mental universe not very well-known so far, it is the mental universe of his land, an island where painting is not a luxury but a thing that emerges from under the stones, among the trees and above the roofs of Havana.”

NEA photo 4_Luis Abreux painting

Mr. Abreux’s work is in part playful, in part dark, even macabre, like a carnival with grinning masked figures up to no good. Some pieces brought to mind the work of the Belgian painter, James Ensor.

NEA Photo 5_ Luix Abreux painting

Others had a restrained sweetness and were softer, perhaps a bit nostalgic.

NEA Photo 6_Luis Abreux painting
NEA Photo 7_Luis Abreux talking about his work

Luis talking about his work at the show.

NEA Photo 8

Dr. Emil Shusterman talking about Luis’s work with Ron, the drummer in white, at the show.

NEA Photo 9

A young man learning about Luis’s work at the show.

I advise you to check out Luis’s work at While it may not appeal to everyone, some of the paintings, particularly those featured in Private Collections, are pretty fab.

I would also recommend a trip to New East Arts Gallery. Harold McMillan is for sure one of the more interesting characters in the Austin arts and music scene. He knows how to throw a good party, and he’s got some pieces worth looking at on his walls.

NEA Photo 10

Painting by Carla “Nada” Nickerson, She is an Austin painter, illustrator, actress/singer.