VIDEO: Laughter, Dancing at Carriage Barn’s ‘Night in Havana’

A Night in Havana, May 17, 2014
Carriage Barn Arts Center Board of Directors President Serena Gillespie says there are two major reasons that inaugural fundraiser “A Night in Havana” sold out two weeks before the event. “One, the directors [Eleanor Flatow and Arianne Kolb] over the course of this year have had an amazing push in PR and marketing, and the community is responding,” Gillespie said from under a tent outside the Carriage Barn, home of the New Canaan Center for the Arts, as 160 supporters arrived to mingle, dance and laugh (see video above) on a picture-perfect evening for “A Night in Havana.” The fundraiser featured live Latin music from Manchado, plenty to drink, silent auction and a Cuba-inspired menu—all amid the “Absolut Kuba!” exhibition which runs through June 1. “Our turnouts at openings have been astronomical, and now on top of that, we have an exhibition going on that is really caught the eye of a lot of people,” Gillespie continued. “We brought in a lot of people to the lecture last week and to the openings for people who had never set foot in the Carriage Barn before. So I think between the two there is newfound interest.”

It showed.

PHOTOS: ‘Absolut Kuba!’ Opens at Carriage Barn Arts Center

Steve Certilman of Greenwich has spent more than 15 years visiting Cuba at least annually, forging long-term relationships with artists whose work he admires and scouring Havana and environs for emerging painters, sculptors, assemblage artists and others. On Saturday, about 80 of the pieces that Certilman has amassed—roughly one-third of his private collection—went on display in “Absolut Kuba!” at Carriage Barn Arts Center. Featuring about 50 artists’ work, the free exhibition marks the first-ever public showing of the diverse collection. According to Arianne Kolb, co-director of the Carriage Barn Arts Center and, with Certilman, curator of the exhibition, “Absolut Kuba!” is a chance to experience about 20 years’ in Cuban art in person without physically going there. “Unless you are planning on going to Cuba regularly or planning to go in the near future, this is a rare opportunity to see an incredible, really well-chosen assemblage of contemporary art that has been produced over the last 20 years,” Kolb said as dozens of appreciators moved through the roomy gallery in Waveny for the opening reception.

Private Cuban Art Collection To Debut at Carriage Barn

Next week, the Carriage Barn Arts Center is launching an exhibition that will put on display for the public, for the first time, the Cuban artwork that Greenwich residents Steve and Terri Certilman—both attorneys—have been collecting for decades. “Absolut Kuba” opens April 24 and will be followed on May 17 by “A Night in Havana,” Carriage Barn Arts Center’s inaugural benefit. In reading some background on the new exhibition and curious to know more, we asked to connect with the collector, and our conversation with Steve Certilman is transcribed in full below. A photographer himself who even through law school nursed his abiding interest in the arts, Certilman came to discover Cuban art himself by chance, and quickly became fascinated by the work as well as its creators. The collection he and his wife have amassed and soon-to-open exhibition it forms are singular for Carriage Barn Arts Center, said Rebecca Stedman, a co-chair of the event together with Serena Gillespie, Barbara Calaba and Stacey Essex.