What Do Havana and St. Louis Have in Common? Find Out at This Preview Party

More than almost any city in America, St. Louis is fiercely proud of its history of social resistance—and its bold, daring design community. And that means the Gateway City has a lot in common with an unexpected place: the island of Cuba.

On Friday, Oct. 26, two similar worlds will collide in Midtown at the preview party for the BLINK Havana St. Louis Poster XPO. Bringing together the work of Cuban artists from Havana to the heartland, as well as iconic posters designed to do everything from incite a movement to get you out to a music festival, BLINK promises to be an extraordinary experience that showcases the vast potential of one of public art’s most humble but exciting incarnations. After this preview event (which is also the finale for STL Design Week), you won’t have another chance to view these powerful posters until the full exhibition opens at St. Louis Community College-Meramec on Nov. 16.

What Do Havana and St. Louis Have in Common? Find Out at This Preview Party

The poster designer is an alchemist of persuasion,” says BLINK founder Carlos Zamora, a Cuban-American designer based in St. Louis. “Half artist, half strategist, a poster designer entices the world with graphic metaphors that move the public opinion towards the consumption of a product or ideology.”

The name of the show was carefully chosen, as the manifesto on the project’s website makes clear. “In a blink of an eye, the lessons from the past become relevant today,” Zamora says. “One blink and the viewer can go from a theater festival in Havana to the Shakespeare Festival in St. Louis. From the Black Panther movement in the ’60s to Ferguson. From Fidel Castro’s raise to power in the ’50s to Trump’s era.” He describes posters as graphic testimonial of time. And curated poster shows like BLINK bring history to life.

What Do Havana and St. Louis Have in Common? Find Out at This Preview Party

Thanks to Zamora’s unique background, he was able to bridge professional and cultural differences with the poster designers through both art and history—and a sports team beloved in both St. Louis and Havana. “Cubans are hard-core Cardinals fans,” Zamora says. “They couldn’t place St. Louis in a map, but boy, we love the St. Louis Cardinals.”

The posters aren’t the only enticement for visitors: The BLINK preview is being held at Brennan’s Work & Leisure, a not-yet-open coworking space and café that’s sure to be a destination for designers and entrepreneurs the moment they cut the ribbon.

Tickets to the Oct. 26 event are free, but you can also choose an enhanced VIP experience for $15 in advance, $25 at the door. Guests can partake of small plates (“lots of them,” the website promises, so bring your appetite), a dessert station and a cash bar.

Learn more about the “art of the Revolution,” as poster art in Cuba is known, at a free artist talk Nov. 7 at the Contemporary Art Museum. Several artists will be traveling from Cuba as part of the BLINK project, including Pepe Menéndez, described by Zamora as “if not the father of contemporary Cuban design, definitely its big brother.” He will speak at Brennan’s Work & Leisure on Nov. 17.

Information and tickets for all the happenings associated with the exhibit are available on the BLINK events page.

Poster images courtesy of Carlos Zamora.

What Do Havana and St. Louis Have in Common? Find Out at This Preview Party

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