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Cuban's photographs from Havana subject of new exhibit at RiverStones

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Robert Ortiz' photographs speak to the unique atmosphere and mood of a Havana that remains so much like the Havana of 60 years ago. (Robert Ortiz photo)

ROCHESTER - The Franklin Gallery at RiverStones Custom Framing in downtown Rochester will host an exhibit called Cuba - a Country Caught in a Time Warp.

This exhibit will feature the photography of Rochester resident Robert Ortiz. The gallery will host an opening reception for the exhibit on Thursday from 5-6:30 p.m.

The public is invited to come and see the exhibit and meet the photographer. Light refreshments will be served.

This exhibit is about Ortiz' Cuban heritage: the people, the streets, the cars, and the buildings. Time has stood still in Havana since Castro's revolution in 1959. New Havana is a city showing the wear and tear of time with its paint peeling Art Deco architecture.

Old cars are found everywhere - Chevy Bellaires, Ford Fairlanes, Buick and Cadillac collective taxis - nothing dates a day after 1959. And the classic Spanish influence in old Havana, while crumbing from lack of maintenance, is still majestic.

While Ortiz is an American citizen, his heritage is Cuban.

"My parents met each other in 1958 after leaving Cuba for a better life in the United States," said Ortiz. "However, in 1960, soon after I was born, my father returned to Cuba to take care of my ailing grandmother, so I grew up in a Cuban family without a father. For many years, I didn't understand why my family was culturally different from Americans.

"My wife has always wanted me to trace my Cuban roots," he continued, "and finally, in 2016, I took the plunge and along with fellow photographer Mark Stevens, traveled to Cuba. I hope you enjoy the photographs I took during that and subsequent visits."

Ortiz began his photographic career at an early age of 15 photographing the people and scenery of Port Chester, N.Y. He got his first 35mm camera and joined the high school newspaper, yearbook staff, and the student camera club.

"I knew then I was going to be a photographer," said Ortiz.

He went on to college and graduated from the University of Miami in 1983 with a Fine Arts and Communications degree. In 1992, Ortiz became part of a five-man team working as an associate cinematographer and photographer for Moondragon Productions. It was there that he spent time in the Amazon jungle producing a documentary of the native people of Orellana, Peru.

In 1996, He moved to Rochester inspired by the beauty he found after spending time on vacation in New Hampshire. He is a member of the New Hampshire Art Association and Professional Photographers of America. In 2000, he opened his own photography business Robert Ortiz Photography.

The Franklin Gallery and RiverStones Custom Framing at 33 N. Main Street, are open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Unless otherwise indicated, all exhibited Franklin Gallery artworks are available for purchase. For information about Cuba - a Country Caught in a Time Warp and future Franklin Gallery exhibits, contact Kris Ebbeson at kebbeson@metrocast.net or 603-812-1488.

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