MANAGUA – Perhaps the man most lovingly photographed in the new “Tres fotrógrafas, tres miradas” exhibition is Alfredo González.
There, captured on the Sonora Matancera dance floor, is the 78-year-old, dipping and twisting partners a third his age.
The look on his face is an invitation, sensual and laughing. These scenes captured by Mara Martínez Cruz at a club known for its Sunday senior citizen dance parties demonstrate a profound respect and admiration for old age.
And together with pieces by two other female photographers, the exhibition shares glimpses of everyday living in Nicaragua.
“I’ll start dancing with a young woman and then a guy will come to ask whether I’ll dance with his wife, that she wants to dance with me and he gives her permission. He’ll introduce us,” said González, a fixture at Managua’s old Casa del Obrero, where the parties are held. “Then another guy will come up and ask the same thing.”
González, who grew up in the Caribbean coastal town of Bluefields, speaks unhurriedly to a gathering crowd of admirers. It is opening night and he stands next to the photographer near the exhibit presented.
Clearly, he is stealing the show.
Farther down the second floor of the Rubén Darío National Theater is another González, though not related. This is the photographer Celeste González, whose work is widely respected among Nicaraguan artistic circles.
She presents a solemn set of mostly blackand-white photos of nature, and children in Catholic traditional settings.
In this collection, González attempts to develop the theme of transition waters from the isthmus of Rivas using natural elements, water in all its states and daily objects found in its movement.
Of the three photographers, Margarita I. Montealegre is the only one who uses color in all her pieces. Montealegre, a documentary photographer who once covered the civil war here as a journalist, captures popular participation and pride in the Güegüense masked dance festivals of the state of Carazo.
Rodrigo González, director of exhibitions at the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture, said he wants to open already existing public spaces to unknown artists so they can disseminate their work. González, a photographer and painter himself, is new to the culture institute, which created his job in June.
“Take these three photographers,” he begins, taking a seat in his bare office near the Plaza de la Revolución. “I wanted to promote them because they’ve been in the shadows for so long. I know the quality of their work. I could have invited artists who are better known, but it seemed interesting to me to pull these women out into the spotlight.”
They’ll remain in that spotlight until Feb. 15, when the exhibition closes. Admission to the exhibit, at the Rubén Darío National Theater in Managua, is free to the public.
And if the photographs by Martínez pique your interest, the Sonora Matancera dance parties happen every Sunday, from around 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., at the old Casa del Obrero in Managua.
For more information on the photographers or upcoming events by the culture institute, e-mail email@example.com.