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Houston Gallery Wants To Be Ambassador For Cuban Art

The loosening of restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba has helped a local gallery owner expand his collection.



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Lloyd Gites stands in front of paintings by Cuban artists Daussatt, left, and Dominguez. About one third of the pieces in his African art gallery currently come from Cuba.

Lloyd Gite's gallery in the Third Ward features art from Africa and the African diaspora.

Since October 2015, his collection has included a large number of paintings from Cuba. That year, the Obama administration loosened restrictions on trade and travel within the Communist island state.

Gite went with a travel group for "educational activities."

But it's still not easy to get the art over here.

"Because of the embargo, you cannot ship things from Havana to Houston," he said.

On his first trip, Gite took about 70 pieces of art back with him on the plane to Miami. From there, he mailed them to Houston. The second time, he had to haul it the whole way, because he arrived on a Sunday when FedEx wasn't open.

"So that's the difficulty," Gite said. "I'm looking forward to the day when I can simply go in there, buy art, send it through FedEx, DHL to Houston and not worry about it."

Since then, some airlines have begun offering direct flights from Houston to Havana, but Gite will still have to go with a group to qualify for one of the 12 categories authorized to travel to Cuba.

He is now worried that President Donald Trump will reinstate travel restrictions, which Gite said would mostly hurt Americans.

"We're the ones who are not exposed to the culture, the fashion, the art, the wonderful food," he said.

Gite considers himself an ambassador for Cuban art in Houston.