Cuba, the most popular island country in the Caribbean, has a long history of political turmoil. Despite its increasing number of tourists, many people believe that Cuba is dangerous and scary, or maybe that’s only just what I thought of the place. But, of course, in reality Cuba is not that different from any other country. Juan Luis Garcia’s photographs of Cuba make those who hold false perceptions (like me) realize how the stereotypically negative views of Cuba should be crumpled up and tossed into the trash bin. Until the end of March, Eastside Luv Wine Bar y Queso in Boyle Heights presents a solo exhibition by Garcia.

The exhibition is a dichotomy; it is ordinary but extraordinary. In this collection of 15 portraits, Garcia brings back to the states what he saw in Cuba back in 2009. He grants us the privilege of seeing Cubans in their home country, in the most honest way possible, unaltered by any sort of distortions. This is exactly his theme: honesty. The portraits display the honest truth of the lives of Cubans. From cigar rollers, children playing, sex workers and farmers, his portraits capture the subjects in their daily lives, in their most natural state.

Despite the extremely ordinary subjects, the artist’s work is anything but ordinary. He has a desire to show the ordinary but does the exact opposite through his photography style. The subjects may be ordinary, but the focus, the angles and the vivid colors truly show Garcia’s passion for photography, making even the most ordinary subjects seem special. His representation and ability to capture the color of his subjects is amazing; the colors are so vibrant that you feel as though you are seeing the subject in person. This can perhaps also be attributed to Garcia’s desire to honestly depict the people of Cuba. His use of light and angles allows us to focus on the subject, sucking us into pondering not only what the subjects are doing but the atmosphere and their emotions.

There is also a book to peruse featuring the 15 portraits on display, and a surprising 80 more.

Garcia is a self-taught photographer who is passionate about his work. Professionally shooting since 2004, he always dreamed of “walking the streets with my camera.” He has traveled to many places around the world to shoot noted entertainers such as Andy Garcia, Rosario Dawson, Eva Longoria and many more. This is definitely an artist you should keep your eye on.

Oh, and just a friendly reminder to make sure you bring identification showing you are over 21 if you want to see the exhibition. After all, it is at a bar.

Eastside Luv Wine Bar y Queso is located at 1835 E. 1st St., Los Angeles. For more information, visit