By Leanna Walters
Facebook friends of Susan Hidalgo look forward to her frequent, lengthy trips to faraway destinations. It’s not that they don’t like to have Susan nearby; rather, it’s the daily excitement of possible posts which momentarily take you away from the Midwest, away from your computer screen, away from the carpool. . . and into the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of somewhere altogether different.
She has visited, and visually recorded her travels through Africa, much of Europe, Mexico, South America, China, Japan and Vietnam. In each place she visited she captured the moments that excited her, the ones she wanted to preserve and share.
Along with her photographs, artwork and objects from her travels provide an eclectic and visually stimulating background in her home. Several close family members were or are “heavy into the arts,” including her mother, now deceased; her children and her daughter in law. Their paintings and photo albums remind her of shared moments with people dear to her.
Her most recent odyssey, taken with her husband, Wayne, and Quivirans Becky and Eric Johnson, included five days in Cuba, where they did a circular tour of the island, including stays in Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuego and Havana.
Susan talks about walking through the streets of each city, her camera always on her neck, at the ready for snapping interesting sights that seem to beg for a back story. That’s the thing about Susan’s photographs. They invite the viewer to interact–to look carefully, piece together a narrative based on what you think you know–then step outside your comfort zone to consider a whole different construct.
For example, one photo, taken in a plaza, shows a 15-foot tall bronze statue of a naked woman sitting atop a rooster, armed with a huge dinner fork. Near the statue is an older man in a wheelchair, eyes fixated on body parts of the woman in the statue. Next to him is a dour-faced woman–probably his wife–her eyes glaring at his eyes. In the background of the shot is Becky Johnson, smiling broadly. Has she also spotted the couple and is grinning at the photographer to share in the joke? What, for heaven sake, does the statue represent? Even if you understand a naked woman on a giant rooster, why the dinner fork?
You can see Susan’s Cuba photos, and others, by visiting the LQPCSmugmug website, clicking on Member Galleries and clicking on Susan’s name. You can also enjoy her first First Friday exhibition (see details below). It’s actually her first formal exhibit outside the Lake Quivira Clubhouse, where she nearly always has one or more of her works on the Photo Club gallery wall opposite the dining room.
Several of Susan’s Cuba photos will be featured at
First Friday Artist Reception May 5
First Friday Reception – May 5, 5 pm to 9 pm
The Abundance show, featuring Susan Hidalgo’s Cuba photos, along with nine other artists. will run 5/5 to 7/1 at Perennial Places at
Premier Financial space, 1535 Walnut, Crossroad Art & Entertainment District, KCMO. The gallery is open on First Fridays, and future shows will feature new artists.
Following are two of Susan’s Cuba photos which will included in the First Friday event.
Susan comes honestly by her love of travel and of photography. One of her most prized possessions is a thick, leather-bound scrapbook copiled by her mother, following a momentous trip to Europe in 1939 with several other young women and chaperones. The scrapbook is filled with photographs of historic buildings which would be bombed less than two years later–as well as fun and frivolity of a group of young woman seeing the sights.
Susan said before the age of cell phones, 24/7 news coverage and the internet, they were probably not aware, before they set sail, of how volatile Europe had become.
In fact, her mother and her companions caught one of the last ships home before civilian travel was all but halted. On reaching New York, European Jews onboard who were hoping to seek asylum in the US were sent back to Europe.
“It was history in the making,” says Susan of her mother’s trip. She also sees her own trip to Cuba as history in the making as that country begins to open its borders to US travelers. Having taken over a thousand photos on her recent trip, she chose for the First Friday exhibit those photos which she felt captured a contemporary look at Cuba on the cusp of change.