The ration markets in Cuba are a time warp. And a paradox.
Photographically, they are beautiful: sparse, still, barren.
Politically and socially, this emptiness would seem to show the abject failure of state planning. Bare shelves, no choice, no surplus. They appear to reflect the government’s disregard for the Cuban people.
But, when you spend enough time in the ration markets, another story emerges. Their sparseness belies a deeper substance. Though barren, they are not empty. They do work, and they represent security to the Cuban people. A backstop of flour, oil, eggs and sugar. Reliable staples, providing dignity. A bulwark against hunger.
As a Cuban who had lived in Mexico told me, unlike in Mexico or the US, there are no hungry children in Cuba thanks to the ration markets. This is the paradox. Empty shelves yet full stomachs. Granted, in recent times, COVID has pushed the Cuban system to the limit, and it appears even the ration markets aren't able to stave off hunger completely.
This "rum ration" was actually discontinued decades ago after the fall of the Soviet Union, when Cuba suffered severe economic hardship. However, the rum ration markets persist to this day - they just don't provide a free ration per se. Rather, they offer very inexpensive rum for the Cuban people, served directly into your own bottle from one of the barrels visible in the photo. And the rum ration man in this image is incredible. This was a 10 second exposure in a very dark ration market and he stood completely still for the entire ten second exposure....I think a diet of 100% rum probably helps.....
About the Artist:
Matthew Welch is a Los Angeles based photographer who has resided variously in New York, London and Sweden. When not roaming the world shooting FLOWs and MEGAs, he's shot advertising campaigns for clients like Kodak and Match.com. He started shooting as a kid in the late 70's using his Dad's old Olympus Pen-F half frame cameras and developing the black & white film in a homemade darkroom in his basement. He began his photographic career in the late 80’s shooting concert photos for various indie bands like Jawbox and Fugazi and also SPIN Magazine. He worked with Kodak in the mid 90's, and was an early pioneer launching digital photography with Kodak, back when advanced digital cameras were 1 megapixel.
He studied photography and psychology and has degrees from Harvard and Georgetown. While at Georgetown, he was a teaching assistant to Dr. Dave Carter, and worked with Professor Carter to develop the Psychology & Photography curriculum. This study of the psychological aspects of photography influences his work to this day.
Matthew's book of Flows, Just Another Day, was published in 6 languages and, at almost 40,000 copies, the first edition was one of the most widely read photo books in the world when it was published. He's currently working on the second edition. With his wife Monica, he's also the founder of Pacific Coast Gallery. You can read more about Matt here.
This photo is a part of Matthew's series The Still Life.
CUSTOMIZATION OPTIONS - Click here to read more about the various options and to see additional examples of each style and option.
Standard Sizes: Choose from our range of standard sizes. To help select the right size, you can see our standard sizes in a room above a standard couch here (please note this photo is in a different aspect ratio, so the sizes are slightly different than those pictured, but they are directionally the same, e.g. 40x53 versus 40x60 in the photos pictured in the rendered living room photos in the previous link), and details on the widths of the photo, border, linen liner and frames by photo size can be found here.
Horizontal or Vertical Orientations: In addition, most of our photos are available in a horizontal or a vertical orientation, so if you find an image you like but need the other orientation, please search for the photo by name, and you'll be able to see both the horizontal and the vertical orientations.
Custom Sizes: If you need a custom size (or even a custom crop) to fit your space, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or by using this form. We'd be happy to create a custom size for you to fit your space exactly.
Color or Black & White: Almost all of our images can be ordered as either black and white or color (unless they were originally shot on BW film). We're one of the first galleries to offer you this choice. We figure the photo is going to end up in your house on your walls, so you should have the choice about how it looks, to fit with your decor and sense of style.
3) Photo Style - Photographic Print, Acrylic Facemount or Matte Photograph:
Photographic print - Our photographic prints are museum quality, custom-printed photographs, printed on an archival paper with a traditional barium sulfate (baryta) base which gives the papers the look and feel of a traditional fiber based print from the darkroom. The baryta base enhances the photo's surface, producing creamy whites and velvety blacks that form part of the unique look and feel of a traditional fiber based print. The papers produce high definition images with an extended tonal range. We use a few different baryta papers (including Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta, Ilford Gold Fibre Silk, or Ilford Gold Fibre Gloss) which have been rated to be archival for 200+ years according to Wilhelm Research.
Acrylic facemount - Acrylic facemounts are photographic prints, directly mounted to a sheet of acrylic. Unlike other acrylic facemounts which typically use regular Fuji paper, we use a custom-made proprietary paper developed by our printer that contains Iridium particles, for incredible luminosity and dynamic range. These images are so luminous, people often think they are backlit.
To seal the image, we mount the front of the photo to optically clear 95% UV-blocking acrylic. We then mount the back of the photo to a 3mm acrylic backer which seals and protects the back of the print. Lastly, unlike most acrylic facemounts which skimp on the frame, we actually use a premium hardwood frame (such as an Italian ROMA frame) on the back of the photo - this is extremely strong and straight hardwood, and it will keep the photo from bowing. If we go this much effort for the back of the image that you'll never see, then you can be sure we go to even greater extremes for the image itself. Our acrylic facemounts are archival for 120 years.
These acrylic facemounts are available framed or unframed, and with or without a linen liner. Without a frame, they float 1.5" off the wall and come ready to hang.
Matte Photograph - This is an archival pigment matte photographic print directly on a rigid backing such as DiBond. It has a backmount and floats off the wall like our acrylic facemounts (but without the acrylic). It is our most low glare option, perfect for rooms with lots of windows and glare. To make a matte print, instead of printing on a sheet of photographic paper, we use a new technology to print directly on the backing itself, using pigment-based photographic inks which are micro-encapsulated to block UV rays and prevent fading (estimated to be archival for 120-150 years).
Because there is no glass or acrylic on top of the photo, there is virtually no glare at all. The flip side of this is that the image surface is not protected by acrylic against potential damage (e.g. kids throwing balls in the house, food fights, etc), so please bear this in mind if choosing this option. It is a great option for window-filled rooms with the potential for glare, but perhaps not the best option in a house filled with rambunctious young children....
4) Frame - Unframed, Floatmount or Framed
Unframed - Our unframed photos are printed on our museum quality archival baryta paper. They are printed with a white border and shipped in a tube. The width of the border varies by photo and by size. Click here to see the details on the border widths for the various sizes of this photo.
Floatmount - This is an unframed acrylic facemount or matte aluminum print with a sleek modern look that floats off the wall. It is mounted on the back to an extremely strong hardwood backmount, which allows the photo to float 1.5 inches off the wall. It comes with D-rings on the back, ready to hang.
Framed - Our photographic prints, acrylic facemounts and matte aluminum prints can come framed or unframed. All of our frames are custom handcrafted, and we offer a range of framing options.
Our standard frames are available in white, black or natural wood and come in a range of widths, up to 2.75 inches. Click here for more detail on the available widths for each size photo.
Our premium frames are from Roma in Italy. Many consider Roma to be the finest frame maker in the world. They're handfinished in Italy, are available in 5 styles, and come in a range of widths, up to 4 inches. Click here for more detail on the available widths for each size photo.
5) Linen Liner
Our framed photographic prints, framed acrylic facemounts and framed matte aluminum photos are available either with or without a linen liner. The linen liner is a thick mat board, covered in stretched linen, for a very premium look. The linen liner is available in black or white and starts at 3/4" wide for 13x19" photos and goes up to 2-3" wide for our larger sized photos. Click here for more detail on the width of the linen liner by size. Please bear in mind that, depending on the size of your photo, adding the linen liner will add between 1.5 to 6" to the height and width of your photo.
If you select no linen liner, the photo will extend all the way to the frame (with no white border) in the case of a framed acrylic facemount or matte aluminum photo. In the case of a framed standard photographic print, there will be a white border around the photo which varies by the size of the photo - click here for more detail on this width, by photo size.
Even our standard acrylic isn't really "standard". Instead, we use a high-end acrylic which is 95% UV blocking for acrylic facemounts, and 99% UV blocking for photographic prints.
We also offer a premium acrylic as an optional upgrade. This premium acrylic is low-glare, scratch-resistant and anti-static to repel dust. This is a good choice for bright rooms with lots of windows or glare, as well as heavily trafficked spaces and commercial installations.
60x80: Edition of 10
50x67: Edition of 25
40x53: Edition of 45
30x40: Edition of 75
24x32: Edition of 140
Smaller than 24x32: Open edition
Museum Quality Comes Standard:
About Pacific Coast Gallery:
Back in 1998, we first had the idea to start a new type of art gallery, based around three principles. The first is an obsession with quality. We offer some of the highest-resolution photos ever captured, some over 3 gigapixels, which is 3000 megapixels, which can be printed up to 100 feet wide tack sharp. And we're equally fanatical about printing. Each photo is individually custom printed and hand framed using the best technology and materials available today.
Second, we wanted to give our collectors more choice and control than you have ever had before when it comes to the final display of the artwork. That's why we let you choose either the color or black & white version, the standard or muted version, the media, the choice of framed or unframed, the size, the horizontal or vertical version, and in fact we’ll even custom crop and print a custom size for you to exactly fit your space.
Third, we wanted to make museum quality, limited edition art accessible to anyone. We built Pacific Coast Gallery to serve a broad middle area in the art and photography market that we felt wasn't being well served - between the expensive high-end art galleries on one end, and low-quality mass produced prints on the other end. That's why we offer limited-edition, collectible, museum quality, original handprinted photos from a range of artists and some of the world's most famous photographers, at prices accessible to anyone, starting at $89.
Some Of The Companies We And Our Artists Have Worked With:
Returns: Because each photo is custom printed and framed at the time of each order, we are not able to accept returns. All sales are final. In the case of damage during shipment, we will replace the artwork.
Color calibration: Our cameras, monitors and printers are all carefully color calibrated to produce consistent and accurate colors. However, your individual monitor on your desktop, laptop or phone may not be calibrated to these same exacting standards (e.g. phone displays are typically extra bright and oversaturated and are rarely re-calibrated by users), so as a result your printed image may look slightly different than what you're seeing on your display at present, due to this difference in calibration.
Cropping: Based on the size you order, the image may be cropped slightly to fit the size ordered (e.g. an 8.5x11 or a 13x19 image is a slightly different aspect ratio than the 3x4 native aspect ratio that this photo was captured in, and as such it will be slightly cropped to fit). Please note some 8.5x11s and 13x19s will come with wider borders if the crop would cause us to have to crop off a meaningful part of the image. In these cases, we will print the entire image uncropped, which will result in slightly wider borders on the side.