Photographer finds beauty amid decay, making peace with the contradictions in search for Cuba's soul
Leba Hertz, San Francisco Chronicle
"Fidel Castro's island nation still evokes strong emotions from both the left and the right. Berkeley photographer Thea Bellos has captured the heart and soul of Cuba in her new show, ¡Cuba Viva! at the Berkeley Public Library. For her work on ¡Cuba Viva!, Bellos left the "controlled environment" of Havana and traveled to Santiago de Cuba and Trinidad in order to get "a better glimpse into this rich and ethnically diverse society. ... The passion, warmth, creativity and generosity of the Cuban people can be seen throughout this exhibition. Many of us have never been to Cuba, but Bellos show allows us to imagine a nation with a beauty that transcends all politics and gives us an insight into what's right and wrong in the world."
Commonwealth Club to display Berkeley photographer’s work, “Creative Odyssey: Travels to Turkey, Vietnam, Cambodia, Panama and Chile”
Lou Fancher, Bay Area Media Group
"Mounting an outside staircase to reach Thea Bellos' Berkeley photography studio, a marvelous, sunlit hallway leads a visitor on an international journey. Past an ornate mosque in Istanbul, there's a bike perched on a roof in Valparaiso, a smiling Cuban, then a string of Panamanian Embera dancers, their chocolate-toned bodies dressed in lollipop-hued costumes to delight the eye.”
“And behind every image there's a story; a fragile narrative made permanent by the instinctive eye of Bellos...Her photos, often described as painterly for their texture and masterful handling of color, reveal an architectural genius that transforms even a young girl's face into a construct of angled planes and patinated surfaces...Divining stories from rich surfaces and the common people she calls "the most generous of all," Bellos' personal odyssey is also the world's -- in images bristling with emotion, intelligence, and breathtaking color.“
Lynn Curtis, Curator, Commonwealth Club
“As a curator for the Commonwealth Club, I was drawn to Thea’s work by not only its artistry, but by the wealth of stories that her images carry. Her works speak to us, not only through the weathered faces of its people, but the time worn terrain of its landscape, fragile existences that achieve permanence through Thea’s heart and eye.”
A lo Chileno: It's Chile at La Peña
Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
"The show Vive Chile! Views and Voices at Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center- founded in part by Chilean expats in 1975-focuses on that narrow nation of extremes marking its own thirtieth anniversary. Photographer Thea Bellos’ recent trip to Chile coincided with the Asia Pacific Economic Conference in Santiago, and she was able to capture some of the tension between the anti-globalization protests and the gussied-up business community with its extra contingent of carabineros. Other photos document her travels in Chiloe, an island shrouded in myth and fog."