Cortera pictured here with one of his many vibrant graphite drawings. Photo Credit: Cortera

Ever since he was a child living in Cuba and scribbling sketches in the margins of his father’s book collection, Carlos Alvarez Cortera has been a natural artist. Sans academic training, art lessons or even independent research, Cortera developed his inborn artistic talent by nothing more than simply “watching people, asking questions and messing up.”

At the young age of 14, Cortera and his family escaped from Cuba to Costa Rica and then later relocated to the United States. After living in Florida for over two decades, during which time he met his husband and partner of 13 years, he finally made the move to Charlotte in hopes of milder weather and a fresh start.

Although he has only been a Charlottean for four years, Cortera is thoroughly involved with the local artistic community — participating in NoDa art groups, teaching art classes and displaying art at The Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte. In October, Cortera decided to embark upon a new project — a project void of commercialism, fueled only by conviction and passion; thus the idea of “F.U. — Fully Uncensored” was born.

“It is something that I’m working on that has to do with issues that are current, relevant and important to the gay community,” Cortera explains. ”The theme is going to deal with HIV and with the military, deal with discrimination, with equality, with teen suicide. It’s going to be very powerful, visually, I believe. A controversial show.”

Listening to Cortera discuss his project, voice infused with excitement, one can’t help but open a heart and spark interest in his new vision. He has already completed the first pieces of his new collection, featuring a heavyset, nude male model and anticipates the process of working on the rest of the pieces.

But amidst all the promising opportunities on the upcoming horizon, Cortera remains dedicated to the stylistic root that first grounded his artistic talent — drawing. He has submitted several of his graphite drawings for the upcoming Art/Out gallery show, slated to run March 18-April 20 at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte. : :

Art/Out gallery show kicks off at the center

The Lesbian & Gay Community of Charlotte will host a kick-off exhibition on Friday, March 18 from 5:30p.m.-9 p.m. to celebrate the arrival of a new collection of artwork. The showing features an impressive and diverse compilation of artists from all styles, ages, ethnicities and walks of life including: Carlos Alvarez Cotera, Carlieena Person, Justin Helms, Tony Hiller, Dan Butner, Debbie Oliver, Gary Benner, J. Scott Arnold, Kit Thomas, Ronnie Carruthers and Gil Croy. The show is open and welcoming to all. Snacks will be served with a suggested donation of $10. All proceeds benefit The Lesbian & Gay Community Center. For more information, visit

Leah Cagle

Leah Cagle is QNotes' former associate editor for arts and entertainment. You can reach editor Matt Comer via or