Captivating Cuba

Thanks to President Obama, who modified the restrictive Cuba travel policy, throngs of visitors are making their way to the island. The change is designed to encourage more contact between Americans and citizens of the Communist-ruled island, the Treasury Department  grants so-called “people-to-people” licenses, which greatly expand travel opportunities for Cuba-bound visitors. However, one still cannot just hop on a plane and visit as an independent traveler.

Boys on the street – a universal scene cool boys & even cooler cars.

Cuba is realistically set in a time warp – the cars are decades old; 1950’s big Buick’s, Oldsmobile’s and Chevy’s – replacement parts, of course are not available, but the drivers amazingly seem to have kept them running. Evident in a door handle workings: almost hidden, a bent nail and some wire; many of the cars are lacking the interior panels – safety is not relevant – style, reflecting a vintage culture is of importance, amazingly the streets are clogged with traffic of another era.

Crumbling buildings, once elegant and refined European dwellings look like they are on their last legs; majestic marble staircases lead to apartments and restaurants – mixed housing development is clearly acceptable. Walking up the three flights of a graceful wide marble stairway to a hip restaurant, one can easily peer into the bedrooms of the apartment dwellers. A scene out of the Honeymooners television hit.

The Malecón waterfront is beautiful and if commerce is allowed to return, it should be a stunning location for rebuilding these fallen treasures. Old Havana is filled with lovely churches, central parks and leafy tree lined squares, cafes brimming with lively musicians and European tourists.  Architecture evoked by Southern Spain, despite the crumbling, one can imagine another time, a time of an elegance and hope.

A trip to the Hemingway Museum is definitely best taken in a vintage convertible, the bumpy ride produces a big smile. Finca Vigia, which means lookout farm, was the name of Hemingway’s residence when he lived there. The Hemingway Museum provides a glimpse of the daily life of Ernest and his wife; the pleasant surroundings and original furnishings make this a must see for anyone interested in the life and works of Ernest Hemingway.

Hotel Saratoga Havana

National Museum of Fine Arts Havana – Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes. The Museum of Fine Arts in two impressive buildings, one dedicated to Cuban Arts and Universal Arts. Beautifully organized, view the work of master Cuban painters – including, Adigio. His work can also be seen in his small studio, paintings stacked three deep in his apartment. Despite the language barrier, he enthusiastically shared his latest work, since my visit he has passed away.

Havana is a very fascinating place to visit, and I recommend it for a fun, safe, and utterly unique travel experience in the Caribbean, especially if you’re interested in history, architecture, the contradictory effects of socialism, lively music and great dining. We enjoyed our best meal at family run La Casa a celebrity dining destination.  Although the Tropicana night club show is a bit campy, it is definitely a fun cabaret evening. Launched in 1939, it quickly spread the spicy Latin culture to the world, the Tropicana showgirls described as “Las Diosas de Carne” or “Flesh Goddesses”, were celebrated for their curvaceous figures and their embellished feather-and-sparkly sequin costumes. Tropicana Club inspired musical revues in New York, Las Vegas and Paris.

Trinidad Cuba

Trinidad – a UNESCO World Heritage site is a picturesque town filled with small taverns and ice cream shops. The Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad is the finest lodging and overlooks the charming Plaza Mayor, strolled by the locals on Sunday afternoons. A gathering spot for conga drums, animated singers and percussionists who participate in small impromptu festivals. Don’t miss the Museo Romantico, a 19th-century colonial mansion with period furniture and textiles, evidence of the once opulent lifestyle of this city. Sunday street vendors offer crafts and local cuisine.

Tobacco Farmer, Vinales

Yes, we survived the taxi ride – despite the lack of interior panels and the ancient driver!

Paseo del Prado, Havana

At the Hemingway Museum

And how do you spend a cold stormy day? Spanish Scrabble with your waiter..Mojito, Si! Yes, he won!

Postcards mailed, but never received in the US.

Monthly rations

Trinidad – colorful and curious

Imagine no cell phones ringing on the street, no one walking down the avenues, head down tapping on a keyboard, no billboards or advertising – quite pure in an odd sense. You will see political signs elevating Fidel Castro and other national heroes. A brief visit, not necessarily a place to spend a lifetime. Still one must be a member of an organized tour group to visit.

 

Cuba Artist – Lisandra Isabel García López

There were two talented young Cuban artists I met in San Francisco, this work belongs to Lisandra. Very colorful, distinctive and evocative images. 09- Hello, I love youTEXT FROM HAVANA CULTURA http://havana-cultura.com/en/visual-arts/fragil-lisandra-isabel-garcia-lopez

Lisandra wants to continue with her previous work that explores identity and individuality through the displaying of personal, everyday objects. She built a room missing one of its walls so as to make it accessible to the spectator. The three walls are covered with paintings representing the artist’s personal belongings. On the floors, we find several figures lying down. Four large glasses display human faces painted with a sandblaster, and a light pointed at them results in the images being reflected on the walls.

Below is an extract from her project statement that resumes this piece’s themes:

“My intention with this piece is to work on the subject of intimate introspection which I have been developing for some time now, essentially through self-referential pieces. I want to create a personal world from my own experiences, experimenting with various materials and supports in order to take drawing to a different dimension.12- Imitación de vida

I intend to continue exploring what’s ordinary, intimate, and feminine, representing in my work objects from my own domestic environment to highlight my taste, motivation, and sensibilities, and reflect on the permeability towards the environment that surrounds us.

The notion of transparency is a very important element that is always present in my work. Transparency, to me, means, above all, sensibility towards common and simple things. It also means fragility, vulnerability, and permeability to outside influences and to the things that are part of our lives and we interact with on a daily basis.

I find the contrast interesting because of the juxtaposition of opposed concepts which are, at the same time, complementary. These concepts are represented by the materials from which the piece is built. To give an example, I use glass because it is transparent, fragile, breakable, and delicate, but also resistant, firm, solid, strong, and lasting.”

08- Siete menos cuartoLisandra Isabel García López was born in Havana in 1989. She is currently a student at the Higher Institute of Arts and a graduate from the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts. Lisandra has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including Torbellino II (Galería Habana, Havana, 2011); Interna cognición (National Union of Artists and Writers, Havana, 2010); and Viene el lobo (el verdadero loop) (Factoría Habana, Havana, 2010). In 2010, she was awarded the second prize at the Cubafoto photography festival (Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center, Havana). She has taken part in academic and artistic exchange programs with New York University (USA), the University of Arts and Social Sciences (Germany), and Cardinal Wiseman High School (UK).

07- DianaIn her words:  In my works I propose the evasion of reality as personal art concept and creative strategy. The self-reference is determined by this attitude that doesn’t turns into apathy but into conscious reconversion of the reality that surrounds me. I construct, in an almost autobiographic way, an introspective world where I display my own evasion fantasies, and where I try to find refuge. I create it from my own life experience and my personal universe. In that world I transmute fragments of my body, quotidian environments and objects. I turn them into something filled with a personal meaning, that allows me, imaginatively, get refuge from the rest of the world and, at the same time, highlight certain sorts of likes, customs, motivations and sensibilities.

Lisandra Isabel García López Havana, 1989.

 Studies

Actually works as an art specialist at the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, in Havana.

2013 Graduates the Faculty of Visual Arts at the Higher Institute of Arts, in Havana

2008 Graduates from the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts, in Havana.

Solo exhibitions

2013 Soft Glass. Villa Manuela Gallery. UNEAC. Havana.

2012 Adolescent artist self-portrait. CMBF. Radio Musical Nacional. Havana.

2010 Imitation of Life. Miramar Trade Center Art Gallery, Havana.

2009 Inventory 55. Ludwig Foundation of Cuba. Havana. Adolescent artist self-portrait. Oswaldo Guayasamín Gallery, Havana.

2008   Thesis Adolescent artist self-portrait. José Antonio Díaz Peláez Gallery, San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts, Havana.

 Collective Exhibitions

2014 En Rosa.Collage Habana Gallery. Havana, Cuba.

2013 Cuba Contemporánea. Centro Cultural Manoir de Cologny. Geneva, Switzerland.

2012 Gulliver. Meeting Havana Cultura. Freies Museum, Berlin, Germany.

La herencia de la tradición pictórica. Show of Cuban Digital Arts organized by Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center. Casona Municipal. Córdoba, Argentina.

La herencia de la tradición pictórica. Muestra Show of Cuban Digital Arts organized by Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center. Fedro Gallery. Salta, Argentina.SenseLAB, Collateral Exhibition 11th Havana Biennial, Art History and Literature Faculty, Havana. http://www.senselab.info

A smell that comes through my window: Havana Cultura. 11th Havana Biennial. Gallery of the Museum of Rum. Havana Club International, Havana. http://www.havana-cultura.com/visual-arts-project

Layers. 11th Havana Biennial. Visual Arts Faculty, ISA, Havana.

Part-Time. 11th Havana Biennial, Theatrical Art Faculty, ISA, Havana.

2011 Torbellino II. Habana Gallery, Havana.

2010 Interna cognición. Villena Exhibition Hall. UNEAC. Havana.

Emplazamiento. Mariano Rodríguez Gallery. Villa Panamericana. Habana del Este, Havana.

Screening of documentaries and show of photographs made for Tisch workshop. Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, Havana.

Turn Around. La Casona Gallery, Havana.

Torbellino. San Antonio María Claret Cultural and Animation Missionary Center, Santiago de Cuba.

Viene el Lobo (el verdadero loop). Factoría Habana Gallery, Havana.

5×7 Photo Festival at the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center, Havana.

XVI Erotic Art Exhibition. Fayad Jamís Gallery, Arts and Literature Center, Habana del Este, Havana.

Esporas. Pabellón Cuba, Havana.

2009 1st International Exhibition of Plastic Artists Tunjuelito Locality. Exhibition Hall, Cultural House, Bogotá. Colombia.

Luz a tu propia química 2. Cuban Photographic Library, Havana.

X Digital Arts Exhibition. Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center. Havana.

Pura coincidencia. Collateral Exhibition 10th Havana Biennial. Expocuba. Havana.

Crisis Expocuba. Havana. Collateral Exhibition 10th Havana Biennial.

2007 Variations in black and white. Photographic exhibition. José Antonio Díaz Peláez

Gallery. San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts. Havana.

Se acabó + Pixel. Maqueta de la Habana, Havana.

SHOT. IX Exhibition of Digital Arts. 23 y 12 Cinema Art Gallery, Havana.

Yo,Yo y Yo. Visual Arts Experimental Center. Belkis Ayón Gallery, Havana.

Tiempo compartido. Your photography space. Photokasbah. Spain.       http://www.phk.es/aguilar/tiempo-compartido

International Contest on Surrealist Photography Eibar 2007. Plaza de Untzaga. Ayuntamiento de Eibar. Guipúzcoa. Spain.

Efecto, Acción y Reacción. Carmelo González Gallery. Cultural Center, Plaza Municipality, Havana.

Awards

2012 Havana Cultura Residence. Havana Cultura Visual Art Projects. Havana Club Internacional.

2010 Second prize Cubafoto. 5×7 Photo Festival, Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center, Havana.

Génesis Art Galleries Prize. 5×7 Photo Festival, Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center. Havana..

Special Prize of the Cultural Management at Habana del Este Municipality. XVI Erotic Art

Exhibition. Fayad Jamís Gallery, Arts and Literature Center. Habana del Este.

First Prize. XVI Erotic Art Exhibition. Fayad Jamís Gallery, Arts and Literature Center.

Habana del Este, Havana.

2007 Mention at the IX Exhibition of Digital Arts. Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center, Havana.

Conferences and Talks

2012 Mirar desde la sospecha. Representaciones de género en las Artes Visuales. UNEAC. Havana.

2009 Inventory 55. Ludwig Foundation of Cuba. Havana.

Other activities

2012, 2013 Piece Donation to auction for the fight against cancer, organized by Ludwig Foundation of Cuba and Canada Embassy in Cuba.

2010 Tisch Documentary Production Workshop by Professor Robert Pietri. Special programs of Tisch School of The Arts, NYU. Ludwig Foundation of Cuba. Havana.

2009   Sense Lab Workshop. Exchange project between the Cuban Higher Institute of Arts, Cuba, and Alanus, University of Arts and Social Sciences, Germany, by Professors Antonio Correa, Frency Fernández, Andrea Sunder-Plassmann, and Dagmar Wöhler. http://www.senselab.info

2006-2007 Exchange Project Cuba-UK Solidarity in Art, between Cardinal Wiseman High School and the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts. Havana, 2006/London, 2007.DSCF2740Tarjeta10- Libro de cabecera