A Cuba Story, Part I — The Art

Two days ago I returned from an eight-day trip to a country that was once the Las Vegas of the Caribbean: Cuba. I was part of a Road Scholar tour, a tour for people age 50 and older. Road Scholar cannot be licensed to operate tours in Cuba unless the tour educates Americans about Cuba and features people-to-people interaction. As a result, our days were packed with tours, lectures and conversations with Cubans. Our group of 15 was filled with so much information, I feel as if we had several semesters of study.

One of the purposes of the trip was to learn about Cuban culture. I am typically not an art fancier, but I found myself taking pictures of Cuban art — original art, prints and even posters — it was all new to me. One of our tour guides told us, “Cuba is a loud country — the art and the cars are colorful; the music is loud and the people actually speak loudly to each other.” To introduce you to Cuba, 2017, here are photos of just some of the art I photographed on our trip.

Our first four nights in Cuba were spent at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana. In the lobby outside the hotel’s buffet, this picture depicts a fabulous Havana and…perhaps, something a bit personal.
Photo by Diane Taylor
This sculpture at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is by Roberto Fabelo and is called “Survival”. He has several similar installations that have become quite famous.
Photo by Diane Taylor
Cuban artist Victor Manuel is one of the painters whose work is on display at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. A print of this picture is sold at the museum gift shop…and I purchased one.
Photo by Diane Taylor
Our tour leader at the museum did not stop at this exhibit of faces on bags, but it attracted attention, nonetheless.
Photo by Diane Taylor
We were in Old Havana when this picture of a painting I call “the lady in pink” was taken. The artist’s name was difficult to read (even in a subsequent close-up photo of the signature), but bravo to him (or her) for a favorite drawing.
Photo by Diane Taylor
We visited a community art project called Muraleano, The area used for the art project was once a neighborhood dump, but in 2003 a group from the community cleaned up the area and started painting, building and fixing. Later the project incorporated all forms of art and music. This artist chose to use a wall along the street where the project was headquartered as his (or her) canvas.
Photo by Diane Taylor
Also part of the street art was this doll-like figure, who could have been influenced by Margaret Keane?
Photo by Diane Taylor
This piece, too, comes from the Muraleano project.
Photo by Diane Taylor
Although our art museum tour contained some art that we wouldn’t call “happy”, one can almost see the optimism of young people in these flowers that play a prominent role on the Muraleano property.
Photo by Diane Taylor
This eye-catching picture, I believe, was decorating a wall at the Riviera Hotel, once a great Havana hotel, but now having seen better days. My traveling companion and friend Mary Morton said we must visit the hotel and imagine what was…before the Cuban Revolution. We also visited a nearby more modern hotel (whose name escapes me) and this picture may have come from there. Nonetheless, I loved this picture.
Photo by Diane Taylor
This lovely sculpture was one of a number of pieces at the Hotel Velasco in Matanzas, Cuba. We were in Matanzas to visit the Matanzas Pharmacy Museum.
Photo by Diane Taylor
A public park in Matanzas, Cuba contained this statue of Cuban Revolution hero Jose Marti. Note the visitor to Marti’s top side. (We saw lots of public birds during our visit.)
Photo by Diane Taylor
This piece was on display at the Melia Veradero hotel in Veradero, Cuba. (Yep, Cuban artists like their nudes!).
Photo by Diane Taylor
On our way to Veradero, Cuba, we stopped at a farm that also has a ceramics art studio. This piece was installed in a vine. The headpiece actually extended around the corner of the building.
Photo by Diane Taylor
Kelvyn Lopez is becoming one of Cuba’s most famous artists with customers throughout the world. This modest piece is one of several flower paintings on display for visitors at his home — a lovely home he purchased and completely rehabbed as his studio and gallery.
Photo by Diane Taylor
Our final field trip was to a community non-profit cultural center that appeared to have more of a political point of view than the other places we visited. This project is the Museo Organico Romerillo and opened in 2014 with Fidel Castro in attendance. This project also features the only free wi-fi area in Cuba. (Other wi-fi areas require the purchase of wi-fi cards.) Visitors to Cuba can now visit Havana’s Revolution Square where this photo was taken.
Photo by Diane Taylor
A sun flower again takes center stage in this piece, also part of the Museo Organico Romerillo.
cultural center.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Comments

2 responses on “A Cuba Story, Part I — The Art

  1. I love that you shared the incredible art of Cuba, truly a very colorful country. Thanks, Diane. I will share this on several sites. Can’t wait to see Part 2.

  2. This was an incredible article, Diane. I really enjoyed the art. I am assuming you had an absolutely awesome time also. Shirley.

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