Having just returned from Havana, Cuba I have a new light in my eye and place in my heart concerning Cuban art. I traveled with a cultural exchange group from the United States; with what was called a people-to-people journey, or a bridge between two cultures.
We traveled from Havana to the small quaint town of Cienufuegos, and met with UNEAC, a union for the arts; writers, musicians, dancers, visual artists. Walking to various artist studios I realized nothing was much different than at home; passionate people loving the medium they work, and statement they make through their art. One artist, Camilo VillaVilla Soto, is a political artist who has shown in the United States a few years back. He modestly sells his work to tourists who come in groups to see what Cuba is all about.
In Havana we met with the Ludwig Foundation, a group that promotes visual artists. I had dinner with a printmaker and a painter. By the end of the evening the printmaker had wondered off, but I sat intensely interested in what Roger Toledo, the painter, felt about his work and the direction of the arts in Cuba. Every artist has stars in their eyes when you mention showing their work in other countries, not much different than in the USA really, other than that we have the opportunity to venture out and make it happen.
We ended the evening with my offer to try to get him into The San Diego Museum Artists Guild as an artist member with the opportunity, once accepted, to show his work online in our website sales gallery. He was ecstatic to say the least.
No sooner was I home than I received an email from Roger Toledo, thanking me and voicing how interested he was in joining. He is presently working up a biography in English and pictures to send of his work. I anxiously wait…..
Art in Cuba is alive and fervent in its direction. Artists of all media are hungry to hear about trends in the United States, and to have the opportunity to travel abroad to take it all in. With the current government loosening up the reigns we can only hope that the future will enable their talented people to show the world their gift.