Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘cuba’

Photo: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images
A performance at the 2015 Havana Biennial. When the Cuban government postponed this year’s event, artists took matters into their own hands.

The recent hurricanes have stressed official budgets all over the Caribbean, and in Cuba, the government blames Irma recovery costs for its decision to postpone a popular arts biennial.

So artists and art lovers decided to organize an alternative event, as Laurie Rojas reports at the Art Newspaper.

“A crowdfunding campaign was launched [in December] for the #00Bienal (5-15 May 2018), an independent alternative event that is due to take the place of the 13th Havana Biennial, which the Cuban government has postponed until 2019 because of a lack of resources after Hurricane Irma hit the island. …

“ ‘The democratically minded #00Bienal will be ‘the Havana Biennial for everyone,’ says the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, one of the main organisers of the event.

“The aim is to provide a platform for artists who do not have the visibility or official status to participate in a government-sponsored biennial. Street, Outsider, performance, digital and conceptual artists and photographers are all invited to submit proposals. …

“[Alcántara] says that ‘the government made a grave error’ when it postponed the Havana Biennial, describing it as ‘the most important cultural event in the country.’

“Other artists and curators, including Tania Bruguera, Alvaro Saavedra and Coco Fusco, as well as independent cultural spaces in Havana, have volunteered to help realise the #00Bienal. It will be completely self-funded and will not seek money from the state.”

Check out the Art Newspaper, here, as well as the Havana Times, here. Hyperallergic details here the government hostility Alcántara ran into for organizing the alternative event.

Two couples I know went to Cuba last year and loved it. If you go in May, please let me know if you see the arts event.

Read Full Post »


Photo: World Music
Harold López-Nussa, pianist and leader of the Harold López-Nussa Cuban jazz trio, which astonished the crowd at the Berklee Performance Center last night.

We have now seen the amazing Cuban jazz trio headed by Harold López-Nussa twice, and we still can hardly believe the pyrotechnics and joyfulness that explode from this young crew.

A documentary maker who is a part-time resident of New Shoreham had been to Cuba and, having gotten to know Harold, was determined to bring the trio to Rhode Island. It took a few years. We got to hear them last summer in the St Andrews parish hall.

Last night they played for an astonished crowd at Boston’s Berklee Performance Center as part of the World Music/Crash Arts series.

Here’s what the World Music website says: “Havana-based composer and pianist Harold López-Nussa travels smoothly through his classical, Cuban, and jazz inspirations to create an exceptional style of global jazz. His trio includes his younger brother, Ruy Adrián López-Nussa, a renowned musician in his own right, on percussion and Gaston Joya on bass.”

What is not conveyed by that description is the extraordinary virtuosity of each of the performers. Harold, yes, but also his younger brother the drummer, and his “brother of another mother,” the bass player.

The trio is like a fireworks display that you grin all the way through. In any one piece, they seem to be ending and you start cheering, when all of a sudden there is an explosive burst more astonishing even than the one you just heard — and you’re off to the races again.

Harold is the only one who speaks enough English to introduce the numbers, which he or his bass player or various Cuban greats composed. He likes to tell you about composing one long piece in his rattle-trap Polish car (in video below), which he says is so slow he has loads of time to think. A gentle, nostalgic piece was written for his late mother.

From Harold’s website: “López-Nussa was born into a musical family in Havana on July 13, 1983. Not only are his father and uncle – Ernán, a pianist – working musicians, but his late mother, Mayra Torres, was a highly regarded piano teacher.

“At the age of eight, López-Nussa began studying at the Manuel Saumell Elementary School of Music, then the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory and finally graduating with a degree in classical piano from the Instituto Superior de Artes (ISA). ‘I studied classical music and that’s all I did until I was 18,’ he says. Then came jazz.

“ ‘Jazz was scary. Improvisation was scary. That idea of not knowing what you are going to play…’ he says, his voice trailing off. “At school I learned the works of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven and then it was all very clear. That permanent risk in which jazz musicians find themselves in all the time was terrifying-of course, now I find myself in that risk all the time.’ ”

Last night, as Harold thanked all the people who helped the trio get to Boston, he said, “You wouldn’t believe what it takes to get out of Cuba to come here.” Here’s hoping it gets easier so they can reach all the audiences who will love them.

Check out the trio’s website here and this, the blurb for the World Music concert at Berklee.

Although the video doesn’t show the fireworks of the current trio, it nicely documents how Harold worked with an earlier group of collaborators. And it features the Polish car.

Read Full Post »

Allison Keyes at American Public Media Marketplace reported recently on an unusual kind of cruise line — one that is looking for passengers who want a little altruism along with their fun.

“Carnival Corporation’s new brand, Fathom Travel,” she writes, “is seeking to tap into a growing market with its social impact cruises to the Dominican Republic and cultural immersion cruises to Cuba. …

“Its Social Impact cruises are now regularly bringing visitors who want to help out on humanitarian projects to the Dominican Republic.

“In the village of El Cupey, in the mountains above Puerto Plata, Maria Vargas sits on her porch with her family and a neighbor. The 43-year-old and the others are learning to speak English from passengers on Fathom’s cruise. Through an interpreter, Vargas explains that the weekly classes are giving them a chance to improve their lives, and the opportunity to get out of poverty.

“ ‘I want (my) family … to get a new opportunity for a job with this,’ Vargas explained. ‘It has been a big benefit.’

“Along with the English classes, Fathom’s social impact cruises allow passengers to do everything from laying cement floors in homes and planting trees to combat deforestation, to building ceramic water filters in a nation where more than 3 million people don’t have access to safe, piped water.”

Says Josh Elliott, international program director at Wine to Water, which “has built and distributed 316 water filters with the help of Fathom passengers since the cruises began, ‘Fathom came to us with the idea and has really provided us with not only filters from volunteers working alongside us in the Dominican Republic, but it’s also given us an amazing platform … We’re inspiring people to give back when they go home and get off the ship.’ …

“But for Fathom to be successful,” cautions Keyes, “it must attract more passengers like Florida native Ken Maida, who said this is different from the 20 previous cruises he’s taken.

“ ‘This one is more for humanity,’ Maida said. ‘This one’s more about volunteerism and giving back to the community, to people who don’t have as much as we do.’ ”

If it sounds a little superficial, it at least helps travelers to see another side of life and think about longer-term service projects.

More here.

 

Read Full Post »

One of the sources I check for ideas to share with you is the website for the delightful environmental radio show, Living on Earth.

A story about the healthy coral reefs in the deep water off Cuba caught my eye, especially as there has been a resurgence of interest in Cuba lately.

Living on Earth host Steve Curwood interviews Robert Wintner about his latest book, Reef Libre: The Last, Best Reefs in the World.

“CURWOOD: Now, your book is very timely. Come on, tell me … you got some kind of tip off on this political thaw? …

“WINTNER: I thank Neptune for that. We got word of this particular reef system [that was] called the last best reef system in the world. And the three qualifiers for that rating were 100 percent biodiversity (that means all the species that were ever there are there now, and in fact some they thought were extinct), 100 percent coral cover and 100 percent host of apex predators, and that was the key right there to restoring these reefs to healthy conditions. No natural system can survive intact without apex predators, that’s what allows every level of the food chain beneath it to be at optimum balance. And the glaring example in the world today is Cuban reefs, our Jardines de la Reina. That’s the ocean people talk about, that the world used to have, that we used to love. It’s there in in Cuba.”

Read all about it here., or listen to the broadcast. Lots of amazing photos. And be sure to note how the Cubans control the invasive lionfish by removing the spines and conditioning bigger predators to the taste.

Photo: Robert Wintner at Living on Earth
Reef Libre: The Last, Best Reefs in the World is diver and photographer Robert Wintner’s most recently published book.

Read Full Post »

“JR,” a French street artist, has created a series of murals called “The Wrinkles of the City.”

The wrinkles are the intriguing faces of older people, often pictured on crumbling edifices. Kevin Harnett writes about them at the Sunday Globe, here.

“JR, a Frenchman whose real name is unknown, has become an international art celebrity thanks to his work flyposting oversized black-and-white photographs, often portraits of ordinary people’s faces, to the sides of buildings in cities around the world. …

“JR’s series ‘The Wrinkles of the City,’ which he began in Cartagena, Spain, has also appeared in Los Angeles and Shanghai. More recently he and collaborator José Parlá took to Havana, where they bedecked the old communist capital with the faces of dozens of Cuban Revolution survivors wearing expressions of deep-creased sanguinity. ‘The Wrinkles of the City, Havana, Cuba’ has been adapted for display at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York City.” The show may be seen until July 12.

Street art in Cuba by JR

Read Full Post »

I am not ordinarily into sports, but I love Bill Littlefield’s Saturday sports wrap-up on WBUR because he is a great storyteller, and he looks for offbeat sports stories.

Today he had one on the over-65 U.S. softball players who have games with an over-65 team from Cuba.

“The Eastern Massachusetts Senior Softball Association has been sending teams to Cuba for annual exhibitions called ‘The Friendship Games.’ The first four EMASS Softball teams visited Havana in 2009 and the meeting reminded [organizer Mike] Eizenberg of kids playing pickup.

“ ‘When we went onto the field, it felt exactly the same way to all of us,’ Eizenberg recalled. ‘Most of the players didn’t speak the others’ language, but we all just loved to play ball.’

“Before that game, Cuban authorities allowed local musicians to play the U.S. and Cuban national anthems. That hadn’t happened in Cuba in 50 years. After three years of exhibitions, Eizenberg decided bringing the Cubans to the States was worth a try. He’s still amazed his Cuban friends made it.

“ ‘No one ever believed that it would be possible for them to come here. All of a sudden, magically, we received permission both from the U.S. government and the Cuban government for the players to come here,’ Eizenberg said. ‘[The Cuban players] say that this proves that nothing is impossible. If this can happen, anything can happen.’ …

“EMASS Softball player Les Gore says the Cubans and the Americans share a love of baseball and softball, but their sports resumes are a bit mismatched.

“ ‘The people playing here representing the U.S. and we’re talking about doctors, lawyers, plumbers. We’re just average guys who love to play softball,’ Gore said. ‘But the Cubans, many of the people who play for the Cuban softball leagues were in their time probably some of the most prominent baseball players that the island has ever produced, so we’re playing against those people.’ ” More.

Photograph: WBUR at  Flickr

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: