CUBA TRIP - 7 days
This week long encounter with Cuba and its people will focus on the extraordinary architecture, art and design of Cuba’s past and present. We will begin with two days in Havana, followed by a trip “out island” to the cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad de Cuba. Throughout the week we will have the opportunity to meet with Cuban artists, architects and craftsmen as well as with the people of Cuba we will meet in the crafts markets, galleries, plazas, cafes and many other places. These encounters - planned and spontaneous - will promote an exchange of ideas that will educate and promote the growth of understanding between Cubans and Americans.
*Our first two days in Cuba will be spent in Havana where we will learn some of the basic facts of the historical and contemporary Cuban experience. After a stop in Revolution Square we will have lunch at the Hotel Nacional, which has both historic and architectural significance. This iconic hotel of pre-Revolutionary Cuba was designed by the famed New York firm McKim, Mead and White and opened in 1930. At the beautiful restored home and gallery of a major artist we will enjoy the first of many encounters with the world-renowned artists who create such a vibrant cultural scene in Havana and beyond. We will enjoy both the art on the walls of this architectural wonder and an exchange of ideas about the art scene in Cuba and the U.S.
*Havana is an extraordinary city but there is much to see and learn beyond Cuba’s capitol city as we will discover in Cienfuegos and Trinidad de Cuba over the next few days. Cienfuegos - settled in the early 19th century by French citizens from New Orleans and Bordeaux - is filled with neoclassical buildings that have a European flair. Architectural highlights include the Palacio de Valleis, an architectural jewel that originated as a modest home for a trader and was enhanced by later owners who added to it in a Mughal style with carved floral motifs, a stunning Carrera marble staircase, cupped arches bulbous domes and delicate arabesques. Lunch at a stunning mansion in neoclassical style - the former home of a wealthy sugar baron - will provide another glimpse into the Cuban past. Our walk through the center of town with its crafts market will provide the opportunity to meet with craftsmen and other citizens of Cienfuegos and at the Tomas Terry Theatre (another extraordinary building built in 1895 and named for a sugar baron) we will have an introduction to the performing arts in Cuba past and present through conversations and exchanges with Cuban performing artists.
*Our travels continue to the beautiful Iberostar hotel in the center of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Trinidad’s historic center is a stunning relic of the early days of Spanish colonialism and the rise of the sugar industry that resulted in the beautifully preserved streets and buildings with barely a trace of the centuries that followed. We will have many opportunities to talk with historians and preservationists who are charged with maintaining this historical jewel and with the artists and craftsmen whose galleries line the cobblestone streets. One of these galleries is in the beautifully restored home of the Mata family filled with antique clocks and chandeliers along with the work of Carlos Mata with whom we will discuss the arts scene in Cuba as well as his unique technique for creating night time scenes of Trinidad.
*One of the delights of Trinidad is the music you find everywhere - on the street, in restaurants and at the Casa de la Musica in one of Trinidad’s main squares where we will enjoy the local music and meet the people of Trinidad. We will see historic buildings and have free time to wander the streets and craft markets of this extraordinary town, meet its friendly people and talk to the owners of the new small private enterprises about the economic changes in Cuba.
*Our return to Havana will provide many opportunities to explore the art and architecture of this historic city. We will have the unique privilege of meeting the distinguished architect Mario Coyula from the Group for the Comprehensive Development of Havana City at their headquarters in The Scale Model of Havana City where we will view the model of Havana and discuss with Dr. Coyula the challenge of restoration and preservation in a city that is an architectural treasure trove. Other highlights of the days in Havana will be lunch hosted by Jose Fuster, one of the most important Cuban ceramists and painters today who has adorned his entire neighborhood with his ceramic creations and visits to some of the many private galleries in artists’ homes. We will spend our days learning more about Cuban art, history and culture during tours of Havana’s historic - and architecturally important - buildings from colonial times to the Soviet era, at historical sites and at the extraordinary Museum of Fine Arts that presents an entire history of Cuban art from colonial times to present. At the famous open-air handicraft market of Old Havana we will see the crafts produced by Cuba’s creative and resilient artisans and at the American Interest Section we can discuss American-Cuban relations with representatives of our government. And at every point along the way - in the markets, in restaurants, with artists and the new entrepreneurs who have created restaurants in their beautiful homes (“paladars”) - we will be able to engage in the exchange of ideas about life in Cuba and the long historical relationship between Cuba and the United States.
For more information about this trip to Cuba, click here!