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Cuba's Faded Glory



Waves crash, smoke wafts, people hustle. A motley sea of vintage cars and tattered buildings surround me. Spanish—soft and round—blends seamlessly with the insistent pulse of son, mambo, and rumba. The air is an unmistakable blend of sea, tobacco, and diesel. 

Yes, Cuba is a place that assaults the senses, that embodies paradox and defies logic. It is also a place where I was fortunate to take 23 travelers in February as part of a Fairfield University Bellarmine Museum of Art new program to promote cultural exchange. Our group, comprised of alumni and faculty as well as members of the general public, noticed that things were definitely different in Cuba from the moment we arrived. Upon entering the small baggage hall, my husband Victor (a Cuban-American architect) and I were approached by a somber young man in a khaki uniform. “Luis” was very interested in the literature we had in our carry-on bag—Bellarmine exhibition catalogs. For ten rather tense minutes he recorded, in long-hand, our answers to his many questions together with the title of each publication. 

Once released, we stepped out of the airport into a parking lot filled with vintage American cars—living relics of Havana’s pre-Revolutionary days. Equally eye-catching is the propagandistic imagery, which proclaims the rectitude of revolution and the righteousness of socialism from murals and billboards. A broad billboard near the airport, for instance, apotheosizes Che Guevara: “We see you each day, pure like a child or an honest man, Che, Commander, friend.”

Also remarkable are the holdings of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, now divided into two separate collections: Cuban Art (housed in the Palacio de Bellas Artes) and “Universal” Art (in the Palacio del Centro Asturiano). Another collection worth visiting is the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas. Housed in a villa once owned by a wealthy Countess, the museum—and the treasures it contains—give modern-day visitors a clear sense of how Havana’s élite lived before 1959. One such person was Ernest Hemingway. His island residence, FincaVigía, can be visited by tourists, as can his room (#511) at the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Old Havana.

Old Havana offers evidence of Cuba’s efforts to preserve its architectural patrimony. The city’s five civic squares are bounded by colonial structures that are, generally speaking, far better maintained than the city’s other crumbling edifices. This dichotomy reveals itself on the outskirts of town as well; perhaps nowhere more so than at the sprawling arts complex known as “ISA” (Instituto Superiore des Artes). This project was spearheaded by Castro’s Revolutionary government in 1961, when a golf club was nationalized to create a vast campus comprising five separate art schools. By 1965, however, the regime’s once-utopian project was abandoned. We visited the best of what remains: Ricardo Porro’s School of the Plastic Arts; notable for its organic design and “Catalan” masonry vaults. Here we were wowed by the architect’s evocative spaces and by the opportunity to meet young painters and graphic artists at work. It is their creative energy that gives one hope for renewal in the midst of chaos and privation.

We also visited the Taller Experimental de Gráfica de La Habana, a co-operative of some 120 graphic artists. Visitors can engage directly with artists at this studio just off of Cathedral Square in Old Havana, in addition to buying their works. Classified as “informational material,” artworks are among the few things Americans can bring home from Cuba.

A state-trained guide accompanied our group, contextualizing the “Triumph of the Revolution” along the way and steering us toward state-owned restaurants. The food tries hard, though unsuccessfully, to emulate Continental cuisine—white fish in white sauce abounds. Though meals in Havana may disappoint, the rum does not. This amber elixir, like the omnipresent cigars, does not qualify as “informational material,” and therefore must be enjoyed in situ. 

Cuba is inherently beautiful, despite its current state of decrepitude. There is a real risk, however, that change—if it comes—will be accompanied by a charmless brand of global capitalism. And here’s the rub: achieving prosperity without the destruction of all that makes Cuba unique. If the balance is not right, you may find yourself ordering your cortadito at a Starbucks on Revolutionary Square, your mojito at a Cheesecake Factory in Habana Vieja.

 

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October 2017

Join the 11th Annual CancerCare Fairfield Walk/Run for Hope at Jennings Beach, 880 South Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut, Sunday, October 15, 2017. Walk or run to celebrate survivors, support...

Cost: $35-40 for Adults

Where:
Jennings Beach
880 South Benson Rd
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: CancerCare
Telephone: 212-712-6165
Contact Name: Erica Lebensberg
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Registration is open for the annual Walk/Run for Abilis that will be held at Greenwich Point Park (Tod's&nbs...

Cost: $35 for 5k run

Where:
Greenwich Point Park
Tod's Driftway
Old Greenwich, CT  06870
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Sponsor: Abilis
Telephone: 203-531-1880
Contact Name: Erica Klair
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The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce is  happy to announce that its annual fall “Harvest Market” will be held on the Old Town Hall Green, (corner of Old Post Road and Beach Road) on...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Old Town Hall Green
611 Old Post Road
Corner of Old Post Rd & Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: Fairfield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-255-1011
Contact Name: Krista McCormack
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Bring the family to Pequot Library’s Great Lawn on Sunday, October 15 from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. to discover what life was like on the home front during WWI with hands-on activities for all...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

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Sunday, October 15th Calf Pasture Beach Calf Pasture Beach Road Norwalk, CT 06851 Check-in: 3:00 pm Walk Begins: 4:00 pm Route Length: 3 miles The Lupus Foundation of America's...

Cost: Free but registration is appreciated. $100 incentive level for t-shirt

Where:
Calf Pasture Beach
Calf Pasture Beach Road
Norwalk, CT  06851
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Website »

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Music on the Hill opens its fall concert season with the Festival Chorus performing "The Power of Song" with artistic directors David H. Connell and Ellen Dickinson. An uplifting...

Cost: $20 in advance; $25 at the door; students, free.

Where:
Unitarian Church in Westport
10 Lyons Plains Road
Westport, CT  06880
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Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

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The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

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A weeklong celebration of art with programs for all ages and fine art for sale. Related Programming: Saturday, October 14 - Sunday, October 22: Green Art Show Sunday, October 15: Gallery Talk...

Cost: See details for each program

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

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Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

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Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

A weeklong celebration of art with programs for all ages and fine art for sale. Related Programming: Saturday, October 14 - Sunday, October 22: Green Art Show Sunday, October 15: Gallery Talk...

Cost: See details for each program

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

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Click here to attend the 3rd Annual SilverSource Autumn Breakfast when investors and innovators will explore how exciting advances in technology will improve our lives. Now more than ever,...

Cost: starting at $75

Where:
Crowne Plaza Stamford Hotel
2701 Summer St.
Stamford, CT  06905
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Sponsor: SilverSource
Telephone: 203-273-2218
Contact Name: Laura Roberts
Website »

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Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

A weeklong celebration of art with programs for all ages and fine art for sale. Related Programming: Saturday, October 14 - Sunday, October 22: Green Art Show Sunday, October 15: Gallery Talk...

Cost: See details for each program

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

A weeklong celebration of art with programs for all ages and fine art for sale. Related Programming: Saturday, October 14 - Sunday, October 22: Green Art Show Sunday, October 15: Gallery Talk...

Cost: See details for each program

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Join us for a free tour of our permanent collection which includes European and American paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs, as well as a group of African, and Pre-Colombian objects. The...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Bellarmine Hall
Fairfield University
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Website »

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On Thursday, October 19, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm,  Fairfield County Wedding Concierge will hold their first networking event for the Fairfield County bridal vendor community at Bespoke...

Cost: $10 in advance and $15 at the door

Where:
Bespoke Designs
5A Sconset Square
Westport, CT  06880
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield County Wedding Concierge
Telephone: 203-864-5084
Contact Name: Gayle Szuchman

More information

Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

A weeklong celebration of art with programs for all ages and fine art for sale. Related Programming: Saturday, October 14 - Sunday, October 22: Green Art Show Sunday, October 15: Gallery Talk...

Cost: See details for each program

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

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Join all of your favorite Star personalities for Star 99.9 and Western Connecticut Health Network Pinktober's Bosom Ball Friday, October 20 at The Westport...

Cost: $25

Where:
The Westport Inn
1595 Post Road East
Westport, CT  06880
View map »


Sponsor: Star 99.9
Contact Name: Steve Soyland
Website »

More information

Favorite memories, reminders and images of home are on display at the City of Norwalk Parking Authority’s Maritime Garage Gallery. “Memories Of Our Town,” features art in a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203- 831-9063
Contact Name: maritime garage gallery
Website »

More information

Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Website »

More information

The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

A weeklong celebration of art with programs for all ages and fine art for sale. Related Programming: Saturday, October 14 - Sunday, October 22: Green Art Show Sunday, October 15: Gallery Talk...

Cost: See details for each program

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

A weeklong celebration of art with programs for all ages and fine art for sale. Related Programming: Saturday, October 14 - Sunday, October 22: Green Art Show Sunday, October 15: Gallery Talk...

Cost: See details for each program

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Saturday, Oct. 21   Innovation Day, 1 – 5 p.m. Discover, Dabble, Do-It-Yourself at Wilton Library’s annual Innovation Day! Join us for a festival of making, creating and demonstrating....

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 203-762-3950
Website »

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