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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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May 2016

Bring Harmony & Balance to Your Life Fridays, 4 sessions: April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13 Cost: $10 per individual session. Classes will be cancelled for rain. Register online at...

Cost: $10/class

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
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On Friday, April 29th Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe and Serena & Lily co-founders Serena Dugan and Lily Kanter invite the public to join...

Cost: Free

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35 Elm Street
Westport, CT
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Robert Lawson (1892–1957) had a long and distinguished career as an artist and children’s book illustrator and author. Perhaps best known for illustrations of Ferdinand the Bull and Mr....

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
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Today’s “selfie” phenomenon offers the opportunity to reflect on the history of how people have shared images of themselves. What was the function and use of a painted portrait, a...

Cost: Members: Free Non-members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
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Bring Harmony & Balance to Your Life Fridays, 4 sessions: April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13 Cost: $10 per individual session. Classes will be cancelled for rain. Register online at...

Cost: $10/class

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


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Website »

More information

Robert Lawson (1892–1957) had a long and distinguished career as an artist and children’s book illustrator and author. Perhaps best known for illustrations of Ferdinand the Bull and Mr....

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

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The splendor of Byzantine sacred art, preserved in early Christian churches in both Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and the Cappadocia region of Turkey, is the subject of this...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Bellarmine Museum of Art
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: Bellarmine Museum of Art
Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Tiffany Davidson
Website »

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Bring Harmony & Balance to Your Life Fridays, 4 sessions: April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13 Cost: $10 per individual session. Classes will be cancelled for rain. Register online at...

Cost: $10/class

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


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Website »

More information

Robert Lawson (1892–1957) had a long and distinguished career as an artist and children’s book illustrator and author. Perhaps best known for illustrations of Ferdinand the Bull and Mr....

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Are you interested in expanding your knowledge of the habitats, plants, animals and natural history of Connecticut? Would you like to experience the rewards of sharing that knowledge and teaching...

Cost: $195 CAS members; $250 nonmembers, (includes a CAS membership).

Where:
Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Fairfield
2325 Burr Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: The Connecticut Audubon Society
Telephone: 203-209-4371, x109
Contact Name: Jane Guenther
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The splendor of Byzantine sacred art, preserved in early Christian churches in both Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and the Cappadocia region of Turkey, is the subject of this...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Bellarmine Museum of Art
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Bellarmine Museum of Art
Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Tiffany Davidson
Website »

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Bring Harmony & Balance to Your Life Fridays, 4 sessions: April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13 Cost: $10 per individual session. Classes will be cancelled for rain. Register online at...

Cost: $10/class

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


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Website »

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Our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are at risk. Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year – more than all cancers combined. Fortunately, we can change that...

Cost: $250/ticket or $3,000/premium table of 8

Where:
Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa
243 Tresser Blvd
Stamford, CT  06901
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Sponsor: American Heart Association
Telephone: 203-295-2941
Contact Name: Deena Kaye
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The Go Red For Women Luncheon and Health & Wellness Exhibition provides attendees with opportunities to learn about their risk for heart disease and stroke and measures they could take to...

Cost: Free to the General Public

Where:
Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa
243 Tresser Blvd
Stamford, CT  06901
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Sponsor: American Heart Association
Telephone: 203-295-2941
Contact Name: Deena Kaye
Website »

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Robert Lawson (1892–1957) had a long and distinguished career as an artist and children’s book illustrator and author. Perhaps best known for illustrations of Ferdinand the Bull and Mr....

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

At The New Canaan Historical Society Mother’s Day is May 8, and to help celebrate all the moms, The New Canaan Historical Society is offering a special workshop for children ages 5-11 on...

Cost: $20 members/ $25 non-members

Where:
The New Canaan Historical Society
13 Oenoke Ridge
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Sponsor: The New Canaan Historical Socoiety
Telephone: 203-966-1776
Contact Name: Donna Dearth

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The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce invites you to attend the 6th in the 2015=2016 Health & Wellness lecture series at Norma Pfriem Breast Center. The lecture will be given by Dr. Andrew Anson...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Norma Pfriem Breast Center
111 Beach Road, 2nd Floor
Fairfield , CT  06824
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Sponsor: Fairfield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-255-1011
Contact Name: Krista McCormack
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Showcasing Fairfield County’s Newest Restaurants and Craft Cocktail Bars A Benefit to End Food Insecurity in Fairfield County Wednesday, May 4, 2016,  Abigail Kirsch at The...

Cost: $100

Where:
The Loading Dock
375 Fairfield Avenue
Stamford, CT  06902
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Sponsor: Community Plates
Telephone: 800•280•3298
Contact Name: Kevin Mullins
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The splendor of Byzantine sacred art, preserved in early Christian churches in both Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and the Cappadocia region of Turkey, is the subject of this...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Bellarmine Museum of Art
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Bellarmine Museum of Art
Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Tiffany Davidson
Website »

More information

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Bring Harmony & Balance to Your Life Fridays, 4 sessions: April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13 Cost: $10 per individual session. Classes will be cancelled for rain. Register online at...

Cost: $10/class

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


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Website »

More information

Robert Lawson (1892–1957) had a long and distinguished career as an artist and children’s book illustrator and author. Perhaps best known for illustrations of Ferdinand the Bull and Mr....

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

A newly-curated collection by artist legend, Peter Max’s exquisite paintings will be on exhibition and available for acquisition in a presentation at Geary Gallery, Darien’s premier...

Cost: Free

Where:
Geary Gallery
576 Boston Post Road
Darien, CT  06820
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Sponsor: Road Show Company

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The festival will feature documentary films covering a diversity of subjects- including water and air quality, waste, energy issues and the importance of species preservation.  ...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
Sacred Heart University
5151 Park Ave.
Frank & Marisa Martire Business & Communication Center
Fairfield, CT  06825
View map »


Sponsor: Bigelow Tea, Sacred Heart's Film and Television Master's Program, Fairfield Earth Day
Telephone: 203-336-5164
Contact Name: Shawn
Website »

More information

The splendor of Byzantine sacred art, preserved in early Christian churches in both Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and the Cappadocia region of Turkey, is the subject of this...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Bellarmine Museum of Art
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Bellarmine Museum of Art
Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Tiffany Davidson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Bring Harmony & Balance to Your Life Fridays, 4 sessions: April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13 Cost: $10 per individual session. Classes will be cancelled for rain. Register online at...

Cost: $10/class

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


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Website »

More information

Anthony Baratta will headline the Pre-Tour Designer Power Breakfast as part of the Near & Far Aid 2016 Designer House Tour on Friday, May 6, 2016. The Near & Far Aid 2016 Designer...

Cost: $75

Where:
The Patterson Club
1118 Cross Highway
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Sponsor: Near & Far Aid
Telephone: 203-259-1710
Contact Name: Jessica Grutkowski
Website »

More information

Robert Lawson (1892–1957) had a long and distinguished career as an artist and children’s book illustrator and author. Perhaps best known for illustrations of Ferdinand the Bull and Mr....

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Fairfield County philanthropic organization Near & Far Aid will hold a 2016 Designer House Tour which opens the doors to six exclusive homes decorated by renowned designers in the gold coast...

Cost: $65 in advance/ $75 day of

Where:
Fairfield, Southport, Westport
VARIOUS LOCATIONS - PRIVATE HOMES
, CT
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Sponsor: Near & Far Aid
Telephone: 203-259-1710
Contact Name: Jessica Grutkowski
Website »

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Take a refreshing break during the tour to meet up with friends. Join us for an Afternoon Tea Party, continuous service between 1:00 – 3:00 pm at a magnificent private home in Greenfield Hill...

Cost: $35

Where:
To Be Disclosed
Greenfield Hill
Fairfield, CT
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Sponsor: Near & Far Aid
Telephone: 203-259-1710
Contact Name: Jessica Grutkowski
Website »

More information

A newly-curated collection by artist legend, Peter Max’s exquisite paintings will be on exhibition and available for acquisition in a presentation at Geary Gallery, Darien’s premier...

Cost: Free

Where:
Geary Gallery
576 Boston Post Road
Darien, CT  06820
View map »


Sponsor: Road Show Company

More information

The 80th annual Dogwood Festival is going to feature a ‘Dogwood Dash’ family fun run, live music performances and delicious food. There will also be tents set up with vendors selling...

Cost: Admission is free

Where:
Greenfield Hill Church
1045 Old Academy Rd
Fairfield , CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The festival will feature documentary films covering a diversity of subjects- including water and air quality, waste, energy issues and the importance of species preservation.  ...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
Sacred Heart University
5151 Park Ave.
Frank & Marisa Martire Business & Communication Center
Fairfield, CT  06825
View map »


Sponsor: Bigelow Tea, Sacred Heart's Film and Television Master's Program, Fairfield Earth Day
Telephone: 203-336-5164
Contact Name: Shawn
Website »

More information

The splendor of Byzantine sacred art, preserved in early Christian churches in both Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, and the Cappadocia region of Turkey, is the subject of this...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Bellarmine Museum of Art
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Bellarmine Museum of Art
Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Tiffany Davidson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Bring Harmony & Balance to Your Life Fridays, 4 sessions: April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13 Cost: $10 per individual session. Classes will be cancelled for rain. Register online at...

Cost: $10/class

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


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Website »

More information

Robert Lawson (1892–1957) had a long and distinguished career as an artist and children’s book illustrator and author. Perhaps best known for illustrations of Ferdinand the Bull and Mr....

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Celebrate the running of the 142nd Kentucky Derby! Join us for an afternoon of big hats, fast horses, mint juleps, and jockeys as we take part in "The Greatest 2 Minutes in Sports! Bring...

Cost: $75/Individual; $350/Tailgate includes four tickets

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


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Caroline Crawford
Website »

More information

A newly-curated collection by artist legend, Peter Max’s exquisite paintings will be on exhibition and available for acquisition in a presentation at Geary Gallery, Darien’s premier...

Cost: Free

Where:
Geary Gallery
576 Boston Post Road
Darien, CT  06820
View map »


Sponsor: Road Show Company

More information

This fundraising event features dinner, dancing, a Kentucky Derby viewing, and an exciting evening of entertainment and both silent and live auctions.  Last year’s live auction items...

Cost: 375.00

Where:
Hyatt Regency Greenwich
1800 East Putnam Avenue
Old Greenwich, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Telephone: 203-979-9799
Contact Name: Elizabeth Kenny
Website »

More information

The 80th annual Dogwood Festival is going to feature a ‘Dogwood Dash’ family fun run, live music performances and delicious food. There will also be tents set up with vendors selling...

Cost: Admission is free

Where:
Greenfield Hill Church
1045 Old Academy Rd
Fairfield , CT
View map »


Website »

More information

The festival will feature documentary films covering a diversity of subjects- including water and air quality, waste, energy issues and the importance of species preservation.  ...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
Sacred Heart University
5151 Park Ave.
Frank & Marisa Martire Business & Communication Center
Fairfield, CT  06825
View map »


Sponsor: Bigelow Tea, Sacred Heart's Film and Television Master's Program, Fairfield Earth Day
Telephone: 203-336-5164
Contact Name: Shawn
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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