Monday, January 4, 2016

Creativity is our middle name...

For our evening/dinner, we must leave early from the hotel because Raul wants us to be able to see the work of the artists in the neighborhood where we will be visiting (having dinner - music - dancing etc... in Cuba there is ALWAYS music and dancing.)  One of our later lecturers tells us that no Cuban remembers the first time he/she danced it is so much a part of the culture - they don't remember it anymore than they remember their first steps...

the place we are headed is call Muraleando and the people the Muraleanderos (I think - LOL - I may have an extra syllable in that one...)

they actually have their own website about the artists in the community but it is so much more than the artists (which can be found here- )

The project began in 2001 when two local artists began teaching art classes to youth in the community. From there it evolved into a community effort to beautify the neighborhood. The first step was to clean up the piles of garbage that existed at the time (the director of the project, Marcos, told us that over 60 trucks of garbage total were hauled out of the community!) Next came the creative part, painting murals on the empty walls in the streets.  Today, artists from around the world come to Muraleando to paint murals with the local artists and over seventy-five children take art classes. ...browse the art gallery showcasing the work of artists from the community. Muraleando is an inspiring example of how art can transform, beautify and sustain a community. (author- Kylie Nealis)

here is some information I found on a terrific blog about the work there-on the decaying water tank that became the community center, including classrooms, art galleries and a restaurant, along with two areas where music can be performed and dancing to the music has plenty of space to be expressed...

El Tanque continues to be a major hub of activity in the neighbourhood. During the day it is busy with labourers and artists working on Manolo’s never ending list of construction activities and creative installations. Late afternoon through early evening it is full of children who attend free after school programs in music, dance, theatre and art. The rooftop of El Tanque was completed this past year and has become an outdoor party sight for special events and visitors, with live music and dancing under the beautiful Havana sky and is quite magical. Tourists visiting the project are almost a daily occurrence...they are coming on cultural bus tours from all over the world to experience a bit of what Cuba, Havana and Muraleando have to share. I have had the opportunity to meet some very interesting people who even after only a brief visit to Muraleando, share my excitement and amazement for this project.  to see the full post go to-

I will include a few photos I found of El Tanque at the end of the post - it was too dark when we were there for anything to really be seen of the enormity of the construction project to transform the Tank into the Community Center - and the heart of Muraleando.

let's begin our tour with some art and some of the neighborhood kids who were happy to hang around on the corner....

Below- an artist watches for folks visiting the Tank's galleries (which include the grandmother's doll project along with paintings by artist more or less "in residence" and craft projects of local kids)

we hear some brief remarks about the whole project and then settle down for a short film made by film students in the neighborhood - about the construction of the Tank- and then that is followed by music and a little dancing and then a tour of the facilities and a welcome drink.  Then we head to the rooftop of the Tank for a wonderful dinner and more music- a rock band with a one armed guitarist and one of the hottest bluesy rocky singers I have ever heard---

In the downstairs venue you can see the curve of the original Tank behind the stage area- along with the gallery space lit up in the interior-

 the little girls got everyone up and dancing- LOL

now a few off the Internet photos of the process of building the Tank-  one in which the roof top deck wasn't done and the roof of the downstairs stage hadn't been completed yet-

and another where you can see the classroom and a couple of smaller galleries under construction- and the roof deck is fenced off and getting ready to go-

here is a link to a brief you tube video on the project -
(don't know how that might actually work)

and here is a video from the roof top band-

we had a great time - so much fun and so much love in this place - they really take care of each other and their neighborhood... what a terrific example of real grass roots community organizing...

tomorrow - we visit a local marker to buy food for the lunches of the kids in the day care center that we will visit. Toddler to preschool aged kids of working parents who are as adorable as they could be. We also have lunch on our own in yet another of the main plazas of Old Havana - ride in bicitaxis and go for a short tour of our own in a bicitaxi to see Central Havana and Chinatown etc... then another artists compound for our evening meal and entertainment (this time by lovely classical guitar and violin) - the fun in Havana continues - so come on back....

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