Rum & TuKola

Fresh takes on what happens in Havana often stay in Havana, except when they appear here.

www.julia-cooke.com

Paintings with sculptural sensibilities: Heróicas Eróticas en Nueva York at the Galerie Lelong in NYC

Cuban born artist Zilia Sanchez’s exhibit Heróicas Eróticas en Nueva York, is comprised of minimalist paintings with sculptural sensibilities. The collection includes works created over a period of 50 years, and conjure up various organic and bodily themes using her signature technique of stretching canvas over wooden sculptures. Super neat artist who takes painting beyond the wall. Go check this out in New York before June 21st!

11th Havana Biennial draws a large an diverse crowd

For Cuba, the biennial — which opened on May 11 and runs through June 11 — is a chance to experience international culture and show off the country’s own artistic evolution. The event has filled Havana’s exhibition halls, galleries, theaters and streets with sculpture, painting and street and performance art by 180 artists from 45 countries…

"Ser de Sol" by Descemer Bueno with Israel Rojas

I have a deep soft spot for nueva trova pop star Descemer Bueno, as well as Rojas’ duo Buena Fe and their (yes, cheesy; yes, wonderful) harmonies. One of the amazing things about Havana is how much free, live music is provided, especially to students, even by pop stars. When I left sociology class one afternoon in college, I saw, as I walked out to the university steps, that a stage had been set up at the bottom. Buena Fe pulled up in a van, and we watched them from the quad, Old Havana dominoing out in sepia tones behind them, everyone dancing, everyone, at least for the brief moment, happy.

Cuban Evolution: Photographs by Joakim Eskildsen

“For centuries, Cuba’s greatest resource has been its people,” writes Pico Iyer in an extended essay on the Caribbean nation in this week’s magazine. In the twilight of the Castro era, Cubans are finding that change brings both hope and anxiety.

To pair with Iyer’s tome, TIME called upon Danish photographer Joakim Eskildsen. Eskildsen, who previously photographed a large portfolio for TIME on the state of poverty in America, traveled to Cuba for ten days, photographing urban housing projects in Havana and rural settlements across the countryside. With the help of local journalist Abel Gonzalez Alayon, Eskildsen photographed tobacco plantations, roadside fruit vendors, migrant workers and beachfront resorts — capturing all in the vibrant saturation of medium-format color film.

“I immediately fell in awe with the complexity of this country,” says Eskildsen. “The more you learn about the situation and how people are living, the more difficult it becomes to understand. It was like learning to view the world form a Cuban angle that kept surprising and inspiring me.”