I attended the 43rd Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Havana, Cuba where I had two presentations. One of the things that struck me about Havana was that there was music (see more on my Instagram posts) and art everywhere.
In Regla some of us happened upon the home and gallery of artist César Leal Jiménez, who, with the support of a patron in the US, hosts daily painting classes for local students. Both apartments in which I stayed were adorned with original paintings. The second apartment was filled with work by the hostess’ deceased grandmother (see below). In the first apartment a painting of the orisha, Oshun, led me to enquire. I learned that the artist lived two doors down and regularly accepted visitors.
Dra. Caridad Regina García García is the 91-year-old creator of the painting above of a market vendor. Doña Caridad is a self-taught painter and she informed me that she has been painting most of her life. She first trained and worked as a teacher between 1946 and 1960. She subsequently earned her PhD in Philosophy and was a professor and director of Department of Folkloric Research of the School of Letters at Central University “Marta Abreu” de Las Villas, as well as editor of the magazine Islands. From 1974 to 1996 Doña Caridad was a professor at the renowned University of Havana. She has participated in over forty collective exhibitions and more than twenty personal shows, and is active in artist communities in Cuba.
I have been fortunate to travel to several places, the bulk of which has been on a budget, as a student, as a personal expense. Whenever I do I search for Black culture, I search to understand and connect with people in the African Diaspora. I was lucky to meet Irene Whalen, founder of Zawadi Gallery many years ago and she has encouraged the idea that even on a budget one can buy art. I encourage you to connect with and support artists, especially Black artists wherever you are in the world.