Feature image by Cesarleal
Soon after President Obama was elected, artists, activists, and various patrons of the arts petitioned the new administration to support cultural exchange between Cuba and the US. After the strict embargo rules the Bush administration enforced, people were hopeful the new Democratic president would ease the restrictions that kept the two countries at a distance both economically and culturally. Their wish was (partially) answered. Cultural exchange between Cuba and the US were able to resume.
You may have heard about Cuban musicians coming to the US to perform. This had not been done since 2004 when Bush began withholding cultural exchange visas from artists in Cuba. Now, not only can you see live salsa and Cuban jazz performed by Cuban citizens, but you can see their artwork too!
Chicago has been an active participant in the support of Cuban artists since legislation has changed. Havana Gallery Inc., located at 1139 W. Webster, showcases artwork by contemporary Cuban artists. This little gallery is devoted to supporting artists in Cuba by making their work available to Chicagoans with the hopes of education and monetary support. Among the 30 artists at Havana Gallery are Pablo Perea, Alicia Leal, Ulises Bretaña, and Giraldo González.
Other great resources to find Cuban art and artists in Chicago are the universities. Columbia College and the University of Chicago are just two educational institutions supporting both travel to Cuba and inviting artists to visit and teach. The International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago is also a place to go to find events, film, music, dance, and other forms of art in Chicago that concern Cuba and other Latin nations. At their website you can view information and schedules for the 26th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival. At one of their many venues and showings, you can catch films by Cuban artists. Support cultural exchange in Chicago by going to Havana Gallery and the Latino Film Fest (April 16th – 29th)!