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Itinerary Habana Bienal with mOLAA, April 11 – 16

Please note that minor changes to this itinerary could be made between now and our travel dates as more information about the Bienal's activities is released. All times listed are the start times for each activity. All meals and activities are included in the cost unless indicated by “cost not included.”

DAY 1: THURSDAY, APRIL 11 | WELCOME TO HAVANA

Meet at Havana International Airport. Flights from your home cities will take you on the most direct path possible to Havana’s airport. You will be greeted by our tour leaders with a “MOLAA” sign at the exit of the airport. We will gather outside the airport in groups according to arrival times and transfer to our Havana hotels in our shuttles.

Transfer to Havana. During the drive our travel staff will introduce themselves and give you some important information about Havana. Brief stop in Plaza de la Revolución to see ministries, monument to José Marti, and the colossal famous image of Che Guevara.

Arrive at the Iberostar Hotel Parque Central and check-in to your rooms. We will be staying in the most popular 5-star luxury hotel located in the area of greatest cultural activity next to Cuba’s capitol. This Spanish hotel is surrounded by theaters, restaurants, bars, museums, music venues, hotels and cafés.

Hotel Parque Central

Optional neighborhood orientation walking tour. After settling into our rooms and before going to dinner, those who are interested can get acquainted with our immediate surroundings.

7:30 pm ~ Welcome dinner at Paladar San Cristobal. Located in an eclectic home of an early 20th century mansion in Centro Habana, this is the restaurant that most dignitaries, including the Obamas, visit first when they come to Cuba.

9:30 pm ~ Havana night activity. After dinner, we can attend a pre-Bienal evening music or dance performance, to be determined depending on what is happening in the city that night. Such activities could include the National Ballet, National Contemporary Dance Company, jazz concerts, salsa clubs, Tropicana, drag shows, and other attractions of Havana’s non-stop nightlife (optional – transportation and entry cost not included).

DAY 2: FRIDAY, APRIL 12 | OLD HAVANA

8:30 am ~ Breakfast at the Hotel. Enjoy a generous spread of eggs made to order, coffee, tropical fruits, cheeses, fresh juices, pancakes, potatoes, breads and pastries. This full-buffet is open daily from 7:00 - 10:00 am.

10:00 am ~ Overview of Havana with Wilfredo Benitez. We’ll begin our day at the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba with a multimedia presentation by Wilfredo Benitez. General Manager of the Ludwig Foundation, Wilfredo is an expert on the historical development of Havana. He will give a glimpse into the history of Cuban architecture, from the Colonial era to 1950s modernism and today. This will deepen our understanding of the city while we explore its many neighborhoods throughout the week.

11:30 am ~ Old Havana: Opening of Habana Bienal in Habana Vieja. The newly renovated Plaza Vieja is the site of several art venues, a beer hall, an espresso café, and restored residences in colonial buildings. At the Centro del Desarrollo de Arte Contemporáneo, curator Gretel Medina will guide us through an exhibition of contemporary Cuban art at the cutting edge. We’ll walk around Plaza Vieja, through its boutiques, museums and markets. We’ll see contemporary photography at la Fototeca de Cuba. We will continue down Calle Los Mercaderes to la Plaza de las Armas, the nexus of the colonial government. Our Cuban guide will give us a history of the city’s settlement. We’ll then continue to the Plaza de la Catedral where we will make a stop at the Taller Experimental de Grafica. Yamilys Brito, director of the Taller, will give us a little tour, and people can buy inexpensive prints produced by the resident artists.

Habana Bienal

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Doña Eutimia. Doña Eutimia is one of Cuba’s oldest favorites. This little paladar, nestled in the alley next to the Taller de Gráfica, is just off of the Cathedral Square. The house specialty is "ropa vieja," (old clothes) a Cuban classic made of shredded lamb.

2:00 pm ~ Old Havana: historic plazas and contemporary art centers. We continue our exploration of Old Havana with a visit to the collective graphic arts workshop, Taller Experimental de Gráfica. This public studio for local artists was established by Pablo Neruda and Che Guevara at the beginning of the Revolution as a place where artists living and visiting Havana can work on printmaking, a tradition in Cuba liked to the printing of the ornate cigar box labels. This is a good place to purchase original and affordable artwork. We’ll then see an exhibition at the Wilfredo Lam Center.

Habana Vieja street band

3:30 pm ~ Visit to home and gallery of artist Jose Figueroa and Cristina Vives. Figueroa is one of the leading second-generation Cuban photographers to record the impact of the Revolution on everyday Cubans. You will meet him and see his work. His wife, Cristina Vives, is one of the most important independent curator in Cuba. Her work in organizing exhibitions and producing publications has been instrumental in the success of many of the contemporary Cuban artists now active in the international art world. She and their daughter Cristina Figueroa now champion and support a new generation of artists, some of whose work you will see in their home. They have developed a collaborative relationship with the Swedish Embassy which is next door to their studio and hold collaborative art events regularly.

4:30 pm ~ Return to hotel for leisure time. Time to relax, explore on your own, connect to WiFi, take a swim, recharge your batteries, and take a siesta.

8:30 pm ~ Dinner gala at curator Pamela Ruiz's house. Pamela Ruiz has invited MOLAA to her beautifully restored luxurious Havana mansion for a private dinner party.

10:00 pm ~ Havana Bienal Night Activities & Music. After dinner there will be a number of Bienal inauguration activities such as gallery openings, performances, and other happenings.

DAY 3: SATURDAY, APRIL 13 | MOLAA COLLECTION ARTIST STUDIO VISITS

9:00 am ~ Breakfast at the Hotel. Enjoy a generous spread of eggs made to order, coffee, tropical fruits, cheeses, fresh juices, pancakes, potatoes, breads and pastries. This full-buffet is open daily from 7:00 - 10:00 am.

10:00 am ~ Studio visit with Abel Barroso. Abel Barroso is one of the most highly-regarded contemporary Cuban artists. He is a printmaker and sculptor whose work addresses challenging issues such as the impact of new technology, globalization and immigration. He carves wood to make Cuban versions of cell phones and computers, creates metaphors for unequal distribution of wealth, the plight of Cuban shortages, and the love-hate relationship between the US and Cuba. The work is always witty and toy-like, often with moving parts. While it irresistibly clever, the work seduces us into considering serious issues. We will visit him in his studio home in Vedado.

Abel Barroso

11:00 am ~ Studio visit with Yamilys and Jacquelyn Brito. These sisters graduated from the ISA at the same time that Abel Barroso and Toiroc did. They were brought up in heyday of the Revolution in the 90s from artists whose parents may have been avid fidelistas. But like many who experienced the shortages and tensions of the post-Soviet years, they now experience a complex mix of nostalgia for some aspects of the Revolution and disappointment that its promises have been compromised. Their work in printmaking and painting, in both instances, always witty and exquisitely crafted, looks back and expresses a deep affection for the popular culture, history, and ironies of Cuban contemporary life.

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Atelier Paladar. Atelier is a contemporary space in an idiosyncratic Havana mansion. It is run by Niuris Higueras, who has long nurtured her passion for exciting food: The food changes every day, every week, hence those handwritten menus.

2:30 pm ~ Visit Artist Studio of Florencio Gelabert Jr. Florencio Gelabert Jr. is a leading Cuban sculptor and the son of an important Cuban sculptor by the same name who lived from 1904 to 1995. He had a long and distinguished career which included an extensive group of major works commissioned by Meyer Lansky’s famous Riviera Hotel and Casino in Havana in 1957. The hotel lobby and all public areas have a collection of sculptures that the son has started to painstakingly restore. We will have a guided tour of this Mid-Century architecture and design marvel. We'll learn about the father and son and their art, about the Mob’s influence on the island in the 1950’s, and about the new international partnerships that are being developed in Cuba today. Then we'll continue to the elder Gelabert’s studio for cocktails. His studio was also restored by his son and now display’s Gelabert Jr.’s art which is currently taking Art Basel Miami by storm.

4:30 pm ~ Return to hotel for leisure time. Time to relax, explore on your own, connect to WiFi, take a swim, recharge your batteries, and take a siesta.

8:00 pm ~ Dinner at Tierra. Tierra is just as much about the Havana arts scene as it is about food. Built into the VIP section of the Cuban Art Factory built out of recycled shipping containers. This paladar pushes the limits of private industry and government cooperation in an atmosphere 100-year old previously abandoned cooking oil factory along the Almendares River between the Vedado and Miramar neighborhoods. We’ll enter through the front door of the FAC and get to skip the long lines that typically go around the block.

9:00 pm ~ La Fábrica de Arte Cubano. The Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) is a cultural center located in a former oil factory that has been transformed into a vast space for art and music. It attracts young Cubans, artists and others eager to enjoy the scene, and presages what the future might look like for Havana as a cosmopolitan trend-setting cultural magnet in Latin America.

Fábrica de Arte Cubano

DAY 4: SUNDAY, APRIL 14 | CENTRO HABANA

8:30 am ~ Breakfast at the Hotel. Enjoy a generous spread of eggs made to order, coffee, tropical fruits, cheeses, fresh juices, pancakes, potatoes, breads and pastries. This full-buffet is open daily from 7:00 - 10:00 am.

9:30 am ~ Guided tour of the National Museum of Fine Arts, Cuban Collection. The National Museum of Fine Arts was designed by Cuban architect Alfonso Rodriguez Pichardo in 1955 and is dedicated to the history of Cuban painting from 1500 – 2000. An art historian will walk us through the history of the island through the eyes of its visual artists with a greater emphasis on the Twentieth Century.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

11:00 am ~ Visit to the homes of Afro-Cuban spiritual leaders with Elias Asseff. Meet Afro-Cuban religious practitioners in this authentic and rare invitation to go inside the homes of a “palero” (Palo del Monte) and a “babalawo” (Santería). As sacred Congo and Nigerian worldviews, respectively, combined with Catholicism, new belief systems emerged in Colonial Cuba. Members of these religious traditions will share their altars that are made to communicate with the dead, the saints, and a pantheon of African deities. The journey will take place in Cayo Hueso, beginning in Parque Trillo and ending at the Callejón de Hamel. This is an opportunity to discuss religious practices that continue to have great importance in Cuban culture. In fact, you have seen traces of it everywhere since your arrival.

12:30 pm ~ Lunch at Paladar La Guarida. Anyone who has been to La Guarida will find it difficult to disagree that Enrique and Odeisys have managed to create their own magical home restaurant. The building, originally known as La Mansión Camagüey, shows its former grandeur from the magnificent wooden entrance door through the marble staircase up the two flights of stairs to the restaurant itself. The location for a classic scene from Cuba’s most iconic film, “Fresa y Chocolate” (on your film list), La Guarida was the first upscale paladar to gain international fame. It remains a landmark on the Cuban culinary scene, against which all others are measured. Make sure to stop on the first floor and wander a bit for some amazing photos.

La Guarida Paladar

2:30 pm ~ Visit the Rex Duplex Theatre and Neon Center. Enter the Boulevard San Rafael, a Cuban shopping district that is in process of beautification partly through the restoration of vintage neon signs that have survived 60 years of the Revolution. This boulevard is anchored by the REX Duplex Theatre, a new neon and media center that is being created by Cuban artists Kadir Lopez Nieves and Adolfo Nodal. It was built in 1938 and then expanded in 1949 to become Cuba’s first multiplex with two separate film theatres connected by a grand lobby. The project will provide an exposition of vintage Havana neon signs and new neon art, neon workshops and offices, a design studio, and a media center in keeping with its original film function to the community. The center will become Cuba’s premiere neon institution and will lead the movement to bring back sustainable outdoor commercial and civic lighting to the country. We will enjoy a refreshment, see a short film and hear a short presentation on the project.

3:30 pm ~ Galería Continua. Located in an abandoned movie theater in Chinatown, Galería Continua is the only international contemporary art gallery in Cuba. Th¬ey have galleries in Tuscany, Beijing, Havana, and Paris.

Galería Continua

4:30 pm ~ Time at Leisure, Optional Shopping, and Dinner on Your Own. Connect to WiFi at the hotel, recharge your batteries, take a siesta, or explore the city on your own. Those of you who are interesting in some guided shopping can join us to visit a few of the most interesting local crafts workers and artisan markets in Havana. We’ll also recommend options and make reservations at the best restaurants in town such as Café La Esquina, Los Mercaderes, Vista al Mar, Le Chansonnier, El Atelier, La Moraleja and El Mediterraneo (optional – cost not included).

10:00 pm ~ Late night recommendation: Jazz at La Zorra y el Cuervo. For those of you who like late night music, we’ll walk to one of today’s greatest jazz nightclubs (optional--entry not included).

Havana Jazz Club

DAY 5: MONDAY, APRIL 15 | WEST HAVANA

8:30 am ~ Breakfast at the Hotel. Enjoy a generous spread of eggs made to order, coffee, tropical fruits, cheeses, fresh juices, pancakes, potatoes, breads and pastries. This full-buffet is open daily from 7:00 - 10:00 am.

10:00 am ~ Visit to Kcho’s studio in Romerillo. Cuba’s most well-known contemporary artist has made his own studio part of a cultural center that he has built in the working-class suburb of Romerillo.

Kcho

10:45 am ~ Visit to el Instituto Superior de Arte. Che Guevara and Fidel Castro turned a former country club into the only school for all the arts in Latin America through an ambitious dream to break traditional forms and empower their arts & culture. Although unfinished in its construction, it is now Cuba’s most advanced school of the arts with architecture revered worldwide. The ISA has schools for dance, music, visual art, theater, and media arts. We will have the opportunity to tour the school and meet some of its student and faculty artists.

Instituto Superior de Arte

12:00 pm ~ Lunch at Finca Marta. This small experimental agro-ecological farm 15 miles southeast of Havana aims to demonstrate that farms focused on biodiversity and intensive management can thrive in a rapidly changing economy by producing high quality products without the need for transgenic crops, mechanization, or state-run distribution. Founded in 2012 by the renowned Cuban agronomist Dr. Fernando Funes-Monzote, La Finca Marta serves many of Havana’s restaurants, schools, and nursing homes. It pays its workers on total sales rather than a predetermined salary. Recent political reforms like legalizing direct sales and the emergence of private food and transportation cooperatives are allowing new models of privatized agriculture and culinary development. We'll enjoy a farm-to-table lunch and then a tour of the farm led by Dr. Monzote.

Finca Marta

3:00 pm ~ Return to hotel for leisure time. Time to relax, explore on your own, connect to WiFi, take a swim, recharge your batteries, and take a siesta.

5:30 pm ~ Old Convertibles Ride through Havana. Leaving from our hotel, we will travel to dinner “Havana Style” in a fleet of specially selected 1950s American convertibles that will take us to dinner on a scenic route through Havana’s most beautiful neighborhoods.

6:30 pm ~ Special concert with Camerata Romeú. Visit the beautifully restored Basílica San Francisco de Asis to experience a private performance of the first all women string orchestra in Latin America. Under the direction of Zenaida Romeu, Camarata Romeu is one of Cuba’s most extraordinary classical music ensembles. This non-governmental independent music group frequently tours internationally and performs new works of numerous Cuban and other Latin American composers.

La Camarata Romeu

8:30 pm ~ Final Dinner at Vista Mar. This house in the Miramar district is a good examples of the 1950's Cuban architecture. Located in an old row of high class waterfront residencies, this private restaurant also services exquisite cuisine.

DAY 6: TUESDAY, APRIL 16 | RETURN TO US

Breakfast at the Hotel. Enjoy a generous spread of eggs made to order, coffee, tropical fruits, cheeses, fresh juices, pancakes, potatoes, breads and pastries. This full-buffet is open daily from 7:00 - 10:00 am.

Transfer to José Martí International Airport. Flights Departs Havana for Home Cities. We will bring people to the airport in groups according to departure times. You will be assisted through check in and customs.

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Project Por Amor
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Photography by Project Por Amor

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