I came across a couple interesting books this past weekend at the library about current artist in Cuba. Art Cuba highlighted the New Generation of artist from all over the island using different mediums. Everything from traditional painters and sculptures to people making sandals out of plastic bags and coke cans. Art is in the eye of the beholder and the Cubans on the island are extremely creative using their resources.
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The recent, somewhat surreptitious loosening of the U.S. embargo and Castro’s concurrent opening up of state-regulated tourism has yielded a flurry of student programs, professional conferences, books, movies and general enthusiasm in this country for all things Cuban. In Art Cuba: The New Generation, editor Holly Block, executive director of New York’s Art in General, explores how Cuban artists have worked in and around the constraints of Castroism (“Within the Revolution, everything; outside the Revolution, nothing”) and Cuba’s severely depressed economy. (During the “Special Period,” 1991-1994 after Soviet funds stopped, the sugar crop failed and the U.S. reinforced the embargo artists in Cuba relied on the relatively few visitors to bring supplies from other countries.) The book includes more than 100 color plates and essays by, among others, Gerardo Mosquera and Antonio Eligio.