Cuban Art and Culture Conference

in Provincetown Massachusetts


Cuban Art Day Wrap Up 

Outside the entrance right on Commercial Street in Provincetown

I set the schedule to start at 10:00am on Saturday because I figured people would be out enjoying Provincetown nightlife and that was a good idea. That later start also gave consignors extra time to set up for the Cuban art auction that was set for later in the day.

The vendors, Michelle from the Galería Cubana, several attendees and myself set up Cuban art and memorabilia for sale for a silent auction. Bid sheets were put out for vintage Cuban art, contemporary Cuban art, Havana street art, artistic photos of Havana, handicrafts and a variety of vintage Cuban memorabilia. This format allowed all attendees and Presenters to have the entire day to preview the auction and to leave their bids. Although many people stayed to the very end, this silent auction format gave people the opportunity to leave bids and be notified if they won and left the venue.

Just a few of the tables of Cuban art for sale

Original Havana street art at the Cuban art auction

On to the Saturday sessions... the close proximity of Provincetown to Boston (Provincetown is served by two fast ferries and of course one of our sponsors Cape Air) afforded us the luxury of having two more Cuba experts come to our conference… Susan Wrynn, the curator of the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the JFK Library in Boston and Mary-Jo Adams, Executive Director of the Finca Vigía Foundation.

It was a real treat to be able to hear them about Hemingway’s work and life in Cuba along with their work to preserve his papers, artifacts and home outside of Havana. I encourage you to visit the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library in Boston and to donate to the Finca Vigía Foundation.

Most people enjoy Cuban music and everyone certainly enjoyed our next Presenter, East of Havana film director Jauretsi Saizarbitoria (pronounced Har etsi Size R bitoria in case you were wondering). Jauretsi came up from NYC to tell us all about the history of Cuban music and how political events throughout Cuba’s history shaped its music. Her high energy and deep knowledge of Cuban music gave the audience a very entertaining crash course on the history of Cuban music. We were running a little bit behind schedule so I felt bad that I had to give her the “five minute” hand signal because I know people were really enjoying her presentation.

After she finished her very entertaining presentation, everyone walked over to the Caribbean Corner for a Cuban lunch. My Cuban sandwich was fantastic but one of the problems of having lunch outside of the main venue is getting everyone back to the host venue. So we started a little late buy keynote speaker Tracey Eaton made sure everyone was glad they came back for his presentation. He started off by asking for a show of hands from audience members who had been to Cuba. I’d say about 90% of the audience raised their hands.

Tracey started his speech with extremely entertaining anecdotes, “ten things I like about Cuba”. He shared his personal experiences from his time living and working as a journalist in Cuba for almost five years. When he asked the audience how many people had been to Cuba, about 90% of the audience raised their hands. So, since most people had been to Cuba, they really identified with his experiences. Tracey then talked about the nightlife in Havana, cabarets and gay culture. VERY insightful and heartwarming to listen to his many experiences there.

Next year I’ll get all this great stuff on video because you really need to see these presenters and the very specific questions that can only come from a well educated, well experienced and well traveled audience.

Boston architect John Pilling and architectural photographer Cathryn Griffith went into great details about their experiences with Cuban architecture. John, and his student Loren Witzel, talked about their work with the Cuban government regarding planning for a socially friendly architecture in Havana. Cathryn Griffith talked about her experiences, pleasures and difficulties of photographing historic buildings in Havana for her book Havana Revisited. Even if Cuban architecture is not your main interest, their photo presentations were stunning and now we’re all a lot more knowledgeable about architecture in Havana.

Cuban art experts Sandra Levinson and Michelle Wojcik

At this time we are over one hour behind schedule but no one is complaining and there is no better way to close out Cuban Art Day sessions than with Michelle Wojcik of the Galería Cubana and Sandra Levinson of Cuban Art Space from NYC. These women are two world class experts in Cuban art. They each have their own specialties but there is nothing they don’t know about Cuban art. The audience was engaged with sophisticated questions about Cuban art so and it was a real honor to have these Cuban art experts together on one stage.

After they finished we went right into closing the silent auction tables one by one. Funny thing about a conference like this where you have world class Cuba experts as presenters and very knowledgeable and inquisitive attendees, the noise level immediately rises in the room because everyone has someone that they want to talk with. So, while some people were looking at the Cuban art and memorabilia auction items, some people just wanted to talk. That’s fine, just means I needed to pick up the microphone and announce the closing of each table so people could get their last bids down on the bid sheets.

The auction wrapped up about 6:30pm. Several consignors sold at least one item and I think many would agree that the Cuban art and memorabilia auction was a great way to close out Cuban Art Day… and now it’s on to nighttime in Provincetown with the Cuban Dance Party.

Just before opening the doors for the Cuban Dance Party.

This is one of three bar areas in the nightclub and DJ Saoko is getting ready in the DJ booth in the upper right corner of the photo.

WOW! The Crown and Anchor knows how to host a good conference but their specialty is dance parties. We brought in Cuban and Latin music specialist DJ Saoko from Rhode Island who works at Havana Club Salsa in Boston occasionally. He ROCKED the house with an energy that I cannot describe in words. He put out a great mix of new and old, Cuban and other genres that had everyone dancing. There were laser lights, fog from the ceiling, our Cuba conference logo lighting up the wall behind one bar area from two digital projectors and so much more.

Picture all this inside a Provincetown dance club that opens out onto the pool area overlooking the beach and Provincetown harbor and you have an idea what conference attendees and the general public enjoyed from 9pm to 1am on Saturday night. Who could ask for a better way to wrap up any conference?

Cuba Movie Day

Early in the day before people hit the streets in Provincetown but it is Cuba Movie Day!

On Sunday we went from get up and dance last night to sit down and watch some movies on Sunday. Cuba Movie Day at the Art House cinema was just what some attendees needed after such a full agenda of events stretching back to Thursday night. We showed six Cuba movies in two theaters from 11:00am till 6:00pm.

Jauretsi was kind enough to come out and introduce her East of Havana movie and tell us more about the making of the Charlize Theron produced film and her relationship with the actress.

All that is left to do is to thank the many people and venues that all contributed to a fantastic Cuban art and culture conference known as CubaCon 2010. I am planning CubaCon 2011 for June 9 – 12 in Provincetown but the date may change. I have every intention of keeping the conference in Provincetown since the other practical choice is Boston. Maybe when we grow from a conference to a convention, then we can move it to Boston.

Page 1 -- Opening Night and  Cuba Culture Day                                                        Page 3 -- Many thank yous