After days of Central Havana, it was time to visit somewhere less tourist-centred and more real. While Darren went exploring Playa Larga, Gaby (a friend from the tour) and I decided to go and visit Muraleando, the artistic neighborhood of the Cuban capital.
We took a taxi to go there from the centre, haggling the price down to about 20 CUCs. It was totally worth it as we didn’t know exactly where Muraleando was, we just heard about it and felt intrigued. Arriving at the community centre (Casa Cultural) we found a three-storey building with different rooms where paintings and other artifacts were displayed in circle. In one of them we were captivated by the sight of some particular paintings.
They were mainly about children with big eyes and cartoonish features, beautifully coloured. We were just admiring them when the artist, Lorenzo Lopez approached us. I was expecting him to insist for us to buy something, but instead he was more interested in chatting with us and from the beginning I felt at ease and treated like a friend. It turned out that he was involved with other artists in the coordination of Muraleando project. He told us it all started in 2001 with some teaching art workshops held by Manuel (Manolo) Díaz Baldrich and Ernesto Quirch, that soon were moved into the streets and started involving the whole neighborhood.
The idea is to improve the whole neighborhood’s look and to involve the locals to create more cohesion. Going for a tour around the neighbourhood we were amazed by the beautiful murals on walls and entire facades. Houses along the main streets were offered the possibility to have a sculpture or a painting by their porch for free and many, of course, accepted, allowing the street art to continue its extension out of the Casa Cultural. While we were there volunteers were making sculptures for the Casa Cultural.
Lorenzo told us they found a good base of people willing to contribute to the project, either with materials or work. The artists themselves put a large percentage of their revenue towards painting expenses. Works are mainly done from September until July.
After a tour of the neighborhood, we went back to the community centre and both bought a painting.
Check out our story on street art in Chile.