A Romance with Cuba, by Dr. Jeb Hallett
I have had a romance with Cuba all my life.
At the age of ten, I listened to the Revolution on Radio Havana via my small short-wave radio in my bedroom in West Virginia. I dreamed of visiting Havana. Riding in cool old Chevy convertibles. Maybe seeing Hemingway around town. But, the Revolution ended that dream.
Then came the Gibbes “artistic” trip in February. (Twenty-three Gibbes Fellows traveled to Cuba with Executive Director Angela Mack, Curator of Collections Pam Wall, and Membership Coordinator Amanda Breen to learn about Cuba and its art.) So well organized! So well executed! Angela, Amanda, and Pam hit this one out of the ballpark!
Who can forget twenty five Charlestonians riding around Havana like a gang of teenagers in ‘55 Chevy convertibles? Or, dancing to the music of the Buena Vista Social Club? Or, peering into the windows of Ernest Hemingway’s home at Vinca Figia?
Oh, wait! Angela reminds me that the trip was really about art. The amazing creativity of The Merger, Kadir Lopez, Roberto Fabelo, and Yoan Capote was inspirational for starters. And, the worn patina of the architecture that enigmatically felt both sad and beautiful in the moment. All of this culture in the context a truly resilient people who take pride in their independence and joy of life.
None of this magic would have been possible without the company of so many old and new friends. My wife, Linda Austin, and I will always treasure this trip because of these friends.
So, my next dream: get back to see more of Cuba. When the Gibbes is ready for another Cuban “invasion,” count me in. Maybe on a Harley Davidson motorcycle riding toward Santiago with a Cohiba cigar in mouth and Linda in the sidecar!!
—Dr. Jeb Hallett, Gibbes Museum Board Member and Guest Blogger
Published March 7, 2014