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I had the pleasure of interviewing a fresh young mind in the Cuban art scene, Laura Danaras, who previously worked at Cuba’s prestigious Bellas Artes Museum, and is now curating at a private studio with artist friends in the Miramar section of Havana. To understand what this all means for the blossoming industry on the island, read the full interview (link below). This is just an excerpt:

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For American collectors, Cuban art has long been forbidden fruit—largely out-of-reach, somewhat mysterious, and therefore, deeply-seductive. With this spring’s announcement of the normalization of relations between the two countries, there has been a massive surge of interest by collectors, enthusiasts, and, well, us. The Standard set out to get a bead on this exploding corner of the art world by talking to someone on the ground with first-hand expertise. Naturally, our first call was to our man Stan, who put us in touch with Laura Daranas, one of the most talented young art curators in Cuba today.

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Up until a few months ago, Laura served as a “Museóloga Especialista” in Cuba’s famous national gallery, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, before striking out to stoke the flames of independent artists. She aims to expose them to worldwide appeal as a curator for a hip “personal studio” (more on this below) in Cuba’s Miramar section (with co-curator Yessi Montes de Oca). In the rush of putting together her first independent show, Laura found time to answer some of our questions.


Jauretsi: Tell us about the new gallery Miramar 601, and the two young Cuban artists who founded it, Alejandro and Aramis? Is this one of the new “cuenta propistas” (small businesses) we hear about? Or is part of the emergence of independent galleries?

Laura Danaras: Independent art galleries are not legal in Cuba. After the economic collapse in the ’90s, artists were allowed to create studios to show and sell their work, which they did and have been doing well before the recent laws came into play. Two artists have their studio at Miramar 601: Alejandro Guanche, a 23-years-old painter who works mostly in a bright and sharp style (addressing historical, erotic, literary or biographical subjects) and Aramis Santos, a 38-years-old painter and draftsman who has had a long career as an illustrator and mastery of different techniques. Both of them show their work regularly at the Wynwood District in Miami. In addition to the work of the two, we also have guest artists on display in the rooms of our beautiful ’50s house.

J: What are your thoughts on the influence by smaller independent galleries showing beside larger state run galleries, especially during a large week of foreigners attending (such as the Havana Biennial)?

LD: During the Biennial, there were maybe as many “open studios” as official displays. The Biennial presents a kind of cross-section of current Cuban art, and visitors have maybe a more panoramic understanding of it. It is also an opportunity for us Cubans to see a little bit from the international arena. This year it was Galleria Continua, from Italy, bringing artists such as Michelangelo Pistoletto, Daniel Buren, Nikhil Chopra, and others.

The Biennial and most state run galleries do not have a commercial nature though, and that’s the main difference with open studios. The curatorial concept also sets them apart of course. I think there should be room for everything (private and state-run galleries alike) because each has a specific purpose. Particularly taking into consideration the huge disproportion between the number of artists in Cuba and the number of state-run art venues. I think this is bound to change.

You can read the rest of the Q&A here at The Standard Hotel Culture site.

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You can probably consider Dany one of Cuba’s first tech entrepreneurs. For just $2 a week, he sells content to the entire island of Cuba. Think TV shows, Movies, Music, App, and so on — much of it is stuff that is currently released in the US. Behold the “El Paquete”, the largest operation of human data traffickers in Cuba, passed along only through hard drives (remember Cuban internet penetration is 5% on the island, so forget downloads).

Dany says: “We offer a product that is like one giant webpage where you can see all the content you want for a very low price”. When asked if he’s nervous about the internet one day taking over his business, the 26 year old responds, “The internet might take over some clients, but we offer something different and very effective.”

Reporter Johhny Harris properly researched, found, and finally interviewed Dany, one of the only two kingpins behind this famous Paquete. Dany’s main competition on the island is another guy called Ali. Both are in fierce competition to secure the latest and greatest content delivered to their buyers every week… a healthy case of competition breeding innovation.

Meet Dani and his vast operation of black market gold.
Read the rest of the article on

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(Julio Larraz, Campamento y Madrigales, 2015)

Tonight, Julio Larraz opens his first solo exhibition at the Chelsea gallery Ameringer McEnery Yohe. “Right now, I am still learning” says Julio, who is considered one of the most commercially successful Cuban-born artists. “As an artist my interest is in the reaction of the colors, the mixing of the colors. I am exploring new ways to compose a picture. The artist that turns his or her back on the learning process is ready for an artistic obituary.”

Read the rest of the interview by Howard Farber in



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In our never-ending search for beautiful Cuban archives, I stumbled upon this rare 1964 propaganda book, published in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The images are powerful portraits of yesteryears idealism post-revolution (only 5 years after Fidel’s takeover). The art direction has a sharp utilitarian layout that captures the eye. Here’s a peek at the vintage volume.












For the serious collector, there is one book available on eBay right now, for $129. Read more on the listing here

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Foreign Policy created a sweet pictorial of Cuba’s youth today, and illustrates the generation gap between millennial youth and their elder parents raised on Communism (photographed by Edu Bayer)

“Cuban millenials have a more Western mentality; they want stuff, they want to look good, to have fun, and to be able to have the freedom to pursue grander ambitions — financial and otherwise”, writes Foreign Policy, “They want more”.

Read more here.

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“When the elephants battle, the grass suffers”. How does this African proverb apply to Cuba today? Ted Henken (CUNY Professor, and author of Entrepreneurial Cuba: The Changing Policy Landscape) speaks on the shift between Cuba/US relations, and his thoughts on how to proceed moving forward.

This is the first in a series of videos filmed at The New Cuba Conference, directed by Juan Carlos Saizarbitoria. The meeting of the minds took place on June 17, 2015 at The Standard, High Line with the intention of sharing more collaboration with creatives on the island today.

Stay tuned to meet our other speakers…

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The New York Times visited Cuba to follow an interesting angle on the blogger scene — that is, the “moderate” bloggers. Cuba is a country where independent journalism is mostly dangerous when criticizing the State (note: the blog 14yMedio is one of the most respected Independent platforms, guided by activist Yoany). The only other forms of information on the internet-challenged island are National newspapers, generally considered propaganda of the State.

So who are these moderate bloggers who exist in the middle? NY Times’ Ernesto Londoño finds some new names and faces on the island who are dancing on the lines of this new definition of what is “acceptable”. The conversation seems like an acrobatic walk through semantics.

Carlos Alberto Perez, a blogger for La Chiringa de Cuba, claims he is criticizing from inside the Revolution [not outside the Revolution]…a famous phrase Fidel Castro once said when announcing what opinion would be tolerated in Cuba.

“Im not going to tell you that fear doesn’t exist”, he adds, “that when you have that button there, when you’re on top of the publish button, you think about it. You think, what comes afterward could be dangerous, right?”

At the end of the day, its refreshing to meet new voices getting up online, regardless of whether they are hardcore dissidents or just local voices sharing insider narratives. As long as they are dissecting, exposing, and sharing inner thoughts on the “real cuba”, then it’s a step in the right direction. What’s important is that a new subculture of bloggers is arising, differentiating themselves as different than the activists, but eager to tell their stories.

Another blogger, Harold Cardenas Lema (for La Joven Cuba) says that “We are moving forward the line of what is politically correct here”, attempting to break down the journalistic moving target. Expect this line to move more every day, despite the State’s control.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

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