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SKETCHBOOK: a creative tool and a way of life that celebrates design and drawing as vital ways to see and value culture, to discover ideas, and to envision a better world.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"Hemingway's Cuba" exhibition opens in the writer's Cuban home

Hello all! Back from leading the "Sketch Cuba with James Richards" excursion throughout Havana and the stunning Vinales Valley for 40 artists, designers and vagabond travelers. Certainly one of the highlights for me was the opening of my "Hemingway's Cuba" exhibition at Finca Vigia, the former residence (now a museum) of the writer.  It is being shown aspart of the Havana Arts Biennial, and was covered by Cuban national television, Radio Havana Cuba and print media.  Here's a nice summation from one of many news blogs:


Here's a sampling of pieces from the exhibition, which explores the intersection of place and creativity:  the cities, towns, landscapes and experiences that inspire ideas and great works.  Hemingway purposefully sought out places conducive to his writing—Paris and Key West, among others—but he lived and worked in Cuba longer than in any other setting.  Drawing offered a fascinating way for me to deeply see and experience these locales, and to document a personal response to the places and people we encountered.  These watercolor sketches offer an authentic, eye-witness look at today’s Cuba, where past and present intertwine, and at many of the largely unchanged settings that fueled Hemingway’s imagination and some of his best writing.

View across Havana Viejo from the roof of the Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Hemingway lived and wrote for several years before purchasing the Finca Vigia outside Havana.

La Terraza (The Terrace) restaurant in the small fishing village of Cojimar figures prominently in "Islands in the Stream" and "The Old Man and the Sea."  Hemingway kept his beloved fishing boat Pilar at Cojimar, and passed hours telling stories and playing cards with local fishermen.

This view to the sea from a window in La Terraza restaurant in Cojimar is described in the closing scene of "The Old Man and the Sea," for which won Hemingway a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

This tower is adjacent to the main house at Hemingway's home, Finca Vigia.  Built for Hemingway by his fourth wife Mary Welsh, has a writing studio on the top floor with views to Havana and the sea.  The writer preferred to write in the bedroom of the main house, and the studio was soon given over to the cats.  

El Floridita is the iconic bar and restaurant in hot, steamy Old Havana, walking distance from the Hotel Ambos Mundos, where Hemingway held court with visiting writers, actors, and celebrities.  It is also, according to legend, where he invented the "Papa Doble," a double-strength twist on the traditional frozen daquiri, which the bar claims was also invented here.  His record, according to some reports, was 18 at a single sitting.