Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

When one thinks of Havana, images of classic cars, cigars, and mojitos come to mind. Having spent the last five+ years traveling to and from Havana, I would agree with those images. Cars, cigars, and rum are almost like the Cuban holy trinity. However, the highlights of Cuba and Havana are so much more than smoking cigars, drinking mojitos at Hemingway’s haunts, or taking a joyride in a classic convertible. Havana’s art scene is exploding with ingenuity. Let me uncover for you the artistic hotbed and treasure that is Havana with these three unforgettable street art locations.

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

Callejón de Hamel – Hamel’s Alley in Central Havana

Located in Central Havana, Callejón de Hamel is a two-block artistic alleyway started in the 90’s by Cuban artist, Salvador Gonzalez. This street art project features vibrant murals, sculpture pieces, as well as indoor and outdoor shrines honoring the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. Sometimes confused with a type of ‘voodoo’, Santeria is actuality a unique mixture of West African religion (Yoruba) and Roman Catholic traditions.

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

Throughout the Callejón de Hamel, you will be greeted by an explosion of color, sculptures made out of repurposed materials, and Cuban creativity at its finest. If you want to bring back more than just pictures, there are also shops along the alley for purchasing paintings, hand carved wooden sculptures, and unique Santeria items. Although you can visit this street any day of the week, on Sundays the street comes alive with rumba music and dancing from about 11 am until late afternoon.

Muraleando – Muraling in Lawton

You’ve heard the expression that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well, Muraleando’s story is just that. Located just minutes outside of Havana in a community called Lawton, Murleando (literally muraling or mural making) is a community project that proves that necessity is the mother of invention. Manolo Diaz and Ernesto Paz began teaching art workshops for the neighborhood children in a community space. However, in 2001, they had no other choice than to move to the streets when a conflict in scheduling left no space for art in the one and only available community building in Lawton. Using the existing drab cement walls along the streets as a canvas, Muraleando was founded. Shortly, the project came to life with colorful murals featuring Cuban life, its history, Afro-Cuban religion, and pop culture icons from around the world. To compliment these murals, the artists continued by welding together recycled materials such as typewriters, washing machine parts, and wheels to make beautiful sculptures.

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

Adjacent to where these murals and sculptures were blossoming was an old water tank, formerly used in the railroad days for refilling the locomotive steam engines. After running dry, the tank was literally a dump. Over the decades of non-use, the tank was filled with tons of trash. Manolo and Ernesto didn’t see a dump, but an opportunity. They asked the government for permission to use the tank, clean it up, and start running workshops out of the water tank for the neighborhood children. Multiple dump trucks of trash were removed with the help of dozens of volunteers from the community. Little by little, El Tanque (the tank) became the workshop and classroom of Muraleando.

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

Over the last fifteen years, Muraleando has expanded with more classrooms, multiple floors, and types of classes ranging from music to painting and even digital arts. Muraleando is a success story with more than two hundred children benefiting from this example of trash turned into treasure.

Jose Fuster’s Studio – Fusterlandia in Jaimanitas

In the early 90’s, Jose Fuster started an art project in his home in a marginal neighborhood called Jaimanitas. Initially, Fuster decorated the entrance to his own home, covering it with a colorful, artistic tile mosaic. His neighbor admired Fuster’s work and wanted the same for her house. Armed with cement, paint, and any tiles they could get their hands, Fuster and his team of nearly a dozen artists have transformed the once fishing village into a vibrant, mosaic covered neighborhood. Everything from the bus stops and street signs to the doctor’s house and neighbors’ houses are in mosaics.

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

Fuster’s house is the centerpiece and a three-storied ornate playground, nicknamed Fusterlandia. His home, which he says is a work of art in progress, is covered with symbols of Cuban life such as the guajiro (cowboy), palm trees, and his favorite, the rooster. I had the opportunity to talk to Fuster at his pool in 2013. I asked him about the rooster in his work. Although I knew it was a symbol from Santeria as well as one of virility, I wanted to know why it was present in his work almost like his signature. He relayed that each day he hears a rooster crow he is blessed to live another day. Fuster uses the rooster to remind us all to be grateful.

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

Like a treasure map, I have uncovered three gems of Havana’s street art, but these are just the tip of Cuba’s artistic iceberg. Now is the time to travel to Cuba to discover it for yourself. If you are interested in learning more about Cuba and my adventures, check out my blog www.heidisiefkas.com  as well as my recent book Cubicle to Cuba: Desk Job to Dream Job

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene
Thank you to Heidi for sharing the street art in Cuba. We want to visit even more now!

Guest writer Heidi Siefkas: Originally from small-town Wisconsin, Heidi hangs her hat in South Florida. However, as an adventurer, she’s rarely home for long. In fact, your best bet is to find her in Cuba. Also, Heidi is a speaker, the creator of the mantra Look Up, and author of three inspirational, non-fiction books When All Balls Drop, With New Eyes, and Cubicle to Cuba. Follow her adventures and be inspired www.heidisiefkas.com

Looking for more street art?

Take a journey to the amazing street art of the Azores

Be amazed with the colorful street art in Wynwood, Miami

Enjoy some Canadian street art in Montreal

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Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene
Art Around Every Corner in Havana Discover Cuba’s Street Art Scene

About RoarLoud

Guest blogger for RoarLoud. RoarLoud is a premier adventure travel blog based out of New England focusing on the full spectrum of travel, from backpacking, eco-family travel, to ultimate luxury travel. We highlight the full experience of travel to our readership and have had successful campaigns with hotel, airline, and tour groups. RoarLoud prides itself on bringing our travels to a broad audience, encouraging everyone to adventure near and far.
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11 Comment

  1. Cuba is a fascinating island and culture with life lessons for us all. This post on street art is just the tip of the Cuban iceberg. I hope that this inspires you to travel to Cuba and live a life full of adventure.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your photos and stories of Cuba! We are ready to explore Cuba, what a great adventure it would be!

  2. Heidi, great shots. That top one is so playful.
    As for Cuba we can finally head there – bringing cash along, I think, for US citizens – so gotta book that trip soon to enjoy the opening up of Cuba. Or to see a bunch of classic cars, fabulous people and to enjoy pristine views.
    We tripped through Myanmar recently. So neat to see a similar land in that it is just opening up to the outside world recently. Special place.

    Ryan

    1. Since writing this piece, there have been some changes with Americans and travel to Cuba. I wanted to clarify what the recent changes mean: http://heidisiefkas.com/2017/06/20/ways-you-can-travel-to-cuba-in-2017-it-is-not-too-late/

  3. There’s no doubt that vintage cars and music bars have stood fast on the tourist checklist, but due to Cuba’s recent art boom, artistic honey pots are now forming behind the old world glamour. Tucked away within gritty industrial factories, intimate studios and the homes of well-heeled collectors, Havana‘s creative hubs are leading the way for artistic sophistication. Whether dining amidst the decor of an internationally renowned artist or perusing installations in a club, the Havana art scene offers some surprising underground attractions.

  4. Mina says: Reply

    Hopefully, I’be visiting Cuba in a few months so I’m definitely adding those sports to my check list. Thanks!

    1. Let us know how it goes and any tips you pick up:)

  5. Dreaming of visiting Cuba! Great to read about the redevelopment of Muraleando, always nice to see suburbs improved!

  6. Liz says: Reply

    This is such an interesting post! I love street art and always look for new places. I didn’t know that there was so much street art in Havana!

    1. I’m glad you liked it too Liz! So glad that Heidi shared the photos and stories with us!

      1. Happy to highlight this fascinating island and all the creativity that is blooming. It’s such a special place and special time to witness all of it.

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