Thursday, May 26, 2016

City of Alexandria to take over the Torpedo Factory

The city’s controversial move last week to temporarily take control of the Torpedo Factory Art Center caught many in Alexandria off guard. While three years seems to be pushing the boundary of what’s truly “temporary,” on face value the action makes sense.
Read that Alexandria Times story here.
 “The expectation now is that if we are leasing directly with the artists, now the city is bringing in that income, so we’re expecting the business model to still be self-perpetuating as it currently is but in a slightly different channel,” Ruggiero said. “Especially since this is a temporary measure, we will set it up within our system as a separate budget so it won’t be absorbed into the office of the arts. It’ll be a separate thing so we can track it better.”
Read that other Alexandria Times story here
Artists and art patrons have been expressing concern about the future of the center since a consultant’s report in January excoriated how the Torpedo Factory is organized. The report called the management structure dysfunctional, citing distrust among those involved and a lack of diversity among the artists. It also described the center as “continually hampered by disruptive politics about the distribution of power and authority.”
Read that WaPo story here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A 5th force discovered?

A laboratory experiment in Hungary has spotted an anomaly in radioactive decay that could be the signature of a previously unknown fifth fundamental force of nature, physicists say—if the finding holds up.
Details here. 

Please Touch

Please Touch
Saturday, June 4 – Sunday, July 17, 2016
Reception: Thursday, June 9; 6 – 8 pm with talk at 7 pm

Target Gallery, the contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center, encourages people to touch, feel, dine upon, and even lick the artwork in Please Touch, on view Saturday, June 4 through Sunday, July 17, 2016. 



Sixteen national and international artists, including four people from Virginia, were juried into this group show. This all-media exhibition features 20 works with which audiences should engage.

“I chose work that specifically challenged the traditional expectation of experiencing art,” said Cynthia Connolly, Arlington County’s special projects curator and juror for the exhibition. “In this case, one must touch the artwork in order to completely understand, appreciate and experience the intention of the artist.”

For example, Colleen Ludwig’s Pod Field is a series of wooden forms affixed with long pod stalks. The audience is invited to brush against the pods as they walk through the installation, triggering the bamboo chimes. The more people in the space, the more it fills the industrial surroundings of the

Jenifer Hansen’s Project Share is two ceramic dish sets and a social art project. One set stays in Target Gallery for display, the other is for visitors to borrow and use for a meal with a stranger. There is no fee for this project, participants are merely asked to snap a few photos and write a blog entry. (See the blog from a similar project in Columbus, Ohio.) The dishes are a vehicle to engage in conversation over the intimate act of sharing food.

Fumi Amano, of Richmond, Virginia, created one of the most intimate works in the show with Look at Me. An immigrant from Japan, Amano’s work is a reflection of her sense of isolation and the challenges of connecting with others through a language barrier. In her work, visitors sit on opposite sides of a frosted pane of glass, unable to see each other. The person on the frosted side then licks the pane, revealing a face. This intense and visceral act mimics Amano’s own desire to break through barriers and communicate with others.

“We are told not to touch fine art, and definitely never to lick it,” said Kaitlyn Ward, Target Gallery director. “I want the gallery experience to be completely interactive, and for the visitor to feel like he or she is breaking the rules.”




The participating artists are:

·        Fumi Amano – Richmond, VA

·        Marcelyn Bennett Carpenter - Bloomfield Hills, MI

·        Brielle DuFlon – Charlottesville, VA

·        Sherman Finch – Cypress, TX

·        Magdalene Gluszek – Show Low, AZ

·        Jennifer Hansen – West Olive, MI

·        Dana Lynn Harper  – Columbus, OH

·        Tim Harper – Midlothian, VA

·        Katie Hudnall – Indianapolis, IN

·        Young Suk Lee – South Bend, IN

·        Colleen Ludwig – Detroit, MI

·        Charles Benjamin Rosecrans – Sandy Hook, CT

·        Richard Starbuck – London, England

·        Kurt Treeby – Buffalo, NY

·        Art Vidrine – Alexandria, VA

·        Dukno Yoon – Manhattan, KS


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

(Art)xiomas - CUBAAHORA: the Next Generation

(Art)xiomas - CUBAAHORA: the Next Generation, is an art exhibition at the beautiful Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) which opens June 9, 2016 and displays the work of 15 Cuban contemporary young artists.




It's not that common to have so many Cuban artists together around the DMV - in fact, the last time that I can remember so many Cubanos in one show was when we curated the epic "From Here and From There: De Aqui y De Alla" more than a decade ago at the Fraser Gallery.

That show for the first time brought to the capital region many of today's leading contemporary Cuban artists... a generation or two before the ones that AMA will showcase next month -- many of the artists in that earlier show had strong dissident voices, fueled by Cuba's "Special Period" in many cases, and they were courageously using their artwork to reflect the realities of their life on the island, or as part of the Cuban Diaspora around the world. That show was a spectacular success, and many of those pieces now reside in museums around the United States and Latin America, thanks to the generosity of the collectors who bought the entire show, and then, throughout the years, have donated the work to public institutions.

And now the 
Art Museum of the Americas is showcasing these "new"
young Cuban artists
for this 
exhibit 
at the OAS AMA 
 Art Museum of the Americas
 , 
201 18th St, Washington, DC 20006
.

The show has been curated by Gabriela García Azcuy.

(Art)xiomas includes installation art, video, photography, sculpture, painting, performance, among others.
The meaning of 'axiom' is a self-evident truth. These recent graduates of Cuba’s University of the Arts, now in their 30’s, face their realities with a new gaze, free of political elements that nonetheless penetrate their works, their discourses are more autobiographical than politically contextualized. Moreover, they reconcile their independently managed studios and work with government cultural organizations and international galleries and institutions.
There's a little double-talk in that news release statement, which is a very Cuban thing. They are apparently "free of political elements", and yet those political elements "nonetheless penetrate their works." That's Cubanese for you!

More translation: When they "reconcile their independently managed studios and work with government cultural organizations," that means that they carefully navigate the heavy hand of Cuba's brutal dictators, which curiously enough sometimes seem a little lax when it comes to artwork (unless you're Tania Bruguera, or Danilo Maldonado, a Cuban artist known as "El Sexto," who has been imprisoned since December 26th, 2014)... and I can go on and on.

I am really excited to see this show and will write more about it after I attend the press preview.

(Art)Xiomas will open June 9 at AMA and the opening reception, free and open to the public is Thursday, June 9 6-8pm. Details here.

The artists in this show, as far as I know making their DMV debut are:

Adriana Arronte, Aria
m
na Contino, Adri
á
n Fern
á
ndez, Alex Hern
á
ndez, Frank M
ú
jica, Osmeivy Ortega, Jorge Otero, Mabel Poblet, Lisandra Ram
í
rez, Adisl
e
n Reyes, Roger Toledo, Gustavo del Valle, Josuhe Pagliery, Grethell Rasúa, and Harold García. 

Mabel Poblet Pujol
All of them, except Roger Toledo, are coming for the opening of the show.

I am familiar with the work of several of the artists, such as the skilled paper cut-out works by Ariamna Contino, and the very talented (and sometimes Bettie Page doppelgänger) Mabel Poblet Pujol, and others, but will also be discovering some new talent at this show.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Looking Glass: Artist Immigrants of Washington

This is my latest work and it is heading to the The Looking Glass: Artist Immigrants of Washington show at the Katzen Museum at American University.

The show, curated by Jack Rasmussen, runs June 18–August 14, 2016, and opens to the public with an opening reception (free and open to the public) on June 18 from 6-8PM.
The exhibition celebrates ten artists who left Latin America for many different reasons over the last sixty years – primarily for safety, freedom, and opportunity – and made their homes, and their artistic careers and contributions, in the Washington region. They include Joan Belmar and Juan Downey from Chile, Carolina Mayorga from Colombia, Ric Garcia, Lenny Campello, and Jose Ygnacio Bermudez from Cuba, Muriel Hasbun from El Salvador, Frida Larios from El Salvador/Honduras, Irene Clouthier from Mexico, and Naul Ojeda from Uruguay. They brought with them artistic traditions that took root and bore fruit here in the United States.
As the show focuses on immigrant artists to the DMV, in this piece, the embedded video component plays a video loop (6.5 minutes) covering my life so far, with a special focus on why my family had to leave the brutal world of the Castro Brothers' Workers Paradise in the 1960s. The small boy to the left is me (as a four year old) running around my grandfather's farm just outside of Guantanamo

As I usually do, I've used the "cracks" on the background wall to employing the Navy's Falcon Codes as the first encryptor) double encrypt a background message... more on the show later... You can see the embedded video here.

American University Museum
202-885-1300     
Fax: 202-885-1140
museum@american.edu

4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

Admission Free
Tue-Sun, 11:00-4:00
Fully Accessible
See Directions


"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God." Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. F. Lennox Campello. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.
"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God."
Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.


"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God."
Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.

"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God."
Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.

"Cuban by Ancestry, But American by the Grace of God."
Charcoal and Conte and Embedded Video. 18x24 inches, circa 2016.









Obama, Cuba and the curious case of the 53


Part of the deal made by our President with the racist Cuban dictator Raul Castro, included the release of 53 (from the thousands) of Cuban political prisoners held in the Castro Brothers' Workers Paradise.

Most of those 53 have subsequently been re-arrested, some even while the President was in Havana watching a baseball game.

 Now, (Via) Mario Alberto Hernandez Leyva, one of the 53, has also been re-arrested and his present whereabouts are unknown.
Hernandez Leyva was re-arrested in November 2015 for organizing a pot-banging protest ("cacerolazo"). He was handed a new three-year prison sentence for disobedience.
 
In other words, Raul Castro reneged on his deal with President Obama. 
 
Nonetheless, Obama still traveled to Cuba this past March and didn't say a word about Hernandez Leyva.
 
Hernandez Leyva has been transferred to various prisons throughout Cuba, where he has conducted hunger strikes to protest his unjust imprisonment.
 
Most recently, he was transferred from the nefarious Combinado del Este prison to Santa Clara, where we was being held in a punishment cell.
 
 Last week, he was "discretely" transferred once again -- and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Still not a word from the Obama Administration.

Refueling at Sea

Gorgeous work by Walter Brightwell... perhaps the greatest US Navy ship painter of all time?

This is a Navy destroyer refueling at sea... not too many navies in the world can do this (the Russians can't).

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Way Back at WAW

The Way Back at Washington ArtWorks features artwork by United States Military Veterans whose art pieces are derived from their uniforms. Each artist has transformed their uniform into paper upon which they create works of art and poetry. A therapeutic manner of creating work, this exhibition gives insight into the affects of active duty on military members.

Name of Event: Opening reception of The Way Back
Opening Date: Friday, June 3rd
Time: 6-9pm
Dates of Exhibition: June 3rd - June 30th
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
Contact #: 301.654.1998
Address: 12276 Wilkins Ave. Rockville, MD 20852

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dulce Pinzon's "Rubber Duckies"

Dulce Pinzon is without a doubt one of the leading contemporary photographers in the world. This immensely talented lady, whom Forbes Magazine called "one of the top 100 most influential Mexicans in the world," has access to an abandoned natural history museum in her native Mexico.

This is my favorite image from that developing series of works - it's a brilliant example of what an intelligent and talented photographer can do with such a cool resource such as an empty and abandoned museum!

"Rubber Duckies" by Dulce Pinzon


Opportunity for Artists


Deadline: August 31, 2016


The Gallery at Penn College in Williamsport, PA is accepting proposals for solo or small group exhibitions for the 2017-18 exhibition season. The 3,000 square foot gallery on the campus of Pennsylvania College of Technology is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art. All media will be considered.


The gallery offers a shipping stipend, and an honorarium is offered to artists who deliver a gallery talk at the opening reception.


Artists must have enough work to fill the full gallery space, and are encouraged to view the gallery floor plan before submitting. Artists may apply either through a secure online entry system or via mail. There is no entry fee. For full entry information, visit https://gallery.pct.edu/inquiries.htm


Questions can be directed to Penny Lutz, Gallery Director at 570-320-2445

Cheryl Numark Art Advisory New Website

I am pleased to announce the launch of the new Cheryl Numark Art Advisory website.


If you haven't visited numarkartadvisory.com in a while, check it out! The new site features:
  • a responsive design supported on all types of devices
  • an overview of CNAA's past projects including slideshows of installation photography
  • a sampling of works CNAA has placed over the years
  • a detailed history of our curatorial experience
  • a list of relevant articles about CNAA in leading art publications 
  • a newsletter signup so you can stay up to date on what is happening at CNAA
CNAA works closely with clients to help inform and develop knowledge, perspective, and sensibility in the appreciation and acquisition of fine art. They work with both new and seasoned collectors. This new website shows their extensive history and experience working in the art world.

Please feel free to visit the
new site.      
 
  

Friday, May 20, 2016

AC Moore's coupons

One of the things that I teach in my Bootcamp for Artists seminar is guerrilla tactics for reducing framing costs up to 80-90% from custom framing costs.


One valuable asset here are A.C. Moore stores, with their significant set of ready made frames at generally affordable prices, often coupled with weekly sales.


Moore's is also a prodigious coupon-generating factory, and quite often you get a coupon that proudly announces "55% off any regular priced item."




To me, being a pedantic Virgo, "any" means that all items in the store which are not on sale are discounted 55%.


Not to A.C. Moore.


The small print on the coupon notes several exceptions to "any."


Limit one coupon per customer, per transaction, per day. Must be surrendered at time of purchase. No reproductions. Not valid with any other coupons, discounts, previous purchases, sale, clearance, or blue, red or green labeled items. Coupon has no cash value. Not valid on purchase of Gift Cards, Cricut®, Home Essentials Frames, Elf on the Shelf, Custom Framing, Custom Floral Arranging, Classroom Fees, Magazines, or www.acmoore.com purchases. Not valid at our Outlet or Liquidation Store locations



Prior to the "any" coupon, I had received an email blast from A.C. Moore's proudly announcing "Today Only: 20% Off Everything‏." And so I rush to the store, thinking that "everything" means.... ahh... everything!


"Everything" is understood by the most casual observer to mean everything in the store... and thus I was surprised when I went and made a large purchase that there were many things at the store where it didn't apply -- that is dishonest advertising to say "everything" and then you get to the store and Essential Frames, clearance items, etc. are NOT part of "Everything."

This, of course, bugged me and thus I contacted A.C. Moore to explain to them that by using the word "everything", the implication was that any item on the store was eligible for the discount.


Below is their response:
Thank you for contacting A. C. Moore Customer Care. We apologize for the misunderstanding about the 20% off coupon from our email subject line. The details of this coupon are printed on the actual coupon, where it explains that the 20% off is on your regular and sale price items, and lists excluded items.  Your detailed feedback is greatly appreciated as it allows us the opportunity to address this type of situation for future visits. 
        I have added 500 points to your rewards account (the equivalent of making a $50.00 purchase) for the inconvenience. 
        We understand your position and we appreciate your feedback about this. We will forward your feedback to our marketing team to take this into consideration for future email coupons. 
         Thank you.

Sincerely,
Caitlin Scarbrough
Customer Care Coordinator | A. C. Moore
130 A.C. Moore Drive  | Berlin, NJ  08009
And I am grateful, and it is an inconvenience to load a cart with 30 Home Essential frames on two separate occasions, only to find out that they are not eligible under the "any" descriptor in the 55% "any" coupon, or under the "everything" descriptor in the 20% coupon.


What's the solution? Can Moore's get out of this borderline deceptive coupon by simply using an asterisk after the word "any" and "everything"? At least an asterisk raises an alarm that there are limitations.


Or am I being too pedantic?

Bethesda Painting Awards finalists

BETHESDA PAINTING AWARDS
June 1-25
Wednesday - Saturday, 12-6pm
Reception: June 10, 6-9pm
The Bethesda Painting Awards is downtown Bethesda's annual juried art competition that exclusively honors painters from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. $14,000 in prize monies are awarded to the top four painters annually.

Finalists:
John Aquilino, Rockville, MD
Katie Baines, North Chesterfield, VA
Amy Chan, Henrico, VA
Andy Karnes, Baltimore, MD
Richard Levine, Falls Church, VA
Erin Raedeke, Montgomery Village, MD
Amy Sherald, Baltimore, MD
Tanja Softic, Richmond, VA

Five gets you ten that the winner is Amy Sherald (also the most recent winner of the 2016 Smithsonian Outwin Boochever Portrait competition). In fact, the very talented Ms. Sherald is having a great year!

Amy Sherald
Amy Sherald earned a Bachelor of Arts from Clark- Atlanta University where she became an apprentice to Dr. Arturo Lindsay. Sherald received her Master of Fine Arts in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art. After graduating, she secured a prestigious private study residency with well-known Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum .

In 2008, she attained an artist residency assistantship at the Tong Xion Art Center in Beijing, China. Her work has been exhibited extensively including solo exhibitions at Richard Demato Gallery in New York, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, MD.

Sherald’s work is also featured in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, the US Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, and the D.C. Commission of Fine Arts. Sherald is also the winner of the 2016 Smithsonian Outwin Boochever Portrait competition. She is currently living and working as an artist in resident at the Creative Alliance.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Panel Discussion on the Life and Work of Kevin MacDonald

May 21
6-9 pm

Join AU's Katzen Museum for this two-part event beginning with a panel discussion on one of Washington's most important and critically acclaimed artists, Kevin MacDonald, with panelists Lee Fleming, Ben Forgey, and Jack Rasmussen from 6-7 pm, followed by a jam session featuring special guest artists from the art rock bands Twisted Teenage Plot, Urban Verbs, The Slickee Boys and Danger Painters from 7:30-9 pm!


Read the Washington Post review on Kevin MacDonald: The Tension of a Suspended Moment and Twisted Teenage Plot.


The American University Museum is located at 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC Museum Hours: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Admission is free.

Parking available under the Katzen Arts Center and is free after 5 p.m. and on weekends




Call for muralists

The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, in partnership with Arts Brookfield, is excited to announce the second installment of “Paint the Town,” an initiative to promote more public art murals in downtown Bethesda. In an effort to beautify the area surrounding the Bethesda Metro, the mural project will focus on the plaza area and bus bay at 3 Bethesda Metro Center. The project area includes the overhang above the escalator, six substantial columns and a bench at the base of the escalator that stretches along the bus terminal sidewalk.
 
“We are excited to continue our endeavor to bring more public art murals to downtown Bethesda,” said Cathy Bernard, President of the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, “We are thrilled to partner with Arts Brookfield on this project and look forward to making the Bethesda Metro Bus Bay a more colorful and welcoming area for commuters, visitors and residents.”
 
Artists are invited to submit an application, which includes a project rendering, for the chance to be selected to paint the mural. The dimensions of the site are as follows:

·         Overhang - 158' L x 7.5' H
·         Columns - 12' H x 6.5' C
·         Bench - 90' L x 2' W x 1.5' H

$30,000 will be provided to the artist to pay for supplies and the artist’s time. The deadline to apply is Monday, July 18, 2016.

Interested artists should visit www.bethesda.org for more information and for the application.

The project must be completed by October 15, 2016.
 
The selected artist is required to use a paint specific to outdoor and concrete use such as Keim, SherKryl, NovaColor by Artex or Golden Artist Colors, etc. Artists must be 18 years of age or older and residents of Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia.

“We are pleased to be a part of this project, and through it, introduce Bethesda and the D.C. region to our Arts Brookfield team,” said Richard Fernicola, Vice President of Development for Brookfield’s U.S. Division. “This mural is just a sample of the world-class art and entertainment Arts Brookfield will bring to Bethesda Metro Center.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Jerry Jeff Walker: London Blues

Well, when you're down on your luck,
And you ain't got a buck,
In London you're a goner.
Even London Bridge has fallen down,
And moved to Arizona
,
Now I know why.
And I'll substantiate the rumor that the English sense of humor
Is drier than than the Texas sand.
You can put up your dukes, and you can bet your boots
That I'm leavin' just as fast as I can.


Chorus

I wanna go home with the armadillo
Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene
The friendliest people and the prettiest women you've ever [G]
Seen.


2nd Verse

Well, it's cold over here, and I swear
I wish they'd turn the heat on.
And where in the world is that English girl
I promised I would meet on the third floor.
And of the whole damn lot, the only friend I've got
Is a smoke and a cheap guitar.
My mind keeps roamin', my heart keeps longin'
To be home in a Texas bar.


Chorus

3rd Verse

Well, I decided that I'd get my cowboy hat
And go down to Marble Arch Station.
'Cause when a Texan fancies, he'll take his chances.
Chances will be taken, that's for sure.
And them Limey eyes, they were eyein' the prize
That some people call manly footwear.
And they said you're from down South,
And when you open your mouth,
You always seem to put your foot there.

Repeat chorus 'til the cows come home.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Best of the Art Leagues


Artists & Makers Studios in Rockville will present Best of the Art Leagues – an Invitational and Summer Burners – two very different exhibits in three galleries for the month of June.  


In two galleries, an invitational exhibit with juried members of the Art League of Germantown.  In the Gallery Hall, a first-of-its-kind exhibit for Rockville, featuring 36 graffiti writers and street artists from three major metro areas showing their work legally and indoors.  


Both exhibits open Friday, June 3, and continue through Thursday, June 23, 2016. 


Viewing hours are 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Tuesday-Friday, Saturday 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, and Sundays by appointment.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Havana street, 1950s and Cuban State of Mind (History)

Havana street, 1950s
 
There's a grossly erroneous perception, driven home by Hollywood movies and the narrative of the extreme wingnuts of the left worldwide, that pre-Castro Cuba was ripe for the Castro brothers due to the extreme poverty in the island, corruption, backwardness, disease, illiteracy, etc.

 
Nothing could be further away from the truth.

 
Cuba was the most likely, and also the least likely of all Latin American nations to fall under the clutches of Communism. In 1953 Fidel Castro wrote (In History Will Absolve Me):
"Once upon a time there was a Republic. It had its constitution, its laws, its civil rights, its President, a Congress, and law courts. Everyone could assemble, associate, speak and write with complete freedom. Public opinion was respected and heeded and all problems of common interest were freely discussed. There were political parties, radio and television debates and forums and public meetings. The whole nation pulsated with enthusiasm."

He, and his brother, erased that Republic, brutalized it, and replaced it with a Communist dictatorship.

Cuba was not a backwards island nation in 1959....

  • In 1829, Cuba was the first nation of Latin America, and also before several European nations, to use steam ships.
  • In 1837, Cuba became the third nation in the world, after England and the US, to build a railroad. It also had the causal effect of creating a significant Chinese immigration to the island.
  • The first doctor to use anesthesia in medical operations in Latin America (and also before Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and many other European nations) was a Cuban. It was ether and the year was 1847.
  • In 1860, in the city of Cardenas, two clinics started the world’s first health insurance projects. Known then as Mutual Benefit Organizations, these MBO's were the precursors of what are known today in the US as Health Maintenance Organizations or HMO's. Membership in one of Cardenas's MBO's gave its members access to all of the then available medical treatments that the clinics offered. As the medical systems and clinics developed, most Cuban hospitals and clinics provided free healthcare to the poor.
  • The first Latin American to play professional baseball in the US (and the “father of Cuban baseball) was the Cuban, Esteban Bellan in 1871.
  • The very first demonstration on planet Earth of an industry powered entirely by electricity was in done in Havana in 1877.
  • In 1881, a Cuban epidemiologist, Dr. Carlos Finlay, was the first to discover the transmitting agent of yellow fever, the mosquito Aedes Aegypti, which now also happens to carry zika. Dr. Finlay studied medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in the US.
  • The first system of electric lighting in all of Latin America, and also before a dozen European countries was installed in Cuba in 1889.
  • The first streetcar in Latin America (and before six European nations) began operation in Havana in 1900.
  • In 1900, before at any other country of Latin America, the first automobile arrived in Cuba. By 1959, there were more Cadillacs in Havana than in New York City.
  • The first Latin American woman to drive a car was the Cuban writer Renee Mendez Cape in 1900.
  • The first Latin American Olympic champion was a Cuban. The gold medal was won by the fencer Ramon Fonst Segundo, in 1900 (he also won a silver in that Olympiad). In 1904 Fonts won three gold medals in fencing!
  • The first Ibero-American nation to abolish bullfights was Cuba in 1901.
  • In 1902, when Cuba finally broke away from Spain, the island had been the source of between 50%-75% of the entire Spanish Gross National Product.
  • The first city on the planet to have a direct dialing telephone system was Havana in 1906. The second city in the world to have a direct dial telephone system was Santiago de Cuba, the capital of the Oriente province. All through the first half of the century, Cuba had more telephones per capita than any Latin American country except Argentina and Uruguay.
  • In 1907, the first x-ray medical department in Latin America (and before nearly every European nation) was established in Havana.
  • On the 17th of May, 1913 the first international aerial flight in Latin America was achieved by the Cuban pilots, Agustin Parla and Domingo Rosillo del Toro. The flight was between Cuba and Bone Key, Florida and lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes.
  • Cuba, in 1918, was the first country of Latin America to grant divorces to married couples.
  • The first Latin American (and the first person born outside of Europe) to win the world championship of chess was the Cuban master, Jose Raul Capablanca. He’s considered one of the greatest players of all time and was world champion form 1921-1927. He only lost 35 matches in his lifetime.
  • In 1922 Cuba was the second nation in the world to have a commercial radio station, and the first nation in the world to broadcast a music concert. By 1928 Cuba had 61 radio transmitters, 43 of them in Havana, giving the nation the fourth place of the world, only surpassed by the US, Canada and the Soviet Union.
  • In 1935 the concept of the radio novel and radio series was created by the Cuban Felix B. Caignet. That was the seminal birth of the telenovela as well!
  • In 1935, the first black man to play professional baseball in the then segregated Major Leagues (and 12 years before Jackie Robinson) was the Cuban player Roberto Estalella. Cuban professional baseball had never been segregated.
  • In 1937 Cuba was the first nation in Latin America (and before most European countries) to establish a legal work day of 8 hours. It also established a minimum wage!
  • In 1940 Cuba became the first country of Latin America (and also before many European nations) to elect politicians by universal suffrage and absolute majority.
  • Also in 1940, when 70% of the Cuban population was white, Cuban voters elected a black Cuban as President (Fulgencio Batista). Batista was the first (and so far only) black  President elected in Latin America.
  • In 1940, Cuba was the first nation in Latin America (and before several European nations) to recognize and authorize the right to vote for women, the equality of rights between sexes and races, and the right of women to work.
  • In 1942, the Cuban musical director Ernesto Lecuona became the first Latin American musical director to receive a nomination for an Oscar.
  • The second country in the world with a commercial television station was Cuba in 1950. Throughout the decade, Cubans had more TV sets per capita than any other Latin American country, and more than Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal.
  • Also in 1950, Damaso Perez Prado’s mambo piece Patricia was the number one record for 15 consecutive weeks in the Hit Parade list.
  • In 1951, Desi Arnaz became the leading producer in American television. He also pioneered the concept of a third camera in television programming.
  • In 1951, the Hotel Riviera became the first hotel in the world with central air conditioning
  • A year later, in 1952, the first all-concrete apartment buildings in the world were built in Havana.
  • In 1953, about 57% of the Cuban population was urban and more than 50% of the population lived in cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants, 33% lived in four cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants.
  • In 1953, one-sixth of the population lived in Havana, making it the third-largest capital in the world in relation to the total number of the nation's inhabitants (after London and Vienna).
  • In 1954 Cubans had the third highest meat consumption per capita in Latin America (after Argentina and Uruguay) and higher than most European countries.
  • In 1955, Cuba had the second lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America, 33.4 per thousand born and the third lowest in the world. It ranked ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Japan, Austria, Italy, and Spain.
  • In 1955, life expectancy in the US was 66.7 years. Life expectancy in Cuba was among the highest in the world at 63 years of age; compared to 52 in other Latin American countries, 43 in Asia, and 37 in Africa.
  • In 1956, the United Nations literacy report noted Cuba had the second highest level of literacy in Latin America and higher than several countries in Europe.
  • In 1956, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce analysis, Cuba was "the most heavily capitalized country in Latin America" and its "network of railways and highways blanket the country."
  • In 1957, a United Nations report noted that Cuba had the third largest number of doctors per capita (one for each 957 inhabitants) in Latin America, and more doctors per capita than Britain, Holland and Italy.
  • The same UN report also noted that  Cuba had the number one percentage of electric access to houses in Latin America (and higher than Portugal, Spain, Greece, Ireland, and all of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union), and second in Latin America, after Uruguay, in per capita daily caloric consumption (2870 calories per person). This was also higher than all Eastern European nations and three Western European nations.
  • In 1957 Havana became the second city on the planet to have a 3D movie theater and a multiscreen theater (the Cinema Radio Center).
  • In 1957 Cuba had more television stations (23) than any other country in Latin America, way ahead of much larger countries such as Mexico (12 television stations) and Venezuela (10).
  • In 1957 Cuba was first in Latin America, and ranked eighth in the world in number of radio stations (160), ahead of countries such as Austria (83 radio stations), United Kingdom (62), and France (50).
  • In 1958 Cuba was the second country in the world to broadcast television in color. The US, of course, was the first.
  • In 1958, Cuba was the first country in Latin America, and the third country in the world with the most cars per capita (one for every 38 inhabitants).
  • Cuba was also first in Latin America and third in the world with the most electric home appliances per capita.
  • In 1958 Cuba was the first country in Latin America and third in the world (after the US and England) with the most kilometers of railway lines per square kilometer and the second in the total number of radio receivers.
  • In 1958 Cuba had 58 daily newspapers of all political hues. There were 18 daily newspapers in Havana alone. Bohemia magazine, with a circulation of 250,000, was the largest Spanish language weekly magazine in the world.
  • People wanted to immigrate to Cuba – not escape from Cuba! Despite drastic immigration curbs set in place in the 1930s, when European immigrants almost matched the number of natural born Cubans, during the entire decade of the 1950's, Cuba was second in Latin America in the number of immigrants per capita.
  • In 1958, and in spite of its small size, and small number of people (6.5 million inhabitants in 1958), Cuba ranked as the 29th largest economy in the world, ahead of several European nations.
  • In 1959, Havana ranked as the number one city in the world with movie theatres (358). New York and Paris were second and third, respectively.
  • By 1959 Cuba had a large middle class comprising about a third of the population and 23% of the working class was classified as “skilled.”
  • In 1959, Cuba's gold reserves were third in Latin America, behind only Venezuela and Brazil.
  • Cuba had the third-highest per capita income in Latin America, exceeded only by Argentina and Venezuela (around $550 a year). It was also higher than Italy, Japan, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal and every single Eastern European nation in the Soviet bloc.

And then came 1959 and the Castro Brothers’ Workers’ Paradise… Since 1959, over one million Cubans have escaped from the island.

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."

Sir Winston Churchill