This year, the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation sponsored its first cultural exchanges.

Our first was Venice, California based performance artist Amy Kaps. She performed at the 12th La Habana Biennial - Between the Idea and Experience which was held May 22 – June 22, 2015.

Amy Kaps with Cuban visual artists Nelson Domiguez

Amy Kaps performs with Cuban guest artist Susan De Armas, "Unraveled in Rojo, Blanco y Azul," Nelson Dominguez's Gallery, La Habana Viejo

The Biennial included over 200 artists and collective projects from 44 countries across Latin American, the Caribbean, Arica, the Middle East as well as India, and Austria. The program included performances from the worlds of dance, theatre, music, film and literature. There was no one specific venue; art spilled out in squares, parks and urban spaces, as well as in the usual venues for the event, including the Wifredo Lam Centre of Contemporary Art, the photo library Fototeca de Cuba, the Centre for the Development of Visual Arts and the Cuba Pavilion. Some of the venues we visited included Kcho’s studio in Romerillo. He is the most well-known artists in Cuba. Another, considered one of the most controversial artists of his generation Esterio Segura, invited us to his studio. (photo Kcho studio brick wall)

Cuban visual artists and Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation Advisory Board member Alexis Leyva, "Kcho" with Suzanne Thompson at his art studio in Romerillo.

Suzanne Thompson with Cuban visual artist Esterio Segura at his studio.

Suzanne Thompson interacting with Esterio Segura's artwork closing night at Fabrica de Arte Cubano during the 12th Annual La Habana Bienal.

Our last night in La Habana was thoroughly enjoyed at the Fabrica de Arte (Art Factory). In the words of one of its founders, “Attempts to give Cubans a meeting-place where the best of the island’s avant-garde arts can be enjoyed, with all the artistic manifestations under the same roof and with prices making it accessible to the majority of Cubans…[Fabrica de Arte] is a place where everyone is an artist. A musician is just as valuable as a person making a living fixing coffee makers… We Cubans carry art around inside of us.’ - X Alfonso

The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s second grantee was Byron Motley, an accomplished singer/songwriter/filmmaker/lecturer/author and photographer. Support was given for his participation in CENESEX, an LGBT Sexual Education Congress in La Habana held in September. His photographic presentation entitled: The Newest Component of the Cuban Revolution, the LGBT Revolution was presented alongside a lecture presentation with Dr. Wilfred Labiosa of Puerto Rico. You can see some of his photos on this website. The objective of Byron’s presentation was to demonstrate through their respective research, the vibrancy of Cuba’s LGBT community and their involvement in the Cuban Revolution of today.

Byron Motley

Byron's first photo book "Embracing Cuba"  

Byron’s first photographic book, Embracing Cuba, contains nearly 200 color images exploring the richness of the island. His photography has also been featured in Vanity Fair, The Advocate, New York Daily News, LA Times, and have shown in galleries, boutiques and museums in the United States, Europe and Cuba.

Long standing relationships, partnerships and cultural exchanges were created from my travels to Cuba which spearheaded the founding of this foundation. I invite you to support the work of the foundation and come along on one of my trips as we build a deeper understanding and dialogue between the people of Cuban and the United States through the arts.