Confidently Idle

[gallery columns="1"] This morning I emerged from the shower to find two delightful phone messages.  The first from Keri, letting me know that my journal entry from yesterday inspired her to take a day - "...no, a few days!" - off, that she was going to be "confidently idle".  I saved the message, wanting to experience the goose bumps I felt when I first heard it again and again.  And how funny - her decision to take some time off turned right back around and inspired me to continue on this path of stillness, of quiet and of focusing inward.  The next message was from Pixie, whose voice always makes me feel so loved, appreciated and cared for.  The longing we both share to get some face to face time in our very near future is so precious.  How lovely to miss a friend desperately and be missed in return.  How bittersweet and joyful.

I started puttering around in my journal this afternoon, getting a few pages filled and adding a small handful of items for my 500 Creations list, bringing me to 155.  It is funny - I started this list as a way to keep me motivated creatively, to keep my pens and pencils moving, but these past couple of weeks I just haven't cared about it.  I have allowed this disinterest to sit comfortably in my mind, knowing that this is most likely temporary and due to the fact that I am simply tired.  Sometimes the most creative step one can take is to walk away, to leave things alone.

I have a pile of lovely little treasures - relics as our Cuban tour guide called them - that I brought back with me from Havana.  I look at them and wonder where they will end up in my work.  What role will they play in an entirely new series of work?  I am also browsing through the journal I kept on this trip, with all of its stories, snippets, sketches and musings.  On the last few pages I gave a brief re-cap of every day of my trip:

Saturday, March 25 Arrival.  Checked into our hotel.  Immediately headed to an opening at an art museum across the street from the Museum of the Revolution.  Dinner at Castillo de Farnese  after mojitos and live music at the Hotel Seville.  After dinner we went to an impromptu art show and rap concert on the roof on a crumbling building.

Sunday, March 26 Walking tour through the area of Havana near our hotel.  Registered for the Biennial Art Festival, went to the home of photographer Jose Figueroa and visited he and his wife, and then headed over to the home of Roberto Salas to hear his fascinating stories as a revolutionary photographer.  Dinner at the Oriente.

Monday, March 27 Visited Raul Corrales.  Lunch in the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis.  After this went over to the cathedral to see the work of Kadir Lopez and his brother Kelvin, then went to another gallery to see more of their work.  The Biennial officially opened this evening at the fort across the bay - hundreds of people in a huge courtyard, live classical, opera and Cuban music, dancers in colorful costumes and a spectacular views of Havana at sunset.  Dinner at Giovanni's in Havana afterwards.

Tuesday, March 28 Visited a printshop and enjoyed a demonstration of a two-color print from a metal etching.  Afterwards went to an exhibit of work by Rigoberto Mena in an empty lot between two other buildings in Havana, and then headed to the home of Kadir Lopez.  A late lunch at an open air cafe full of locals, and that evening a Santeria cleansing in the home of a priestess named Elisa.  The last part of the evening was spent at the Hotel Inglaterra sending emails, a somewhat stressful experience with a slow connection and definite time limits.

Wednesday, March 29 Spent the morning at the Insitituto Superior de Arte (ISA), the foremost art school in Cuba, visiting artists's studios, meeting the artists and attending an exhibit.  After lunch, an hour or so at the Necropolis, one of the most renowned cemetaries in the world.  Our Cuban tour guide took us on a 4+ mile walk from there back to our hotel, so we got to see many parts of the city on foot, my favorite way to explore new places.  That evening we were back at Kadir's house for a lovely party.

Thursday, March 30 Visited a silkscreen printshop where all of the Cuban movie posters have been printed for decades.  After lunch at our hotel, we went back across the bay to see many of the Biennial exhibits.  One exhibit after another on a gorgeous sunny day.  At the end of the day we went to an outdoor bookseller's market, visited a wonderful little antique store, and enjoyed dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant with homemade pita bread.

Friday, March 31 Took a bus ride through a small town across the bay and visited a church called Regla.  From there we headed farther away from Havana to a beach town called Guanabo.  A short stroll on a lovely beach with turquoise water, then a long lunch under a white tent with sand beneath my toes.  Walking around Havana a bit when we returned, then dinner at Los Nardos after an hour-long wait.

Saturday, April 1 Back to the bookseller's market for a bit, after visiting Rigoberto Mena's studio.  Lunch near the water, then a short visit back at Jose Figueroa's house to pick up a piece of artwork I purchased by Jose Manuel Fors.  After this we attended the official opening of Kadir Lopez's show at a gallery in Havana, then went to a refrigerator exhibit for the Biennial, followed by our last dinner at the Floridita, a famed hangout of Ernest Hemingway.  A final mojito and a tiny bit of dancing at our hotel before getting my worst night's sleep the whole week.

Sunday, April 2 Departure.  Sadness.  A vow to return.  And a profound feeling of gratitude.

More details of all these experiences will be shared over the next few weeks.  In the meantime, have a lovely weekend.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide