ArteSano: A healthy Cuban cultural project

Combining ceramic with glass, metals and other recyclable materials can result in precious objects, where the utilitarian is combined with good taste, thanks to the talent of the artists who make up the interdisciplinary Cuban art project, ArteSano.

The main promoter of this unique space, located in a large house near the Almendares River, is Odalys Mirabal. An economist by training, she decided to create the project in 2004, alongside her ceramicist friend, José Ángel Rosario Osorio. The idea arose after several years in which Odalys became increasingly attracted to the manufacture and level of detail in each handmade product.

Some 16 creators of different artistic manifestations currently make up ArteSano, whose products are marketed in different tourist centers of the country, such as the Hotel Capri, Habana Libre, Cohíba and the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Their impact is not only appreciable in the popularity of their creations among both Cubans and foreigners, but also in the connection that they have managed to build between art and society.

In the Almendares house, prominent musicians such as Liuba María Hevia, Tony Ávila, Frank Delgado and David Torrens have offered emotive concerts, while important painters have exhibited their works.

Without being bound to a fixed schedule, the group usually hosts about three monthly events, many of which arise from artists who approach the space. For Odalys, the most important thing about the project is this successful combination, in which she not only seeks to grow from a commercial point of view, but also with a commitment to creativity and beauty, based on a different aesthetic.

“That the artists arrive, are inspired and sculpt a piece; that a ceramic or plastic arts workshop be held for the community; that a discussion group can be formed; that singer-songwriters take out their guitars… it seems to us a way of contributing to society,” stresses this entrepreneur, born in the Matanzas city of Cárdenas, who works day and night because “beautiful things” happen at ArteSano.

Due to this social vocation, ceramic and plastic arts workshops are held for children of all ages, alongside their parents and grandparents, which have been very well received in the local community. As a novelty for this year, Odalys announces that they are preparing a workshop related to ceramics and plants, as well as others aimed at physical and mental health care, in light of the new circumstances imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although today we are experiencing difficult times due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, ArteSano is adjusting its way of working and has devised strategies to bring its creations to the homes of its clients.

Given what is to come, Odalys’ hopes are pinned in three directions: to design more and more products, to continue gathering artists who contribute to the cultural project, and to continue developing workshops for the community. In the Almendares house, this Cuban entrepreneur assures that people and good ideas will always be welcome, to “make healthy art.”

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