The changing role of private enterprise and the increase in cultural tourism to Cuba have encouraged the growth of alternative art and performance organizations in Havana. Artists in all spheres are experimenting with different ways of interacting with the public—including American tourists traveling to Cuba on people-to-people programs—and with making a living through their art. For visual artists, this often means creating a gallery of one type or another. Artist-run cooperatives such as Studio 7 y 60 are one such alternative.
Studio 7 y 60 has been in existence since 2010, when Maria Cienfuegos and three collaborators decided to use her family’s apartment as a space to present their works for sale directly to the public. As their careers progressed, Cienfuegos’s collaborators decided to present their work in a different way, and she continued to experiment with a collective, artist-run space.
The gallery takes its name from its location at the intersection of 7 and 60 streets in Miramar, and the building where it’s located is notable for its architectural history. Constructed in 1956 and designed by Mario Romanach, one of Cuba’s most important modernist architects, the building combines simple, modernist lines with interpretations of colonial details such as stained glass windows and wooden blinds and grilles. Still in its original condition, the building provides an appropriate backdrop for contemporary Cuban art.
In its current configuration, Studio 7 y 60’s roster includes female artists only. Cienfuegos says that the organization isn’t restricted solely to female artists, but it’s run with what she calls a “female sensibility.” She defines this as a more open and fluid environment than traditional galleries, with few fixed rules or criteria for the work shown. The roster will vary, and artists can participate at any career stage, including art school. Instead of presenting only works for sale, the gallery will also present works in progress for feedback from fellow artists and members of the public. In its new incarnation, the space features a broader array of media, including painting, photography, sculpture, and installation art.
One thing remains the same: the commitment to an artist-run space that interacts directly with the public, without the intervention of curators or dealers. The artists do not create their work collectively—instead, the gallery is a place for participants to cooperatively increase their pubic visibility and secure greater financial support through direct sales to the public. They see their space as running parallel to the established Havana gallery scene rather than competing with it. Studio 7 y 60’s new incarnation was introduced to the public on April 11, 2014, with the reception of its first group of art collectors from the U.S. The space is open by appointment only, and has already received several groups of Americans visiting the island on people-to-people exchange programs.
Cienfuegos herself is a photographer whose science education is reflected in her systematic treatment of subjects ranging from family portraits to the natural world. Currently, there are four other artists on the studio’s roster. Adriana Arronte, an ISA graduate, produces work that incorporates logos of multinational corporations. Amongst other pieces, she is exhibiting a multi-part painting-on-glass piece with images from popular culture, advertising, and political commentary.
Elizabet Cerviño, another ISA graduate, paints and creates performance art. Currently she’s displaying photographs of her performances and large oil paintings. Dania González Sanabria is a student at ISA specializing in installation and performance; her work at Studio 7 y 60 includes elements from a performance as well as paintings. Lisandra Ramírez Bernal’s polished works include sculptures and glass-covered prints that engage with international popular culture—cute, big-eyed cats in resin and bronze, and a series of 1970s-inspired motifs arranged in groups on the wall.
More information on the space and the artists may be found at the Studio 7 y 60 website.