The Utopian Newsletter : Art Issue July 11, 2018

Convo with Colectivo ART founder, Aimee Martinez :

co-leading the Yoga+Art Retreat this November in Cuba


Aimee exploring the Modern Art Museum Bellas Artes in Havana, Cuba

Why was Colectivo Art created? Why Cuba?

In 2015, Christina invited me to join her in Cuba on a girls’ trip. “You HAVE to come,” she urged. I trust Christina to know what I will and won’t like. That takes a special kind of attunement. I was unable to go, but she peaked my interest in a way that I felt certain that I would visit this mysterious land soon. On the heels of a break-up, I needed to get some space from my world and my mind.

Luckily, Christina fell so much in love with Cuba, that she began organizing trips. I was fast to sign-up for the first one! Through Christina and the relationships she had built, I was introduced to locals, artists and private gallery managers and owners who have now become close friends. Before the trip, I had made a commitment to myself that I was going to invest in a piece of Cuban art. What made my experience so special was that I couldn’t Google the artist, or check auction results, I had to learn, build a relationship, and make decisions based on trusting myself and my emotional connection to the piece and the artist. I sat for hours, chatting with a gallery manager in the private home of a Cuban. We talked about the history of Cuban art, the different movements, how the US Cuban relations influenced the artists both past and present. These stories were deep and fascinating and I wanted to know more.

In my conversations with artists, I learned there are no art supply stores in Cuba. Artists rely on the black market or those who travel in from abroad to bring them paints and other materials. Over the past year, ColectivoART has raised over $1000, which has been used to buy specific materials per artists’ requests. I love seeing what the finished product! One artist even requested metal sheets from home depot. The piece will be featured in a show this fall in Philadelphia!

How does the Cuban art community drive the larger trends in the art world? How are they impacted or are we impacted by their art?

This is a big question. What I notice is that it parallels what is happening between our two governments. What is permissible, which artists stay in Cuba, which can leave, and how they use their art to communicate their Cuban experience. For example, in 1961 Fidel Castro pledged to make “the greatest art schools in the world”. When US-Cuban diplomatic relations ended that same year, soon did construction of the pledged schools as well. As both countries’ governments continued to clash, Cubans witnessed slow progress inside their borders. What wasn’t stunted, however, was artistic growth and expression. It’s incredible to see what the mind is capable of creating in the absence of excessive media. This is juxtaposed with the singular message portrayed in Cuban news.

What is unique about the Cuban art community or the artists that aren’t reflected in the US or around the world?

Well, Communism and exposure. As well as Cuban artists rely heavily on their inner world for inspiration. This is not unlike artists in other countries, however, so often many Cuban artists have never been off the island. This is beginning to change as technology and social media becomes more popular and increases access to the world beyond the island. It also provides an opportunity for those on the outside to get a glimpse in and begin to learn more about the complicated and multi-layered Cuban experience. Artists are able to showcase their work via an online community, which is giving them access to a broad new audience. Cuban Plastic Artist, Miguel Machado once said, “When you don’t have too much, you have to look inside. That is the moment you start to create.”

Tell us about your personal Cuban art collection?

Oh man, my gallery looks like a Latin American version of the Royal Tennenbaums! I love color and am particularly drawn to the concrete abstract artists of the 50’s and 60’s whose work coincides with the time that US Cuba Relations soured and Russian influence grew. Artists such as Salvador Corratge and Pedro de Oraa are two of my favorites. I also collect from artists who are emerging in the Cuban art scene. Miguel Machado, Pablo Rosendo, Vladimir Sagols and Roger Toledo are ones to watch. In addition, I love work by Elizabet Cervino, Aimee Garcia, and Belkis Ayon.

How about some hot tips on choosing art? Or working with a Cuban artist? We want your secrets.

Something I always tell people is that art is subjective. What one person may feel or associate to by looking at a certain piece may be completely different from another person’s experience. And that is beautiful! Purchasing or even just being interested in art does not have to be an intimidating process. If something speaks to you, let the experience wash over you. Part of the process I love is helping people to put words to their experience.

More than one Cuban artist has called me an “Art Mommy”. The relationship is what is most important and having transparent communication that keeps the artists’ needs and their world in mind is my focus.

Our favorite places and their incredible graffiti


Reykjavik, Iceland

This small but fascinating city is filled with street art at  every turn. We’ve even found giant trolls throughout the streets! Free time in the city during our Iceland retreat allows for exploring them all. Oct 5-13, 2019 w/ Wendy

Lisbon, Portugal

Other-level walls filled with shout-outs to Fado musicians and Portuguese fare. Our day trip/foodie tour of Lisbon highlights these hipster hoods. Stroll through the LX Factory with us Sept 7-14, 2018 w/ Hillary.

Istanbul, Turkey

As an ex-interior designer, I was blown away by Istanbul. Their street art follows suit. An inspirational city from design, to food and drink, to culture. Keep an eye out for our upcoming Yoga + ART retreat here 2019 with BONE X DAWN.

Cartagena, Colombia

Getsemani is one of the coolest neighborhoods of the moment. The artwork is simply impressive and the cafes along the way are about the hippest we’ve seen. We take a walking street art tour to see it all close up and personal during our Cartagena retreat with a special stop at Cafe del Mural for a coffee tasting and unique demo!

Holbox Island, Mexico

This sleepy island town really stepped up their game a few years ago when they beautified the island with incredible street art. We take a golf cart to scoot around and check out each piece with ocean dips in between. Come see for yourself February 7-12 with Sherry or April 1-6, 2018 with Wendy.

Tulum, Mexico

Most of Mexico is known for its amazing colonial architecture…Tulum has amazing nature instead so they gathered local talent have elevated this sleepy town to another level with art pieces and installations. A bike ride through town in your free time takes you by some pretty epic murals. Join us  for a Yoga, Food + Wine Retreat or a Yoga Retreat in Tulum.

Havana, Cuba

This city is filled with so much culture, art, music, architecture and style. Some artists have taken to the streets to create beautiful depictions of its people and style. Art is at every turn in this amazing city. We have Yoga and Yoga + ART retreats throughout 2019 as well as a Thanksgiving & NYE RETREAT to round out 2018. Join us!

Upcoming Featured Retreats :

Yoga + ART Retreat in Cuba

November 6-11, 2018 w/ Henna Lounge & Colectivo ART

Cuba is THE place to visit before ‘things change’. Come experience this incredible culture and its people with us this fall. We will take you through the streets of Havana like a local eating at the best private restaurants, enjoying specialty cocktails on rooftops, learning how to take the best photos, henna adornment by Darcy, yoga with Christina, and art gallery and studio visits with Aimee.

Save $100usd w/ code CUBANART SIGN ME UP!

Yoga + ART Retreat in Morocco

October 6-13, 2018 w/ BONE by Dawn

Yoga + ART retreat in Morocco this fall is filled with quintessential Moroccan experiences. Camel rides along the beach, painting workshop with a local artist, jewelry and hat-making workshops with Dawn, a day trip to Marrakech to see the sites, visit the newly opened Yves Saint-Laurent museum, and hand pick freshly dyed yarn to create your own wall hanging back in Essaouira.

Enjoy henna adornment, yoga classes, creative workshops, happy hours, and live music all in the laid-back, picturesque seaside fishing village on the edge of Morocco. Don’t miss this epic Yoga + ART retreat!

3 spaces left – SIGN ME UP!


Christina Thomas

Christina is the creator and visionary for Yoga & Adventures Worldwide. She strives to create yoga retreat experiences that open the eyes of the traveler, offering them the opportunity to consider another possibility as they explore the world around them and the world within. Her yoga retreats are designed as if she were the guest, attending to each and every detail as she would want done for her own travel leaving just the right amount of room for that incredible serendipity that makes life so special.

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