Wanderlust: Destination Cuba

Gretjen Helene Photography
There are a few things I haven't done in this life time that I would some day like to do. World travel tops that list. I haven't traveled enough. I've taken small trips and been on two excursions with nothing more than a sense of which direction I wanted to go. Those excursions were two of my favorite weeks ever.

Some people do this all the time. They pack up, throw their sack over their shoulder, hop on a plane, and go wherever they think is cool, or go to the opposite end of the earth thinking they will find themselves there, not understanding how, where or why they became lost. I would gamble that most of these people do not have four children.

I watched Eat Love Pray the other night and was hoping to have a moment when I thought, “That's what I am going to do. I am going to pack up my kids, go stay in Italy and the rest of it can be damned. That will make everything better.”

Bull sh!t, as my grandfather would say.

What I learned from watching that movie, is that even though I want to travel, its not because I want to be enlightened or find a better version of myself over seas. I think Version 1.0 of me is working quite fine, thank you. I live a good life already. I want to travel for sensory invigoration. New smells, new foods, etc., but I don't feel the need to find a new me, or take on a new mantra, or find peace with any part of me that needs some ironing out.

Gretjen Helene Photography
However, the wanderlust thing is pretty inherent in the fibers of all of our beings. We can't help it. We were meant to be nomadic. We were meant to move with the weather and the changing earth. We were meant to adapt and be changed by our surroundings.

One of the many things I love about Lynn is meeting people from all over the world. I have heard people speak more languages and dialects of various languages since living in Lynn than I can count. I have learned about countries I had never heard of before moving here. I have tried new foods, listened to new music, seen more fiber patterns and styles of jewelry and dress than I ever thought possible to exist at the same time on one tiny little city's street. Lynn is amazing in that way.

I applaud the Mayor Kennedy for placing flags from the different countries representing the peoples of our city. I also applaud the many various organizations that work to unite the peoples of various countries once they come here to retain traditions while learning about American culture and assimilating to life here.

I think we need to go one step further. We need to intermingle more. We need to come together.

One of the things that every culture on the face of this earth has is common is art. Find me a culture that doesn't have either instrumental music, singing, art, body decoration... and I will tell you you are wrong.

Art, or creativity, is something we all have and can celebrate, learn about and share with each other. It  is also easily understood as a commonality once experienced commonly. Bobby McFerrin did this great experiment at the 2009 World Science Festival using the Pentatonic Scale.

Watch it and you'll understand where I am coming from if you don't already. (Jamie Marsh, please get this man to come to Lynn!) Every nationality can participate in this collaborative art piece even if they can't speak his language.

The problem I see with the multicultural programming in the city to date, is not the events themselves, or the planning, or the planners. The problem is that we are not reaching out to each other effectively.

Sights and Sounds of CUBA is for EVERYBODY. The Greek festival is for EVERYBODY. The parades, gatherings, festivals, are for EVERYBODY. Make it a resolution this year to take advantage of what Lynn has to offer in the way of cultural experiences and attend an event that celebrates a culture other than your own.

So I call on the Lynn cultural leaders and the rest of the community to come to the center and celebrate with us in Lynn's community art center, LynnArts. We're taking over the theater on January 22nd to present Sights an Sounds of Cuba, where we will be looking at the photographs of Gretjen Helen and listening to the sounds of Cuban music and tasting some Cuban food and playing dominos and kicking our heels...

Sights and Sounds is meant to celebrate cultures from around the word. Starting with Cuba was actually coincidental, as there really isn't a huge population of Cubans in Lynn, or in Massachusetts for that matter in comparison to other groups of people who have emigrated here. The event stems from the work of photographer Gretjen Helene, who traveled to Cuba and documented her interactions with the Cuban people and observations of the current urban infrastructure.

We grew the event from her work.

In Form: Cuba is Gretjen's second solo exhibition here at TLGUTS. To kick off Sights and Sounds, we are hosting an opening reception for her exhibition which runs from Jan 22nd through February 29th. The reception is open and free to the public, (although donations to keep TLGUTS programming going are welcomed!) and we hope that you will stay and then join us upstairs for Arts After Hours' 2011 kick off event! Tickets for the main event are $8.00 and can be purchased at the door.

(rsvp is not required, but greatly appreciated!)

I hope that I get the chance to dance. I don't expect I will find a better version of me out on the dance floor, in fact, I'm pretty certain I am just going to find an older version of myself than I care to admit, but I am fairly certain that the night will help with my wanderlust and fulfill my need to have my senses shaken and to stir up my status quo...

So let's get it together! Eat some yummy Cuban appetizers prepared by Fernando's, have a glass of wine or beer from Turbine's award winning wine list, see Gretjen Helene's images of modern Cuba downstairs here at TLGUTS, listen to the sounds of Cuban music presented by La Timbistica, Berklee's Latin Jazz All-Stars,  see a dance demo and get some pointers from Lynn's own Divinity Dance Studio, shake your thang, and then join us for the city's best after party event EVER at Turbine.

Indulge in a night of wanderlust by stepping into your own backyard... Downtown Lynn - the gateway to the North Shore arts community!