Cuenca, the City of Art
Cuenca is Ecuador’s city of art. As if the surrounding Andes mountains weren’t enough to take your breath away, the city is full of colorful colonial and French-inspired buildings, parks with manicured trees and flowers, and street art that compliments its thriving culture. Within this amazing culture-rich setting, expats have carved out an artistic niche of their own. They created a Cuenca art scene. It comprises artist collectives, theater troupes, fine arts workshops, and pop-up galleries in expat-owned establishments.
The Inside Scoop
You won’t find these groups or their inspiring people on TripAdvisor. So, here’s the inside scoop!
Note: As I write this, we are seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has changed and will continue to change, not only in Cuenca, Ecuador, but all over the world. Some groups I mention may not be available in the future. But this article will give you a sense of the expat community here.
Art Scene in Cuenca No. 1
Fishbon del Sur: An Artist Collective
Fishbon del Sur (or Fishbon) is a collective of artists who meet every other Sunday to share artistic explorations and potluck dinners in the beautiful patrimonial home of its founders, Laura and Clay.
During these Sunday “Creative Labs,” the group tackles art projects, storytelling, reads, scripts written by members, performances, plays, and music; they plan events, and more.
For the past two years, Fishbon has been the only foreign entrant in the Parade of the Innocents, held the first week in January. In addition, the team performs original plays and musicals and donates the proceeds to local charities.
Fishbon has been recognized by the Governor and the Mayor for its charitable contributions to the city.
Art Scene in Cuenca No. 2
ACT: Azuay Community Theater
Azuay Community Theater (ACT) is the only English-speaking theater troupe in Ecuador, and their performances will knock your socks off! ACT puts on at least two fully memorized stage plays every year, and one “reader.” In between these labors of love, many musicians, comedians, magicians, and dancers perform in packed houses. ACT has its own theater in the “Gringolandia” sector of Cuenca.
As an actor for ACT, I am proud of the performances and the high level of professionalism among us amateurs (some are professional actors, too!)! Various directors choose plays from Broadway and off-Broadway, and we actors carry out their vision.
Art Scene in Cuenca No. 3:
idiomART: A Creative Space in Cuenca
idiomArt’s mission is to make art accessible to the wider community by offering affordable studio space for artists, art classes, and an art gallery for exhibitions.
The art classes and workshops range from drawing and children’s classes to mural design, sculpture, mosaic, painting, and writing workshops.
The teachers are artists who bring unique perspectives from around the world.
They also have a lovely gallery and a beautiful garden for art shows and exhibits.
The founders, Sara and Kathryn, have created a comfortable space for the expat community to engage in the arts, meet creative people, and enjoy a cup of coffee.
Wherever you hang your hat, create the community you desire! Most expats are looking for like-minded friends to enjoy life with. All it takes is one person to make something wonderful!
by: Rachel deSalvo