A Wooden Zoo on a Cuban Street

Text and photos by Ramon Andujar

A Wooden Zoo on a street in Bayamo, Cuba

HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 3 – Artists will always a find good reason to turn the ugly, dirty and damaged into harmonic and pleasurable forms, and that’s just was what sculptor Roberto Fabre did on a street in the eastern Cuban city of Bayamo.

He carved over a dozen wooden animals along a thoroughfare that’s now known to all its residents as the “Street of Excellence.”

A gigantic rooster, which seems to have stepped out of a sci-fi film, is the first piece in the collection of these creatures.  They all stand suspended in poses as though they’d been hexed by a sorcerer and forced to live frozen within their wooden bodies.

A Wooden Zoo on a street in Bayamo, Cuba

Halfway down the street, the inscription on the shell of a wooden turtle reads, “This tree fell on October 10, 2006 at 9:00 pm”; this was when it was decided to cut down the other trees and begin the Street of Excellence.

On the other end of the street, a crocodile gobbles down a duck in such a realistic way that an inattentive passerby would instinctively step away to protect themself from this creature’s imminent bite.

More than one environmentalist would deem the artistic work an attack on nature, but it is worth noting that a common problem on any Cuban street these days is the breaking up of city sidewalks by the powerful roots of some trees: a clash between humans and nature.

Perhaps art critics-I’m not one myself-would find fault with the quality of the work, pointing to stylistic flaws, crudeness or the lack of detailing of some of the sculptures.

However, the greatest reward for the artist must be the look of surprise and fascination by area residents and those visiting this outstanding little street.

Click on the thumbnails to see all the photos in this gallery