by Paul Brindamour, February 28, 2017
Our guide was able to arrange a two-hour tour of Cuba’s premier Arts University, Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), whichteaches painting, sculpture, printing, photography, music and dance to 500 of Cuba’s most gifted art students.
We visited art classrooms, print shops, sculpture studios and a foundry, where we were honored to meet Professor Miguel Mariano Gomez, one of Cuba’s pre-eminent sculptors.
At the dance studios, after peaking in at a ballet class, the folkdance students spontaneously treated us to a thrilling Rumba-style performance, complete with vocal and percussion accompaniment. On our way out from that, we were fortunate enough to be introduced to the trombonist of Cuba’s world-renowned timba orchestra, “Los Van Van.”
Even without those amazing chance-encounters, ISA would have been noteworthy for its architecture alone. Built on the picturesque grounds of a former, pre-revolution Country Club, and designed by Cuban and Italian architects in a breathtaking “Catalan” style, using multiple layers of thin, terra cotta bricks, I found the organic, landscape-complimentary buildings to be on par with some of the best of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work.