By John Pilling, Havana Long Studio Instructor
Tuesday morning, in my opinion, was magic. Professor Navarro met us at the hill above the entrance to the School of Ballet to introduce us to the first of two designs by the architect Garatti. In the decade I’ve been studying Cuba, I’ve never had the opportunity to experience the design of the School of Ballet in the sequence designed by Maestro Garratti. Always it’s been through the well-known hole through the fence at the bottom of the hill. What a difference. Professor Navarro introduced us to each part of Garratti’s design. The use of walls, water courses, vaults, domes, and buried spaces takes my breath away. I remain thankful for the help we received from Cuban friends to allow us to be introduced to this design appropriately.
While Luis helped the Longstudieros study the School of Ballet, and then the School of Music, Norberto and Horacio gave me a ride over to visit with my good friends Alain and Yusimi. Alain is an artist who is part of a group called ‘THE MERGER.’ Yusimi, his novia, is a dancer. Recently, Alain had bought an apartment, and he wanted me to check it out while I was in town. I did an impromptu kitchen design consultation (I told Yusimi that she’d made an excellent design), and then we had lunch at a place near their apartment. After lunch, Norberto and Horacio picked me up for a ride back to the Schools.
When I rejoined the Longstudieros, the skies were threatening. I wouldn’t have any time to do sketches of either the School of Ball or Music. Fortunately, the Longstudieros had been able to take that time.
The Longstudieros were starting to get used to being in this magnificent art school, thanks to the hospitality of Professor Navarro, Aylen, and Orlando. It was very, very hot and humid as we were making our way around the campus of ISA. Aylen and Orlando asked our guys if they wanted to take a dip in the school’s pool. As the skies looked threatening and the heavens opened up with rain, the BAC Longstudieros dived in. Anne and I stood under the eaves of sheltering roof of the old club house, watching Rob, Andres, and others hang out in the pool. About that time, I decided that this art school might very well be the best one in the world.
Cementing this idea about art schools and quality was an invitation that each of the Longstudieros got from Orlando and Aylen. There was going to be a party...a big time party....Thursday night at ISA. The BAC was an invited guest. The BAC was going to get not only two full days at ISA, but one serious night of celebration. The concept of the party, and the memories of what had been experienced for the past two days, kept the table busy with conversation at our dinner at the Jardin Oriental, the restaurant that was quickly becoming our version of Steve’s.