Socio-Cultural Project Fidias: The Lights of Luaces

Self-taught, Pedro Alberto Luaces Torres is a well known artist from Pinar del Rio whose work as a restorer is felt in every corner of Pinar del Rio city and in other places.

They say everything he touches changes into a wonder. I didn’t believe in those words until I discovered Pedro Alberto Luaces Torres little by little his inborn skills as an artist. Pinar del Rio, his homeland, has in him and in his community project Fidias two inseparable allies, always willing to collaborate to make of the city a prettier and more attractive space.

Young, talented, Cuban through and through, with Pinar del Rio in his heart and feelings, Luaces gives his best when his efforts are needed. Hence he was involved in every last work scheduled to restore for the celebrations of July 26th and the 150th anniversary since Pinar del Rio was proclaimed a city, next September 10th.

Milanes Theater, José Martí Park, the restaurant-cabaret El Criollo, the Museum of Natural Sciences are some of the most recent works where Fidias has left its print for the wellbeing of the community.

- How and why was project Fidias born?

“It was born from the degree of decline of the works of Decorative Arts and the shortage of restorers in the country and, especially, Pinar del Rio.

“Art work collectors came here, I joined them and I saw that many were deteriorated. Then ideas came popping inside my head so I could restore them.

“The first works were handmade at my dining room table back home. Then when collectors came visit me and they saw the final result they were shocked. They were the first ones in encouraging me to keep doing that work and I created a workshop.

“As I don't have an artistic training that made me worry more about the world of restoration. I got involved with boys who were majoring in that line of work and I created a small workshop. Many other youngsters who liked what they did joined; because it was a way of taking to practice the knowledge they have learned at school and, at the same time, they explored a field they didn’t approach much at the academy.

“It was interesting to them because they had to manipulate the works of artists: sculptures made of brass, marble, china pieces. And through the clients who visited us I started to purchase new working tools and look for information in catalogs bought abroad.

“Then the collectors themselves wanted to incorporate what they already had. They had pieces that were beyond salvation then I had the idea of reproducing them. Then, the clients told me that if I was able to do that, with such a level of accuracy, then I could create others. That’s when the idea of exploring new lines of work was born.”

- How many years have you worked as a restorer?

“Around 27, the early years was during the harsh time of the Cuban economic crisis. You have to make your living. I was barely twenty odds years old back then.”

- When is the project born?

“There was this director in the province Culture headquarters who knew about our work. He proposed the idea of creating the project; he said the acquired knowledge could be passed down to the community, to the new generations, to start a sort of school-workshop.

“The idea thrived. First I joined the Cuban Association of Artisans and Artists (best known as ACAA) after that I joined the Cuban Fund of Cultural Assets as a creative group. Then we moved here—where we are today—; we had already increased the production lines and we were looking for space and better conditions that suited what we were doing.”

- Why Fidias?

“We worked with old works; we needed to look for information and going through history we found the work of Fidias—the Greek sculptor—, which was very much what we were doing. Then we named the project after him.”

- Isn’t it awesome what you have accomplished?

“I never really imagined it. I wanted to study marine biology, but those studies were closed and so I studied veterinary. I worked eight years as a vet, kind of trying to find what I wanted.

“Once I entered the world of Decorative Arts, the group is born. Many people gave me advice. We had a solid structure and we came up with the idea of creating carpentry, blacksmith, pottery workshops. That allows to self-finance, to be an institution which is not a burden for the local Government. Of course, without straying from the cultural world, of the community project. It was also a way of employment for the artists and artisans of Pinar del Rio, because the province doesn't have, in this regard, a very strong market.”

- However, leaving for Havana is not part of your dreams. Others have moved to the capital…

“I believe my mission is here. I have created a structure and there is no need. I worked in the capital with Eusebio Leal once, in Quinta de los Molinos, in the Old Square, but you see, I came back. I feel much supported in my province by the Government and the Communist Party, I feel loved. What else can I ask?”

Pinar thrives (+ Photos)

The city of Pinar del Rio is today an unstoppable revelry. People are painting, collecting the garbage, putting up posters, fixing things, or just remodeling façades.

Clean, beauty, and fixed up are perhaps epithets too simple to label a city that proudly gets ready to celebrate the July 26th festivities.

Fidia OK

Playground adjacent to the Milanes Theater, restored by Fidia Project

Parque José Martí en Pinar del Río OK

Jose Marti Park, another work restored to celebrate the July 26th festivities

Pinar del Rio is not that forgotten place of decades ago. On the contrary, men and women command our admiration these days as they work relentlessly in the Revolution Square, or the recently restored Marti Park, or the Milanes Theater —top place in Pinar del Rio´s culture.

Everything seems too little to Pinar del Rio´s men and women. Too many years have passed for them without being granted the venue of such an important event. Their mood rose up into the sky and everything seems just fine right now. When is this over? Nobody knows, but they will not stop until the 26th.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

The Eclectic and well-design Guash Palace

It was only necessary two assistants to build his palace in Pinar del Río province, and over a century later, its decorative figures are still impressive, including its architecture with an eclectic style influenced by the Catalan modernism.

According to some written records, the plots of land where the building was constructed were part of the farm number 385 which was known as ‘Cocuyo’ and was sold to Francisco by the heirs of Juan Manuel Cabada. Its buying was carried out on August 20th, 1909 when it was stated the construction of that palace in a plot of land with 60 meters in its front and 40 meters in its back.

“Both the building plans and the carrying out of that project was carried out by the own Francisco Guash, including the elements which were used for its ornamentation. It is enough to say about the originality of that construction and the most valued orders of the architecture are represented through different phases. There are an Egyptian column, a Dorian capital, an Arab pointed arch, an Indian porch, respectively.” The Press from that period, highlighted.

Francisco Guash, who was a doctor and an artist as a vocation, designed the stained-glass windows and painted some paintings for the walls. He made a great part of its furniture and designed the lamps which were made in Europe, later.

However, it is highly chocking that after many years, that palace is more affected by the atrocities of the human ignorance than by the pass of the time, instead.

Unfortunately, there has been a kind of bus station for those who travel from Pinar del Rio province´s motorway to Havana city and it is contrasting that there are many people who get there due to that reason.

That court has had even the choking image of skateboards and there have been even many local teenagers who have ridden themselves on skateboards over its entrance floor.

The Eclectic and well-design Guash Palace

For such a long time, there were inappropriate patches carried out there which covered the spaces of the absent glasses and there was even graphite on the wood and walls, and those who have watched it carefully, have seen many times even the accumulated dirt in its corners.

At present, that palace is immersed in a refurbishing process on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Pinar del Río city to be held on September 10th, however, the strategies to preserve its cleanliness, the aesthetics and facing those who do not value the architectural heritage.

On March 8th, 1979 was inaugurated the Tranquilo Sandalio de Noda Natural History Museum by paying homage to that precursor genius of the sciences in the western part of Cuba. That facility had up to eight exhibition rooms of the Cuban fauna united by some exotic exemplary.

It has also a central courtyard where it is shown the autochthonous vegetation and some prehistoric animals which are represented at a natural scale ever since.

After attempting to imagine its entire previous splendor, we are feeling a kind of guilty sensation while asking ourselves: Would it be enough its material refurbishing process before being aware of the value of that palace that is an unequivocal symbol of Pinar del Río province.

  • Published in Culture

Cuban baseball playoff goes to fifth game

Pinar del Rio beat 6-3 Ciego de Avila and scored their first victory against three losses in the final play off of the Cuban baseball championship in its 55th edition, in match that took place at Capitan San Luis stadium, in this city.

  • Published in Sports
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