Artists hiding in plain sight
Some places are not what they seem. Take the Florida Garden, for instance. It looks like the kind of place I (and probably a lot of travelers) would never think of going to. It´s a 1960’s café on Florida street that looks like it was fancy back in its day, and is now the meeting place of your typical downtown businessmen. But take a closer look, ask around, and you´ll see things are not what they appear. The Di Tella Institute, Argentina’s most prominent cultural institution in the 1960’s, was once only a block away, and all the young vanguard artists of Buenos Aires flowed from the Institute to the Florida Garden, where they´d meet to talk about art and drink one of the best coffees in the city. Back in those days, all of the most important artists participated at the Di Tella institute. From Oscar winning director Luis Puenzo to Argentine rock legend Luis Alberto Spinetta, the greatest representatives of the local culture met at the Di Tella, and had their coffee at the Florida Garden. Jorge Luis Borges, the most famous of Argentine writers, used to meet here with journalists and young writers eager for an interview; Marta Minujin, an old friend of Andy Warhol and one of Argentina´s greatest plastic artists still frequents the place, and so do a lot of other famous names in the vibrant artistic scene of Buenos Aires. On Saturday mornings they can be seen at the Florida Garden, drinking coffee and croissants (some say they are the best medialunas in the city). Of course, only big names in the scene show up here, this is not the kind of bar where the bohemian, poor, struggling artist will be seen. The prices make sure of that. Instead, what you find is an eclectic collection of artists and intellectuals, dames of the high society and the aforementioned businessmen, who meet here for reasons unrelated to any artistic or intellectual endeavor.
Perhaps the best day to visit the Florida Garden is Saturday morning, when groups of plastic artists gather by the counter, giving you a chance to get to know some of the most prominent names in the Buenos Aires art movement. If you want to know more about the artistic vanguard of the Di Tella Institute, and learn some more about the people you´ll meet at the Florida Garden, the MoMA of New York has just edited an anthology of Argentine art in the 1960´s called “Listen, Here, Now!” that is worth checking out.
Mon-Fri from 6AM to 12AM, Sat 6AM to 11PM, Sun 8AM to 11PM
Subway: San Martin, C line
Por Esteban Lleonart