Barry's Travel Journal: Buenos Aires Art Scene

Posted by Brandon Vasquez on Monday, March 19th, 2012 at 9:46am.

Please enjoy the following excerpt, the second in a series from Barry's travel journal having spent the month of January in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Arts

Given my love for the arts in general, here’s my read on Buenos Aires: 

Architecture. While many buildings could use a sandblasting or power wash (and some assistance on graffiti removal, which I was told was helpless, given political dissonance between the mayor of BA and the President of Argentina, representing conflicting political parties), there are endless examples of outstanding European influenced architecture. This includes suburban communities, which struck me as more akin to Tube stops in West London, with charming village centers and frankly striking and affluent feeling communities.

Teatro Colon. While opera season is unfortunately shuttered during January and February, I took a tour of the interior of this magnificent building, one of the finest homes for opera in the world.  There are seasonal performances other than opera in the structure, and I sense that this is a high art form locally.

Other theater. There is strong evidence of many other live theaters (especially clustered along Avenue Corrientes) throughout BA, but unless you speak fluent Spanish, you’re unlikely to have an interest in live theater.

Dance. You cannot visit Argentina without sensing the strong hand of tango (and to a lesser degree salsa and rhumba).  While there are polished tourist shows offering dinner and a show (a la Chanhassen Dinner Theatre), my recommendation instead is to head to La Boca or San Telmo (see below) and catch impromptu performances, especially on a Sunday in San Telmo.

Visual Arts|Museums. Despite being a city of some 14 million people, BA is not Paris, Madrid or London…by a long shot.  I consider the best BA art museums to be “Colleccion de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat” (a new structure in Puerto Madero, no mention of which I could find in any guide book, housing the significant personal collection of Argentina’s wealthiest woman, representing some extraordinary Argentine artists) and MALBA, the city’s equivalent of Minneapolis’ Walker or MOMA in New York (but on a much abbreviated scale).  There are a couple of other noteworthy art museums, but the real art in them is the buildings themselves (e.g., Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, surrounded by many foreign embassies) and the Museo de arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernandez Blanco at Suipacha 1422 in Retiro.

Other Museums. Despite the fawning attitude of the museum to its namesake, the Evita Museum in Palermo (which has an excellent lunch room) is well worth the tour, if only for the videography of both Juan and Eva Peron, as well as the spectacular (and jarringly extravagant) costumes worn by this demagogue.

**Next excerpt: Dining Out in Buenos Aires 

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