A Family Foundry Tradition and Modernity in Bronze
This text, which does not claim to be anything other than a greeting to our foundry, paints a picture of our history and goals. It is a brochure that seeks to serve as a calling card, as well as a souvenir of your visit.
First of all, we can establish that it recounts a story of human experience, of a man s efforts to overcome obstacles. Early on, Lazaro Valdes and his family were associated with agricultural endeavors in an area of the Pinar del Rio province almost lost on the map of Cuba. There, during the 1990s, Lazaro devoted himself to channeling his artistic aptitudes at a time when the country was trying to overcome an economic crisis of apocalyptic proportions. In Pinar del Rio, he combined work in the fields with the pursuit of a degree in geography. However, wood carving is where he found a marvelous universe of opportunities that little by little helped him discover other horizons where he could try new objectives.
Lazaro often says that the stimulus that led him to art were the lean times, a period that developed in him an infinite capacity for invention—experiences that from then on would lead him to throw a lot of ingenuity and imagination at life and its problems. That economic depression, so called “Special Period” endowed him with infinite abilities to adapt and sacrifice; in that way, Lazaro acknowledged what Cubans of his generation knew from the time they were born until they graduated with distinction from the school of survival.
Far away from his land and encouraged by the dream to create a family business, he spent years bringing his relatives to America, who now form the backbone of his artistic emporium located between Miami International Airport and Hialeah. ASU Bronze has followed a long trajectory of hard work and experimentation, which today allows it to offer its clients the consummate mastery of processes and techniques: “The innovation is such,” Lazaro emphasizes, “that I have a new dream: to write a book that explains our methods and solutions relating to molds, lost-wax casting, sculptural restoration, etc.”
ASU s exquisite style is also the result of ongoing contact with international grand masters and American and Hispanic artists of the highest caliber who entrust their pieces to us. We prefer to avoid naming names so we do not omit any of them. Many of them frequent our installations. Apart from those who live in Miami, a group that is comprised of a strong Cuban and Latin presence, there are those who contact us from very far away, even Europe.
Those who wish to be present during the gestation of their works can enjoy our hospitality and good coffee. At noon, Lazaro s mother treats everyone (employees, artists and visitors alike) to hot delicacies from Pinar cuisine after a tiring morning of work, which at times ends outside the workshop door, under the shade of trees, with employees lying in comfortable hammocks, rewarding themselves with a siesta.
Each nook at the foundry is like a living collage of works in process and finished pieces, from monumental creations to small sculptures. You will be amazed as you move among agglomerations of naturalistic and abstract forms, through labyrinths that lead to areas for smelting, soldering, polishing metal and patinating bronze, a backdrop reminiscent of antique shops teeming with objects. However, they do not appear old, because here even the old is made new again, recovering its original splendor: reliefs, commemorative plates and statues ruined by the ravages of time are restored by the hands of unquestionable experts who provide new bases in the material of your choosing and take care of the installation. We offer a variety of services, including bronze replicas of any originals you may designate, as well as the design and creation of made-to-order prizes, trophies and medals.
Day-to-day life is full of spectacles at ASU Bronze, such as contemplating a monumental sculpture surrounded by the latest generation of equipment and dedicated personnel—just like in an operating room—at the very instant they are providing the figure with a polished bronze heart, the final touch that completes the piece. There is nothing like feeling at home in an environment with an easy sense of decorum, full of generosity and love for the art that others conceive. To this we can add Lazaro s natural leadership, the team s exceptional craftsmanship, as well as the quality and efficiency demonstrated when giving shape to the ideas and projects with which we are entrusted.
Text and Design: Aldo Menendez
Photography: Rogelio Lopez Marin