Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bloom Where You Are Planted

At times in my present nomadic existence, I wonder, who am I now that I do not have a home? The thought might come as I am standing in a shopping line, and people around me are speaking in a language I do not entirely understand, and I realize I have no one but myself to turn to, or while on a bus as it is taking me somewhere in a city half a world away from my native land. Always, the answer comes back to me; I am comfortable in my own skin, and at home wherever I am. During my crazy teen-aged years, during the hippie revolution, I remember reading a slogan that a flower child had painted on a wall, and it has stayed in my consciousness all these years: Bloom where you are planted.

The combination of Frederique’s artistic encouragement and Granada’s creative atmosphere and bravado has resulted in my reaching for a new space in my painting. I am painting closer to my heart, and not thinking of marketability. My self-portrait came out with an edge to it: blurred borders, three hands, and an intense gaze. I have made three other paintings as well, and they all are different from my normal approach when I am painting landscapes.

As usual, I am walking a great deal. Thank God for my Clark shoes, which are holding up under brutal exercise from walking the streets and exploring. I remain intrigued by the graffiti I see splashed everywhere on the walls in Granada. The textures too, are like abstract paintings. I am amassing quite a collection of photographic images. So much, that my hard drive is becoming crowded. I have to burn pictures onto DVD’s for backup and then destroy most of them from off of my computer as I go along.

Frederique is coming to visit. We have such wonderful dialogue and I welcome her presence and willingness to share moments with a nomad, living in THE DREAM.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dig Deeper

Van Gogh, All Hung Up, oil on linen, 22 x 24 inches
Is it possible that only three months have passed in my year long odyssey? The last month has been so fantastic as to be almost unreal; beginning with my trip from Greece to Venice, the days and nights in that eloquent city and meeting Frederique, and then unexpectedly going to Provence in France, and now experiencing the bold flamenco flavors of Granada, Spain. Along the way, something great happened in France. The Foundation Vincent Van Gogh D’Arles is also a museum in Arles, devoted to artwork by famous artists who pay homage to Vincent Van Gogh, who lived his most famous years in Arles. Frederique and I visited the museum and came away impressed. I left a catalog of my Steven Boone Hang Ups for the director, and called back the next day. We had a delightful conversation and she said that yes, they would love having my painting “Van Gogh, All Hung Up,” for their collection. Soon, my artwork will be included in this world-class museum collection. Frederique agrees to be my French liaison.
I am in Granada because I was here a year ago and found I liked it. Frederique has boldly encouraged me to dig deeper in my art . . . and get my mind off the marketplace for landscapes that has influenced my painting. So now, I am doing a self portrait that is realistic, abstract, and surreal. I have determined to stay in the deeper flux of creativity as I work.
Granada is great as a backdrop. The city is old and young both, and has plenty of character. Flamenco music thrives here, and an artistic stream flows freely. Although graffitti and tagging is major nuisance in cities throughout the world, here the street art can be incredible.
My apartment is in the Sacromonte, an elevated area overlooking in a historical district. From the main road, a cobble road takes me to my door. There are two narrow levels, and veranda that has an incredible view, with the world-famous Alhambra on hilltop directly in front.

View from my patio

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Intellect And Mystery

Now, when I wake in the morning, the sound of the Mediterranean Sea is present. It is directly in front of my eyes, churning outside the little breakfast room. There is almost always a fisherman perched by the shore, casting into the waves.
Frédérique is just next door in another apartment, and we wake each other in the morning with a knock on the door. I find so many surprises in her. She has told me we are opposite . . . and it is true. She is quite controlled, and lives in her intellect, while I am tactile and thrive in the realms of senses. Her opinions are frank, thoughtful and unequivocal, while I am more starry-eyed, in the land of mystery. We both share passion for art.
Fortunately, Frédérique is on holiday, so we spend all our time together. She is showing me the region of Provence in the vicinity of her home in Grande Motte. Her grasp of history is good, so I have an excellent guide as we stroll through streets in towns such as Montpellier and Nimes that began before the medieval age. Last night we went to Aigues Mortes, a small, nearby town within original fortified stone walls. We attempted to find seating at several restaurants but were turned away, even though they seemed half full. Frederique told me that France is not like in the United States, where patrons come and go all evening. A limited number of dinners are served, and a table is used once. If a table is reserved, it sits empty until the client arrives. When we found a restaurant that took us, to my astonishment, the elderly hostess was the owner, director, and also the only waitress. Frédérique explained that if there were more employees, then wages would be paid, but also an equal amount in social security taxes for the worker. 

The most memorable part of dinner was the une entrée, called “Tellimes.” They were fingernail size clams, baked in a tasty cream sauce and sprinkled with herbs. Simply put your hand in the bowl, pick one up and suck out the tender morsel of flesh. This is what the sea churns up, elaborated and made into food in the French way. Frederique said that there are over 7000 unique recipes in France. The next greatest number is Italy, with a little over 1700.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Soul Of Venice

The soul of Venice has brought me together with Frédérique, a French doctor of letters. She teaches aesthetics in art at a university in Nimes, France. Her Italian is perfect, and she speaks enough English that we have been able to enjoy each other’s company and share observations and philosophy. She is on business but has mostly free time, and I am alone and want company. We have walked miles together, day and night, reveling in the grandness of this place that so remarkably arose from the sea, and just as remarkably is still keeping its head above water after 1500 years. Frédérique has authored a book exploring the ancient Greek principles of eros and Thanatos, or longing and death, in art. Venice is full of these feelings. The many splendid buildings and churches that dot the city are emblems of grand aspirations and have hosted countless magical moments, but there is a sadness hovering over them too. Crumbling walls, stained with time, and foundations precariously close to falling into the sea give a taste of death. It is bewitching, and for the creatively inclined, inspiring. That is why so many artists have gravitated here over the centuries.

I am mesmerized, and so far into THE DREAM that twice I have locked myself out of my apartment. It is as if I lose consciousness of borders, or arbitrary divisions such as walls, doors and locks. Possessions are meaningless. Only the unfolding DREAM and Spirit are real . . . until I reach for my house key and it is not in my pocket, then I am facing a night on the street or in a hotel.

Frédérique has invited me to visit her in Nimes. It is in the famous region of France called Provence, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. I will go, since it is on my way to Granada, Spain, where I will live for a month beginning May 14.