Sunday, June 29, 2008

Muy Tranquilo

I have once again found my way to the remote mountain village of Darrical, ( see my blog of May, 2007 ) where my friends Carol and Rolf live. Carol says that sometimes during the year, as few as 15 people reside here. It is on the opposite side of the Spanish social and cultural spectrum from Madrid: no fashions, stores, telephone lines or Internet, no commerce except goat cheese from the goat herders wife.
In big cities, all the noises tend to blend into a cacophony of clatter. Here in Darrical, I notice and appreciate every sound, such as the rooster crowing, wind blowing in the trees, birds singing, a child’s laughter, or the goats passing by with their bells jangling. These months, it becomes hot during the midday, so people stop work and take siesta. Life is “muy tranquilo,” meaning, very peaceful.
I am painting landscapes, and also, going with my camera into the many abandoned and ruined homes that dot the hillsides. I like being in the midst of the crumbling remains of houses that once contained the lives of generations of villagers, and see how time and nature paints over the hand of man.
I am getting emergency dental work done in a nearby town, and find the dentist excellent and very inexpensive compared to the USA. I have a fractured tooth that became infected and now I am on antibiotics, waiting for my next appointment, when the tooth might be pulled out, depending on what the doctor decides.
Again, my plans are shifting away from my original vision of going eastward around the world. Since arriving in Egypt, I have been circling the Mediterranean Sea, and now I will backtrack and revisit Italy. My daughter Sarah is coming with a friend to Europe, and I will meet her in Florence on July 9, then on the 12th, drive them to a port on the Adriatic where they will catch a ferry to Greece. Afterwards, I might return to Florence and live for a while. In Madrid, the streets were exciting enough that I became quite happy going out everyday for photo shoots. Now, I am envisioning a book of street photography from around the world, and so I think I will go from Italy to Berlin, Germany. I have been told it is a wonderful, artistic city. I can go there, then Paris, before going into the hot climates of Africa. In the end, THE DREAM is what matters . . . and has its own life.
Late note: Spain has just won the European Cup soccer match against Germany, and there is pandemonium in the streets!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Common Humanity

The surface of the moon became a stage when the astronauts landed there, and Madrid became my stage when I landed here. I have taken to the streets with enthusiasm and enjoyed the wide avenues, fashions, museums, street performers, vagabonds, and cafĂ© life. My apartment is in the midst of it all, so I am part of the pulse. The Indian consulate issued me a visa, Nikon fixed my lens, I took a thousand photographs, made a new “three hands” painting, and visited some of the best museums in the world. The weather has been perfect, and I have not had a bad day.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum houses an art collection that originally was collected by the Thyssen-Bornemisza family for over two generations. The largest and most important part, over 800 important masterpieces, was acquired by Spain in 1993. It is one of the finest and well-organized bodies of art I have seen, and kept in a palace originally built in the 18th century, and then expanded and remodeled. The artwork spans the ages from classical to modern. A fantastic, large, Caravaggio painting, called Saint Catherine of Alexandria caught my eye in a prominent position in a smaller room. I arrived at the same time as two other admiring people, and within minutes we began talking with each other excitedly. Francesco is Italian and Deniz is from Turkey. We all understood and appreciated art and could talk about it, and fortunately for me, the other two spoke good English. Deniz happens to be an art historian living in Berlin, but she lived in Venice for two years and speaks Italian. I am an artist and know quite a lot about art, so our conversation stayed elevated. Francesco became animated and took us around to other important Italian paintings in the collection, talking all the while. The paintings themselves offered us topics and thrilled our senses. This is what art does; speaks to our common humanity in a universal language. It breaks barriers between people and offers dialogue.
Click artistic photography to see photos by Steven Boone of the streets of Madrid.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In-depth Feeling Of Spain

Fate brought me to Madrid, and I am glad. It was not my intention to come here, but I need to repair my camera lens, and also, get a visa to India, since the Indian visa I received in the USA is expired. I have a nice apartment in the heart of the city, and I like the life. Every shop imaginable is nearby, the streets are vibrant, nearby subways take people anywhere they want to go, and the museums are fantastic.
I have been working on the next “three hands” painting. It is a landscape of a house in a village setting, with three hands intruding from top and bottom.
I went to the Indian Embassy, and was told to come back Friday, June 20th to pick up my visa (if it is granted.) My lens is being repaired, and meanwhile, since I have become so addicted to street photography, I bought another lens (50mm f/1.8D Nikkor) that is proving even better for shooting people and close-ups of buildings. Every day, I go out and “get in the zone,” a kind of trance where I am not particularly aware of myself or where I am, only textures, color and light. People too, are objects that are reflecting light . . . and I use my camera liberally. I don’t feel timid, or if so, I overcome the timidity quickly in order to get candid photos and be ready for the unexpected.
So far, I have been to two great museums of art: The Prado, and the Reina Sophia. These are two anchors of Spanish culture, and great ambassadors for Spain. As an artist, I am very thankful for the opportunity to see masterpieces of the past, carefully preserved and on display for the public, housed in grand buildings that are inviting. The great giants of Spanish art are well represented: El Greco, Murrillo, Goya, Velasquez, Dali, Picasso, Miro and Tapies. And there are more collections that I have not seen!
Madrid gives me an in-depth feeling of Spain and it’s heritage that is surprising. It feels as though I could live here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Grand Confusion

What is the difference between our dreaming and wakened consciousness? Sleep is often maligned as the poorer cousin of wakened consciousness. There are phrases that describe common attitudes about sleep, such as, “it is only a dream,” or “you were only dreaming.” But during sleep and dreaming, incredibly lucid and illuminating episodes of our lives occur and are etched into our memories. Before leaving Santa Fe to begin my solo traveling around the world, I woke one morning remembering a sentence I had heard moments before. A voice had spoken to me, saying, “The vessel he entered was a grand confusion between his world and the world outside of him.” Immediately, I knew that the words referred to my soon to come journey. The description was in the past tense, as if it had already occurred. Who was speaking and from where? The voice was other than my own, and spoken for me to hear. Some people will say that everything I dreamed was merely my own invention, but I never speak of the future in the past tense, nor do I describe life experiences so obtusely and symbolically. I believe that in sleep and dreaming, I experienced a meeting with spirits that live outside of time. They comprehend mortal life easily, and even interact with us beings here on the physical plane. Unfortunately, our minds are troubled going outside time and space, so we call this sort of experience fantasy.
How delicious and wonderful are moments when they are not isolated entities like words by themselves on a page, and when we are conscious that they belong to sentences in the grandest of all novels, and are part of a magnificent story that began beyond the limits of our consciousness and extends forever.
As the spirit foretold, I have been experiencing life as a grand confusion between my inner and outer world; a captivating journey that is very real and nonetheless I call THE DREAM.
In two days I leave Granada, and go to Madrid.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Three Hands

Granada, Spain and I have mixed together so much that our boundaries are now obscure. Textures, winding cobbled streets, sounds of clapping hands and guitar chords, imaginative tagging and gritty ambience all have overwhelmed my consciousness and senses.
Frederique has been here a week and we have explored together. Her intellect is sharp and my enthusiasm great, and we both have deep passion for art. She claims to love observing me in my process of seeing, and she notices what I miss. When we first met, she objected to being photographed, but my persistence won out. I painted her portrait, and at her suggestion, will do a series of portrait paintings with three hands.
We have seen some good flamenco shows. Frederique is quite knowledgable about this dance form, since her sister is married with a world reknowned flamenco guitarist and composer; Jean Baptiste Marino. Fortunately, Sacromonte, where my apartment is located, is also the best neighborhood for flamenco establishments. The “caves” are intimate, and the vibrant music, mixed with the twirling and stomping dancers and plaintive bold notes of singers have maximum effect.