Showing posts with label Cuenca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cuenca. Show all posts

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Kaleidoscope of Sensual Surprises

Life is a kaleidoscope of sensual surprises.  During travel, I leave familiar surroundings to engage in the unknown and see with fresh eyes, hear with new ears, and think new thoughts. All the while being mesmerized and awed by little revelations. Yet even without going anywhere, the kaleidoscope of patterns, sights, sounds, tastes and smells is always turning; a bite of cold wind across the face, coming indoors to fragrant aromas of cooking foods, hearing the song of a strange bird for the first time, a fabulous sunset or sunrise.

A surprise can be simple and appear like a gift from an unseen hand. I have deep windowsills at home. In my bedroom I placed a model of a sailing ship on a window ledge. Recently, before taking a nap after lunch, I pulled the curtains closed. After rising, I went to the curtains and saw the ships shadows cast upon the fabric. It captured my imagination and I went and got my camera. The rippling folds of cloth were like ocean waves that took my vessel into an etheric sea. Why did I notice it? The winter light and angle of the sun made the picture come to life. Also, I was willing to see . . . because if my emotions and thoughts had been obscuring my perceptions, the little shadow theater would have had no attraction. I had seen it before. Now the elements lined up to capture my senses and I was ready.
I like happy accidents and am open to experiencing them during my creative process. Recently, during my month sojourn in Venice, Italy, I fell into a hobby of making photographs of people taking “selfies.” World famous Rialto Bridge was just minutes from my flat. Everyday, thousands of selfies are made there. So whenever I was passing over the bridge, 2 or 3 times a day, I would linger to photograph. Once, I spotted two fellows making a portrait, and surreptitiously became involved with my camera. Just as they were composing, I shot my picture from behind, capturing the subject’s face through the triangle of arm, shoulder and head of the picture taker.

Because I am creative, poems arise from what is garbage to others. One day I was walking on the stone sidewalks of Cuenca, Ecuador. I often look down at the patterns and crevices of the walkways as I sojourn. Something stopped me. A picture had fallen face up onto the grimy patterned  stonework. It was a family portrait of a boy. I noticed how the smiling, lovely face was vulnerable on the dirty sidewalk where it would be stepped on. Why did the scene attract me to take a photograph? Most people would ignore it. I found the incongruity evoked pathos in me. I reflected upon what happens to people in life. The purity of their beginnings fall to earth. At early stages innocence suffers degradation, injury, abandonment, death. Yet the smile and light is in the picture.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Without A Map

“When the baby looks around him

It's such a sight to see

He shares a simple secret

With the wise man

He's a stranger in a strange land” -Leon Russell

Sometimes the best experiences happen for me when I am lost. 

The other day I set out walking in a new direction from my apartment in Cuenca, Ecuador. Usually I head toward the city center with its bustling streets, shops, cafes, grand cathedrals, and corner parks. This time I went in another direction. I went exploring—like Columbus when he set out to navigate the Atlantic Ocean without a map. He charted a course as he sailed.

Cemetery, San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

 The streets were mostly residential and rather unremarkable. Traffic whizzed by in each direction. I came to a corner and spotted a high wall that seemed to go an entire block. In the middle stood a tall gate. On either side were stalls selling flowers. I guessed it was cemetery. I like visiting graveyards in foreign lands. A few weeks ago I ambled about for more than hour in Nuestra Señora del Cementerio de Guadalupe in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. It was divided between a large part for Mexican interments and a smaller closed area for mostly American ex-patriots. Now I had found a vast, much larger burial ground with three times as many graves. It is called, Cementerio Patrimonial De Cuenca. 
Tombs, Cuenca, Ecuador

  As in Mexico, most of the crypts are stacked in cells of concrete, in blocks perhaps fifteen feet high and hundreds of feet long. Sometimes there are two levels and stairs to reach the top. Each burial site is marked and decorated in front, often with a glass pane protecting the contents. It is by far neater and more orderly than the Mexican graveyard.

I am fascinated by what remains after a person dies, and how they are remembered with fondness. I lost my daughter when she was nineteen and had to find a spot to bury her. She lays at rest in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. A simple grave marker of marble is decorated with roses and bears her name, dates of birth and death, and the inscription Blessed By The Glory Of God. 
As I walked slowly and thoughtfully, sometimes I would stop to take a picture. Turning a corner, to my surprise often a vista of tombs would spread before me. And almost nobody was there but me and some attendants working the grounds. The air was perfect on my skin and blue sky with occasionally fluffy clouds overhead. I could almost hear myself think.

To my surprise, at one point I found a block of grave cells slightly smaller and noticed they were for the pequeños niños, little children. Stuffed toys were seen in many with endearing notes. Some didn't have date of birth, only death.

An old horse drawn hearse. Cuenca Cemetery.
In the afternoon, I set off in the familiar direction of downtown but angled onto a street I had not been. A long wall two stories high without windows had a small single entrance. A couple were coming out the door. They looked like tourists. I stopped and peeked past the threshold. It seemed the museum was full of religious objects. I was not sure I wanted to pay for entry. It was cloudy and about to rain. Perhaps because I was exploring and not in a rush, I entered. 

Staging of a nun, at work with textiles.

  Immediately I began relishing the place—formerly called Convent of the Immaculate Conception, begun in the year 1599. There are two stories surrounding an inner courtyard open to the sky above. The second floor has an open hall with railing that goes completely around the courtyard and you can look down upon it, with the trees, shrubs and flowers and tidy order of it all. The wood floors and stairs are smooth and polished from wear, as well as the stone floors on the ground level. I imagined all the feet that tread there, and the footsteps of the nuns and sisters. So much devotion had occurred in the spot that I felt blessed being there, as if absorbing spiritual vibrations where the closely knit devotees of Christ for hundreds of years dwelled their hours, years and sometimes, lives. I imagined their tight bound community and the rituals they obeyed in sisterhood. 

San Rafael and Tobias sculptures

The collections are made up of 64 paintings of religious themes and about 250 religious and costumed sculptures, as well as toys, furniture and handicrafts. What particularly struck me were incredible sculptures depicting saints. Made by mostly anonymous artisans, they all had great feeling and conveyed a master touch to bring out devotion in the viewer. A few were playful. Some figures were wood, others fired clay and painted to be lifelike. They might even have human hair and glass eyes.

By the time I left, I had gone slowly throughout the former convent, and taken many pictures. Fully satisfied, I made it home before the rain.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

In The Current

I am an artist and particularly notice patterns and textures of life. I can feel blessed and happy even in poor, chaotic environments that would make someone else frustrated and angry. My eyes delight in discolored and cracking walls with paint splatters and drips, graffiti, derelict doorways, shadows and stark light, crowded busses and trains—all hold fascination for me. 

The streets are alive with the activities of man and I jump in the current, taking my photos, making paintings and drawings and constantly being inspired.  

When I arrived in Quito, Ecuador from Mexico, I had to adjust to cloudy weather and very high elevation. Ecuador is home to some of the highest volcanoes and mountain peaks in the world. Quito, the capital, has an altitude of around 9,000 feet, (3,000m). My first experiences were gritty and I was a bit dismayed. But probably tired from travel and needing to adjust. As I dug deeper, more gems appeared from the rough. The historical center is captivating with centuries old architecture, massive basilicas and cobbled streets crammed with shops. I melded in and took street photos. 

A man at Catholic mass, listening to singing.
A great museum experience was Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man), devoted to the work one artist: Oswaldo Guayasamin,  (July 6, 1919 – March 10, 1999). master painter and sculptor of Quechua and Mestizo heritage and Native of Quito. 

I did not paint while in Quito for I was in a hotel room and stayed five days. Now I am in Cuenca and will be in the south of Ecuador for about two weeks so will resume painting. Need to find an art supply store first!

See Steven Boone art