Showing posts with label Granada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Granada. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Sojourn of THE DREAM

Can it be we have arrived back to where we began? It feels as though a thousand suns have risen and set; not the sixty we experienced.

Amy and I began our sojourn exotically enough in Oaxaca, Mexico during the peculiar celebration called Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Dancing skeletons, candles in cemetaries, masks and music on the street all began us in a sojourn of THE DREAM.

Next, Mexico City brought us face to face with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Streets teemed with moving masses of humanity, rather childlike . . . even as little boys strummed guitars for endless hours gathering small change from tips. We found fake money in our wallets that local people spotted right away and refused to take.

Onward to Granada, Spain, in the “Old World.” Alhambra and its exquisite moorish castle perched above the city looked over to Sacromonte flamenco caves where every evening plaintive guitars, singing, stomping feet and castanets held forth.

Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes, entertained us each night before sleep. We read his knight-errant quests with his squire Sancho Panza, and attack upon windmills that he thought to be giants . . . then we visited the windmills, set high on a hill above a sleepy town called Consuegra.

Our rental car took us through seemingly endless landscape of olive trees to Cordoba, another famous Spanish city. I took plenty of photos of Andalusian horses and riders of the equestrian shows there.

We arrived by chance to Ronda and found it entrancing . . . so much so that Orson Welles chose to have his ashes thrown over the grounds . . . not far from the famous bull ring where Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso took in the action.

At Gibraltar, on a Mediterranean beach under the famous ROCK looming nearby, Amy collected tiny seashells strewn on the shore. A short boat ride across the sea and Morocco captivated us with spices, veiled women, donkeys, sheep, hashish, and ubiquitous mosques calling to prayer five times daily. Chefchaouen and its blue walls painted poetry all around us in the Atlas Mountains. By taxi we reached Fes and found ourselves living in a mansion with courtyard in a labyrinth old town surrounded by thousand year old wall. A modern train ride to Tangier gave us respite from the chaotic grit and grime of street life and quickly we fell under the same spell that bound the beat poets and writers.

Back in Spain we rented a car again and found a hotel in Seville, then an apartment in the old walled part of Toledo where vehicles aren’t allowed. Narrow cobbled passages lead from church to church, castle to castle, with shops lining each side. El Greco spoke to us through his portraits from the sixteenth century in his own museum.

At last Madrid and an apartment for a week one block away from Plaza de Espagna. There is found Don Quixote and Sancho Panza—at a monument with Cervantes himself looking over them. Every day we ambled among masterpieces of art in museums Madrid is famous for. These artworks celebrate THE DREAM in all its facets. And now we are far richer for the adventures it has offered us.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thick Of Tradition

Until death it is all life”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Now that we are in Spain, a curious ritual has arrived unexpectedly. In bed at night in our quaint apartment tucked on a hillside along a stream we read to each other Don Quixote of La Mancha, by Miguel Cervantes, (Spanish, 29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616). At separate times in our youth both of us attempted reading the famous work from the Spanish Golden Age of literature but were daunted by its idiosyncrasies. Now in the land of its birth and on our own Quixotic journey of sorts, chasing windmills of our imaginations, we feel the pathos and understand the humor—exclaiming out loud and laughing with one another. When lights go out we continue to adventure side by side in dreamland.

Our first sojourn as a couple in the Old World begins in Granada. Years ago I lived here briefly and liked the part of the city called Sacromonte. It is best known for the flamenco venues. Caves in the mountainside are home to troupes of dancers and musicians. We will go tomorrow night and be in the thick of tradition. I am taking Amy to the same cave I experienced earlier. It is a narrow room with whitewashed earth walls and wood plank runway down the middle. The audience sit on either side within touching distance of the flamenco dancers as they strut and twirl to the strident notes of the musicians just behind them.

My fair lady Amalia de Córdova of Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico USA is wounded but carrying on gallantly as a woman of high lineage does. Before we left Mexico City less than a week ago, she was bitten by bed bugs. Maybe I was bitten too, but it had no effect. Our hotel was highly rated and we were pleased, yet I saw a bug on the bed our last morning and killed it, thinking nothing much about it. When we arrived to Europe after a long trip, Amy had inflamed bites on her chest, back and neck. It got worse. The red circles around the bite centers expanded so much that a bright red welt became one mass the size of Texas on her torso. It has hurt terribly. So with some difficulty we ventured forth to Alhambra, the awesome palace overlooking the city—and just above our apartment. Amy has refused a doctor so I have been concocting home remedies to help. Thankfully, a paste of honey and turmeric applied over the welt is slowly helping. A spice shop just on the cobbled street out front along a little river has all the herbs we need.

Don Quixote and  Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada would approve.
Amy has said she feels “at home” here although it is her first visit. Even more so than when she stayed in Córdoba, the town that is her namesake.

We will venture forth soon in quest of windmills that stand like giants and once battled Don Quixote at Consuegra, then on to Córdoba.

Take my advice and live for a long, long time. Because the maddest thing a man can do in this life is to let himself die.
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

(For more from my previous adventures here, type Granada in the search bar at the top right of this blog.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Three Hands

Voices of the Ancestors, oil on panel, 16 x 20 inches
Two hands are natural and emblematic of human beings—one hand is tragic—but what about three? I have a series of paintings using the theme of three hands. For most people, the images are perplexing, and that is okay with me, because I like mysterious pictures.

My first painting with three hands was made while I lived in Granada, Spain. My apartment was high on a hill in the Albayzín neighborhood, near the flamenco caves where dancers and musicians performed every night. I could paint, and walk around shooting photos during the day, and go to the caves at night. The house was great. I entered from a small street that had no cars, and passing through a narrow kitchen and living room, a couple stairs led to a spacious patio that overlooked housetops and the tree-lined river that flowed from Sacromonte into town. Directly opposite on a hill stood the walls and towers of Alhambra, the World Heritage Site. Another door on the patio led to a cozy bedroom.

Artist models are sometimes hard to come by, but with a mirror, a self-portrait can be made. I started a self-portrait, but wanted expression, so I included hands reaching to my face. Maybe because I was alone, and desired company, I added a hand coming from the top of the painting.

Soon, a French woman I met in Venice, Italy arrived to visit. We had become great friends in Venice, especially since she is a professor of art in a University in Nimes, France. I had visited her where she lived in Provence, and now she visited me. I did a portrait of her, and again, added an extra hand reaching down from the top of the painting, as if to touch her head. She liked the result, and also the self-portrait I had done. “You must do a series”, she suggested. I liked her idea, and in the next several months made more paintings with three hands.

Anne, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches
When I went to Berlin, I made a painting of my young German friend Anne, and used my own hand as the third one. Another time, I painted an abandoned house, high on a hill, in Andalusia, Spain. I put in three hands, as if gesturing. I call the piece “Voices Of The Ancestors”, as if spirits were re-visiting a place on earth they were familiar with.

Sometimes, while artists work, their unconscious is emerging in the process.   “Great art is as irrational as great music.  It is mad with its own loveliness.”  ~George Jean Nathan

I cannot entirely explain the meaning of having three hands in these paintings. It is to offer an element of mystery and surprise, and also my belief is that I have a muse, and I surmise I am including one hand of my muse in the paintings.

Self-Portrait With a Rose, (made while in Berlin), oil on linen, 18 x 24 inches
“Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.”  ~André Gide

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