Showing posts with label Tango. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tango. Show all posts

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Few Gems

I was in Buenos Aires and had to get to a tango performance or my stay there would not be complete. The show at Café Tortoni started at 11 PM. I arrived at the café and had a light refreshment before going downstairs into an areea that resembled a cave. The audience sat in the dark at tables as the performance began on a stage lit with colored lights that filtered through smoke effects to give just the right atmosphere for the passionate dancing. An ensemble of live tango musicians played adjacent to the dancers. Everything was intimate, especially as the room was small.

In the dark I strained for good views and snapped photos. I didn't know what I would get. A few gems came through and since then some of the pictures have made more than enough income for the entire trip to Argentina.

Yesterday, a married couple from Arizona came to The Boone Gallery and bought the two images shown here. This exchange reminded me of the whole evening and how fortunate I am to be able to make a living from art.

To read earlier posts from the trip, go to: Buenos Aires or Tango Embrace

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Young People

A parade of young people have been entering my gallery and making an impression on me. Most often, their parents have been with them. The Boone Gallery is situated in the heart of Santa Fe, on the historic plaza. Across from my gallery is the city visitor center.

In the last week each day I experienced a memorable event involving youth. First, a woman came in with her little boy who was bursting with happy liveliness. He wore big glasses that seemed might fall from his face at any moment. As he bopped around the room from painting to painting she explained that he was artistically precocious and the family came to Santa Fe from Illinois partly because of all the art to be seen. As I stood next to her she pulled out her smartphone and scrolled through images, finding a photo of one of her son's drawings. It was remarkable for it's detail of an old fort on a hill, with a perfectly drawn American flag on a tall pole, fluttering in a breeze. I was impressed. With pride she said, "That's amazing for a five year old! I mean, the other kids are making stick figures!" By now the boy was next to us and he quickly corrected his mother, "I am six years old!" She smiled, "You were five when you made this." The boy went to the couch and sat down, rocking as he looked around, then jumping up again. I handed him a folding glossy card with images of my paintings. They thanked me and walked away. A few minutes later, the lad ran back to me holding the card. "Mr. Boone, you are the best artist!" Now it was I saying thank you . . .

The next day, a man came in with a boy about the same age as the first, and gently explained that he wanted his son to be able to see an artist working. This lad was much quieter, but very observant. They only stayed a few minutes. The father gratefully thanked me for being open to their intrusion, and they left, the boy wide-eyed and not saying a word.

Then came a father with his teen-aged daughter. He explained that his daughter was interested in art. He observed that my paintings were thick with paint and wondered how I made them. As they stood next to me, I opened my palette box and used my palette knife to mix colors together. The girl stood watching, transfixed. I said, "Most artists use the palette knife to mix colors and get new tones or colors. Then they put it aside to use brushes to apply paint in thin layers. I use the knife to paint." The little lesson lit them up and they walked out satisfied.

Several other stories unfolded. A young woman, 24 years old, came in while my assistant Therese was working. She loved a mixed-media piece called "Tango Passion". It is a rather large photograph of mine from from a tango club in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I printed on canvas and stretched it over stretcher bars. It depicts two dancers in intimate embrace on stage, smoke swirling around them in red lights. She felt it would be great in a home she was moving into soon. She takes tango lessons and explained she worked two jobs and might not be able to afford it. Then she left, promising to be back soon. She never arrived on the day she promised, and I thought it was a missed opportunity. The next day, Therese stopped in for a brief few minutes, and by coincidence at the same time, the young woman returned. She said she wanted to buy the art if she could make payments. I agreed. She said that her mother and grandmother were dancers.

Another day, two young women came in and I was immediately struck by their friendship and that one was white and the other very black. They looked around, obviously just for enjoyment, and one joked, asking did I ever "get stoned" and paint. I responded that I had not used drugs since I was about her age. "Spirit fills me up. I do not need to use anything to get high." She immediately was impressed with the answer and apologized, also saying that the colors and vibrancy might make people wonder what state of mind I had been in when they were created. Then she explained that the two of them were with a church mission that was getting young people off the streets and helping them straighten out. She pointed to a logo on the front of the tee shirts they were wearing. I reached behind my desk and gave them both a copy of my book, A Heart Traced In Sand, Reflections on a Daughter's Struggle for Life. "This is a book I wrote about my daughter who died of cancer when she was nineteen. I used many of her own diary writings." As we talked about tests and sufferings that we must face in life, the black girl looked in my eyes with a big tear falling down her cheek. "Why does life have to be so hard sometimes?" I assured her that though it is hard, there is something in us that can endure even the most severe trials.  "God never abandons us. Tests come to make us stronger." When the girls left, I felt deeply connected and sensed them for a long time afterward. One of them marched by my window later, smiling and lifting my book to wave to me.

Lastly, three generations of a family came in as I was arranging prints in my flat files. The old man was struck by one piece in particular. It's a big reproduction of a photograph called Kashmiri Children. I explained that I was in a Himalayan village in Kashmir, India,  making a landscape painting when many of the young people came around to watch me. I made a painting, but even better, took some remarkable photographs that afternoon, including the one he admired. He introduced himself and his daughter and mentioned they were in town for a family reunion. I showed him a large print of the picture on museum paper that he could buy.  "I want to bring my wife back." He promised to come back that afternoon or the next morning.
They left and I did not see him again so thought it was only a fluke. The next afternoon, the old man's daughter came back. "Did my father return?" I said no. "I want to buy that print for him . . . for Father's Day". Then she looked around and said she hoped he would not walk in while she was with me. "We will keep it a surprise," I said. "If he comes back, I will say it sold." She bought the print and payed to have it shipped to her father's house. "You will be able to enjoy it when you go visit him," I said.

How appropriate the string of youth events includes the sale of an artwork featuring young people.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tango Embrace

THE DREAM speaks . . . sings, flows, is air, is water, flux. I am in it and witness, play along as an actor on it’s stage. I am audience to my performance as well—yet I only long for the place of unfolding—not the witnessing, but the unfolding. What is it then to unfold and witness at the same time?
Can moments be slowed? Slowed into singularity so that only one time exists? Cessation of separation, to realize that sleep, waking, work, rest, play, happiness, sadness, success, failure, male-female, God, human, animal, plant,—all are unified in the borderless regions of oneness. -Written from Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 2010

"Tango Passion"
What is Buenos Aires without tango? The night I visited Cafe Tortoni, I went for tango. The Cafe is a classic Parisian style affair, with high ceilings, chandeliers, glistening tile floors, lacquered wooden tables and chairs, and artwork covering the walls. I went right by all this and straight downstairs, into a small dark cavern with tables and a stage. My eyes adjusted to the dark and I could see shadowy silhouettes of people seated, and soon, musicians came to take their positions besides the stage, and begin making the familiar, haunting, chords of tango music. The stage had a backdrop of a cafe, and the dancers arrived, in pairs. The area was small enough to feel intimate, and as if the spectacle was unfolding among friends gathered privately for a night of revelry.

I had my camera, and amid the strident song notes striking the chords of longing and pathos in everyone's hearts, and the stage smoke filtering the colored lights as the dancers strode, strutted, and twirled together, I took pictures.

"Tango Embrace"
Since then, I have sold my images from that evening, as prints and large scale mixed-media pieces. One has appeared on the cover of a french language novel.

The Steven Boone Gallery sold a large mixed-media piece today, called Tango Flair, and this is what inspired my blog today.

"Tango Flair"

Sunday, November 04, 2012


"Quantum Of Solace" Kolkatta, India
Here is a word that is not often used but ubiquitously seen: juxtapose. It means to place together and contrast two or more separate phenomenon. Juxtapositions are everywhere, e.g. the position of the sun relative to the horizon, the temperature inside as different from outside, a fat person standing next to a skinny one, or an old person holding a newborn child. In the arts, juxtaposing brings drama to work. A bright landscape painting is made more thrilling with dark shadows, music is deeper with climactic surges mixed with interludes of softer passages, and theater is fuller when humor and sadness both enter the stage.
"Tango Passion",  Mixed-media

Juxtaposition can be embarrassing and detrimental as well. We see this in current political campaigns, where one candidate proclaims himself as good and points to the other nominee in contrast, as bad. Class prejudice is built upon juxtaposing of extremes of wealth and poverty.

I use juxtaposition in my art and photography to bring drama and surprise to the work. While I was traveling and making my street photography, I often sought stark juxtapositions, such as setting my camera up and focusing on interesting walls so that people walking in front of me became blurred while passing by. In the photo I am showing here, an innocent oriental child, dressed in her native attire, stands in contrast to a violent western poster proclaiming an action movie. The dissimilarity adds to the intrigue and drama of the picture.

In my tango images, drama comes from juxtaposing stark light with the tension of male and female interaction that is intimate and ritualistic.

Juxtaposition gives us reference and allows our imaginations to soar.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Buenos Aires

My apartment in downtown Buenos Aires is on Avenida 9 De Julio, the widest boulevard in South America. After the mean streets of Rio De Janeiro, Buenos Aires has felt much more civilized, and even safe. No one here has stopped to warn me to watch my back. The citizens have a bit of pride in the refinement of their city, which has a European sophistication and provincial air.
While Rio De Janeiro is reknowned for its samba, Buenos Aires is famous as the world center of tango. I went to a club called Cafe Tortoni to see a tango show. At 11 PM the show was beginning downstairs, below the main dining area. Adjusting my eyes to the darkness, I saw that the room was almost full, with people seated at small tables near a raised stage that had a set made to look like a bistro. As I found a seat, the musicians began playing the distinctive tango music, which leans heavily on violin, piano and accordian. The singer also performed as master of ceremonies and narrator. Soon, dancers arrived onstage and performed tango dances under colored lights and smoke effects blown onto the stage. I was mesmerized and lost track of time, so that when I went to the subway at 1 AM to go home, found it was closed, and walked instead.
Tango is a good example of eros informing art, because it depends on the tension between the male and female partners. You can say tango is the expression in dance and music of controlled sexual passion.
I went on Thursday to the Museo De Bellas Artes, but found when I arrived at 10 AM, that it was closed - until 12:30. So I began wandering and THE DREAM led me to a nearby cemetary. La Recoleta is where many of Argentina´s most famous people are buried. It is a fascinating place, where I spent the next two hours slowly walking among the impressive mausoleums and peering inside them.
If I expect THE DREAM to show me one thing, it often detours to go somewhere else, and I simply go with the current and find surprise. Yesterday I sought the Modern Museum, but found it closed for reconstruction. Walking through the nearby streets I discovered the neighborhood called San Telmo, where antique shops dot the cobblestone roads. By chance, I discovered Walrus Books, which is Buenos Aires equivalent of Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, France. It sells only books in English, mostly used but in good condition. I bought The Karamazov Brothers, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which I am now reading for the second time. Later, I returned to San Telmo where a big flea market was unfolding on a square. Performers were on the streets, and of course, tango.
My iPhone has a neat application whereas when I tap the phone, it transforms into a compass, which has helped me numerous times.
The saga of my broken laptop continues. A Mac shop here diagnosed the problem as a faulty logic board. They said it would take twenty days to receive a part and repair my computer. I bought a ticket and made plans to take it to Santiago, Chile, and try and have it repaired quickly while I stayed with my friend Pierre, but there has just been a huge earthquake, and this morning as I prepared to go the airport, I learned the flight is cancelled. This is another aspect of THE DREAM having a life of its own. I have considerable frustration now, but I keep watching the movie; incredulous.
This blog is late because of numerous problems over the weekend, and I will not elaborate. . . but I have minimum control these days. Where will I be next, and when? Whatever.